Thursday, 24 July 2014

Review: 'Confessions of an Angry Girl' by Louise Rozett

Confessions of an Angry Girl (Confessions, #1)Something about the synopsis of this book really made me want to read it. Whether that was because I was completely engrossed or because I wanted to know how cliche it exactly was, I knew I wanted to read it. And I'm quite glad I did because it was quite an enjoyable read.
Rose Zarelli, self-proclaimed word geek and angry girl, has some CONFESSIONS to make... 
#1: I’m livid all the time. Why? My dad died. My mom barely talks. My brother abandoned us. I think I’m allowed to be irate, don’t you? 
#2: I make people furious regularly. Want an example? I kissed gorgeous Jamie Forta, boyfriend of the coolest cheerleader in the school. Now she’s out for blood. Mine. 
#3: But most of all high school might as well be Mars. My best friend has been replaced by an alien…and now it’s a case of survival of the coolest.
Like a lot of other reviewers, I was quite surprised to realize that the main character was only fourteen. As a sage and wise twenty-year old, I found it a bit hard to relate to Rose and her worries at times because they seemed so cliched. However, Rozett deals with the big questions of early puberty, sex, alcohol and popularity, relatively well. I do think that as such, sex is a very touchy topic when dealing with a main character that is so clearly underage. Although the novel never crosses any lines, it still makes some scenes a little bit awkward. I think there needs to be a debate about how young we want to make YA characters. I personally wouldn't consider a fourteen-year old a Young Adult, but still a child. As such, this novel shouldn't be marketed as a romance but much more as a coming-of-age novel.

As far as those aspects of the plot go, Confessions of an Angry Girl is relatively stereotypical. Rose has a lot of problems and she finds out that there are no immediate answers for the question what life is about. At times I found myself being relatively annoyed at her naivety and her insistence that she was right. Although I kept telling myself this character was supposed to be fourteen, I still think Rozett could have given Rose the capability of self-reflection. I also have to question the morals of Jamie, the male love interest of unspecified age. In my mind he's significantly older than her, which makes everything a bit sketchy and I'm not quite sure how fond I was of him as a character overall, although he was of course charming whenever he was around her. Of course there is another potential love interest who I actually, for once, think was better than the main love interest.

Despite the above points, Rose is a fun character. She's eloquent, funny at times and very honest about her doubts and feelings to the reader. This means that even when you think she's being a stubborn teenager, you still feel for her. The same courtesy isn't extended to all of the other characters, but I guess everyone needs a nemesis. Rozett's writing style flows easily and she allows time to pass without having to describe every single day. I actually think this is really refreshing. The plot isn't crammed into a day, but rather there are weeks allowed to pass in which not much happens. This is how life really is. However, high-school is not that dramatic, or at least it doesn't have to be. Something that annoys me about these kinds of books is that characters are very passive and never actively move away from the drama. Despite the fact that some parts of the book were a bit eye-roll inducing, I did really enjoy reading it.

Rozett does manage to describe high-school and its intricate hierarchy really well. The way a friendship or a break-up can affect more people than the two originally involved is quite astounding and hard to believe at times and although I managed to keep out of most of that drama in high-school, I recognized a lot of the things Rozett described in her book. Bullying is never a good thing and I think by making it relatively central to the novel, the reader can actually take something positive away from it. It's just such a shame that so much of the drama revolved around "love". Let's not forget all of these people are still in high-school. I also thought the family dynamics were written well. The sudden death of a parent leaves a hole in a family and when the older sibling then departs for college, naturally that means a lot of changes. I really liked how Rozett described all of these.

I give this novel...

