Sunday, September 28, 2014

Review: By Referral Only by Lyla Payne

Hi all!

The second book in a series I just recently started.




Author: Lyla Payne
Title: By Referral Only
Release date: 27th of June 2013
Series: Whitman University #2
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, New Adult
Pages: 291 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

After being unceremoniously dumped freshman year because of her family’s “new money” status, Ruby Cotton has taken care not to put her heart on the line. No matter how enticing Emilie and Quinn make it look, relationships are scary and hard—while a string of flings is easy and fun. That’s what Ruby wants. Easy and fun. The only problem is, when it comes to satisfaction in the sack, most of the boys at Whitman are nothing but pretty window dressing and false advertising.

Ruby takes it upon herself to make campus life more fulfilling, creating a referral database that allows female students to rate their sexual experiences, thereby informing girls of what they’re getting into before agreeing to a date.

When her acting partner, Liam Greene, finally shows some interest, Ruby figures she won’t need to utilize the helpful gossip. He’s handsome, fun, and most importantly, not a guy she’d ever fall for hard enough to let him break her heart.

Not only that, but dating Liam gives Ruby the perfect excuse to say no to Cole Stuart.

As a star swimmer and heir to honest-to-God Scottish royalty, Cole sits at the top of Whitman’s A-list—but he’s also the lowest rated referral on Ruby’s website. The ratings make rejecting his repeated requests for a date a no-brainer, but her real reason for avoiding Cole runs deeper than a string of unsatisfied exes. 

He’s gorgeous, he oozes sweetness and charm, and the electricity between them could power half of Whitman, but Ruby knows it will only last until his family or friends convince him she’s not good enough.

Before she knows it she’s falling anyway, waiting for the other shoe to drop but clinging to a tentative hope that Cole might be as different as he seems. When the secret behind his low ratings comes to light, that hope is torn apart, and Ruby wonders if she was right to give him her heart…and whether she has the strength to let him keep it.

Review:

I finished the first book in the series only a couple of weeks ago and since I was still feeling it, I decided to go on with the second quite fast, so here it.

Based on reviews I had read I was expecting to be annoyed with Ruby because of her mentality that just because she’s "new money" and, thus, not worthwhile for any guy from "old money," she didn’t even bother at anything else but sex or less with guys from that daunting category. But, luckily, she was much more reasonable, realistic and logical with that issue and overall. Her fear came from disappointment and betrayal of trust, so of course, why wouldn’t she be wary of such a situation reoccurring. With that out of the way, I kind of liked Ruby and rooter for her. She acted and thought like a young, free and from rags-to-riches privileged girl (who had some insecurity issues) and I appreciated her attitude, especially regarding sex and guys. She didn’t hide the fact that she enjoyed sex and a good time in bed was important for a relationship or sometimes just for fun or even casual. It was also interesting to see Emilie (the heroine from the first book) and Ruby clash because of their different relationships and how their thought process regarding that worked. It was fun to observe how the advice Emilie gave goes against how she herself acted when she was having trouble with Quinn in the first book and how Ruby called her out on that. Overall, it was nice to catch up on what Emilie and Quinn were doing and, as expected, they were going strong.

I was quite excited for the explanation on why Cole had such a low score on Ruby’s site, but it was somewhat anticlimactic, I was hoping for something embarrassing or not so against his persona and character that as a reader I’d come to know till that point. Also, it was kept secret for far too long, I was already impatient. Despite this, Cole was a sweetheart, being gorgeous, Scottish and a star swimmer didn’t work against him as well. I loved how he stood up for her, respected her and took her as she was.

I was fond of the scenes where they were both cleaning the fish, a nice bonding experience while being in the role of "the help." I really liked the idea for the sexual expertise comparing and grading site, it was an interesting and fresh premise. Girls also want to have a great time between the sheets so why not help out your sisters and provide info on where to place your bets and where to steer clear.

While I find the thought of the site exciting, it was also somewhat frustrating, because Cole started to pursue Ruby and one of the main reasons she didn’t give him the time of the day was because of his too low score. Her realizing the potential and the fact that he was an extremely great guy who deserved the benefit of the doubt was too slow and it dragged. Then again, it did bring about a decent amount of sexual tension, so I can’t fully complain about the slow progress.

Overall:

A decent continuation and a sweet couple with somewhat unusual issues holding them back. The third book of the series doesn’t really sound to be my thing, because of the plot and characters, so I think I will skip that, but I genuinely like the series, so you can count on me taking on the fourth book sometime soon!

3 stars!

LIIS

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Manga Review: Marmalade Boy by Wataru Yoshizumi

Hi all!

