Lanaia @ The Temporary Escape

Reading & Reviewing books of different genres, mostly YA Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Zombies vs. Unicorns (Anthology)

Zombies vs. Unicorns - Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier, Garth Nix, Naomi Novik

First I should probably say that I don’t think I’ve ever read about unicorns before, so I’m not a particular fan and I went into this book with a slight caution. Team Zombie had an advantage in this that I generally really like reading zombie books, but I was curious to read some unicorn stories just to see how much I’d like them.

Zombies vs. Unicorns includes short stories of some really famous authors, some of which I already knew before and read their works, but it was also a nice opportunity to get to know some of the other authors’ writing style. Authors are split into Team Unicorn and Team Zombie, with Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier as leaders of each team. Their competitive bickering was a funny introduction to each short story and I was always looking forward to this part.

I’ve read this book over a month ago, but there are only two stories that really stuck with me, one with a unicorn and one with zombies. Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot was surprisingly my favorite unicorn story. I’d never thought that’d be the case, but I preferred this rainbow unicorn with melodic farts to some creepy killing unicorns. Cabot’s story was funny but still had some deeper meaning and great ending, so it’s easily my favorite of Team Unicorn. The second favorite story was Prom Night by Libba Bray, a post-apocalyptic zombie story that for some reason I can’t forget and I mean that in a very positive sense. I would gladly read about this dystopian world in a whole-length book and I definitely can’t wait to read some of her books because I loved her writing style.

So the question is, am I Team Zombie or Team Unicorn? Sorry unicorns, but for me, zombies definitely win. I thought I’d like the idea of killer unicorns, but I found these creatures even more creepy than before I got to read this book. Most of their stories were really disturbing and one was so gross I can’t even think about, because I’d rather just have it erased from my memory. Unicorns are quite like faeries to me: they’re supposed to be all magical, good and sparkly, but they’re often twisted and evil little creatures. So I must say, unicorns are now much scarier to me than good old zombies.

Zombie vs. Unicorns is a dark, horrifying book, with a surprising amount of mature content, so I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers. It’s a perfect horror book and I can guarantee that you won’t be able to forget some images for a long time. If you like unicorns, this is probably a good book for you, but unfortunately it ruined them for me. 

My ratings for each story:
The Highest Justice by Garth Nix: 4
Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson: 3
The Purity Test by Naomi Novik: 4
Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan: 5
A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan: 2
Children of the Revolution by Maureen Johnson: 5
The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund: 4
Inoculata by Scott Westerfield: 4
Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot: 5
Cold Hands by Cassandra Clare: 5
The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey: 4
Prom Night by Libba Bray: 5


Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff, my new favorite

Stormdancer  - Jay Kristoff

I’ve been putting off writing this review for days, because I just don’t know how to write it. How do you write a review of a book you found so amazing, so beautiful, so great it reminded you of your love for reading? Stormdancer is one of those books for me, a book that had just everything I love! So now I don’t know if I should fangirl, write every second word in all caps, or try to write a proper review and explain why this book is one of my favorites..I choose the latter.

Stormdancer is a fantastical blend of Steampunk and Dystopia, two of my favorite genres, set in a Japanese-like country, Shima. It also has a fair share of mythological beings, with one particular griffin (half eagle and half tiger) Buruu. You probably know how much I also love dragons. Well, after reading Stormdancer I’m a big fan of griffins and can say they’re easily just as awesome as dragons.

The worldbuilding was amazing, rich in details and so vividly presented. Shima is a land destroyed by a toxic plant Red Lotus, which is a raw material used for fuel that powers just about everything: factories, flying ships, machines.. The air is poisoned and the rich people need to use some weird breathing masks. Normal people have just regular normal cloths around their mouths, with goggles on their eyes because the Sun is so blinding. The whole sky is red and polluted by this lotus. Reigning over the land is Shogun, a cruel, spoiled young king, who just wakes up one morning and decides he wants to have a griffin. That’s where Yukiko and her father, the chief hunter, come into the game.

