Book Review, Books

Vicious Review

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Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

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V. E. Schwab can write anything and I will read it. As I have said before somewhere, her books and writing remind me a lot of the writing of my favourite authors (who wrote in the 70-80’s). Vicious is not an exception.

The story has a brutality that you don’t see much of, it is too close to reality, yet it is also not real at all. Victor and Eli pose interesting questions as characters and how they approach the vents (and becoming EOs).

For me it was interesting to read this, as I understood a little of each. I understood Victor’s stubborness and his drive to move forward, to do. And also I know how he felt by being invisible. I used to be the smart invisible friend, the shadow of someone better at people than I was (I have since found I am my own light, but that is a different story) so I got it all too well. And his EO power is something that at times I wish I had (specially having HMS/EDS).

On the other hand I also understood Eli’s faith, his drive to make things “good” and to be the hero. I was brought up in a very religious family (my parents champion the science in the Bible and how it matches science and give talks on it) and I do have faith but this I have developed on my own (asking so many questions of it and God, but again, another story).

I understood a little bit of Serena and Sydney, being a sister and all that sibling life.

There is also the whole NDE (Near Death Experience) part of it that triggers the EO, and I loved that. It ties in with City of Ghosts, and I wonder if they happen in a way in the same universe or in somewhat parallel ones (which reminds me a little of Steelheart).

All in all, this is a brutal book. It is about pain, about dying and what makes you want to stay in this world and how that shapes you. It is about morals and power. But it is mostly about broken people.

Moon recommends

I wholly recommend Vicious, however I also believe it is one of those books that not everyone will stomach and that is absolutely fine. If you find the concept of NDE intriguing, why not try City of Ghosts? And if you’re into superpowers and interesting “superheroes”, I highly recommend Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (who also tends to work with broken people a lot in his writing).

Book Review

Pretty Bad Liars?

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All of this is true by Lygia Day Peñaflor

Miri, Penny and Soleil have been friends since seventh grade, attending the same classes at the same private school, looking at the same boys, arranging the same hyped parties, and most important of all, sharing the love for the novel Undertow, and worshipping its author. One day the girls, together with their new friend Jonah, goes to an Undertow-signing. The author, Fatima Ro, is everything they hoped she would be, and as if that wasn’t enough, she want’s the little high school gang to become “her new people”. Hanging out at Fatima’s soon becomes the new normal, but all relationships isn’t what they first seems to be, and conflicts, lies, and hidden agendas are boiling right under the surface. It all comes down to the question: Who can you really trust to keep your secrets?

Rating 🐖🐖🐖

This is exactly the kind of page turning mystery story that I do l.o.v.e. It’s similar to Pretty Little Liars and a lot of other YA-books, with the plot building up around a well-kept secret that you spend the time reading to try to figure out. In All of this is true, this premise also shines through in how the book is disposed and written. It consists exclusively of TV-interviews with the girls, excerpts from Fatima Ro’s new book, email-conversations, and news paper articles about the unraveling scandal that’s at the center of the story.

I strongly liked this disposition, as it added to the jigsaw format of the plot itself. What I didn’t like was that the book felt a bit thin. Not in size or number of pages, but  plot wise. After all, the “big secret” in this one was quite easy to figure out, and once it was exposed, there wasn’t much more to the story.

This book could easily have been a five pigs-read for me, if there had been just a liiiittle more dept; to the characters, and to the events that took place, i.e. in terms of psychological explanations or theories. ‘Cause at the end of this books, all my “how’s” were answered, but all my “why’s” where just left there hanging. And that’s really like ripping out the last chapter of a really good thriller, isn’t it?

Dr. Bea approves

If you want more mysteries, I recommend you to read One of us is lying by Karen M. McManus. (Moral wise I had some troubles with that one, to be honest, but oh was it an exciting five pig-read.)

Book Review

A Thousand Perfect Notes Review

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A Thousand Perfect Notes by C. G. Drews (paperfury)

An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.

Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

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As you can see, I like music. And I had composed/made some songs up, some music, and sometimes lyrics a few years back. But then life happened and something traumatic disrupted my life. I haven’t played the piano for almost four years.

Why am I telling you this? Because those are a few reasons why I wanted to read this book. It is about the piano, it is about music, about abuse and trauma, and it is about life.

It is very hard to read, August is wonderful, but Beck’s life is difficult and some of what happens is extremely hard to read (I would say a trigger warning for abuse and violence should be made here, same as gaslighting). But it was well done. It wasn’t crude or badly done, instead it built a story and it made it become alive. It was a vibrating stacatto at times, and it was good.

I don’t want to spoil this book but I would just say to go read it if you think you can.

Moon recommends

Don’t let life keep you away from things you love to do. I am struggling on what to recommend here, mostly because it is a difficult book to match to others, I remember reading a book about a gilr who played the piano that somehow I could recommend but I can’t remember the title. Maybe I will at some point…

Book Review

Half Bad Review

I’ve been trying to speed through my YALC list as the date approaches and thankfully I am not the only one so this was a buddy read and I didn’t do a full “Moon” on it (I usually work well with buddy reads up to the third day then I somehow end up finishing the book way before, this time I only read until the next part so not the end).

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Half Bad by Sally Green

Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan’s only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it’s too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Half Bad is an international sensation and the start of a brilliant trilogy: a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive.

