Teaser Tuesdays #39 – April 21st: The Last Time We Say Goodbye

teasertuesdays

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I’ve only just started The Last Time We Say Goodbye, so I cannot say too many things about it, but so far this novel by Cynthia Hand sounds promising. I needed a dark contemporary read for my Bookish Bingo Spring challenge, and I guess this one definitely touches some touch subjects… Fingers crossed it says this good.

thelasttimewesaygoodbyegoodreadsblurb

My teaser (38%):

“Maybe I want to forget,” I say, just to be contrary. “Maybe it’d be easier to forget, and get on with my life. Isn’t that healthier? Moving on?”

What are you reading right now?

BOOK REVIEW: Evensong – by Krista Walsh

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Title: Evensong
(Meratis Trilogy #1)
Author: Krista Walsh
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
First published: January 28th 2014
Finished reading: April 18th 2015
Pages: 317
Rating 1,5

“We all feel the need to prove ourselves. Just because you lost doesn’t mean you’d decide differently next time.”

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At first glance Evensong had so much potential. An author ending up being stuck inside his own fantasy story definitely sounded like an interesting plot… Such a shame this novel by Krista Walsh didn’t live up to expectations. At all. The beginning of the story was acceptable, although I wasn’t completely convinced by the characters or prose. But when Krista Walsh decided to not simply stick to the ‘author trapped inside his fantasy novel‘ plot and introduced both a dragon, a sorcerer AND zombies into the plot, I lost all my hopes for this one. That Evensong is a huge disappointment is an understatement. The characters are flat and the prose is not convincing at all. Some of the ‘romance’ scenes even disturbing… This book just doesn’t work for me, and I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone.

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Jeff Powell is an author trying to finish one of his newest novels, but he seems to be unsure how to continue his story… Then one day he wakes up finding himself trapped inside the fictional world he himself created. Feldall is in danger, and his main characters need his help. He doesn’t know, but he doesn’t have full control of what happens in this fantasy world… The first proof being the spell they wrote to bring him there.

A dragon is tormenting the people of Feldall and he seems to be invincible… And there have been people disappearing without a trace as well. Jeff doesn’t know how to help, but since the enchantress cannot seem to perfect the spell to send him back home, he is stuck in the fictional world for now. And the main characters aren’t happy with him either. Plus, there is a new villain to be worried about that is about to unleash his powers on Feldall…

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This novel just didn’t work for me. The characters, plot, prose… All either close to ridiculous or flat and boring. When I first read the blurb of Evensong, I thought it sounded promising and the plot quite refreshing. I guess I was wrong. Another trilogy I won’t be finishing any time soon… And most likely never. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this novel, although it’s an Amazon kindle freebie in case you want to give it a try anyway. (Or at least it was when I downloaded and read it…)

BOOK REVIEW: The Storyteller – by Jodi Picoult

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Title: The Storyteller
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary
First published: 2013
Finished reading: April 17th 2015
Pages: 460
Rating 4,5

“History isn’t about dates and places and wars. It’s about the people who fill the spaces between them.”

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The Storyteller ended up being a mix between contemporary and historical fiction, where part of the story is set in the present and the rest of the story during WWII. Jodi Picoult has even incorporated a fantasy story that is written by one of the main characters during the war… This story about a Polish upior (similar to a vampire) plays a big role in the survival of a Jewish girl named Minka and is one of the links to the scenes set in the present. Those contemporary scenes are probably my least favorite, but still I liked most of the main characters. Some of the less important ones were a bit unbelievable though, and that’s probably why I haven’t given The Storyteller the full five stars… But the scenes set during WWII are so well written that they make up for the weaker contemporary scenes. Jodi Picoult described the situation of Minka and her Jewish family so well that I actually had tears in my eyes at some point… And I do not cry easily when I’m reading.

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Sage Singer doesn’t see herself as a Jew, but her grandmother Minka is a Holocaust survivor… Although she never talks about her experience. Sage had a car accident two years ago that left her with a scar on her face and without a mother… And she still struggles with her loss. To hide from society and her loss, Sage prefers to work night shifts at a local bakery. She normally tries to push people away, but one day she starts an unlikely friendship with an old retired teacher named Josef Weber. When they get to know each other a little better, he asks her for a huge favor: to help him kill himself. Sage is shocked, but Josef tries to get her to help him anyway by confessing his darkest secret: he was a Nazi SS guard during WWII, working in one of the death camps. Therefore, he deserves to die…

Sage first doesn’t believe him, but contacts the autorities anyway. The FBI has a special unit chasing old war criminals, and the guy in charge asks her to collect more information; forcing Sage to continue her friendship with Josef. As he starts telling more and more about his past, Sage doesn’t know if she can live with the horrible facts she now knows. How can she ever forgive a man who has done so many terrible things? And is she the right person to hand out that forgiveness? Her own grandmother is a Holocaust survivor; was she one of Josef’s victims?