A manga review this time :)




Author: Wataru Yoshizumi
Title: Marmalade Boy
Volumes: 8
Release period: 2002-2003
Publisher: TokyoPop
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: around 200 pages in each volume
Availability: Long out of print, might be available in libraries

Summary:

Talk about dysfunctional! Miki is horrified to learn that her parents have swapped with another couple, and that all four now plan to live under one roof. But when her new stepbrother, Yuu, shows up, he appears to be just the one to ease her mental anguish... that is, until she sees the bitterness beneath his cool exterior. The strange romance that follows would make any love triangle seem ordinary by comparison.

Review:

Now this series is a true shoujo classic and one of the first, popular and well-liked girls manga translated into English. The books were also made into an 76-episode anime series in the 90s. I can clearly see why it’s so popular and loved. 

The manga is a delightful light romantic comedy/drama/slice-of-life series. It borders on overdramatic and tangled-relationships-mayhem, like most such genre mangas tend to fall into which span more than 5 volumes, but it never crosses it, thus I couldn’t really find anything or anyone overly annoying. This is already a huge advantage to the series. You might feel that now she/he is almost over the line, but then it’s settled and smart choices have been made. This made the characters likable and easy to root for.

The overall plot is kind of soap-opera-like yet nothing is over exaggerated or overdramatized and issues and controversial topic are introduced in such a light and positive way that I gladly take everything in that the story gives me without any complaint or weirdness. And amongst the delicate topics is the spine of the manga: Two sets of married couples falling in love with the other’s husbands and wives, the children of these couples falling in love, student-teacher relationship, etc. They are the building blocks that keep the story exciting. There were also several love rivals for the main couple, but the former knew when to give up so it didn’t get out hand or ridiculous. There were no love triangles that fully realized, which was wonderful.

Miki and Yuu were adorable together, there was no excessive jealousy, controlling behavior, huge insecurities, giant obstacles to overcome (ok, there was one in the final volume, but I like to pretend that doesn’t exist), misunderstandings or anything that came across overly frustrating or irrational – their relationship was simply sweet, straightforward and ordinary (despite their parents being married and them being one step apart from being step-siblings).

The final volume, however, was pointless, really silly and simply a way to squeeze out another volume without actually anything worthwhile happening there. The whole issue on the forefront in that volume was illogical and easily solved, they could have just talked to their parents and things would have been solved in volume 7 in a snap, but it had to be dragged and this also made it seem out-of-place with the overall atmosphere of the manga. The air turned really angsty, childish and theatrical.

The art has for someone like me, who has read manga for over 10 years, a nostalgic, oldie style. It’s all clean, the panels are quite airy, there isn’t a cluttered amount of text or drawings, so it’s also easy and fast to get through. The art needs also to be complimented in the sense that teenagers actually look their age, adults are clearly adults and I don’t feel that I’ve been stuck in a world of gorgeous supermodel manga characters.

From the characters, Miki was definitely my favorite, since she is all-around lovable, quirky and cute. Yuu was slightly mysterious, smart, handsome and somewhat mischievous. I also liked Ginta, Miki’s first love – he was such an awkward boyish nice-guy. Even the serene, introverted and beautiful Meiko, Miki’s best friend, was sympathetic and likable.

Overall:

This is actually one of the ideal first shoujo manga I would recommend to try out when you haven’t read manga before and want to, without much hassle, slowly dive into Japanese comics and, specifically, the girl’s manga genre. It’s doesn’t have that many volumes, the topics aren’t too drastic, Japanese culture and daily life isn’t too overwhelmingly contrasty in it, the characters are very likable – it’s simply an excellent introduction to the shoujo genre.

4 stars!

Other covers from the series:

    


  


LIIS

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White - 5 Star Review!

Hi all!

A very positive surprise!




Title: Kiersten White
Release date: 9th of September 2014
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Romance, Fantasy, Historical
Published by: HarperTeen
Pages: 288 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets the gorgeous, enigmatic Finn, who introduces her to the secret world of Albion's nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn't—power, money, status . . . and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, and the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess them. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits, can stop him.

Review:

I’ve read so much positive feedback regarding this book that I had to have it in my TBR pile, even though, I deleted it some time ago due to the pile being unbearably huge already. I’m, however, glad that I decided to give this a second chance, because it seems, it got an awesome 5 stars!

There is so much to appreciate about this lovely and magical stand-alone, so here are some aspects I loved:

The world-creating is simply marvelous, it’s detailed yet doesn’t overwhelmed you and has endless possibilities. The idea is also more on the original side with aristocrats wielding magic that ordinary people have no idea about. In addition, the topic of conquered and colonized culture against the dominating one was intriguing and provided color. The setting was great as well, historical fantasy YA always has something mysterious and compelling about it.

