Tag «mind-fuck»

Single Sundays: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Wink Poppy Midnight (from Goodreads):

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

breakdown

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book seemed to be on a ton of lists in 2016 because I remember seeing it a lot. I’ll be the first to admit: I was drawn to the cover mostly–I love it so much!

I’ll also admit that I totally forgot about this book until I was browsing audiobooks to listen to last year.  I’m always up for a good mind-bending novel. You know, the ones that have this underlying mystery that changes your entire reading experience once it is revealed? I was eager to see what this one had in store.

The Concept / The World:

I’m going to quote the little blurb that is a part of the synopsis for the audiobook to give my thoughts on the concept/world of this novel.

The intrigue of The Raven Boys and the “supernatural or not” question of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer coalesce in this young adult mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change on a dime.

I definitely did see the parallels to The Raven Boys Cycle with the setting. Wink’s connection to tarot cards and mysticism is very similar to Blue’s in The Raven Boys. (Only Wink is a lot odder than Blue). Add the aspects of school and I felt like I had returned to Blue’s world.

I’ve never read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (it’s another TBR item) but you do find yourself questioning if what is happening is supernatural or something else at play. It makes the story suspenseful in an intriguing sort of way.

The “no one is quite who you think” — yeah, that’s not really the case. Maybe because I read this line I knew that there was more to these characters than meets the eye. When you read something like that you try to put the pieces together. So while I wouldn’t say this is predictable, it is perhaps a touch cliche in its character twists.

The Plot:

I really struggled with the plot for this novel because I really don’t think there was one. Or at least, there wasn’t one that is apparent from the start. The whole idea of this book is to figure out how these characters’ stories are intertwined by listening to them tell their side of events. Which is fine, I just wanted a little more focus.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this story seemed a little aimless in its delivery to me. It reminded me a lot of The Raven Boys where there is something happening in terms of plot but you kinda just go through the motions of everyday life for 80% of the novel. That just bores me.

The Characters:

I didn’t particularly like any of these characters. You aren’t really supposed to like Poppy so job well done there. Wink I had a hard time figuring out–literally and figuratively–so I didn’t particularly love her character. And I just felt so bad for Midnight because he is so easy to manipulate and he doesn’t seem to have a backbone.

And going back to what I said above: they all seemed a little cliche to me. That is part of the point though and its how they contribute to the story but I think I just wanted a little more substance to them.

The Romance:

I think you can assume that there is a love triangle of sorts between Wink, Poppy and Midnight just by reading the synopsis. It contributes to the story but because I didn’t love any of the characters, I wasn’t really feeling the romance.

Audiobook Experience:

One of the main reasons I picked the audiobook version of this novel was the narrators. When I picked this one up, I was fairly new to the world of fiction audiobooks. See, I was curious if I would be thrown off by a novel that had narrators I had already listened to. Kinda like the phenomenon where you see an actor from one role in another and you can only see them as that first role (no matter what they do after).

In this novel, Midnight’s voice is done by Michael Crouch who was Simon in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Poppy is Caitlin Davies who was Kristen in None of the Above. Both were novels I read a few weeks before this one.

The good news is that it only took me a few chapters to get accustomed to the narration here and associating the voices with the characters. The audiobook is fantastic; truthfully, it is one of the reasons why I gave this book a 3 instead of a 2. All the narrators do a great job bringing these characters to life.

And Michael Crouch has easily become one of my favourite voice actors to listen too. He does a fabulous job and I’ll be looking for more novels by him in the future.

My Rating: 2.5/5

overall

I spent 80% of this book trying to figure out what this novel was trying to achieve and I’m not sure the big “twist” was worth the time. The book is definitely unique in terms of its writing style and the audiobook is very well done but there isn’t enough here to really impress me.

Read if You Like: magical realism, intrigue
Avoid if You: want a stronger plot
similarreads

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews Amazon.com Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Series Review: Nocte by Courtney Cole

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Nocte (from Goodreads):
My name is Calla Price. I’m eighteen years old, and I’m one half of a whole. My other half—my twin brother, my Finn—is crazy. I love him. More than life, more than anything. And even though I’m terrified he’ll suck me down with him, no one can save him but me. I’m doing all I can to stay afloat in a sea of insanity, but I’m drowning more and more each day. So I reach out for a lifeline. Dare DuBray. He’s my savior and my anti-Christ. His arms are where I feel safe, where I’m afraid, where I belong, where I’m lost. He will heal me, break me, love me and hate me. He has the power to destroy me. Maybe that’s ok. Because I can’t seem to save Finn and love Dare without everyone getting hurt. Why? Because of a secret. A secret I’m so busy trying to figure out, that I never see it coming. You won’t either.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: New Adult Fav 2015
Series: Nocte Trilogy
Author: Courtney Cole
# of Books: 3 (Nocte, Verum, Lux)

There is a novella published between Verum and Lux called Initium.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Dark, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: really warm (Noctum); warm (Verum & Lux)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating (Noctum); Single (Verum & Lux)
Publication Dates: November 2014 – October 2015
Source & Format: Provided by Author –eBook  |  Thank you Courtney Cole!

disclaimer

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I really enjoyed Cole’s If I Stay and so I jumped on the chance to review this series. It promised lots of twists, a passionate romance and strong characters. I couldn’t wait to see what was happening to these characters and so I dove right in…

The Plot:

“A secret I’m so busy trying to figure out, that I never see it coming. You won’t either.”