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The sappy romance scenes were quite annoying, but the rest of the story made up for it. The chapters set during WWII were written brilliantly and full of emotion. Jodi Picoult chose to write from both Josef’s and Minka’s point of view, which gives you a general impression of both ‘sides’ of the situation and the consequences of certain actions. The ending of The Storyteller is definitely unexpected, although it wasn’t a total surprise after Josef’s blood group was mentioned… The upior fantasy story is an unique touch to this historical holocaust testimony, and is probably one of the reasons why I gave this novel such a high rating. That and the WWII chapters… In short, this novel is perfect for those who enjoy reading historical fiction, as long as you don’t mind some sappy romance scenes and bakery talk. The main character Sage is a baker like some of her ancestors, and baking plays an important role in the story…

BOOK REVIEW: The DUFF – by Kody Keplinger

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Title: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
Author: Kody Keplinger
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: September 7th 2010
Finished reading: April 16th 2015
Pages: 280
Rating 4

“No matter where you go or what you do to distract yourself, reality catches up with you eventually.”

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This is definitely not my typical read and I wasn’t completely convinced I was actually going to like this novel when I first started reading it. I guess I ended up being wrong about my suspicions. Have you ever had it happen that you both hated and loved a character? That is exactly what happened to me with the main characters in The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend. While I hated Bianca for using sex as a way to forget about her problems, I loved the fact that she had a strong character and in the end wasn’t afraid of being completely herself. I definitely understand what it feels to be a ‘DUFF’, but I wouldn’t ever respond the way she does in this novel by Kody Keplinger. Although in a way I admire her courage… The womanizer Wesley on the other hand; boy I hated his character. The typical arrogant teenager who thinks he thinks he’s the hottest guy on the planet and it’s his job to make girls feel miserable… Le sigh. But he ended up growing on me when he showed his sensitive side. The prose Kody Keplinger uses to describe her story is brilliant and made me laugh at various points in the story, and combined with a fast pace The DUFF is truly a pageturner.

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Bianca Piper is not what you call the ‘perfect’ cheerleader, but she is smart, sarcastic and has two loyal best friends. She doesn’t always feel attractive when she is with her goodlooking best friends Jessica and Casey, and sometimes she wonders why guys never pick her as a date instead of her friends… And then comes Wesley Rush along, the school’s hottie that tries to get in every girl’s pants. When he calls Bianca ‘the DUFF’, she is so angry she throws her coke in his face, but she cannot get the word DUFF out of her head afterwards…

Things at home aren’t great either and Bianca fears her parents will end up in a divorce. She desperately needs a distraction, and ends up kissing the guy she thoroughly hates. Soon, she and Wesley are doing a lot more than sharing just a simple kiss… An enemies-with-benefits relationship is born. But Bianca’s hatred turns out to be not as deep as she thinks, and to her horror she is starting to fall in love with him… The boy who keeps calling her Duffy.

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I would have never guessed I would enjoy reading The DUFF, but I did. The prose is briliant, funny and easy to read, and together with the fast pace I was able to read this novel in a heartbeat. I have a love-hate relationship with the characters, but it didn’t really take away from my reading pleasure. I don’t know if I would be able to watch the movie, but this novel by Kody Keplinger I would definitely recommend if you enjoy reading YA contemporary and don’t mind a few sex scenes.

BOOK REVIEW: And Then There Were None – by Agatha Christie

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Title: And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Classics, Mystery, Thriller
First published: 1939
Finished reading: April 14th 2015
Pages: 300
Rating 5

“But no artist, I now realize, can be satisfied with art alone. There is a natural craving for recognition which cannot be gain-said.”

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How I’ve managed to ignore the work of Agatha Christie for so long, I still don’t know. The mystery/thriller genre is one of my favorites, and her work is considered to be a classic… And now I’ve finally read And Then There Were None, I can see why. The prose is simply brilliant and the many plot twists make it hard to lay down this novel before reaching the end. The little Indian nursery rhyme that is revealed in the beginning gives you a glimpse of what will happen later on in the story… And the end is definitely shocking. And Then There Were None has all the ingredients of a great mystery read! Even though it was written back in 1939, the story doesn’t feel outdated. I instantly became an Agatha Christie fan after reading this classic, and I will definitely start reading more of her work in the future.

