Nevernight – Jay Kristoff

nevernight

Title: Nevernight
AuthorJay Kristoff
Pages: 429
Edition: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy, adult
Links: Goodreads
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Synopsis:

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.
Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.
Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.
Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

Review:

I was a bit weary going into Nevernight. A couple of years ago I had high expectations of Illuminae, a book where Jay Kristoff is the (co) author of and I didn’t enjoy it one bit. So I didn’t quite know what to expect from another book by his hand. But hey, everybody deserves a second chance so I was willing to try again! The star rating above probably tells you that I fell madly, deeply in love with the book.

“If I were going to name my blade,” Mia said thoughtfully, “I’d call it ‘Fluffy’.”
Tric snorted with laughter. “Fluffy?”
“‘Byss, yes,” the girl nodded. “Think of the terror you’d instil. Being bested by a foe wielding a sword called Souldrinker…thatyou could live with. Imagine the shame of having the piss smacked out of you by a blade called Fluffy.”

When you surf around a bit and read different reviews, you might notice that Nevernight is a very polarizing book. The reviews are either very positive or very negative. And although I am definitely a fan, I can see why people struggle with this book and the way the story is told. Jay Kristoff has a very dense writing style. It is clear that Jay Kristoff likes to hear himself talk (or must I say likes to read his own words?). It all very poetic flowery prose. And the whole story is filled with footnotes giving you extra (sometimes completely needless) information about the world the story is set in. I absolutely loved the addition of the footnotes, but I can understand that some people found them completely annoying. They could become a bit tedious, but at the same time they have a sarcastic commentary going on. And I couldn’t count the times that I was laughing with the dark humor in them. Your enjoyment of the story will stand or fall with your love for Jay Kristoffs storytelling, it is as simple as that.

“The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us.

Because when you like the writing, you are in for a complete treat! Nevernight is one action-packed story! Let’s be honest the beginning is a little bit slow, but once Mia reaches the dessert and the Red Church this story feels like a roller-coaster ride. A wild one! It is filled to the brim with violence, blood, murder, cursing, sex, but also with magic. I absolutely loved the Old Roman Empire style world the story is set in. It felt somewhat familiar for a history nerd like myself, but at the same time it was completely new and refreshing within its genre.

“Sometimes weakness is a weapon. If you’re smart enough to use it.” 

And the characters… I haven’t talked about the characters. I think Mia will be high up in my lists of kick ass female characters I completely love. Mia is dangerous, sometimes selfish, but on the other hand always there for her friends. She makes stupid mistakes. She isn’t ‘the one’ or ‘the prettiest’. Never black and white, always grey. However it doesn’t end there, because the whole cast of characters is pretty awesome. Especially the teacher at the Red Church were very interesting and gave extra depth to the story. 

“… You just thrashed a horror of the Whisperwastes with a jar of chili powder?” Mia nodded. “Shame, really. It’s good stuff. I only stole the one jar.”

And the romance… there is very little romance involved. Something I actually missed a little bit. But for people who aren’t into sappy romance stories this will be an absolute joy to read. Don’t get me wrong, there is some romance. A very slow burning romance and some quite explicit sex. But it isn’t a huge plot-line and is always in the background. 

Nevernight is a book filled with sass and sarcasm. The worldbuilding is spot on and very detailed, sometimes so detailed it gets a bit absurd. I absolutly adored it. But I will repeat myself, your enjoyment of this story will greatly depend on your love for Jay Kristoffs writing.”

One – Sarah Crossan

Title: One
AuthorSarah Crossan
Pages: 400
Edition: Hardcover
Genre: ContemporaryYoung adult
Links: Goodreads
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Synopsis One:

Grace and Tippi. Tippi and Grace. Two sisters. Two hearts. Two dreams. Two lives. But one body.
Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, joined at the waist, defying the odds of survival for sixteen years. They share everything, and they are everything to each other. They would never imagine being apart. For them, that would be the real tragedy.
But something is happening to them. Something they hoped would never happen. And Grace doesn’t want to admit it. Not even to Tippi.
How long can they hide from the truth—how long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives?

Review One:

Where to start? Oh, where to start….I just don’t know. I actually read One because Kathleen from verbeelding mentioned it in her favorite books of 2017 video. When Kathleen gives her approval of a book I tend to run to the bookstore or library and pick it up. Hidden gems have been discovered because of her. I am pretty certain that One will be on the “books I loved because of Kathleen list”.