3 Universes.

Although I enjoyed reading this book and flew through it, it is not one of the most memorable I ever read. Partially this is due to the fact that the protagonist is simple relatively far removed from me in age and therefore not as easy to identify with. It seems like you get a quick glance into someone's life and then move on. I'd recommend this to people who are close to the protagonist's age and are looking for a read about the first year in high-school.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Review: 'The Bunker' #1 by Joshua Hale Fialkov, Joe Infurnari

The Bunker: Volume 1I requested The Bunker on a hunch. Something about it attracted me and I thought, why not try something different. Although I'm happy to have indeed tried something new, I'm not quite sure whether I want to try it again.
On their way to bury a time capsule, five friends - Grady, Heidi, Natasha, Daniel, and Billy - uncover a metal bunker buried deep in the woods. Inside, they discover letters addressed to each of them ... from their future selves! Told they will destroy the world in the very near future, the friends find themselves, over the next few days, growing further and further apart. Though they've been warned against making the wrong choices, how do they know what the right ones are? Can the future really be changed, or will an even darker fate engulf the world?
Before launching into a review of the plot, I want to discuss Infurnari's illustrations. His style is both very rough, with figures that are never drawn fully, with edges and shades rather than colours, and yet quite expressive. By looking unfinished, it supports some of the ideas brought up by the story. He makes use of different frames so no page looks like the other and this gives the whole comic a very dynamic look that allows it to flow. On the other hand, the chaoticness of the illustrations very much reflects similar problems in the narrative where no idea seems to have been fully outlined. The only problem I had was the letters. The handwritten style of writing was incredibly hard to read at times. I thought perhaps this was due to the digital copy I had but after looking around I've seen numerous people having similar issues. Infurnari's style needed some getting used to and it's not exactly my cup of tea, although some frames were stunning in their use of colour. At times it is too explosive, too much all over the map. This leads me to the very confusing move between present and future. Sometimes it is said that we're currently reading a flash-forward, but sometimes you don't notice until half-way down the page. This wasn't helped by the fact that it was initially hard to separate the male characters from each other.

The plot in itself sounds very promising. It seems to combine elements from the (post-)apocalyptic and horror genre while also showing us the growing pains of the five twenty-something year olds. I found myself comparing it to the 2012 film The Cabin in the Woods which very cleverly played with tropes of both genres and subverted most of them. Sadly, Fialkov doesn't get close to packing the same punch, largely because his characters behave more like teenagers than people who have just realised they have the fate of the world in their hands. The cursing and shouting is overdone, as if they had to prove how cool the characters are. Simultaneously, there are holes the size of Texas in his plot, such as where the time machine came from and how it worked. If the traveling from the future to the present is such a big part of your story, surely you would've worked it out more? I don't know whether this will be explored more in the other installments, but it seems a rather crucial think to clarify, especially if it's one of your story's major selling points.

The characters are very much the standard horror group of friends, i.e. there's the brain, the jock, the virgin, the slut (I disagree with this term) and the fool. However, none of the characters are either worked out in such a way that they neither completely inhabit these character stereotypes nor rebel against them. In 140 pages, there was only one character whose backstory was really worked out and although I imagine the other installments tell us more about the other characters as well, it left the reader sort of hanging without any character to really empathize with. I do think there is a lot of potential in this story and I'd love to find out what happens next. Despite all of my troubles with it, I didn't want to stop reading because there is so much potential to it. It's because of this I would read the next installment.

Overall I give this book...

2 Universes.

There was simply too much confusion in the story for me to be able to give it a higher rating. I did enjoy reading the story and I want to know what happens, but that is partially due to the fact that I hope Fialkov fills all the holes and creates a narrative that can be followed without losing track constantly. Infurnari's art needed some getting used to and although it was at times very impressive, it also felt a big chaotic. I would recommend this to people who are fans of post-apocalyptic stories and aren't adverse to puzzling. I wish I could've given it a better rating.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Release Day Blitz for 'Hearken (Daughters of the Sea #4) by Kristen Day

Hearken ( Daughters Of the Sea #4 ) 
Now Available

Haven't read the first 3 in the series?! Get caught up while they are on sale!

★SALE!! Only $.99 cents each!★ 
Daughters of the Sea Series! 

When the evil you fear is born from within, who will save us…from ourselves?

Sometimes our souls hear what our minds and hearts refuse to accept. It will whisper its continuous cadence until we're strong enough to glimpse the truth. But when the soul's whispers morph into screams, we're forced to gaze into the mirrors of time and see ourselves for who we really are.