The whole relationship of Jessamin and Finn was über cute and sweet, and not only because she’s the poor servant girl and he the dashing Lord. The whole shadow thing and them arguing and fighting each other and then her just fighting him and him trying to court her and all the glorious banter - oh the brilliant banter! They were so adorable together, shy and awkward, but the chemistry was definitely all there. Oh, and the cards were a really romantic touch.

I respected and adored Jessamin, she had attitude, was independent, self-sufficient and while she could be be too stubborn at times and that would annoy me, she was brave and a role-model. Also, kudos to the author for making her darker skinned, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about a heroine who wasn’t Caucasian or Asian, it simply hasn’t crossed my path. Finn was as well very likable and incredibly charming and boyish. Rich, powerful and handsome, he was the whole package, but he was also simply an all-around nice guy.

I really welcomed the sinister and vicious villain in this, he was just dastardly and I thought it worked superbly for the plot and magical world. I also have to give a shout out to Eleanor, a remarkably humorous, tricky and politely smart-ass friend that Jassamin makes. Mr Bird was his own person as well, who cares if he was only a crow.

What didn’t work (but I didn’t mind as much, because everything else was just so delightful):

While I’m so glad that there is no sequel, having this as a stand-alone, I would have wanted more. More background information about the political, social and magic related topics, a million times more romance, swoony moments and simply scenes spent together with Jessamin and Finn – there were far too little, they were sufficient, but when something is done so right, one always craves for more. I think the possibilities to explore and what to focus on in this world were quite vast and limitless.

The ending was rushed and the final twist, while intriguing, felt odd and out-of-place, simply because it went by so fast that I never had time to mull it over and have myself come to terms with how everything unrolled and what was revealed. Some of the connections and explanations were kind of weak as well.

Overall:

I’m again soooo glad I gave this story a second glance, because I would have missed out on a lot. It’s a charming, emotional, well-written and well-imagined story, yes, it’s short and flies by like magic, but it’s one of the most delicious short book-bites I’ve had in a long while. I definitely have to check out others books by this author!

5 stars!

LIIS

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Movie Review: The Maze Runner

Hi all!

Even though, the release date is on the 19th, there were some pre-screenings which were open for all to attend. So I'm lucky to have seen this movie earlier than most.




Title: The Maze Runner
Director: Wes Ball
Writers: Noah Oppenheim (screenplay), Grant Pierce Myers (screenplay), T.S. Nowlin (screenplay), James Dashner (novel)
Release date: 19th of September 2014 (in Estonia)
Genre: Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Stars: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter

Summary:

Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they're all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow "runners" for a shot at escape. 

Review:

Well, this shouldn’t sound unusual, but again I haven’t read the book. But, I have been curious about it for the longest of time. Since dystopian or anything similar isn’t really even remotely my genre, then I haven’t managed to pull myself together. Fortunately, there are always movie adaption – when I’m lucky.

This movie really impressed me and I found myself enjoying it thoroughly. The plot can be overall divided into two parts. The first having a secretive, tense and foreboding atmosphere with the viewer being introduced to this small community and its inhabitants, getting to know the dynamics and reality of this clear spot within the maze and following the characters seeking answers. I was very fond of the first part, it had a decent pace, enough questions were raised and answers given to keep the story intriguing, but not frustrating and, the most important, the movie was very skilled at making me distinguish, understand the role and really care about these boys. Characterization was very well done.

The second part was also the reason I can’t really give the movie top marks. Suddenly, around 20 minutes before the end, the pace went crazy, everything started to happen all at once and the overall atmosphere was changed to overly action-packed. The ending was simply too stuffed with information, fast and it totally threw off the balance with the first part. Of course, answers were provided, those being logical and reasonable is up to debate, but it came across really messy and rushed. And, of course, even without spelling it out, there was a clear message of “to be continued” in the end.

Visually, the movie was stunning. The labyrinth was like one of the actual main characters: a little run down and faded, but vicious, limiting, careless and deceiving. The scene where Thomas and Minho are running like ants through a moving and changing maze is beyond awesome. I loved the whole look of the movie, it scored perfect marks there.

I actually read through a detailed summary of the book after seeing the movie and, let’s be honest, a bunch of aspects were obviously changed, but at least it felt as if the modifications made the movie more compact, easier to follow and even enhanced the final outcome and experience. I guess the ones who’ve read the book can comment here, but I pretty much loved what I saw.