The characters were all amazing, well-developed and so realistic. Yukiko is one of my favorite heroines of all time and I could even say my latest girl crush. I loved her from the very beginning when we get to know her life story and her complicated relationship with her father that often moved me to tears. It takes a lot of bravery to stand up to your parents like that, but also to admit when you realize you’ve been wrong. Buruu the griffin was another great character, he was so wise and thoughtful, and he often struck so close to home with his words. The dialogue between him and Yukiko was often sad but sometimes very funny too. There’s a lot of secondary characters that were just as great, along with some really badass female characters. I’m so happy to say that there wasn’t much romance, it was very refreshing. I don’t have to point out how much I cried throughout this book, do I? The characters and their words, the writing style, everything made me care so much. Stormdancer was deep, beautiful and heart-aching.

I was so afraid to read in the end, because there were some really surprising twists and I was so nervous I could hardly breathe. The author certainly isn’t afraid of killing off some characters, so I was terrified of what’s going to happen. Not many authors/books managed to make me feel this way.

The only thing that was hard to get through was the beginning. I was reading the first 10% or so for like 2 hours, because it was a lot to take in, a whole new world with a lot of japanese words. I can imagine many readers would give up on the book because of all info-dumping, but it was so worth it to get past that point. By now I already learned that books like Stormdancer, which demand some extra effort in the beginning, turn out to be the best books in the end.

Well, this has turned out to be a long review, and I could really just keep going, but I’m starting to get worried nobody will want to read this. So I should just say I highly recommend this book to every fantasy reader out there. There’s some mature content and because of the very descriptive and more demanding writing style, I’d recommend it to older teenagers or adults. I have no doubt Stormdancer will be one of the beast reads of 2014, hopefully along with Kinslayer, which I can’t wait to start reading.


Review: Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson

Full Blooded - Amanda  Carlson

Full Blooded begins with immediate action when Jessica finds herself in the middle of the night, changing into a werewolf for the first time in her life. She’s acquainted with the whole werewolf world, with her father being the Alpha of Northern Territories, but she never believed she’s going to change into a werewolf. Jessica is one of a kind, the only female werewolf in the world. But soon she starts to realize she also has some pretty amazing powers that no other werewolf has. She’s been despised by other werewolves her whole life, because the Cain Myth said the woman werewolf will be the end of their race, and soon Jessica’s family and friends find themselves surrounded by many powerful creatures who would like to see her dead.

Full Blooded is an excellent shapeshifter story, packed with intense action scenes. Jessica is a self-confident woman in her mid-twenties, often sarcastic and snarky, so obviously I couldn’t help but like her. She’s a little too stubborn at times, but she’s always brave and loyal to her people. Other characters didn’t stand out for me, except for the love interest, who seemed pretty hot and exciting, but so far we didn’t really get to know him. Their romance was short but sweet, even if it had a touch of a insta-love, but there were wolves to blame for their instant connection, so it didn’t bother me that much.

The writing style was perfect for a light Urban Fantasy read, I wouldn’t never notice that this was author’s debut novel. I had a problem getting into the story at first, everything revolved around werewolves and their world to the point where it got a bit tiring. Now that I look back, the first half of the book seems like an introduction to the whole series, and it could be a little shorter. The second half was much better, story got more intense and I’ve read the last 40% in one sitting. It was fun but still too predictable and there weren’t any major surprises or twists.

I would definitely recommend the book to fans of Urban Fantasy and Shapeshifter books. Once you get past that uneventful beginning, the story gets thrilling and really fun. It’s a very promising beginning to Jessica’s adventures and I can only guess what other problems she’ll stumble upon. But beware of the ending, or more like non-ending.. there’s a big cliffhanger with a lot of things left opened and you’re going to need the second book right away. I’m really looking forward to reading it!

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

After I finished reading Gone Girl, my first thought was: I need to read more books like that! Gone Girl is a really thrilling read and one of the best psychological mysteries I’ve ever read. It’s hard to write about Gone Girl without giving anything away about what happens, but what you need to know is that you’ll be glued to pages, anxious to find out the truth and completely shocked by all the twists.

I would be lying if I said I liked the characters, because they were definitely not even bit likeable, but I loved how the author made the characters so complex and realistic. I was horrified to even think that a person, a true psychopath, like that could possibly exist. Gillian Flynn did a great job portraying a dysfunctional marriage between Nick and Amy, but what personally scared me, is that there were moments when I could find myself in their thinking, mostly in the first half of the book. And I started thinking “Am I like that?”, “Are we (me and my boyfriend) like that?”, “Will we become this bored, angry couple?”. Because Nick and Amy’s love story started like all of them do; they were crazy about each other and had this normal, healthy relationship. So what went wrong along the way? Well, I got over my fears in the second half of the book, when we find out how rotten and screwed up they really are.