 Grappling with her newfound leadership position, Stasia begins to experience a recurring nightmare of murder, as well as curious reveries about a violet-eyed girl who can control the moon. When tragedy grips the Tydes and several important relics are stolen from the Sons of Daimon, Stasia’s Council leaves for the forgotten island of Atlantis. Unfortunately Atlantis harbors its own secrets, and they are all calling to Stasia. As her nightmares become worse and she begins to lose control of her mind, those around her must find a way to reach her…and fast.

 Olivia Campbell is used to getting what she wants, when she wants it. But destiny never asked Olivia what she wanted. Being Chosen to be a Paladin at birth had not been something she wanted, and she definitely hadn’t wanted her charge to be Anastasia. Unfortunately their irritatingly persistent Atlantean guide, Sebastian, seems to know all about her and the secrets she’s been hiding. As she fights to protect Stasia from an unknown force, Olivia’s own courage and loyalty will be tested in ways she never imagined. Will she be able to tell Stasia the truth before it’s too late for them both.    

Purchase your copy of Hearken today!

Barnes & Noble:

About Kristen Day
  I am a southern belle at heart with a crazy streak that desperately tries to escape at every opportunity. I love all things nostalgic, rustic, and quirky. I've been told I see the world through rose-colored glasses, but I prefer to think of them as kaleidoscope glasses - swirling and morphing reality into something I can digest (who hasn't pretended those pasty lima beans were really kiwi strawberry jelly beans?).  When I'm not writing I'm making jewelry, painting, drinking sweet tea, watching the discovery channel, or going on random adventures in the mountains of North Carolina with my amazing husband.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Stacking the Shelves & It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - Dutch Edition

Yup, still not home, extending the holiday for as long as possible. Although I will be by the end of the day, but while I'm writing up this post I'm securely settled in one of the nicest hotels I know. They recently did a renovation and the bathroom is seriously to die for! Anyways, let's get to the memes! Stacking the Shelves is hosted over at Tynga's Reviews. It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey!

2aaaStacking The Shelves [103]

I'm still getting books from my last Netgalley spree, but I can't complain because I've wanted to read all of these really badly! So that's a yaay for me. Quite potentially there's books waiting for me at home and if that is so I'll do another post.

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood, The Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano, Brief Space Between Color and Shade by Cristavao Taxza, Rose of Sarajevo by Ayse Kulin and The Original Folk and Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm by Grimm Brothers.

It's been another pretty good review week for me. This holiday is doing wonders for my reading habits! At this rate I'm almost going a book a day, except for the fact that naturally some books are too long to read in a day.

Last Week I read:

  • You Got To Be Kidding Me: The Cultural Arsonist's Literal Reading of the Bible by Joe Wenke (review)
  • The Red Mark by J.M. Wilson, L.M. Thompson (review)
  • The Dervish by Frances Kazan (review)
  • The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (review)
  • Tales of the Macabre by Edgar Allan Poe, Benjamin Lacombe (review)
  • The Bunker #1 by Joshua Hale Fialkov, Joe Infurnari (review coming)
  • Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett (review coming)
This Week I'm Reading, amongst others:

The Age of IceThe Age of Ice by J.M. Sidorova
An epic debut novel about a lovelorn eighteenth-century Russian noble, cursed with longevity and an immunity to cold, whose quest for the truth behind his condition spans two thrilling centuries and a stunning array of historical events.
St. Petersburg, Russia, 1740. The Empress Anna Ioanovna has issued her latest eccentric order: construct a palace out of ice blocks. Inside its walls her slaves build a wedding chamber, a canopy bed on a dais, heavy drapes cascading to the floor—all made of ice. Sealed inside are two jesters, one a disgraced nobleman, the other a humpback, a performer by birthright. On the Empress’s command—for her entertainment—these two are to be married, the relationship consummated inside this frozen prison. In the morning guards enter to find them half-dead. Nine months later, two boys are born.
Surrounded by servants and animals, Prince Alexander Velitsyn and his twin brother Andrei have an idyllic childhood on the family’s large country estate. But as they approach manhood stark differences coalesce. Andrei is daring and ambitious; Alexander is tentative and adrift. One frigid winter night on the road between St. Petersburg and Moscow, as he flees his army post, Alexander comes to a horrifying revelation: his body is immune from cold.
The Awakening of Miss Prim: A Noveland