I’m so glad we have a boy hero in a YA adaption again, they are so rare. Dylan O’Brien did wonderful, despite this role being kind of one-dimensional and there wasn’t really an opportunity to show any exceptional acting talent. But, comparing him to Teen Wolf’s Stiles, who is a complete opposite of Thomas, Dylan managed this better than expected and I was very pleased. Plus, he’s kind of geeky gorgeous, so that’s never a bad thing!

The biggest praise I think belongs to Will Poulter who was so unexpectedly manly, tough, solemn and strong as Gally. Again, a complete opposite of the only other role I’ve seen him taking on – Kenny in We're the Millers, where he was a hopeless wimp, a sympathetic and brave one, but a wimp nonetheless. The transformation was hard to miss and not be impressed by.

Chuck was such a red cheeked and chubby sweetheart who you couldn’t help but get attached to. Thomas Brodie-Sangster I will forever remember from Love Actually, but I thought he fit here perfectly; he was calm, collected and respected, even though, he’s small and delicate-looking. And finally, I’m so glad that Kaya Scodelario as Teresa wasn’t just a romantic interest. Minho was hot!

Overall:

Go see it! Now, it’s without a doubt one of the best recent YA adaptions, both story-wise, visually and acting-wise. This is more a 4,5 star rating than 4, but it's not completely 5 either. Go see it!   

4 (4.5) stars!

LIIS

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Review: Broken At Love by Lyla Payne

Hi all!

And another review!




Author: Lyla Payne
Title: Broken At Love
Release date: 8th of March 2013
Series: Whitman University #1
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Pages: 340 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

When a knee injury ends twenty-year-old Quinn Rowland’s pro tennis career, he’s not only dumped by his hot Russian girlfriend but ordered to attend college by his disinterested billionaire father. A rich kid who’s not used to being disappointed by life, Quinn and his sociopathic half-brother Sebastian create a frat house game intended to treat girls how they see them—as simple game pieces to be manipulated for their pleasure.

College sophomore Emilie Swanson knows Quinn’s reputation—after all, he did send one of her sorority sisters into therapy earlier in the semester—but the game and his charm bring them closer together and soon she starts to believe there’s more to Quinn than people think.

But what if the more is something darker than a game of toying with emotions and breaking hearts?

Quinn and Emilie might be falling for each other, but there are secrets he’s not ready to tell—and lifestyle changes he’s reluctant to make. She willingly stepped on the court, but if Emilie finds out she started out as nothing as a pawn in Quinn and Sebastian’s twisted game, she might never forgive him. 

To his surprise, Quinn finds that he might finally care about someone more than he cares about himself…even if that means letting Emilie walk away for good.

Review:

The book wasn’t something overly original or had some plot devices that managed to surprise me or did anything remarkable to get out of this typical NA plot trap. Nevertheless, it was a decent college romance story with quite an addictive plot.

I read reviews saying that Quinn was a complete douche and unredeemable, but let’s be honest, he never promised any of the girls something he didn’t intend to give them: a relationship, love, a steady and loyal partner, etc. It was the girls’ choice to enter into this… affair (?) with him, so yes, I was ready to hate his guts, but it didn’t really occur. However, this doesn’t mean that his intentions and methods were in any way right, but someone who was beyond redemption he was most definitely not – it takes two to tango. Also, several times I read that Emilie should have stopped chasing after him like a lost puppy and ended things after the multitude of times that Quinn disappointed and hurt her. Here, I was ready to be frustrated with her, but again, this didn’t really happen, because I wasn’t quite sure if you could call her behavior “naively running after him.” Yes, she gave him chances, was there for him, slept with him, BUT she did that accepting that he didn’t want a commitment, but she still decided by herself to wait till he was ready, because obviously she felt that something, knew what she wanted and gave his douche behavior the benefit of the doubt – and it seems it paid off.

Ok, I don’t know how many times I’ve said this, but please let’s stop with the compromising photo hassle for the final conflict. It’s just bothersome. Also, the brother was such a creeper, it wasn’t even funny, but he fit as a villain. Both of the fathers were worse douches than Quinn, so if you want to hate someone in the book, then hate on either of them or both. Another con: The steamy scenes didn’t really do anything for me, they just were. The ending seemed to be too polished and bright in a sense as well, but I actually like happy endings for people with huge issues and hard times, so it was fine.

Characters:

Emilie – I loved that she wasn’t some naïve virgin, she knew what she got herself into and took it with arms wide open – and I respected her for this. If you think about it, she was incredibly strong, determined and a true fighter who went after what she wanted. I also liked that she wasn’t a wallflower or outcast liked many NA heroines I’ve read about lately.

