ARC REVIEW: We Awaken – by Calista Lynne

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Title: We Awaken
Author: Calista Lynne
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publish Date: July 14th 2016 
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Finished reading: June 27th 2016
Pages: 180
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“You know your sexuality isn’t set in stone. There are more things than just gay or straight. ”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Harmony Ink Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I was immediately intrigued when I first saw the cover and read the blurb, so when I was able to get a review copy at Netgalley I decided to read We Awaken straight away. This novel by Calista Lynne has the promise of a realistic fiction story with a paranormal touch and main characters exploring their asexuality. Especially the last part caught my attention, since asexuality isn’t something that has been written about often in YA novels as far as I am aware. And I think this interesting topic is probably the strongest feature of We Awaken, because I found the other elements kind of lacking. The story had a fast pace, the prose was easy to read and I liked the descriptions of the dream world in the beginning. I also liked the general idea behind the plot, but I wish there would have been more focus on the after effects of the accident and the dream world itself and less on the romantic scenes. Because if I have to be honest, the romantic elements are what most bothered me about this story. First of all, the relationship between Victoria and Ashlinn felt too much like insta-love; their relationship evolved so quickly that it just wasn’t credible anymore, especially for a confused teenage girl who hasn’t had any previous experience with love. The romantic babbling between the two definitely made me enjoy this story a lot less, and the scenes mostly felt awkward, forced and unnatural. The exploration of asexuality is actually quite well done, but I felt it was kind of buried under the other romantic scenes/dialogues. I probably would have liked the story a lot better if there would have been a better balance between the actual plot and romance scenes, because both Victoria’s life and the idea of two ‘creatures’ creating dreams and nightmares sound truly intriguing.

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After her father died in a car accident last year and the same accident left her brother in a coma, Victoria Dinham feels like she doesn’t have much left to look forward to. The only thing that keeps her going is her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory… But then, just before the audition in New York, an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn visits Victoria in her dream with a message from her comatose brother, claiming the two are friends. Ashlinn has the task of creating pleasant dreams for humans, while her counterpart creates nightmares… And soon Victoria finds herself looking forward more and more to her dreams with Ashlinn. In Victoria’s mind the two are starting to become close, and she is finally able to understand herself and her sexuality better with the help of the asexual Ashlinn. And then, when Victoria needs Ashlinn’s help outside the realm of dreams, she suddenly appears in front of Victoria in human form… But aren’t dreams too good to supposed to last forever?

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There is no doubt that the general idea behind the plot of We Awaken is very interesting, and I really liked the fact that it incorporates a topic that you don’t come across often in YA fiction novels: asexuality. Like I said before, that is probably the strongest feature of We Awaken, because unfortunately the story itself didn’t live up to my expectations. There was so much focus on the romance scenes that the balance with the main plot was lost, and the romance itself felt mostly unnatural, not really credible and awkward. The pace is fast though and romance fans might still really enjoy this read.

BOOK REVIEW: Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All – by Jonas Jonasson

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Title: Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All
Author: Jonas Jonasson
Genre: Fiction, Humor, Contemporary
First published: September 16th 2015
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Finished reading: June 25th 2016
Pages: 400
(Originally written in Swedish: “Mördar-Anders och hans vänner (samt en och annan ovän)”)
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“If only children could be free of all that crap previous generations had gathered up for them, he said, perhaps it would bring some clarity to their lives.”

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I should have been warned sufficiently by the low Goodreads rating, but I thought this would be one of those unpopular opinion books. Why? Because unlike most book bloggers out there, I absolutely loved Jonas Jonasson‘s other novel The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared and I was hoping of having a similar experience with this new book. I guess I was wrong. While The Hundred-Year-Old Man was interesting, fast-paced and laugh-out-loud hilarious, Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All was simply painful to read. In fact, I have been considering a DNF at various points in the story and decided to skim-read the last part because I just couldn’t take it any longer. Such a shame, because I really wanted to enjoy this book! Why is Hitman Anders nothing like his other novel? First of all: the story simply isn’t funny. Instead of laughing out loud, my eyebrows worked overtime as I became more and more annoyed by the plot and characters. Or should I say: lack of plot and character development. Seriously, the plot just doesn’t make any sense and the religious elements really started to get on my nerves. I mean, a former hitman finding Jesus and wanting to start his own church?! Sorry, that just isn’t doing it for me. I felt no connection whatsoever for the characters and the only reason I was able to finish this book is because I skim-read the last 40% of the book. As you might have guessed, I wouldn’t recommend this book. Make sure to try his other book The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared though!

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Hitman Anders has been having a problem with drugs and alcohol most of his life, making him quite violent and earning him a few prison sentences. Now he is fresh out of prison yet again, he decides to stay away from the hard stuff so he won’t end up right back inside… And then he meets a receptionist at a 1-star hotel and a female Protestant vicar who happens to be an atheist. The three get together and put together a very unusual business plan that is supposed to make them all very rich. It seems to work for a while, until their most important asset of all of a sudden finds Jesus. With Anders no longer wanting to do his job and focussing his day on his new religion and drinking ‘the body of Jesus’, the receptionist and vicar will have to find a new way to get their money… And the new plan is even more ludicrous than the last one. Will they be able to succeed against all odds?