Going in I was pretty hesitant. I never read something that was written in free verse and for the first couple of chapters it actually spooked me. The verse style demanded some getting use to, but all of a sudden I was so deep into the book that I didn’t even notice I was reading poetry. One is written as a linear narrative told from the perspective of Grace. Because of the verse style Grace her words are limited, but that gives them even more power. As a reader you have to fill in a lot of blanks, because the story is broken down to its bare essentials. But that makes it all the more compelling and real. Everything Grace says is important and profound.

I absolutely loved Grace as a main character. She was a flawed character, who at times could be quite bitchy and rather gloomy. But just because of those times, I liked her even more. She felt so incredibly real, as a normal teenager. Another reason why I applaud Sarah Crossan, you never feel sorry for Grace or Tippi. One could have very easily been a completely different book. It wouldn’t take much to make it a “sick” book, with a main character who asks for sympathy. But none of that in One, it’s not a “oh sad little me story”. It is also not a sensation searching story. I really felt that Sarah Crossan wrote One with a lot of respect and love for Tippi and Grace. She wasn’t writing a sensational story about conjoined twins. No so wrote a really small, intense story about sisters.

The main focus of the story is of course the fact that Tippi and Grae are conjoined twins, but this book is about so much more. It is a coming of age story, about falling in love and making friends. About trying to find yourself outside your family and the expectations that everyone has about you. But mostly it is about love. A very strong love for someone who is actually, literally a part of your life. 

One is absolutely thought provoking.It confronted me with a disability I was never confronted with before. It made me rethink certain things and made me question aspects of life I had never considered. It was heart-warming and heartbreaking at the same time!

One is a very quick read, because of its verse style writing. But at the same time its a book that will stick with me for a very long time. It is absolutely compelling read and an stand out among YA contemporary books these days!

 

In Wonderland: December 2017

Tell me no secrets – Lynda Stacey

tell me no secrets

Titel: Tell me no secrets
Auteur: Lynda Stacey
Pagina’s: 282
Uitgave: E-book
Genre: adultcontemporary
Links: Goodreads
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Synopsis:

Can a secret be worse than a lie?
Every time Kate Duggan looks in a mirror she is confronted by her guilt; a long, red scar reminding her that she was ‘the one to walk away’ from the car accident. Not everyone was so lucky …
On the surface her fiancé Rob is supportive – but the reality is different. He’s controlling, manipulative and, if the phone call Kate overhears is anything to go by, he has a secret. But just how dangerous is that secret?
When Kate begins work at a firm of private investigators, she meets Ben Parker. His strong and silent persona is intriguing but it’s also a cover – because something devastating happened to Ben, something he can’t get over.
As Kate and Ben begin their first assignment, they become close. But, what they don’t realise is how close to home the investigation will bring them, or who will be hurt in the process.

Review:

Since the month of December I am proud member of the Choc Lit boekenfans group. With our little team we have the honor to read and review books by Choc Lit. Tell Me No Lies was my first book as a team-member and I wasn’t completely sure what to expect reading the synopsis. Was I diving into a thriller? A contemporary? And now even after reading I am not quite sure were to place Tell Me No Secrets.

I described it to a friend as contemporary with a little thriller twist. Because for me that is what it is. Calling it a thriller would be kind of unfair, because all-though you have a “mystery” and some “suspense” it never really felt like reading a thriller. There are to many “non-thriller” side lines about family, friendship, love and self acceptance that play an important part in the plot. Lucky for me, considering I am absolutely no big fan of real suspense novels, so this was perfect for me!

I really enjoyed reading Tell Me No Secrets and that was mainly because I liked all of the important characters in the story. I absolutely adored Kate, she is a very strong and independent woman, who knows how the world turns and deserves some happiness. I liked her sassiness and her sense of humor. You really saw her grow as a character throughout the story and I really felt for her. But I also loved her sister Eve! Another strong woman with a story to tell. I wasn’t expecting a disabled character in this story, but the way her disability was shown and used in the story, was very realistic and filled to the brim with humor. Absolutely lovely!

I also got the feeling that Linda Stacey did some research on the whole “private investigator” story-line. Because it never felt exaggerated. The little details about the van, the working of the panic button,… It felt real and that made the story so much more engaging and realistic.

The only point that bothered me in this story was the “big climax”. That felt exaggerated for me, a little bit overdone. That part of the story could have done with less drama and still have been quite compelling. Now it felt a little forced and to me it looked like Lynda Stacey wasn’t in her element while writing it. While the rest of the story really flows, this felt forced. It was harder to read and it couldn’t keep my attention. A real shame, because I absolutely loved the rest of the story!

Overal Tell Me No Secrets was a wonderful read. Filled to the brim with drama, secrets, suspense and a good portion of romance! I would recommend this story to all contemporary readers who want that little extra panache to the story. And of course for thriller readers who want to explore the contemporary genre! 