Quinn – His way of dealing with the pain was destructive and wrong not only to himself, but also to the people he intentionally hurt, but it WAS real, stabbing and heavy pain he had to go trough nonetheless. His ego crushed, career ruined, father hates him, no real goal in life anymore, psycho brother, etc and he obviously wasn’t up to the challenge to fight this by himself – not everyone can handle so many issues and come out clean without any additional aid. However, him reacting to this one beating so carelessly and knowing about that gave him real minus points. But, he could also be incredibly sweet and considerate, eg. on how he secretly helped out Emilie with her problems.

Overall:

It had its flaws, but I was intrigued enough to definitely continue with the series. I’m looking forwards to Ruby’s story.

3 stars!

LIIS

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review: Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins

Hi all!

Another day, another review!




Author: Wendy Higgins
Title: Sweet Reckoning
Release date: 29th of April 2014
Series: The Sweet Trilogy #3
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Romance, Contemporary, Paranormal
Published by: HarperTeen
Pages: 405 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

Beloved YA author Wendy Higgins delivers the explosive conclusion to the Sweet Evil trilogy. In this dramatic finale to the epic love story between Anna Whitt and Kaidan Rowe, the time has come for Anna, daughter of a guardian angel and a fallen one, to accept her fate as the chosen one. She is destined to rid the earth of demons once and for all. But as Anna and her Nephilim allies prepare for the evil brewing, the powerful Dukes use Anna's love for bad boy Kaidan Rowe against her, and her strength is put to the ultimate test. How far will the two of them go to keep each other alive? Will love conquer all in the final battle between good and evil?

Review:

I’m so proud of myself! I seldom really manage to stay on board till the end of a series, either getting bored, forgetting or becoming disinterested quite fast. So the fact that I finished the final book says a lot about my favor for this series. This, however, doesn’t mean that there are no flaws, annoying factors or anything that I wouldn't change. And with the case of the Sweet trilogy, this is a solid 3 star series and the fact that the rating isn’t 4 or 5 doesn’t mean that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it or that it isn’t a wonderful series, just there are some aspects that hindered it to become a great one.

First things first, I rarely laugh out loud when reading, even if it’s genuinely hilarious, but the whole Big Rotty debacle had me cracking up. It was just ridiculously funny and a perfect device to have the mood go up before reality came knocking, which it did every time you or the characters thought that they could take a breath.

The final confrontation between the Dukes and the Neph was quite thrilling and there was a lot of tension on how the good guys were going to win the day. The final battle was very well written and I was definitely on the edge of my seat. Also, throughout the book it was exciting to figure out and play guessing game on who was an allay and who wasn’t.

What I appreciated the most about the book wasn’t that much the romance, but the friendship between the Neph group and the functional and loving child-parent relationships. Those were to me the spine of the trilogy. I also found the epilogue very sweet and really a cherry on top of all the trouble. It left me feeling warm and content inside.

I didn’t, however, like the solution they found to keep Anna’s “innocence,” but yet have the Dukes see her has “fallen.” In a sense it was an interesting way around it and a twist, but I felt that the message it projected might give young girls the wrong idea. I think you can be pure of heart even without going through this “thing” and not being a virgin. The fact that you have sex doesn’t mean that you are now tainted and dirty. I also have to mention the selfie from Anna, that made me raise my eyebrow and not in a positive way. Moreover, I wasn’t quite fond of the unexpected pregnancy that came about with one of the characters, it was just out of place, unexpected and completely irresponsible behavior in that situation.

Also, there wasn’t much happening before the final fight. I mean, of course, stuff was going on, but it felt like a huge filler before the big showdown. Yes, it was nice to spend time with the characters, get to know what everyone was up to, get to know them better and follow them on their down time, but I wanted more action from the last book.

Characters:

Anna – I’ve always been quite fond of Anna, she doesn’t get on my nerves much and she seems like a nice girl. The selfie things was kind of odd and I wasn’t a fan of that, but overall I guess she’s a decent heroine.

Kaidan – I liked the mysterious and seductive bad boy in the first two books more than the head-over-heels-in-love puppy he was presented as in this book. I still liked him overall, but he seemed to only breathe and live for Anna and I wanted a less whipped Kaidan.

Overall:

And it’s over! Well, it’s a good series and finale. I was hoping for slightly better, but overall, all the loose ends were tied up, those who needed punishing were punished and those who fought well were rewarded.

3 stars!

LIIS

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review: Rival by Penelope Douglas - 5 Star Review!

Hi all!

A great romance from a great new author!