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Ten people that at first glance don’t seem to have anything in common are invited to spend some time on an island close to the Devon coast. Some of them as employees, other as guests… And none of them seem to have met the mysterious U.N. Ownen before, the man that is supposed to own the island. But still they decided to come, each of them convinced in a different way. When the guests first meet, they start suspecting something is a bit off… Their hosts are still not on the island, and they are greeted by two servants. The ten seem to be alone on the island, and there seems to be no way to go back to main land before the next morning…

There is a nursery rhyme displayed in every bedroom, and ten little Indian figures stand on the table. What do they mean? The guests soon find out they are unwilling participants in a macabre game… As they start dying one by one, and there doesn’t seem to be a way off the island. Is there someone else on the island hidden? Or is there a murderer in their midst? Tick tack, the clock is ticking and time is running out…

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Simply brilliant. And Then There Were None is considered as a modern classic and now I’ve read it, I can understand why. The prose, the plot, the characters, the plot twists… Everything just works together perfectly and makes this novel by Agatha Christie into one of my favorite mystery/thriller reads ever. The nursery rhyme is a great unique touch that definitely adds to the reading pleasure, and the end will blow you away. Definitely recommended for fans of the mystery/thriller genre!

Friday Finds #32 – April 17th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at Should Be Reading and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. I’m still trying not to add any new titles to my already exploding TBR pile, but I guess I’m hopelessly failing. 😉  Below you can find a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page.

My finds:

fridayfindsapril17th2015 Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: Red Queen – by Victoria Aveyard

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Title: Red Queen
(Red Queen #1)
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: February 10th 2015
Finished reading: April 11th 2015
Pages: 383
Rating 4,5

“I’m a Red girl in a sea of Silvers and I can’t afford to feel sorry for anyone, least of all the son of a snake.”

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There has been a huge hype around Red Queen ever since it was published, and to be honest I wasn’t sure whether I should read it or not. Hyped books in general let me down, but I’m glad this novel by Victoria Aveyard turned out to an exception to that rule. The general plot of Red Queen might not be the most original one when you compare it to other YA fantasy novels, and the existence of yet another love triangle made me frown, but the story itself is still awesome enough to deserve the 4.5 stars I decided to give it. I love the fierceness of the main character Mare. Even if the fact that various boys seem to fight over her made me cringe, her personality and special power seriously kick ass. The world building is interestingly done and I loved the many details and descriptions Victoria Aveyard incorporated into her story. Red Queen is an interesting read with a fast pace, supernatural powers, a kick ass heroine and a lot of action. Definitely recommended for YA fantasy fans!

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It’s the blood that sets them apart – the Reds and the Silvers. The Reds are living in the shadow of the Silvers, forced to obey and work for them. The Silvers are different; with their supernatural powers they form the elite of the society and treat Reds as their servants and slaves. Mare Barrow is a Red girl without an interesting future, or so she thinks. When one night she meets a mysterious guy, she finds herself shipped off to the Silver palace the next day. The stranger saved her from her terrible fate by getting her a job as a servant at the palace, and suddenly she is surrounded by those who she hates most… Soon after that, something spectacular happens that will change both her life and those of the Silvers forever. Mare Barrow then becomes Lady Mareena Titanos as the Silvers try to disguise who she really is and maintain their control over the Reds… But will it be enough to keep the Red population calm and the Scarlet Guard rebellion under control?

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This novel definitely lived up to my expections. The dystopian world Victoria Aveyard created an interesting setting for this story, and I loved the prose she used in the Red Queen. I have highlighted so many sentences with my kindle! While not all characters were exactly to my liking, they fit in perfectly in the story. So many plot twists and betrayals! The Queen reminded me of Cersei Lannister (Game Of Thrones), especially how she treated the King and her son… And Arya could be a good Mare. (Does it show I’ve recently watched the first episode of the fifth season?!)  To go back to Red Queen, I was pleasantly surprised with this novel and I will be waiting anciously for the sequel to be published next year. I’m sure the wait for the sequel will drive me crazy at some point!