I’m starting to notice how typical horror books, the ones with flesh-eating monsters and lots of blood and gore, don’t scare me at all. But psychological books like Animal Farm by George Orwell or Gone Girl will give me that disturbing feeling for days, along with many nightmares. Gone Girl is one of those books you won’t easily forget, even if you want to. But I’m still looking forward to reading other books by Gillian Flynn, even if they’re as twisted as Gone Girl. I wouldn’t want to know how Flynn’s mind works, but judging by Gone Girl, she’s nothing short of a genius.


Review: XVI by Julia Karr

XVI - Julia Karr

First I need to confess I only read XVI because I’ve been participating in A-Z reading challenge and there were very little options for letter X. I like reading dystopias, but after checking out a few negative reviews I knew I probably wouldn’t like this book, but I gave it a shot anyway. Now I don’t think XVI is an awful book, I just think author (accidentally?) made a few big mistakes that overshadowed an important message she wanted to send out.

The story of XVI is set in the dark future where society is highly patriarchal. It’s offensive and oppressive towards women, to the point where I was furious and hardly wanted to read further. Young girls get XVI tattooed on their wrist at sixteen and after that they’re free to have sex, whether it’s consentive or not, nobody really cares! Women are viewed as nothing but sex subjects. It’s a horrifying nightmare world I’d never want to live in.

Nina is getting close to her sixteenth birthday when her life changes abruptly. Her mother is murdered under suspicious circumstances, so she has to move to her grandparent’s house while protecting her younger sister Dee. She also starts to uncover some unpleasant truths about the government and people in her life. The story was complex and at times very intense and as far as dystopia goes, I quite liked it, but I’d like it much more if only there wasn’t the unnecessary sexism.

Nina proved to be a brave heroine, but she made some incredibly stupid choices, like leaving her sister alone when she was supposed to look after her, so their abusive father-in-law wouldn’t kidnap her. And she did that multiple times, not learning from her mistakes at all! At first I liked the romance, but the boy, Sal, totally ruined it for me after Nina saw him kissing with another girl after he already met and liked Nina. He never explained this and it was never even mentioned later in the story. That just proved double standards, how boys can do whatever they want and be with as many girls as they like, while girls are supposed to be innocent virgins. I hated that Nina’s friend Sandy was a character used in this book only to prove the author’s point how girls like her don’t end well: she was an annoying talkative girl, who dressed nicely, wanted boys to like her, and *gasp!* wanted to have sex. I couldn’t stand Nina’s banter against her friend, her criticizing, slut-shaming and constant repeating how she wasn’t like all those sex-teens.

I think the author wanted to prove an important point that I totally support and agree with: that girls should never feel pressured to have sex, not by the boyfriend, the media, their friends or anyone. They should have sex only when they want to and not for any other reason. Unfortunately, the author completely forgot about the girls who do want to have sex. She forgot to send out the message that not all men are monsters, that sex is good and that women can actually enjoy sex, too! In the story, all of the pro-sex girls ended up badly, whether it was dead, raped or homeless. In the end, author wrote an offensive book that highly approves virgins and scorns girls who want to have sex. And that’s not something I agree with at all.


Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

Defy - Sara B. Larson

Whether it’s YA or Adult, High Fantasy is a genre that always gets my attention. With this pretty cover and interesting synopsis, I couldn’t wait to start reading Defy. Okay, the mention of love triangle got me a little worrying, but girl disguised as a boy in Prince’s guard? I just had to read it! The story started off very promising. Alexa is one of the best Prince Damian’s guards and nobody knows she’s a girl, except her twin brother Marcel. The Medieval-like kingdom is shockingly horrible and cruel to women. There are breeding houses, where girls get raped, so they get pregnant and provide more warriors for King’s army. It’s really sickening, but it gives Alexa a good reason why she’s pretending to be a boy and an even better reason to stop the war.