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I really wanted to enjoy Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All despite the negative feedback, but unfortunately I will have to agree with the mayority on this one. Unlike Jonas Jonasson‘s other novel, this one didn’t manage to impress me and I even thought about DNFing it at some points. Both the lack of character development, the uncredible/poor plot and the fact that this story isn’t funny at all unfortunately just made me feel really disappointed by this book in general.

WWW Wednesdays #97 – June 29th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I have actually almost finished All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda already and will do so after finishing this post, but technically I’m still currently reading this… This book is without doubt one of the best mystery/thriller books I’ve read so far this year and a must-read for fans of the genre! I’m also in the middle of Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate, which I picked up on a whim and I’m enjoying so far despite a few flaws. I haven’t made much progress with Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain due to the Netgalley books, but I’m continuing it as soon as I finish the other two current reads! And I’ve decided to put all fantasy reads on hold until I’m in the mood for the genre again…

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I already knew Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All probably wasn’t going to be as good as Jonas Jonasson‘s other book The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared, but that doesn’t take away the fact that I was REALLY disappointed by this read. It was boring, had flat characters, wasn’t funny, it took me ages to finish and I actually thought of DNFing it at one point. More details in the review that will be published later today.
* I also read We Awaken by Calista Lynne, which unfortunately turned out to be another disappointing read. I loved the cover, the blurb and the fact that it talks about asexuality, but the rest of the book just didn’t convince me. It was a fast read, but that didn’t make up for the flaws. More in my review…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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As soon as I finish my current reads, I will pick up my oldest ARC: Cascadia by H.W. “Buzz” Bernard. It promises to be an adrenaline-filled suspense story about the after effects of extreme natural events (in this case a massive earthquake and tsunami), so I’m definitely looking forward to it. I also still want to read Out Of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys… And the Netgalley ARC Last To Die by Arlene Hunt is also on my list. My newest TBR jar pick is still The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

BOOK REVIEW: Tell Me Three Things – by Julie Buxbaum

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Title: Tell Me Three Things
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Finished reading: June 21st 2016
Pages: 336
Rating 4,5qqq

“One of the worst parts about someone dying is thinking back to all those times you didn’t ask the right questions, all those times you stupidly assumed you’d have all the time in the world. And this too: how all that time feels like not much time at all.”

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After hearing repeatedly I just HAD to read this book, I decided to give and pick up Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum. And I’m glad I did, because I really loved it! In a way I’m still surprised I enjoyed this story as much as I did, because the idea behind the plot is not exactly original and does sound a bit cheesy. To make things even worse: there is even a love triangle (rectangle?!) included in Tell Me Three Things, which normally is a huge dealbreaker for me. I’m not saying the whole multiple love interest theme wasn’t annoying, but this book is one of the few exceptions where I can still thoroughly enjoy the story anyway. Sure, some of the plot is quite cheesy and the way the story it told (using e-mails and text messages) might not be original, but in Tell Me Three Things it just works. This novel has a fast pace, is both easy and highly entertaining to read and is without doubt an excellent summer read. And although I wasn’t completely convinced by Jessie as a main character (I’m still not sure I actually like her), I absolutely LOVED SN. The whole mystery behind his identity definitely makes this read addicting and you will most likely love the ending! Recommended for those who enjoy reading contemporary romance and/or need a feel-good story.

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It’s been two years since her mother died, and Jessie’s father has decided to get married again with a woman he met online. The worst part: Jessie is forced to move across the country, leave behind her best friend and old life and live with her new stepmonster and teenage son in Los Angeles. She doesn’t feel at home at all in this new town, home and school where everything and everyone seems so different. But just as she is thinking about escaping and somehow go back to Chicago, she receives an email from a person calling himself Somebody/Nobody (SN). SN offers to help her find her way in Wood Valley High School, but Jessie is not so sure the sender is actually honest. She doesn’t want to accept his help, but what else is there to do in a situation that feels this desperate? Jessie decides to write back and rely on the information SN gives, and slowly she is starting to feel a bit better about her new life… And SN is starting to play a big role in her life. But who is SN in real life? Jessie wants to met SN in person, but maybe some mysteries should stay unsolved…

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I have to say I wasn’t sure about this book at first, because I’m normally not really into (cheesy) romance stories. I decided to give it a go anyway after quite a few raving reviews, and Tell Me Three Things turns out to be the exception to the rule. Sure, this story has a love triangle, a (partly) cheesy plot and might not be that original, but I loved it anyway. This novel by Julie Buxbaum is the perfect feel-good read that anyone who enjoys reading the genre should give a go.

Teaser Tuesdays #100 – June 28th: All The Missing Girls

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Books And A Beat. 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!)

