May 28, 2016

Edward Aubry: "Unhappenings"

Title: Unhappenings  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Unhappenings (1st of 2 books)
Author: Edward Aubry [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi
Year: 2015
Age: Can be read from 13-14 on, but because of its complexity and the characters' age, it's essentially geared towards adults
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Fresh concept. Entertaining ride. Nicely blends science (or scientific speculations) with personal issues. Poses interesting - albeit not new - moral dilemmas.
Cons: Characters could have been deeper. Love story turns out to be quite weird (though the author is able to have you buy into it). We don't get all the answers we need. At least one of the twists is easy to figure out.
Will appeal to: Time travel aficionados who wants to see a different angle - with a less sci-fi and more human feel.

Blurb: When Nigel Walden is fourteen, the UNHAPPENINGS begin. His first girlfriend disappears the day after their first kiss with no indication she ever existed. This retroactive change is the first of many only he seems to notice. Several years later, Nigel is visited by two people from his future. But the enigmatic young guide shares very little, and the haggard, incoherent, elderly version of himself is even less reliable. His search for answers takes him fifty-two years forward in time, where he meets Helen. But Nigel's relationships always unhappen, and if they get close it could be fatal for her. Worse, according to the young guide, just by entering Helen's life, Nigel has already set into motion events that will have catastrophic consequences. In his efforts to reverse this, and to find a way to remain with Helen, he discovers the disturbing truth about the unhappenings, and the role he and his future self have played all along. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received this novel from Curiosity Quills in exchange for an honest review. To be more precise, I specifically requested a review copy. That didn't affect my opinion and rating in any way. Here goes...

WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD

I'm a sucker for time travel, but to be honest, I wasn't aware of that until a few years ago. So it's not like I'm claiming to be the maximum expert on the matter or something. I haven't read/seen so huge an amount of time travel stories that I can vouch for the novelty of a particular concept. What I can say is, the story of a man whose life constantly seems to rewrite itself with no reason sounded too fresh and compelling not to give it a chance. I do have a few issues with how the thing is played (I'll address them later), because I feel like there are questions that didn't get a solid answer, or no answer at all - but the book as a whole was an entertaining ride, and didn't even lose its appeal when I reread it in search of missed clues.
As far as time travel goes, Unhappenings touches/explores a few already known theories (like the causal loop one) but also brings fresh concepts on the table, and heavily relies on the idea that, once a human being has been born, her/his life can't be negated simply murdering her/his parents before that person's birth; then again, there will be consequences - and interesting ones, too. And I promise, my review is not going to get any more spoilery than that ;). Also, if sci-fi and time travel intimidate you, I think you can still read this book without banging your head against a brick wall, because the story in itself is still compelling even if you don't get all the theories and their ramifications. This is not a book geared to science nerds - they will enjoy it, sure, but if you aren't privy to time travel scientific speculations, you can still read Unhappenings for its entertainment value :). [...]

May 09, 2016

B.C. Johnson: "Deadgirl: Ghostlight" (ARC Review)

Title: Deadgirl: Ghostlight [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Deadgirl (2nd of 4 books)
Author: B.C. Johnson [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary
Year: 2016
Age: 12+
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Main lead gets you hooked. Story has something in it for everyone: pain and fun, epic and normalcy (um, not so much), dating and acting, growing up and staying alive (sort of).
Cons: Some teen drama/angst. Almost-love-triangle with an additional complication. Pop culture references galore (some of them slightly out of the characters' reach IMO).
WARNING! Gang violence and almost rape. Teen sex (nothing overly graphic, and protection is used).
Will appeal to: Those who like a determined, yet complex protagonist who can sneak into their heart, coupled with a great ensemble cast. Those who like adrenaline reads. Those who are into theater. Those who don't mind a small dose of romance. Those who don't mind a huge dose of wisecracks.