I really enjoyed the first half of the book, but then the love triangle started to take over. Alexa knew which boy she wants to be with almost from the start, but she was still doubting and overthinking her decision to the point where her love life was starting to be more important to her than the issue of war and death. I also missed more details on the worldbuilding. As a fan of High Fantasy and imaginary worlds, I wanted to know all about it: the landscape and buildings, the history, details on sorcerers and magic.. Give me some complexity! (And possibly a map before the story starts, how I love those!) I would be a much happier reader if there were 50 pages more on worldbuilding and 30 less on Alexa’s love problems.

There was another thing that got my eyes rolling toward the end that I now think is an upcoming major cliche in YA books: It’s when a boy loves a girl and at the end they could finally be together, but the girl doesn’t think she’s worthy of him, so she comes up with a “I don’t really love you” story. I hate this crap! There wasn’t one good reason why she wouldn’t be “worthy” of him and after all, why can’t she leave this decision to him?! It takes stupidity of a character to a whole new level.

From everything I wrote so far, you’d think I didn’t like Defy, but I must say that despite these flaws I really enjoyed it! I can’t remember when I last read a book that would got me so engrossed in the story. It was really hard to stop reading it and go to sleep or eat something. Apart from a few Alexa’s internal monologues about love and oh-all-the-boys, it never got boring. There were some twists I didn’t see coming and some pretty nice ass-kicking! Although Rylan was my favorite of the two, I’ve grown to like Damian too, in the end. I didn’t even dislike Alexa that much as I’d have thought, she proved to be a strong female character quite a few times. If I was a few years younger and I wasn’t such a picky reader, Defy could easily become one of my favorites.

I was deciding between 3- and 4-star rating, but even though there were some major flaws, my feelings told me to go with 4 stars. I loved the ending and my eyes even got a bit wet at one particular scene. I really liked how the story ended nicely, without a cliffhanger, and as far as I’m concerned it could easily be read as a standalone. That leaves me patiently waiting for the next book in Defy series!

*I received this book in exchange for and honest review. Thank you Scholastic Press and NetGalley!*


Review: Blameless by Gail Carriger

Blameless - Gail Carriger

It’s no secret that Parasol Protectorate is one of my favorite series ever. Gail Carriger introduced me to steampunk and after reading Soulless I was just so delighted something imaginative and inventive as this genre actually exists. Like in previous two books in the series, Blameless brings another adventures, with both hilarious moments and also some tears on my part (mostly of joy), and therefore becoming another favorite.

Set in Victorian England, Blameless is a fantastical blend of steampunk (dirigibles, mechanical ladybugs and one dangerous parasol!), vampires and werewolves you can’t help but love, romance and comedy of manners. It’s witty, sarcastic and sometimes really silly, but always fun!

Alexia must be one of my favorite heroines (I see I’ll be using word “favorite” a lot in this review). In Blameless she proves yet again what a strong woman she is. I was very angry with a certain werewolf at the end of Changeless, but while Alexia has lost so much, she doesn’t even think about letting other people get to her. She’s busy trying to survive, with vampires trying to kill her, so she flies to Italy to find Templars, who are the only ones who could help her.

Gail Carriger creates such wonderful characters, I love every single one of them: Lord Maccon, a silly and stubborn werewolf; Professor Lyall, a voice of reason; Lord Akeldama, a gay vampire; Ivy Hisselpenny with her weird taste for hats; Madame Genevieve, a woman in pants and an inventor; butler Floote; I could go on and on…

This has turned into more of a Parasol Protectorate series review, but I don’t want to spoil anything that happens prior to this book and it’s so hard! There are always new mysteries and troubles rising and while they aren’t always unpredictable, I love reading about Alexia’s adventures because they’re such fun! This is my kind of humor, and these are the books I read when I feel down and need a little pick-me-up. I would recommend Soulless to everyone and hopefully someone will find his/her new favorite genre/book/series/author like I did.


Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium  - Lauren Oliver

After reading Delirium a long, long time ago (by the way, loved it, but I just have a slight problem with reading sequels soon), I finally got to read Pandemonium and I’m happy to say it reminded me why I like dystopian genre so much. Constant action, fight for bare survival and oppressive government, you will find all of these in Pandemonium. Combined with flawless Lauren Oliver’s prose, this book was thrilling and unputdownable.