Blog tour: Ordnance

Do the words bounty hunters, cyborgs, mutants and adventures set in the future make your heart skip a few beats? Then you will be quite thriller with the special something I have for you today! As part of the blog-tour for the new SCIFI book Ordnance I get to share an exclusive expert from the book with you!

Ordnance, you say?

Yes, Ordnance is the debut book from Andrew Vaillencourt and the first installment in The Fixer series. The story is set around Roland Tankwicz, who isn’t even legally a person anymore.He is an aging cyborg who never really recovered from being betrayed and enslaved by his superiors in the army and who had to swallow a bitter pill when he got permanently classified as “defunct military ordnance”. Now he spents most of his time drinking beer and working as a fixer for the crime families in 25the century Boston. Easy mony if you were the kind of guy who was bullet-proof en could pick up a house.

But then Lucia Ribiero stumbled into his favorite watering hole dragging a squad of bounty hunters behind her. Shadows from his own dark past, and old debts still unpaid conspired to drive the old war-horse out for one more mission. Like any good soldier, the mission is all that matters for Roland.

Linked by a shared connection to her kidnapped father, the duo will face veritable armies of criminals, mutants, cyborgs, and corporate executives as they search for the missing man. The secrets of the Ribiero family are exposed as they approach the center of the labyrinth, and Lucia’s mental and physical issues present an even deeper mystery than her father’s disappearance.

Roland will have to face the horror of his past one more time, and Lucia will need to get a grip on her future if they expect to survive a running battle with an entire galaxy’s worth of mad science gone awry; and ultimately prevent a terrible history from repeating itself.

Interested?

I can’t blame you! And I am so happy that I get to share a exclusive expert from the book with you!

Roland pulled his gloves off, revealing jet black hands the size of bear paws, “Yeah, well for all the trouble they went to keep us human, they sure as hell didn’t treat us like people.” He rolled up his sleeves, revealing massive forearms corded with black synthetic muscle fibers that rolled and flexed exactly like human muscle should. Lucia’s eyes widened at the sight. She hadn’t realized it, but only Roland’s face and head had any normal skin tone. The rest of him was kept a flat matte black, because that was the base color of the surface chromataphors that allowed him to assume various camouflage patterns. He could certainly shift the color to something almost human, but keeping his body any specific hue took up power that was better conserved. Roland simply wore long sleeves and gloves most of the time, because life was kind of tricky for a guy who walked around looking like an onyx statue.

Roland did not want to explain this part. He knew that it would likely have a deleterious impact on what Lucia saw when she looked at him. Right now, he was just a big military cyborg; just one of many ex-military veterans walking around with government-issued body parts. But there was real, inescapable ugliness involved in his creation, and nobody wanted to hear about that part. But, it all had a lot to do with Donald Ribiero, so out it came.

“So. You now know that they deliberately left over some of the more… human attributes to keep us psychologically grounded.” Roland wiggled all his fingers in an intricate wave pattern to demonstrate his dexterity, “As far as my nervous system can tell, these are really my fingers.” He picked up an empty beer can, balanced on his index finger for a moment, then let it fall to his palm where he crushed it into a lump the size of a ping pong ball. “I can feel through my skin, even though it’s heavily armored, and I use my own nerves to do it. They get help from force-feedback sensors, but the actual signal still gets carried by my own nerves to my own brain, not a computer. There is no disconnect between what my brain tells my body to do, and what my body tells my brain is happening. I can hold a baby while punching a tank to death with no problem; the same way you can pick up an egg in one hand and swing a hammer with the other.”

The entire design was geared towards making the body feel as human as possible to the brain that would have to live in it. “This is why many of my basic organic functions ended up intact, even if they didn’t have much combat value. Preserving non-essential functions meant preserving the will to live and the empathy required to make the appropriate decisions in the field.” Roland grinned, “I still need sleep. That could have easily been engineered out of the new body,” but the languid, lazy, decadent joy of sleeping in until noon on a Sunday is worth fighting for. He summed it up, “but sleeping is part of being human. Good for the brain.”

Roland smiled, “I still need food.” Which left him connected to eating, and to the simple human joys of mealtimes. Sourcing organic fuel off-world was a logistical nightmare, but, he chuckled, “Steak dinners are worth fighting for, y’know? After your third week fighting aliens in an ammonia atmosphere, the thought of a juicy T-Bone keeps you going.” Roland could still have sex. That sort of thing was not entirely necessary when you are fighting a corrupted AI at a mining station on Enceladus, but getting laid was definitely worth fighting for. He didn’t mention that, though; it felt a little uncouth going there with a girl fifteen years his junior.