That synopsis is so true. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was happening but I was proven completely wrong. It positively floored me when everything was revealed. And the best part was that I could have figured it out if I had known what to look for in hindsight. Especially Nocte; I felt like it was executed flawlessly with respect to the mystery and that is what makes it a 5 star read.

Verum also had a great twist but I found it didn’t captivate me as much. I found it hard to be constantly told “I just can’t tell you, you have to figure it out yourself”. I don’t like when I am purposefully kept in the dark. It’s kinda like lying by omission: if I don’t know you aren’t hiding something, I’m cool with it because I don’t know better. But when I know that I could know and it simply isn’t being told to me, I get frustrated. I like where it went, I just didn’t like how I got there.

Lux was a book that left me with mixed feelings. I spent so much time confused out of my mind trying to figure out what was past/present/future/real and it was a little exhausting. In her author’s note, Courtney Cole writes that that was her purpose in her writting. She wants the reader to experience what Calla is reading and in that respect she succeeds. Once everything starts to get revealed though, I was totally on board and it was nice to see how everything came together.

Note on the Novella–Initium:

I read the novella, Initium, between Verum and Lux which is the order the books were given to me. That is probably the right order regardless and it isn’t too spoilery. It does a good job of getting your mind going and trying to link up everything you’ve learned in the previous books for the big reveal. But at the same time, but I almost wonder if it is better to read it after you finish Lux. There are a few things I think would have a bigger impact in Lux if you didn’t get that backstory you do in the novella. But even with my knowledge of what happened in Initium, I was still surprised by what happened in Lux so I think whenever you read it would be fine.

The Characters:

All these characters play their roles perfectly. They develop at a great pace but they all still have their secrets that make you want to get to know them more.

I liked Calla as a character. Her love for her brother really made me like her (as a sister myself, I understand that drive to protect your sibling). I didn’t love how she referred to Finn as “crazy” when she knows full well (and even understands) his illness but that is more of a personal issue for me (I don’t like the terms some people associate with mental illness). And at the same time, I understand how it worked for the story and the need for it. In short: Calla was an easy character to get to like and that made reading her story so addicting.

The Romance:

I really liked the romance. It compliments the story in a great way that you appreciate the more you read. I think it is more of a focus in Noctum than the other novels. The final two novels focus more on Calla trying to understand what is happening, including her romantic life but it definitely takes to the background.

Series Rating: 4/5

Nocte  5/5 | Verum 4/5 | (Initium 4/5)  |  Lux 3.5/5

overall

If you enjoy books that make you think and distort reality, this is a great one for you to read! It keeps you on your toes and constantly has you guessing what is going to happen. But if you don’t enjoyed being toyed with, then I wouldn’t pick this one up. Overall, it is one of the most intriguing New Adult reads I’ve read in a while and I liked the suspense and mystery it brought to the genre.

Read if You Like: mindfucks, psychological thrillers, rebuilding the past
Avoid if You: don’t like mysteries, don’t enjoy distored realities, want a romance driven story

similarreads

  • Unravel by Caila Reed
  • We Were Liars by E Lockhart
  • Fight Club by Chuck  Palahniuk
  • Forbidden by Tabitha Suzman
  • Black Iris by Leah Raeder
  • Ten Tiny Breaths by K A Tucker (Ten Tiny Breaths Series #1)
  • Hopeless by Colleen Hoover (Hopeless Series #1)

readingchallenges

book

recapbutton

connect Twitter GoodReads Riffle Bloglovin' Google Plus Amazon.ca Reviews RSS Email

catchphrase

Single Sundays: Unravel by Calia Read

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Unravel (from Goodreads):
Six months ago, I was happy. I was simply Naomi Carradine.

One month ago, I was admitted into a psych ward.

Yesterday, Lachlan visited me. Kissed me. And told me that I’m starting to lose my mind.

Hours later, Max haunted my thoughts, reminding me I’m not crazy and that he needs my help.

A few minutes ago, I drifted further from reality, trying to unravel the past.

And now…everyone thinks I’m insane. But, I know he’s real, and I know he needs me.

Do you believe me?