Delirium ended with a shocking cliffhanger and I had no idea how the story will continue. I was a bit surprised at the beginning of Pandemonium that there were two time-lines: “then”, happening after Lena climbed that fence into the Wilds, and “now”, in which Lena was back in the city, but we don’t know yet where, how or why. Oliver pulled that off very nicely, because both timelines were so intense and every time each one ended, I couldn’t wait to read it again, I just had to keep reading to know more!

I thought Lena was a very strong character as we watch her slowly grow into a tougher person. She was thrown into the harsh world she never knew about, forced to take care of herself, while trying to forget everything about the life and people she left behind. The whole story had a darker feel to it than in Delirium, with future looking pessimistic and some very sad moments. There was a new romance, a possibility of a brighter future, and it was so refreshing I was actually thankful for it. Julian was a nice young man, I instantly liked him and I loved reading their relationship develop.

There were just some tiny bits that bothered me a little: Oliver’s insults of animals. I’m a huge animal lover and I get that in these survival stories, one might think “we’re like animals” or something similar, but there was constant talk about how Lena felt animal-like, and how people are no better than animals, like “animal” was such an insult. I don’t get it, why would people be better than animals? In which aspect? What’s wrong with animals? Maybe I was just cranky that day, but I thought author really exaggerated with this.

While Pandemonium was a great sequel and a book I really enjoyed, I was a *bit* mad at the ending.. because I knew what will happen! I totally saw it coming and I’m not sure if it’s a good decision on author’s part. I guess I’ll find the answer in Requiem!


Review: Beastly by Alex Flinn

Beastly - Alex Flinn

Beastly is probably one of the most popular fairy-tale retellings. After reading Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, I fell in love with this genre and Beastly sounded like an interesting retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Sadly, it was a disappointment and a complete waste of time.

Kyle Kingsbury is a typical teenage jerk and I have no sympathy for jerks. He’s rich, cocky and very pretty and he’s used to getting anything he wants. He was neglected by his father all his life, but I don’t think that’s an excuse. He’s such an unlikeable character, rude and evil, I could hardly continue reading the book. But I knew this was part of the story, so I kept reading. My main problem was that I hated him so much in the beginning, that when he became a furry beast, ugly and pathetic, I felt no compassion towards him and it would be actually fine with me if he stayed like that forever - he would deserve it.

The love story wasn’t my favorite either, to put it mildly. Lindy is a very likeable character, but I still found her shallow. She’s an average-looking, bookish and smart girl, so it’s easy so identify with her. Her life isn’t that pretty with her father being an addict, so she wants to study hard, get a scholarship and escape the ugly life. What bothered me was that she had a crush on Kyle before he became a beast, just because he was so pretty and even though she knew he was a douchebag. In a young adult novel that tries to point out how external beauty isn’t everything and that what matters most is personality, I thought this was very wrong. It would be much better if Lindy despised the beautiful Kyle because he was a jerk. There are people who put personality before the looks, but Lindy turned out to be just another shallow girl.

With Kyle turning from a character I hated to a soppy romantic (which I still disliked) and Lindy a shallow teenage girl, I didn’t care much for them. Will, the blind tutor and Magda, the housekeeper, were probably my favorite characters, at least they were normal, good people. The story also had a distinctive contemporary feel to it, with lots of references to sex, especially from Kyle’s part, which I probably don’t even have to say how much I disliked. I really, really don’t like it when female authors try so hard to create boys who are so stereotypically boyish and consequently jerks.

Luckily, the book is pretty short and fast. It doesn’t have any deeper meaning and it basically even fails to convince readers how physical beauty isn’t everything, which I thought was the point of this story. I don't think I'll read any other books by this author.


Review: A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway

A Study in Silks - Emma Jane Holloway
A Study in Silks starts with a mysterious murder of a young maid and disappearance of magic automatons. It happens in a house where Evelina Cooper lives with her best friend Imogen and her family. She finds herself in the middle of ugly family secrets, while trying to solve the murder and simultaneously protect her best friend’s family. But what if not everyone’s innocent?

It’s very hard to sum up the whole story in short, because this is one of those big fat books with a multi-layered story. There’s the highly detailed steampunk world with amazing world building. The whole British Empire is ruled by Queen Victoria, of course, but also by steam barons, who compete among themselves for more territory, often participating in ugly businesses. They provide steam, gas and electricity to households and they aren’t afraid to take advantage of their power. The magic is prohibited and anyone who’s accused of being a witch has a tough time defending himself. Then there’s a murder, automatons and a love triangle.