Title: Rival
Release date: 26th of August 2014
Series: Fall Away #2
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, Contemporary
Published by: Piatkus
Pages: 368 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

Madoc and Fallon. Two estranged teenagers playing games that push the boundaries between love and war . . .

She's back.

For the three years she's been away at boarding school, there was no word from her. Back when we lived in the same house, she used to cut me down during the day and then leave her door open for me at night.

I was stupid then, but now I'm ready to beat her at her own game . . .

I'm back.

Three years and I can tell he still wants me, even if he acts like he's better than me.

But I won't be scared away. Or pushed down. I'll call his bluff and fight back. That's what he wants, right? As long as I keep my guard up, he'll never know how much he affects me . . .

Review:

How is it possible that some NA/YA leave me so incredibly cold and this author, with her already second story I’ve read, can get so much emotion out of me that it’s incredible (me, who is quite tame in that department to begin with), what’s more, this plot and characters aren’t overly unique or unheard of in the NA/YA genre. Or just maybe, love-hate romance is what gets me fired up and is my OTT (one true thing), but then again, I’ve read about such plot devices before and there hasn't been no such reaction, not even close, as I noticed during Rival (and the first book Bully as well). In conclusion, the author is simply a black belt high ninja master of angsty romance with some super-secret a thousand-years-old techniques that actually make the reader FEEL when reading and get really absorbed into the story. I bow down to you my master!

So what was so astonishingly exception about this story (at least to me)? Read on!

Angst, glorious angst, but in reasonable and tolerable dosages that make you only want for more yet don’t spoil you so it doesn’t get dull and frustrating quickly.

The huge misunderstanding – I really don’t believe that I’m the only one who worships this trope, because it’s usually the source of all the gratifying angst. It was also handled quite skillfully in this story and was believable (as much as you can with angst), not a device drowned in childish behavior, lack of reasonable communication and revenge.

Sympathetic, messed-up, but still likable main couple: The push and pull, love/hate, I-want-you-I-don’t-want-you, together-apart relationship of Madoc and Fallon was pure torture, but sweet and welcome torture I enjoyed and completely relished in. They were so right for each other, but the circumstances and the timing wasn’t always in their favor so they had a lot of bad blood, misery, disappointment, loneliness and issues to overcome before they could remotely be anything like a healthy loving couple. And I cheered them on along the whole way!

A tragedy in the past – now when this came to light, I was really hit on the head, because it was so devastating and how it was revealed to the reader and handled (didn’t really like how it was exposed to one character later, however – too rushed) – it just gripped me!

Meeting up with the couple from the previous book was a pleasant get-together after it being a while when I read the first one. I liked where they were and where they were headed.

A separate paragraph goes to the steamy scenes:
Wow, these were one of the hottest I’ve ever read, EVER. You were emotionally prepared, the tension was high and ready to snap any moment and simply the atmosphere and lead-up to all scenes was the key. An effective build-up is everything that a memorable steamy scenes needs and at this the author absolutely excelled at. They weren’t scenes just thrown out there to be over and done with just because romance requires them, they really were significant and, well, hot.

What I didn’t like was that the story dragged at one point and went on for a while with SOMETHING happening, but without any ACTUAL progress. Also, I didn’t entirely like how everything wrapped up in the end, it came across a little too smooth – then again I like when things work out for everyone so I’ll shut up now. 

Overall:

Another winner! I truly savored this book and me, who’s really stingy with my 5 stars, giving it one should be the biggest praise I can bestow. A genuinely gripping and emotional series that I whole-heartedly recommend to anyone who likes romance (and angst).

5 stars!

LIIS

Monday, September 8, 2014

Review: Son of No One by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Hi all!

It's a new week with a new review!




Title: Son of No One
Release date: 2nd of September 2014
Series: Dark-Hunter #29
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 429 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle

Summary:

In Son of No One, next in the blockbuster The Dark-Hunters series by Sherrilyn Kenyon, it’s not easy being life’s own personal joke, but Josette Landry has made an unstable peace with the beast. Completely down on her luck, Josette takes a job with a local paranormal group as a photographer and camerawoman. Yeah, they’re even crazier than she is. The only paranormal thing she believes in is the miracle that keeps her rusted-out hoopty running. But when something truly evil is released into the world, they are forced to call in reinforcements.

From the moment Josette meets Cadegan, she knows something about him isn’t quite right.  Mysterious and armed with lethal sarcasm, he seems a lot older than his age.