Review:

When I first saw the cover for this book, I thought it was a new erotic romance novel that has some abstract artwork for a cover–much like Maya Banks’ Breathless Trilogy–instead of people. So initially I scrolled past it but then curiosity got the better of me and I decided to see what it was about. And after reading the synopsis, I just knew I had to read this book to figure out what it going on.

I really liked the execution of this book. It starts with Naomi already admitted to the psych ward and then she begins to retell what happened in her past to get her to that point. I immediately got sucked in trying to put together the pieces of her past to see what exactly had happened to get her to her current state.

This book is the definition of a New Adult read but instead of focusing solely on the romance, it focuses on the past and what brings us to the present. I found it very refreshing in that sense. Don’t let that previous sentence convince you that there isn’t a romance–because there definitely is and I loved it just as much as I loved the plotline. They blended very well together but I liked that the romance wasn’t all there was to this book.

I really had no idea what was going to happen but as soon as I did, it all clicked into place and I went: WOW, that was really great! I love when you finish a book and that is your first reaction because this book, while a mindf**k initially, really comes together beautifully at the end.

Conclusion:

This book definitely isn’t for everyone. It’s a very dark New Adult read and deals with some serious issues like mental illness. But if you enjoy novels that screw a bit with your mind and have a bit of a mystery to the plot, you will love this book. One of the best books I have read so far this year for sure!

Rating: 4.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: New Adult, Drama, Tragedy, Romance, Mystery
Recommended for: 18+
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Standalone of 2014
Similar Reads: Rosebush by Michele Jaffe and Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Fresh Fridays: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (Cruel Beauty Universe)

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge  | Cruel Beauty Universe

Other books in the series:

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite New Series 2014, New Must-Watch Author 2014
Series: Cruel Beauty Universe
Author: Rosamund Hodge
# of Books: 2 (Cruel Beauty, Gilded Ashes, Crimson Bound)
Book Order: Connected (as in same universe)
Complete?: No, Crimson Bound will be published Spring 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Mythology, Romance, Mystery, Supernatural
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

I was really excited to read this book and pounced on it when it was available at my library. I’ve really been enjoying these dystopian/post-apocalyptic retellings of fairy tale stories lately and this book was no exception. I actually think that this one is one of my favourites.

This book reminded me a lot of the movie Inception and once you read it and see what is unfolding, you will get why. The blending of mythology, the Beauty and the Beast story as well as dystopian elements was done beautifully. There are a lot of layers to this book and as a reader (and studier of literature) I really appreciated it.

But I know a lot of people won’t like this book for those exact reasons. The writing style really reminded me of Graceling–it’s old fashioned in a way that we don’t particularly see in dystopian Young Adult novels. I also found that Cruel Beauty did remind me of Graceling when looking back at it. I didn’t feel like I was reading a regurgitation of Graceling while reading Cruel Beauty–they are two completely separate books with entirely different premises. But there are definitely similarities between the storylines and I think Nyx (Cruel Beauty) and Katsa (Graceling) have a lot in common. Both are extremely angsty and I think Nyx’s angst might not rub people well. I know I had a hard time with it at first but I didn’t really mind it because I understood why she felt that way–and that becomes more apparent as you read.

My favourite part of this book is the plot. It is a mystery essentially and I liked trying to figure it out as I went. Over time I put the clues together and figured it out, but often I didn’t really see the answer until I read it. Which resulted in me doing a bit of a gasping in surprise and saying “that is so cool” while the puzzle pieces connected mentally!

I was worried that this was going to be a lot like Of Beast and Beauty and while they do share some similarities–these books have two entirely different messages and plots. I think the romance is stronger (or at least to me I understood it better) in Of Beast and Beauty but I really warmed up to Ignifex and Nyx’s story by the end. Definitely readers of one will enjoy the other.

I’m excited to read the next book in the universe and I’m glad that there will be more books set in this universe because it is a truly fascinating world Ms. Hodge has created. I will definitely be checking out more of her books in the future!

UPDATED (June 26/14): Gilded Ashes is the next book in the series but it is a novella and not a full-out novel; which disappointed me at first because I wanted to read the next novel in the series. But this book was the perfect length when all is said and done. It doesn’t have the “mystery” element that Cruel Beauty did but it has a lot of cool supernatural pieces to it and I really enjoyed reading it; a very cool spin on Cinderella. What I like about these books is that the romantic leads aren’t gaga for their significant other right away; that the relationship really builds and develops between them. Overall, a great contribution to the series!

Conclusion:

This book will definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea so I highly recommend that if you are interested in reading it, you grab the sample or read the first 70 pages here. If you aren’t drawn in by the mystery and story after the first 20 or so pages, don’t continue. But for those who like reading books that have a challenging mystery and are filled with Greek mythology–grab this NOW!

Rating: 4.5/5

Similar Reads: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay; For the Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (For the Darkness Shows the Stars #1) and Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

Synopsis for Cruel Beauty (from Goodreads):
Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl’s journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.