Evelina is a young woman who’s about to start her first Season. She’s a little lost in high-society London, having grown up in a circus. Her dangerous hobbies are inventing mechanical gadgets and working out her magical powers, both of which she struggles to keep a secret. Her uncle is the famous Sherlock Holmes, so she also has a taste for solving crimes. She has a crush on Imogen’s brother Tobias, but when a young man from her childhood comes to London, she finds herself torn between the life she left behind and the future.

While reading A Study in Silks, I often thought how it reminded me of Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Not the story itself, but the structure. There’s many side-stories and point of views, characters are complex with both strengths and faults, and the whole world is so thoughtfully developed. The story is pretty slow, I think at 20% we were still on that first day when the murder happened, but there’s a lot going on, too, especially later in the book. A lot of important details are revealed very subtly in conversations, so you need to be very careful not to miss them.

I highly enjoyed the book and loved the world and characters, but it requires a lot of patience while reading. It’s a long book and not that easy to read. I recommend it for steampunk fans and patient readers. Do not pick it up if you have a lot of other books to read soon, A Study in Silks takes time to develop and enjoy, but it’s worth it. The book doesn’t end with cliffhanger, but let’s just say I can’t wait to see what will happen in the next book!
*I received this book in exchange for and honest review. Thank you Del Rey and NetGalley!*

Review: Shadows of Asphodel by Karen Kincy

Shadows of Asphodel - Karen Kincy

Shadows of Asphodel has a highly unique premise and it didn’t disappoint. There’s a lot of badassery in this book - ancient magical swords, bloody battles, automatons and a necromancer rising dead people! Steampunk is one of my favorite genres, so when I heard about Shadows of Asphodel, a dieselpunk romance, I couldn’t wait to read it. I admit that I haven’t heard about dieselpunk before, so I was very curious of what this genre has to offer. It turns out, a lot.

I loved the historical setting of Europe in pre-World War I. This alternate history world Karen Kincy created was rich with details and I could really feel the whole broody atmosphere of cold and rainy Vienna, with zeppelins roaming the sky. I also loved how the author included actual historical people in this fantasy. Franz Ferdinand was mentioned, and Rudolf Diesel himself was a character in the book. The story line was action packed, with constant turns and surprises. I was a bit afraid in the start that the story would focus too much on the romance and I’m really glad it didn’t. It was a story of revenge, of Wendel getting free from the Order of Asphodel and people that tortured him.

Ardis was just the heroine I love to read about. She’s half-Chinese and working as a mercenary for Austria-Hungary, which means she doesn’t hesitate when it comes to killing. She was smart, strong and confident, with some pretty hard past left behind. Wendel was a bit harder to connect to, because he constantly omitted the talk about his past, so I kept guessing if I should trust him or not. He was so deeply hurt in his childhood, I was afraid he’s so focused on revenge that he’d risk everything, including Ardis, just to destroy his enemies.

Ardis and Wendel were a great couple, despite the angst. They were so different but still had so much in common. The romance was a bit rushed in beginning, but other than that I liked it. I really wanted for them to get rid of enemies and the dark past, and just get their happily ever after they both deserved. Their dialogue was often filled with humor and insinuating comments, so you could just feel the sexual tension. There were a few really hot sex scenes I thought were perfect, because they weren’t too long or too detailed, and still very tasteful.

Another great character was Konstantin, an archmage with magical abilities, who designed the automatons and helped Ardis and Wendel. He was sweet and a bit clumsy, so you just had to like him, but even more than that - he was gay, which we only found out near the end. I really appreciated that the author touched this topic without adding any unnecessary stereotypes.

As a reader of fantasy and science fiction, I found this story delightful and very original. It was action-packed and I enjoyed it from start to finish. It ended nicely, without a cliffhanger, but still with some anticipation of future, especially with the possible war coming. The book promises in the end that “this is just the beginning” and I only hope the sequel will be out soon because I can’t wait to get sucked into this world again!