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

In this #1 international bestseller, a young woman leaves everything behind to work as a librarian in a remote French village, where she finds her outlook on life and love challenged in every way.
When Miss Prim, an independent, accomplished young woman, reads an ad in the newspaper seeking a feminine spirit to work as a librarian in the lush countryside of France, she finds herself compelled to apply. Little does she know what kind of world she is about to step into. 
Miss Prim dutifully accepts the job and begins organizing her employer's vast library. A knowledgeable, mysterious gentleman with very specific opinions about life, he challenges Miss Prim's seemingly unshakeable disposition. And as she becomes familiar with the other townspeople, she begins to realize that the surprising lifestyle of the town awakens amazement, perplexity, and even disdain in her. For in this tiny corner of the world, a flourishing colony of exiles have settled into a simple, rural existence, living around great literature, intellectual discussions, family, and sweet indulgences. Their peculiar and unconventional ways slowly test Miss Prim's most intimate ideas and fears as well as her most profound convictions. She quickly comes to realize that her advanced degrees did little to prepare her for the lessons she's being taught the least of which is a lesson in love.
So, that's it for me today! What was in your Mailbox this week? And what did you read?

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Weekly Overview

This holiday is seriously doing wonders for my reading time. I don't think I've posted this many reviews in ages, shame on me. But let's just be happy it's working and hope it continues into the rest of the year!

The DervishWednesday:
Well, that was my week. How did yours go?

Review: 'Tales of the Macabre' by Edgar Allen Poe, Benjamin Lacombe

Tales of the MacabreEdgar Allan Poe is the kind of author and poet who draws you in and then lets you go again, waiting for the next moment in which to ensnare you. Although I had read some of Poe's short stories, I didn't know that much about his writing style, so I'm very glad to have picked up this collection of stories.
A unique luxury edition of some of Edgar Allan Poe's famous short stories, Tales of the Macabre takes the reader into the heart of a dozen stories, including The Fall of The House of Usher, Berenice, and The Black Cat…all beautifully illustrated by Benjamin Lacombe. Includes Charles Baudelaire's essay on Poe's life and works.
Poe's stories are absolutely tragic. Each of them is infused with this idea of an old world which has passed, when aristocrats were noble, when their houses were crumbling vestiges of intellect and class and when nature was infused with a sense of gravitas. I love reading his stories because they really do transport you to a different world. However, something can also be said for the fact that many of his stories share the same protagonist and the same wife. He has his own trope, the pale, withdrawn man who is curious about life and yet suffers. I will get to the suffering in a bit. Similarly, the wife is always on the brink of death, always floating between being transitory and eternal. It's like you can see through his characters into the fabric of eternity behind them. Once you get to know them, it's a comfort to return to them rather than getting bored with them. And all of that is due to Poe's writing. He seems to be completely in control of language. Whereas sometimes language runs away with authors, not giving them the time of day or giving them too much and overloading on adjectives, Poe seems to calmly direct language where he wants it to go. He can go on a tangent mid-sentence and yet no miss a beat. It can be confusing at times, but he always leads you back. It is a good thing this collection starts with 'Berenice', because it is a prime example of his eloquence.

One of the things that mark Poe's stories is his relentless drive, it seems, to understand guilt. Poe is famous for his drinking, his biggest vice, and for his tragic family life. He lost his natural parents at the age of two and his wife died and I always felt that this, his drinking and the sense of doom that pervades his stories are related. Many of his stories, especially The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat, centre around characters that seem to be tragically flawed into misunderstanding the world and their wrongdoings are punished not by others but by their very own nature that betrays them. Poe seems to have been very interested in how the human psyche explains doing wrong to itself and I don't think he ever found a satisfying answer. However, it made for fascinating stories that grip the reader in their claustrophobia and in their prose that brings mania as close as is safe. Although this doesn't always work for him, 'Ligeia' is a very confused story, his writing style usually carries him through. This was the only story I disliked.

Adding Baudelaire's essay tot he collection was a stroke of genius because reading Baudelaire's essay was an absolute delight. His writing style is completely different from Poe's, although in many ways, ironically, they are writing about the same kind of things. From his essay Poe emerges as a tragically flawed, yet beautiful hero who's lot in life it was to suffer and from which suffering he gave us, the readers, something worthwhile. Personally I also loved Baudelaire's ranting against what he perceived to be America's attitude towards its artists. It definitely made me want to read more of Baudelaire's work.