WWW Wednesdays #35 – April 15th

wwwwednesdaysOriginally featured at Should Be Reading and now hosted by Sam at Taking On A World Of Words, WWW WEDNESDAYS is still about answering the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?

thestorytellerI’ve finally picked up my copy of The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult yesterday. This novel was first chosen with the help of my TBR jar a while back, but at the time I wasn’t in the mood for a historical fiction read… I guess right now I am. 😉 I’m not too far into the story yet, but so far it’s definitely good. I will have to check out more of her work in the future if The Storyteller stays this good!

 

  • What did you recently finish reading?

redqueenandthentherewerenoneI managed to finish And Then There Were None yesterday, and I must say I instantly became an Agatha Christie fan. I don’t know how I’ve managed to not read her work for so long, but I will definitely be starting to read more of her novels in the future. I also finished Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard a few days ago. I was afraid this would be yet another overhyped book, but I ended up loving the story. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long for the sequel! (Although the estimated publish date is set for 2016 and there isn’t even a title yet; sigh…)

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

evensongSince I will have only three months to complete my Ready For Spring Bingo chart, I decided to pay more attention to the empty squares when deciding my next reads. I picked Evensong by Krista Walsh for the Plants On Cover square… It’s an Amazon kindle freebie I found thanks to the BookBub page. Access at your own risk; this page is dangerous! 😉 Credit goes to Ashley @ Dear World… for first introducing me to that page… Make sure to check out her blog. 🙂

Teaser Tuesdays #38 – April 14th: And Then There Were None

teasertuesdays

TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Should Be Reading. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I started reading And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie the other day, and so far I’m really enjoying this read. This novel is considered a modern classic and I can definitely understand why. The prose is brilliant and the plot intriguing! The little Indian nursery rhyme that is shown in the beginning gives you a glimpse of what will happen later on in the story… I’m currently about 63% into the story, and since it’s hard to stop reading I will probably end up finishing it later today.

andthentherewerenonegoodreadsblurb

My teaser (25%):

“A bit unsporting, what?” he said. “Ought to ferret out the mystery before we go. Whole thing’s like a detective story. Positively thrilling.”

What are you reading right now?

ARC REVIEW: Funereal – by Giacomo Lee

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Title: Funereal
Author: Giacomo Lee
Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dark Comedy
First published: March 30th 2015
Finished reading: April 10th 2015
Pages: 139
Rating 4

“Sleep is the true rehearsal for death, Soobin thought with a sigh. That’s why grandma had more dreams of the future the older she got, for death is the future of all things, coming back towards us like a feedback loop.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Just as I was thinking about the fact that I’m not reading enough stories set in Asia, I was contacted by Typhoon Media Ltd. to read and review Funereal. This book written by Giacomo Lee is set in modern.day South Korea, and it’s definitely a refreshing read. Other books I’ve read that are set in Korea have had mostly Western main characters or are about the Korean War, but Giacomo Lee chose to show us the dark side to the modern day capial of Seoul instead, complete with Korean main characters. It’s an almost surreal picture of a city where plastic surgery, suicide and the struggle to fit in are part of the daily life. The Korean culture is different from our own Western one, and from what I could tell with my limited knowledge of that culture, the author was able to give a convincing image of their competitiveness and their drive for reaching perfection both physically and psychologically. The prose is interesting, and even though at times it wasn’t that easy to understand the bigger picture, I still highly enjoyed reading this novel. Definitely an interesting read full of references to the hi-tech and music world!

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Soobin Shin is looking for an interesting job ever since her college graduation, but she doesn’t have any luck so far. She seems to be stuck with her job in a doughnut store, while her twin sister Hyewon is one of Korea’s famous models… Then one evening, one of the doughnut store’s clients offers her a job in his new company, saying that she has ‘the perfect smile. Perfect for the friendly face of death’. Although she is not sure about what to think of the customer, she still agrees to meet him. The company, OneLife Korea, is ment to save South Korea of its depressions… One funeral at the time. Soobin Shin is supposed to become the face of the company, where she will help clients getting over their depressions by burying them alive and let them attend their own funeral. South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the developed world, and Soobin agrees to try and help bring that number down. Everything seems to work perfectly, until the clients actually start dying…

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This is not your typical read and it definitely touches some interesting themes. We live in a world that is increasingly hi-tec and plastic, where anything less than perfect is seen negatively. Peer pressure increases and that could definitely lead to a situation as described in Funereal where suicide rates have gone through the roof. The prose Giacomo Lee used to describe his story helps creating the hi-tech and surreal world of Seoul where people pay to attend their own funeral. Funereal is without doubt worth reading if you like (literary) fiction and sci-fi! If you are interested, the paperback version is available starting tomorrow, April 14th.