*A copy of this book was kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*


Review: Scar and the Wolf by Plainfield Press

Scar and the Wolf - Plainfield Press

Scar and the Wolf is a retelling of Red Riding Hood and a gross but heart-warming read. The story takes place in a zombie town Plainfield on a Scar’s special day - it’s her 13th Unearthday. But she still has to do all the chores, and her parents got her only boring gifts. They tell her to go buy some ingredients on the market and don’t be late for her grandma’s. But of course Scar starts to wander on the market where she meets nice-looking but evil Wolf. You know how the story goes.

What I really liked about Scar and the Wolf were all disgusting and funny details of zombie world. Scar sleeps in a grave with worms, and her family eat bugs and brains. Scar also lost her nose, because it just tends to fall off, you know, when you’re rotting. But she’s not the only one, there are many various body parts in Plainfield roaming the streets, looking for their owners. These details were so well-thought and they created a really rich zombie world.

I also loved the ending, it was so sweet. Scar really grows as a character towards the end, when she realizes it’s not all about material things, but that important things in life end with -ing, like dancing, singing, or just being around the people you love.

Scar and the Wolf is a true gem of a story - a short read, but really meaningful. It could be appreciated by both kids and adults. It reminded me of Coraline by Neil Gaiman, only with more gross details. It was a perfect Halloween read for me. Also, it’s free for Kindle on Amazon!


Review: Joyland by Stephen King

Joyland - Stephen King

Joyland was the first Stephen King’s book I’ve read. I always wanted to read one of his books, so when Joyland came out this year and I saw how short it was (especially considering some of his other books), I decided I’ll read this one. But I was in for a disappointment. I haven’t read any of its reviews before reading Joyland, so I was prepared for a horror story. I wanted the book to scare me, to give me goosebumps and make me feel afraid of going to sleep. I really wanted to read a horror, because so far all books failed to really scare me. So I must warn everybody who wants a horror story: this is not a horror at all. It’s a crime novel, with just a pinch of paranormal.

The story is narrated by a student Devin Jones, who in 1973 worked in amusement park Joyland, to get over his ex-girlfriend. He’s innocent, young and naive, a good guy. There’s a haunted house in Joyland, where a few years before a young girl was murdered by his boyfriend and many people say she’s still there, as a ghost. They never found her killer. It all becomes very interesting when Devin discovers there were more murders like that..and that this serial killer was never found.

There’s this feeling of nostalgia throughout the whole book. Even more than a crime story, Joyland is a story of memories of a man’s youth. A hot summer in a city by the sea, getting over his first love and hard work at the amusement park. I must confess, Stephen King is a master of prose. Words flew beautifully and I could just read the book for hours. It was never boring. My main problem is that I couldn’t really connect with Devin because I didn’t care that much about him. He was just a normal, good guy, going through hard time in his life. But we know he survives in the end, because he’s now old and telling us his story. So even in the last quarter of the book, when things got more intense, I wasn’t afraid for him. I didn’t guess the murderer, so that at least was a surprise. The paranormal aspect of the story is barely worth mentioning, because it had no larger role.

All in all, I liked the book, even if it wasn’t a horror like I wanted it to be. In my opinion, it would appeal more to adults, especially those who knew America in the seventies and would enjoy the nostalgia.


Review: Parasite by Mira Grant

Parasite - Mira Grant

The year is 2027 and the humanity has never been as healthy. All health issues have been erased with the help of one pill, which contains a parasite, specially designed by SymboGen Corporation. This parasite lives in human intestines and cares for its host. There are no negative side effects..that are known yet. Sounds like a great book, right? Well, it really is!

Mira Grant designed a near-future world that seems perfect, but we see it all starts to fall apart. Increasingly more cases of “sleeping sickness” are occurring, where a person just shuts off, goes blank and after a few minutes he becomes aggressive towards other people. There is no cure for this condition.

Parasite is told from point of view of Sally Mitchell, a young woman, who had a car accident a few years ago, but thanks to her parasite she survived. She lost all memories of her life before accident and she had to re-learn everything. Grant did great work characterizing Sal, she was really weird and naive sometimes, but not dumb. Because Sally survived the impossible, she is considered a medical miracle and SymboGen is regularly checking on her, making various tests on her. Sal’s boyfriend Nathan is a parasitologist and her father is in the government, so when weird stuff starts to happen, Sally has a special access to some important information. She finds herself in the middle of things, trying to find out what’s going on while trying to avoid the sleepwalking people trying to kill her.