Today will be teaser number 100! Wow, that really is a lot of weeks of blogging… This week I’m reading one of the Netgalley ARCs that have been approved: All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda. It’s actually coming out today and so far it definitely looks like a great mystery/thriller read!

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My teaser (2%):

“I felt my way through the dark, my hands brushing the sharp corners of furniture until I found the light switch in the bathroom. My bare feet pressed into the cold tile floor as I sat on the toilet lid with the phone held to my ear, goose bumps forming on my legs.”

What are you reading right now?

This Or That Book Tag

ThisThatAppleAndroidI saw this tag over at Marvel At Words back in April, but I only recently found the time to actually sit down and answer these questions. Oops! Let’s do this shall we?


Reading on the couch or on the bed?
Most definitely my bed, especially now it’s freezing outside! And preferably with a hot beverage close and my cat Jasmin keeping me company.

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Male main character or female main character?
I don’t really care if the main character is male or female, but I do tend to read more books with female main characters and also books written by female authors.

Sweet snacks or salty snacks when reading?
I normally don’t really eat while I’m reading, but I normally prefer eating salty snacks. Unless it’s brownie. Brownie ALWAYS wins. 😀

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Trilogies or quartets?
I don’t really care if it’s a trilogy or quartet, as long as the story doesn’t feel like it’s dragging in order to squeeze the extra book out. Also, I have been trying to read a lot of stand-alones this year, because I almost never seem to read the whole series together anyway.

First person point of view or third person point of view?
It really depends on the genre and the kind of story, but if I really have to pick one, I think I like third person POV stories better in general.

Reading at night or in the morning?
I’m not really a morning person… So definitely reading at night.

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Libraries or bookstore?
I love both, although the library where I live doesn’t really have anything to offer when it comes to English books.

Books that make you laugh or make you cry?
Definitely laugh; I don’t mind a sad book or two, but I prefer action and humor over drama.

Black book covers or white book covers?
Ehm, blue? Seriously, I have been browsing my favorite covers and a lot of them are blue… As for black or white; most covers either have both or look equally gorgeous. I mean, how can I choose between covers like the ones below?

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Character-driven or plot-driven stories?
Definitely plot. I like it when the character development is really well done, but I prefer a book having a well written plot. I can get over a character being flat or unlikeable, but when the plot is bad, in general I’m having a really hard time to keep on reading.

 

That’s it for this tag! Feel free to consider yourself tagged if you want to answer a few random bookish questions. Have a great week everyone!

BOOK REVIEW: The Ex – by Alafair Burke

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Title: The Ex
Author: Alafair Burke
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
First published: January 26th 2016
Publisher: Harper
Finished reading: June 20th 2016
Pages: 304
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“When he was gone, I blocked his number and then deleted it from my phone. When I say good-bye, I mean it.”

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One of my goals this year is to read more mystery/thriller books, and since The Ex has been recommended to me by various bloggers it was an easy choice. Lately I have been looking for fast-paced and entertaining reads because I don’t have a lot of free time to read, and this thriller written by Alafair Burke is exactly that. While some of the scenes and plot twists might be a bit farfetched and have that ‘Gone Girl/The Girl On The Train spin-off‘ vibe, I still really enjoyed reading The Ex. The prose is easy to read and combined with a fast pace and the whole mystery around what really happened that morning at the waterfront it is without doubt a book that can be called a pageturner. The character development is interesting, although I’m still not sure I actually like the main characters. But I guess the whole ‘unlikeable’ character theme seems to be quite popular in recent thriller reads anyway. The complicated relationship between Jack Harris and his criminal defense lawyer Olivia Randall is a nice touch, although not that original. The mystery around Jack’s possible guilt is well played as well, although I do wish Olivia would have been less like the typical broken, but kick ass defense lawyer/detective. It does fit her character, but it’s quite cliche… The ending of The Ex was without doubt a surprise though, and all in all I would definitely recommend reading this one if you are looking for an entertaining mystery/thriller.

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Olivia Randall is probably one of the best criminal defense lawyers in New York, even though she hasn’t been that lucky in her private life. When she hears that her former fiancé, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide, she decides that helping Jack might make up for some of her mistakes in the past and take away some of the guilt. Jack claims he is being framed for murder and Olivia believes him, because the Jack she knows wouldn’t be capable of murder. But his story is quite unbelievable… After his wife Molly was murdered, Jack hasn’t been dating anyone, but one day he spots a woman during his morning run that reminds him of what could be. His best friend decides to try to find the woman in question by posting a message on her website and to everyone’s surprise the woman responds a few days later. The mystery woman invites Jack to meet her in person at the same place they first saw each other, but she never showed up… And then three people were shot not far from where the two were supposed to meet. Of course, Jack is now the main suspect. But who is manipulating who? Is Jack really innocent, and who would benefit from framing him in the first place?

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If you are looking for a fast-paced and entertaining read, The Ex is definitely an excellent choice. The story is interesting and easy to read, even though I had some minor issues with the plot, originality and characters. There are a few pretty interesting plot twists involved and the ending will most likely surprise you, but the journey itself is definitely entertaining as well.