Blurb: Transformed into a “phantom” by her own titanic will to live, Lucy must feed on the essence, memories, and emotions of others to keep herself solid. After defeating her Grim Reaper and learning that she could survive without hurting people, Lucy thought the madness was finally over. Her cravings for essence under control, Lucy tries to live a normal life. Apparently you have to be alive for that to work, though, as Lucy learns that one of her friends is more than she appears. She insists that Lucy, with her ghostly abilities and tentative immortality, can join her in the fight to help those in need. Thrust into the role of teenage savior, Lucy Day finds herself battling a pack of voyeuristic serial killers, a mysterious and deadly wraith, and the idea that she might actually have to start dating again sometime this century. (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I received this novel from Curiosity Quills in exchange for an honest review. And the author being B.C. Johnson, you all know I've been campaigning for his first Deadgirl book with all my might since 2012, when the original version came out. Also, B.C. Johnson and me have stayed in touch, if sporadically, for the whole time. I'm not what you would call a friend of his though, only a fan of his work. And an unbiased one :). As usual, this review is the love child of my penchant for quirky, uniquely worded books and B.C. Johnson's ability to deliver them. Here goes...

OFFICIAL ENGAGEMENT

I might as well get it off my chest: I'm still partial to Book 1, and probably always will. It was fresh, unexpected and exciting. It was happily void of the usual teen drama (Lucy's tentative romance with Zach hardly qualified as such) and full of powerful imagery. It introduced me to one of the better developed characters I've ever met. And it didn't even need a sequel.
Now, you might wonder why - given this premise - I'm awarding 5 stars to the second installment as well. And you might suspect that I'm being nice to the author because I'm talking to him on a semi-regular basis, or because I'm trying to milk more free books from him/his publisher (despite my disclaimer). OK, the truth? Even if Deadgirl: Ghostlight isn't a perfect book (we'll get to that later), I found myself comparing it to all my 4 and 4.5 star novels, and I realised that I loved it so much more than them. That it had an impact on my heart and mind they lacked, if for a tiny margin. That I cared for the characters and loved to journey with them too much for detracting half stars. Coming from a middle aged lady, and what with the series centering on a bunch of teens none of which resembles me at ANY age, I suppose this is testament enough to the author's skill of engaging with readers :).

THE (UN)USUAL MESS

Unlike Book 1 (which was a non-stop ride spanning a few days), the second installment of Deadgirl follows Lucy and her friends for a whole year, and alternates supernatural/paranormal incidents with teen drama and a bunch of cozy (so to speak) moments. We follow Lucy while she's trying to adjust to her unlife and learn the ropes, use her powers for the greater good (which puts her in grave danger, because apparently, not being alive doesn't mean you're immune to misery), joggle parents, friends and school, and unsuccessfully stay away from potential heartbreak (i.e. dating). The variety makes for an entertaining, multifaceted, always surprising read. There's also a fresh and lively theater subplot - the author worked as a stage hand for a while, which I guess explains his confidence with this particular environment. But the acme of the book for me is the scene where Lucy finds her whole being (or unbeing) challenged, and it takes all her strenght to believe in herself, whatever she is. For all her paranormal gifts, Lucy is not a superheroine - she covers all the spectrum from weak to strong (though she definitely leans towards the strong end), and her real weapons are her emotions and willpower. Which is why she managed to escape death-death in the first place... [...]

May 05, 2016

Spicing Up Stuff...

A very short post, my beauties. For once :).

I came up with a small change in my review routine. Well, it sort of came up by itself, to be honest. Upon closing my series review for the wonderful Dark Passages by Ilsa J. Bick, I realised that it was the longest I had ever written - and I DO write long ones, all the time. I don't usually incorporate gifs into my reviews, but in this case, I thought I'd use a few in order to break it down...until I realised that it would be next to impossible to find the right ones before the turn of the decade or so. Which left me with another option - breaking down my review with headings. I am reasonably happy with the result (oh, who am I fooling, I'm damn proud of it LOL), so I decided to apply headings to all my future reviews - starting with the Deadgirl: Ghostlight ARC review on May 9th. Maybe I can come up with some clever headings that will draw more attention to my posts - maybe I'll just be able to make said reviews easier on the eyes, which is a small improvement in itself (because I'm physically unable to write shorter reviews. Go ahead and torture me, I can't).


I also have to thank Erin Callahan for her appreciation of my headings, which gave me a boost in this direction. By the way, if you don't know Erin, your loss - but luckily, I'm here to fix this :). She's the co-author of the Mad World series, and she's also about to do a major break in the publishing industry with her first solo project (that I beta-read, so you can trust me on this!)...not only, but she's a blogger herself too, and her observations about pop culture and insights into a part-time writer's life are always fresh and funny - not to mention interesting. So please go ahead and say hi! fellow writers or readers, you're welcome :).

I might have other ground-breaking ideas for my reviews in the future, but it's all for now ;). Enjoy!