I liked the main character, Sal, she was funny and weird. Nathan was a perfect boyfriend and I really liked their relationship, but I also liked that there wasn’t much romance in the book. I didn’t like Sally’s family, her parents were very strange and cold at times, like they didn’t care for her. Between characters, there were letters of three scientists who created the tapeworm and founded the SymboGen company. These were really creepy sometimes, saying like “we screwed up big time, and once it starts to show, the whole humanity will go to hell”. I loved reading those and I loved how Mira Grant included them in the book.

There were three or four really scary scenes in the book, but I was a bit disappointed because I was prepared for a full-on horror. I should add here that I’m not easily scared. I thought the author could make this a lot scarier, but she decided to not go down that road and write more like a medical thriller. Still, this book was scary because of how a future like that is totally believable. I honestly believe things like that could actually happen, we people are already meddling with nature so much, this wouldn’t be out of line at all. So after all, it did scare me and I also had a nightmare shortly after reading Parasite starring these parasite-zombies! The only disappointment was the big revelation at the end, which I totally saw coming, and probably most readers will.

This was the first Mira Grant (pseudonym) or Seanan McGuire (author’s real name) book I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last! I can’t wait for book two in Parasitology series, Symbiont! Meanwhile I can read her Newsflesh series, because if it’s anywhere near as good as Parasite, I’m in for a great series. Highly recommended!

*I received this book in exchange for and honest review. Thank you Orbit Books and NetGalley!*


Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Prodigy - Marie Lu

Prodigy takes off almost immediately where Legend ended. June and Day are on the run, trying to find the only people they could turn to, the Patriots. Day still wants to find and rescue his brother Eden, whom the Republic is using for plague tests. After a slow beginning, Prodigy turns into another action-packed adventure. We see more of Tess and the new elector, Anden. We get to see Colonies!

Prodigy actually offers some improvements over Legend. We finally get more detailed world building, which was a big plus! Like I predicted in my review of the first book, the reason that there’s not much talk about Republic’s history in Legend is because our main characters didn’t know it. In Prodigy, Day sees World map for the first time in his life (which is much different than our current World map!) and we learn the whole background of the post-apocalyptic era this story takes place in. June learns the Republic’s history, of which she mostly had no idea. I must say this was one of my favorite parts of the book, because I just love to hear about what happened to the world, where it all went wrong etc., and it left me satisfied.

I was a bit scared towards the beginning that we’re in for a love-triangle, but thankfully the author didn’t lead the story in that direction, I’m really giving her credit for that. Instead, June and Day’s relationship was tested pretty hard a couple of times, which left me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see their reactions. The characters were more developed, but I didn’t like that much any of them. While I really cared for June and Day in Legend, I didn’t get that emotionally involved in Prodigy. It was a bit weird to read how these two kids are so important in the world of adults. They’re both fifteen, and even if they’re acting mature, I could hardly believe so many adult people were putting all their trust in them. It was like watching kids playing dress-ups.

I like to read dystopias with a certain (preferably high) level of probability, and while the post-apocalyptic scenario was actually very probable to happen in the future, everything else wasn’t. There was so many twist and turns working to the main characters’ advantage, it just wasn’t that believable. The ending was totally unexpected and shocking, but I thought it was just one of those cheap tricks to make the readers pine for the last book. I felt like the author didn’t know which complication she should add to the story, so she came up with something random, just for the sake of making it more dramatic.

I also didn’t particularly like the writing style, it was too simplistic. I figured the first person narrating the story in present time is the hardest for me to follow. There were a few weird words and that “yes” after every question was really getting on my nerves (“he’s your brother, yes?”). But these things were already in the first book and I don’t know why they bothered me more in Prodigy.

All in all, I can understand how a lot of readers would love this series, but I’m not a big fan. I would recommend this book to everyone who liked Legend, even if I didn’t end up liking Prodigy that much. I’d recommend it for teenagers who like intense action and unpredictable turns, but not for those who look for more complex and probable dystopian world and books with some deeper meaning and message.


The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Reblogged from Book Lovers Life:

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda is only 3.26 euro on The Book Depository. Grab it while you can!!!