All of these things made life meaningful, and keeping those connections allowed Roland’s unit to not lose their minds. They still loved life, and so they wanted to preserve it. They understood what they were taking away when they took it. They weren’t machines, they were men. The small reduction in combat effectiveness was completely acceptable since they did not devolve into amoral murder-bots like their predecessors. Nobody likes an amoral murder-bot.

Lucia cocked her head and sniffed, “Makes sense, when you think about it. They wanted human soldiers, not organic robots.” It really had been much more complicated than that. Rejection of the newly-grown techno-organic bodies was still an issue. Of thirty-six participants who made it to the final stage of integration, thirty-one suffered partial or complete rejection. Only five participants out of an original 230 applicants had made it into the field. This ended up being a blessing in disguise, because it was out there in the cold expanse of space a hundred light-years from Earth that they found out about the fail-safe: or the actual reason they called the project “Golem.”

Curious to learn more?

Be sure to check out the other blogs that are participating in the blogtour!
And take a look at the goodreads page of Ordnance. I myself was quite impressed with all the good reviews the book got!

The darkest part of the forest – Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest

Titel: The Darkest Part of the Forest
AuteurHolly Black
Pagina’s: 336
Uitgave: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale, YA
Links: Goodreads
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Synopsis:

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.
Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does…

Review:

The darkest Part of the Forest has everything to be a complete success. It has a very unique writing style, an intriguing premise and its a YA stand-alone. Lets be honest…. that is something you don’t see everyday. These days its all series and trilogies. I was so excited about the synopsis of the book and I must say that my expectations were quite high. Holly Martin is called the queen of Fae for something, right? But for me the book missed something and I can’t seem to put my finger on what it is.

“Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.” 

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a eerie, dark fairy-tale. And the first few chapters are absolutely wonderful. Full of creepiness and mystery. I was compelled to read on and on. Even forgetting that it was bedtime for me, considering an overenthusiastic child would be waking me in the wee hours of dawn. I just kept on reading, because I wanted more of that creepy, dark goodness. And then everything just fell a little flat for me. The story seemed to deflate and crept on…. It’s like the spell breaks the moment the horned prince wakes up and is ready to cause havoc!

“The only way to end grief was to go through it.” 

Maybe it just me. I seem to be struggling with YA fantasy for quite some time now. Its all so light and fluffy, something I also noticed in The Darkest Part of the Forest.  Dead, tormented bodies were found in the woods, monsters were on the loose and the situation was pretty dire. But it didn’t feel that way. It never got so dark as it was intended to be, if that makes any sense?

“There’s a monster in our wood. She’ll get you if you’re not good. Drag you under leaves and sticks. Punish you for all your tricks. Anest of hair and gnawed bone. You are never, ever coming… home.” 

I absolutely loved the way the Fae were portrayed in this story. They are evil, full of trickery and deceiving. And best of all there are so many kinds of them! There are dwellers of the woods with horns on there head. There is a kind that lives in the water. Some hang tourist to bleed out from trees and dip their hats in the blood they have spilled. I loved everything about them. Not because I have a sick mind and love to see torture and murder going around. But because it was such a refreshing take on fairies. They are dark and cruel. They can’t lie, but they are great in deceiving. And they make bargains with mortals… Bargains that those same mortals will come to regret.

“Well fine, then. I could send you out to win my favor. Possibly on a quest involving bringing a large mug of coffee and a doughnut. Or the wholesale slaughter of all my enemies. I haven’t decided which.” 

Apart from that I was surprised to see that one of the main characters falls in the LGBTQ spectrum and how well it was handled in the story. I absolutely love it when an author incorporates LGBTQ in the story, but without making it  big deal. Holly did that perfectly! The fact that Ben was gay was never question, he just was. But at the same time the fact that Ben is gay is quite an important side story. Really well executed!

I read The Darkest Part of the Forest in preparation of The Cruel Prince. One of my most anticipated releases of 2018. I hear there some reoccurring characters there and I wanted the full experience. But to be completely honest, this book has set a little damper on my excitement. I really hope Holly Black can win me over with the Cruel Prince. Because The Darkest Part of the Forest was quite a let down for me.

What to say… What to say…. The Darkest Part of the Forest is a creepy, dark fairytale. And I am convinced that my fourteen year old self would have absolutely loved it. My 32 year old self however found the book lacking. It just wasn’t cutting it for me. It should have been much darker! 

 

 

Haul December

So December….. you were good to me.
A little too good to be completely honest.
Because after months of being a really good girl… my haul got out of hand.
But hey, sometimes its perfectly fine to buy yourself a whole lotta books, right?