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The book starts quite childish and it was a quick start and easy to read (remember this was a buddy read so I ahd to stick to a number of pages per day). It didn’t feel like a chore to catch up with the pages of the day which is always a good sign and I enjoyed how the writing/ the voice of the book changed as NMathan gerw and learned more, as he discovered more and more about the world and who he is.

I absolutely abhorred the Council and was so annoyed at their practices which is a good thing because the villain is something you can well dislike.

I really enjoyed Rose and Mercury, and wasn’t too sure about Gabriel, but now I have so many questions that I hope get answered in the next books (it is a trilogy and thankfully I have all 3 already!), plus Smoke Thieves).

Funnily and sadly enough, this book was quite relevant to what is happening in the world around us and it was sad that it matches a lot of things that aren’t going well.

Moon Recommends

Try The Apprentice Witch because it reminded me of it as I read Half Bad. Maigc in many forms indeed!

Book Review

Making Faces Review

I can’t remember why I decided to preorder this book, but I did (I definitely like supporting authors and preordering as many books as tempt me and can be afforded), and trust me, past me who preordered gets all the kudos from present me.

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Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She’d been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have…until he wasn’t beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl’s love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior’s love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast where we discover that there is little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

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I started this book not expecting too much, for some reason I thought it was set in WWII times (don’t ask me why, well, somehow I put it close to the WWII books so yeah, past me had her moments). Thinking it wouldn’t hook me too much, I started as I went to bed.

Oh boy! I stayed up until 2 am just to finish it. I seriously could not put it down, my boyfriend came to bed and I barely acknowledged him, this had to be read. I needed to know what was going to happen.

There were a couple of interesting things in the book beyond the “B&B” retelling. It spoke of feeling ugly/not interesting/attractive and never really realising you’ve grown out of it, not in a crazy ugly duckling to swan but more of a “people will like you and some won’t, but it’s okay”. Then it also has a character that is in a wheelchair and that is amazing to read and I was so invested in the character. Family isn’t totally absent in this book, which was refreshing. Parents and family exist and aren’t there just to drive the plot. It also touches on guilt, beliefs, and a lot of things that I was not expecting here.

I thought this was a historic romance kinda book, and it was so much more than that.

Moon recommends

If you’re feeling up to preorders and love Beauty and the Beast, try A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Obviously Making Faces has to be recommmended. One of my other favourite B&B retellings is Hunted and Beauty.

 

Book Review

The Girl With Ghost Eyes Review

I love urban fantasy and I have a tendency to forget how much I enjoy it until i finally end up reading a new book and voila!

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The Girl With Ghost Eyes by M. H. Boroson

It is 1898 in San Francisco. When a sorcerer mainms Chinatown’s Daoshi exorcist, only his daughter Li-lin can protect the immigrant community. With a peachwood sword and a sarcastic talking eyeball to help her, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.

Full of creepy Asian monsters and authentic Chinese rituals, this critically acclaimed urban fantasy also tells the story of a young immigrant trying to find her place. In a Chinatown torn between tradition and modernity, one woman might be the key to holding everything together.

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Even though the synopsis has a slightly misleading bit in it, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. (I chose it because it was recommended by Patricia Briggs, and she’s one of my favourite Urban Fantasy writers).

It starts off with Li-lin meeting a sorcerer and entering very quickly the spirit world, and it gets a bit confusing at first if you’re not completely familiar with Chinese spirit lore (I knew some of it but not as much as there is here). It felt a bit overwhelming at first, and confusing because I kept waiting for the synopsis to happen and it just didn’t so I was doubly confused. However, it got interesting quite quickly and the “complicated bits” got easier and more familiar the more I read.

It was hard to put down as there was a lot of action, and I have to say I absolutely loved the ending and was surprised by several of the twists that happen in the book (and surprising me so much is hard to do nowadays).

Moon recommends

If you like urban fantasy and Chinese folklore, give this book a go. You can also try Written in Red by Anne Bishop, or any book by Patricia Briggs (the first one I read from her was The Hob’s Bargain and it is still one of my favourites).

Book Review

The House With The Chicken Legs Review

I have a soft spot for Russian fairytales or folklore inspired books, and specially about Baba Yaga, so this book had been in my list for a while until I decided to get and I am so glad I did.

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The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with.
But that’s tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It’s even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties–and no playmates that stick around for more than a day.
So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it’s up to Marinka to find her–even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife.
With a mix of whimsy, humor, and adventure, this debut novel will wrap itself around your heart and never let go.

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Let’s start with the fact that this book is cute, and it has illustrations inside. But it is also a book about death and dying. However, never does it feel too heavy or too difficult, it is actually very very enjoyable.

Marinka is trying to figure why she can’t have friends and she is trying to make a life for her own, fighting her “destiny” of becomings a Yaga, a guardian of the Gate. And you see her trying to make her first “living” friend, just to be soon whisked away by the house.

The House, is one of my favourite characters and definitely it has a life of it’s own (part of me wants a house with chicken legs) and that made it a great delight to read. Each character is “alive”(ok, some are dead, but let’s not go into semantics) and real, and that was lovely to read.

I absolutely loved the end of the book and it left me full of hope for Marinka’s and the other character’s future, which was a nice thing. It is definitely a lovely book, and it a lot about growing up, being yourself, finding your passion, but it is also about life and death and what you do with your life.

Moon recommends

Buy and read The House With Chicken Legs right now! Then go read The Bear and The Nightingale, because it is also inspired by Russia, and then go read The Crown’s Game.