Centuries ago, Cadegan was viciously betrayed into an immortal prison by the only person he’d ever trusted and was cast into an immortal prison. Forced against his will to do good, he hates everything in life. All he wants is a way out. But for the damned there is only eternal suffering. And yet there is something about Josette that intrigues him. Something he can’t seem to fight and the last time he felt this way about a woman, it cost him everything.

He knows he has to stay away from her, but the unleashed demon is hell-bent on consuming her soul. If one more innocent is taken, he will be sent back to an unimaginable prison that makes his current hell look like paradise. But how can he keep her safe when his being with her is the greatest threat of all? 

Review:

Hmmm… I keep reading and hoping and reading and hoping that the series struggles out of this 3 star slump it’s been in for me already years. Again, this next installment had some awesome parts and things I always expect and love about these books, but then again it had so many aspects that just continue dragging the series further down, so unfortunately 2 stars this time – it just didn’t rise above that. I’m genuinely sad!

This book had some unexplored plot devices for the series, for example, most of the action taking place in a medieval-like demon dimension, fairies, Britannia and so on. So it definitely had some fresh ideas and new paths not crossed before. Thanks to this, the book had a different vibe to it than the previous ones, which was unexpectedly pleasant.

I think one of the most anticipated aspects about this series are the hints, clues and information given regarding the multitude of intriguing, mysterious and compelling characters introduced. They are the ones you want to know more about, but Kenyon keeps a tight grip on every piece of itty bitty info and I predict she will eternally keep you craving for more, because the amount of such characters she creates isn’t exactly small and at least in every book there is a new addition to this elite secretive club of hunks. At times it annoys me, but the joy of finding out something new always compensates for the frustration. Also, in this installment, we get a lot, but not nearly enough regarding one of the members of this elusive club: Thorn. The tidbits were intriguing to say the least, especially the one in the very end before the epilogue.

I was extremely heart-warmed to see Ash and Styxx getting along so well and truly behaving like loving brothers. Theirs were one of the most memorable moments in the book.

Now to the cons:
I didn’t feel that there was a significant conflict or final obstacle in the book, of course, there was something, but it was too shallow and too easily brushed aside or at least it came across as such. There were again old loved characters just stuffed into the book without any substantial purpose, I want better for them to than just be mentioned or have one line of dialogue just for the sake of it. The story was too rushed and handled too superficially, especially during the second half and the same was with the romance, which is sad because the potential was all there, honestly, there was sooo much promise and I was so excited for this book.

Something that’s started to really bug me: I’m at a point where I need a summary, diagram or anything that will help sort out all the relations and connections between all the characters. I was so lost several times when new info and background knowledge regarding characters and their relations were thrown out there. Also, can there be a stop to the most-powerful-being craze, it’s like each new or even old character is more powerful than the last. When you think this is the über boss, then another comes along who makes mice out of the last ones.

Something about the characters:
I liked Cadegan, he was sympathetic, kickass and tortured, but not in an overdoing kind of way. Despite everything, he was a nice guy not some bitter and hateful badass. That was a pleasant surprise and kind of refreshing.

Jo, I wasn’t really that fond of, because while I adore smarty-pants and sarcastic heroines, she was just too much. Almost everything she said had some “hilarious” remark in it, at times it was so inappropriate and so against the mood of the situation that it got bothersome quickly. 

Overall:

The world of the Dark-Hunter series is fascinating, vast and addicting and I sincerely hope it will find its way out of this slump! That’s all I’m going to say.

2 stars!

LIIS

Friday, September 5, 2014

2 Movie Reviews: The Giver & The Hundred-Foot Journey

Hi all!

Two movie reviews this time :)




Title: The Giver
Director: Phillip Noyce
Writers: Michael Mitnick (screenplay), Robert B. Weide (screenplay), Lois Lowry (book)
Release date: 22th of August 2014 (in Estonia)
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
Stars: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep

Summary:

In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the "real" world. 

Review:

Again, I haven’t read the book and I don’t think I would have, because dystopian is one of the genres that I’m really not fond of at all. But, again, sometimes it’s great that movie adaptions are being made, then I can still get the gist and essence of the book (when lucky) without having to spend considerably more time reading.

What I liked:

At first I thought this would be like any other dystopian book/movie out there, but while of course, there were many parts that were similar to others from the genre, this movie was somehow more gripping, the pain and struggle wasn’t so much physical, but more emotional and mental.

I though the black and white and color use in this movie was brilliant and so much more illustrative of the huge divide in how the people with and without the memories saw everything. Also, it showcased the changes in Jonas so vividly and your own view changed alongside him.

The scenes with the memory transfers were intense and revealing. They clearly demonstrated all the lost emotions, feelings, pain and beauty.