Something also needs to be said about Benjamin Lacombe fascinating artwork. For me, Tim Burton's animation always brought some Poe to mind. The darkness and yet humanity of his figures resembled Poe's stories quite closely. Lacombe paid very close attention, I feel, to Burton's style but improved on it. His drawings are absolutely beautiful and capture the essence of Poe's stories perfectly. Similarly to Poe, Lacombe worked with women a lot. They are shifting yet permanent, constantly there. His illustrations are a great addition to the stories and give the collection something different that sets it apart from many others.

I give this collection...

4 Universes.

I loved reading this collection. Poe was a magnificent author who had a gift and style unlike any other I have ever read. I have read other Gothic or "macabre" stories, but none reach Poe's level of clarity and humanity while being so other-worldly. Although there are some stories in which I feel Poe lost control of himself, he will always tell you a fascinating story. Benjamin Lacombe's illustrations for this collection make it a must-have, not only for Poe fans but also to fans of Gothic literature.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Friday Memes, A Bit of Fry & Laurie and Atwood's 'Oryx and Crake'

This is my last Friday in Chamonix (cue sad music) but I've had a great holiday despite now looking a little bit like a lobster. I might post some pictures once I'm home but I did put up some on my Instagram, in case you want to see some mountains! But Friday is a day for memes and I very much like all the ones below.

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Billy over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer and this week's question was submitted by Elizabeth from Silver's Reviews.

Do covers pull you in?
Great question to which there is quite an easy answer. Covers are definitely a major draw but they can also be a massive turn-off. Sometimes I really can't stand the cliched romance novel covers with the posed couple. Back in the day they were disgustingly romantic, nowadays they usually feature a couple halfway through sex! I tend to be drawn to more abstract covers, in the sense that I prefer it if a cover features artwork or some kind of design rather than a picture. If I see one of those on Netgalley I'm always drawn to it.
Take the two covers above, the classic A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and Bête by Adam Roberts. Although the two don't seem to have a lot in common design wise, both really draw me in because they're different and they're art, in their own right.But the cover doesn't tend to be the decisive factor. Although a cover might draw me in, I don't read it unless the synopsis is good. Also, yesterday I found this website, The Book Cover Archive which is exactly what it says on the tin: an archive of innumerous covers. It's amazing to browse through and I sort of want all of them as posters!

GFCFollow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee and this week's question is a lot of fun:

Post a funny Youtube video (doesn't have to be book related)!

I love Youtube, potentially a little bit too much. One of the main reasons I got addicted to it was because it has all of the episodes of some of my favourite comedy shows on it, such as Who's Line Is It Anyway, That Mitchell and Webb Look and, of course, A Bit of Fry And Laurie. And it's from the latter that I'm sharing one of my absolute favourite sketches. This one always makes me laugh! It's called... 'Oprah Winfrey'.

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy, #1)Book Beginnings and Friday 56 are hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader and Freda over at Freda's Voice respectively. This week I'm using Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I was accepted for Atwood's MaddAddam on Netgalley which is the final book in a trilogy, so now I'm trying to read the others relatively quickly, although I think they both have about 450 pages.
Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.

'Snowman wakes before dawn. He lies unmoving, listening to the tide coming in, wave after wave sloshing over the various barricades, wish-wash, wish-wash, the rhythm of heartbeat. He would so like to believe he is still asleep.' p.1
The novels are post-apocalyptic and I think this beginning sort of makes that clear. So far Snowman (actually called Jimmy) is quite a sympathetic character and I quite like how Atwood is building up this post-apocalyptic world.

'Several years passed. They must have passed, thinks Snowman: he can’t actually remember much about them except that his voice cracked and he began to sprout body hair.' p.56
This is Snowman reminiscing, I think. Snowman is quite funny in how laconic he seems to be, but then some of his memories are quite detailed. I hope this one keeps developing as well as it is now!

So, this was my post for today! Hop over to my review for The Time Machine if you feel like it or leave a link in the comments to your own meme post!