Jeff Bridges was absolutely awesome, he fit the role so perfectly – wise, weary and full of so much calm emotion. The parents of Jonas were an interesting contrast to each other as well, played nicely by Katie Holmes (strict and commanding) and Alexander Skarsgard (soft and subtle).

The ending was vague, but the intriguing kind of vague, I didn’t understand if it was reality or not and what would happen, in a sense it was a cliffhanger and also an end where there could be several ways to interpret the finale.

What I didn’t like:

I couldn’t connect with Jonas, he simply didn’t reach me. In comparison, the Giver’s struggle and issues were all so out in the open and touchable.

I didn’t so much enjoy Meryl Streep, because she came across too stiff or maybe that’s just what the character is supposed to be like. She was too mechanical, and it wasn’t her doing, but I couldn’t stand the hair, it looked so ugly on her! Yes, I'm superficial.

Also, they weren’t supposed to break the rules and to keep that in check was what the medication was for, but already in the first scenes the three basically are shown going against them. That was odd. And as with many other dystopian worlds, the regime is made to make people live in peace without violence, quarrels, wars, etc, but to uphold this, they use violence, kill, etc, so this is something that annoys me with many books/movies of this genre, because it's completely illogical and undermines the whole plot.

Overall:

I’ll be honest, I liked this movie more than The Hunger Games and Divergent, I guess due to the subtly of the plot and there not being constant action and fighting going on, everything wasn’t “in my face” – I can’t explain it better. It was an emotional, deeper and provided a lot more material for thought. For some reason I think the book lovers will be somewhat disappointed, but as someone with no expectations, I really liked the movie.

4 stars!







Title: The Hundred-Foot Journey
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writers: Steven Knight (screenplay), Richard C. Morais (book)
Release date: 22th of August 2014 (in Estonia)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Stars: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal

Summary:

The Kadam family leaves India for France where they open a restaurant directly across the road from Madame Mallory's Michelin-starred eatery.

Review:

I’m not a fan of spicy food, I get a runny nose, tears in my eyes and my tongue is “burnt” and I can’t taste anything properly for some time. I like my food simple with emphasis on the original taste, I don’t often even put salt or pepper on my food not to mention all sorts of spices. Indian, Chinese, etc food that rely heavily on spices, I’m not really fond of and avoid. Also, I don’t understand eating one radish with a cool layout and some specks of something else on the plate and it’s supposed to be an unforgettable experience for the taste. Maybe I just haven’t got anything that mind-blowing to eat or I just lack a refined taste for gourmet food and appreciating the art of food preparing. I admit, I’m quite ignorant with this topic and don’t even mind. What I’m trying to say with all this is that the food part of the move was interesting and all, but left me quite cold and indifferent. On the other side, the family ties, passion and talent for something, going after what you want, staying true to yourself, opening up to new things – those were the aspects that made me like the move. The food was just a means to an end. 

What I liked:

I loved the dad! He was fun, determined (read: stubborn) and so full of life. And, of course, Helen Mirren was wonderful as this tough shell/soft inside cold, strict and aristocratic restaurant owner. I especially loved when those two had scenes together, because humor was sure to follow.

The setting was lovely, the French countryside looks so picturesque, serene and gorgeous.

The was such contrast between the life and people in the little town and the newly arrived Indian family. They complemented each other where needed and clashed several times as well. For example, I agree that the loud music, especially a type I’m not used to hearing, can be extremely annoying, and you have to think about the wishes of the people around you as well when your actions might disturb others. So, turning it put to show "rebellious attitude" was extremely childish.

As I already stated above, this movie had so much more to offer under all the food that was thrown at the watcher: racial issues, competition amongst colleagues (who like each other romantically), changing your beliefs, etc. 

What I didn’t like:

The main character was incredibly dull, he came alive through the food preparing where he obviously had some serious skills at, but since that part wasn’t the highlight for me in this movie, then stripped of this, Hassan was a bland bloke. Also, he was too good to be realistic, I mean whatever he did or wherever he went he blew everyone away. At least he was cute looking!

I wasn’t too happy with the romance as well. It seemed forced and wasn’t developed nearly enough to come across natural. Then again the romance was just a side-story. But, I did think that the actress playing Marguerite was very beautiful in a forest-fairy-like way.

Overall:

I haven’t read the book and I really don’t think I would miss anything if I don’t, because obviously there will be a lot of talk on food which doesn’t excite me at all. Nevertheless, some books work well for movies and sometimes seeing the movie is enough to get the positive aspects of a book. This was a charming movie and I quite liked it.

4 stars!



LIIS
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