Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra

As always, here is the disclaimer  telling you that there are spoilers within this post. If you haven’t read this book yet, I’d advise clicking elsewhere now. If you are clicking elsewhere, why not click on my spoiler-free review over HERE on GoodReads?

What the Woods Keep_F-REV2

What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra

Published September 18th 2018 by Imprint Macmillan

GoodReads

Book Depository

 

 

 

 

Not only am I excited to knock this one off of my January TBR, but I got to Buddy Read it with the lovely Rose (SeventyEight.Sundays). It was a pleasure having her along side me (via Instagram) to read this book! Hopefully we can do it again sometime!

This was my first Buddy Read on Instagram, and I loved being able to talk to someone about what was happening, as well as my reactions and thoughts. Usually I just write them down here, for my review and ramblings posts, so it was lovely to be able to bounce them off of a person and have that person be as lovely as you are Roz! Thank you!

So let’s begin!

Well here I am at 100 pages in, and I feel like nothing has really happened yet? There has been a lot of back-story, but none of it has really given me any insight into what is happening in the book.

I feel like there is so much more to learn about Hayden. That she has some powers or a knowledge of the supernatural, or something like that? Mainly from the obvious, animals killing themselves around her, her ability to make people enter a trance like state when she stares into their eyes. Her ability (maybe not the right word), to completely black out and commit acts of such violence that it shocks everyone. That last one makes her sound rather sociopathic or psychopathic, rather than supernatural but you get my drift. There is a dark energy about her. One that I want to know more about.

Also her friend Dell, I think there is more to her than we are being told also, who else would go to a trip to a creepy old house, to a place where potentially multiple murders have taken place?

I am finding this book easy to read, the writing style is free-flowing, perfectly paced and engaging. I love the inclusion of the therapist’s notes, of Hayden’s journal notes and letters so far, it really breaks up the reading and adds another layer to the novel itself.

I am a little dubious about how trusting Hayden was when the solicitor told her about her mums last wishes for her. Leaving her the house and three requests along with it. Hayden was so trusting, she said okay and then packed her bags and headed up to ‘The Manor’. She didn’t stop to think about the potential threat it may impose. Or even why her mother would send her back there, and what the requests may mean.

Wow, so her mum isn’t even dead, just like Hayden thought! But to make it worse, her dad’s assistant was treating her the whole time! The assistant called the dad in to work on the mums case! This book is finally starting to go somewhere. I like the level of psychological thriller incorporated into this YA fiction novel. I like books that make me think.

Soo Del sleep walks? Or was she sleep walking but also possessed by Hayden’s mothers strange radio-active power, in order to kick Hayden into gear about completing the three requests she made in her will? How creepy that Del was digging exactly where the box of blood vials were!

Side note. I am loving how there is no real love interest. It is so unlike a YA novel, for there to not be a love interest within the first 100 pages. Yes we have mention of the boy-next-door, and I want to know more about him, purely because when Hayden talks about him, she talks about how his mum and her mum had some shady secret that they shared. That His mum didn’t want Hayden anywhere near her son. Why!?

Okay, so Hayden is a Nibelung? What the heck is going on. I knew that Hayden had some magical properties, but she is the thing that her father gave up his official career for? I get that her mum was also a Nibelung, and the whole gosh darn town of Promise has Nibelung blood, but it is sort of under-whelming.

Actually, I am finding this whole book underwhelming. The relationships feel forced or fake. The chemistry between Shannon and Hayden is non-existent. For the first 200 pages, we are told that Shannon is this classic boy next door who was Hayden’s best friend and then she is forced to leave and she never speaks to him again. But when we see him, he is cold, militarised and not the person that Hayden remembered. But them boom, he changes 300 pages in and suddenly decided he cares about Hayden, but it turns out he is following orders from Hayden’s dad. But then he goes against those orders. There are just so many cliché moments in this book, I would have rather Shannon stayed indifferent towards Hayden, it kept things interesting, now it just feels like every other book.

The last 60 pages were action packed, but it felt like too little, too late. I think the first 300 pages were filled with too much back story, too much nothing happening and too much magical inuendo. In the end we didn’t learn anything about Hayden’s dad, about the institute his assistant was working for. We didn’t learn anything new about the Nibelungs, other than 2 remain on the earth after the portal is closed. We learnt a tiny bit about Hayden’s abilities (mind control and intention control) and apparently Shannon can do it too. But nothing was really wrapped up at all. Yes that leaves room for a sequel, but I think I will be giving it a miss…

This book feels like it is trying too hard, it is well written and engaging, but the content, for me, is a little lack-lustre. It feels like the writing is trying to be creepy and scary, that it wants to be interpreted as magical and mystical and mythical, but all it is achieving is a weird tale set in the woods with some magnetic feeling supernatural force.

I feel like I have been a total bitch about this book, in this post, but I did enjoy it. It just didn’t live up to the hype that surrounds it on social media. I love the writing style and the ease that De Becerra has to dump us into this world and have it flow so easily. I enjoyed the folklore elements to this book, and the way that it was incorporated into scientific research. It just didn’t hit any high-notes for me. There was no build up to the climax, there was no issues to resolve. It just felt like here have all of this information, now you are finished the book. Thanks. I don’t feel like I was taken on a journey.

The pacing is also a little weird throughout the book, it is set at a pretty consistent medium pace that makes the book easy to read, but when the action starts to pick up, the pacing doesn’t. So it feels a little off-kilter.

All in all, this was a good book, I enjoyed it, I just feel like it didn’t really go anywhere. It is such an original plot idea, I am a little let down that it didn’t go anywhere, that there weren’t any real magical exchanges or settings until the last few pages. I felt more of a connection with the Manor and the woods, than to the characters. The characters had hardly no progression or real personality, they were hard to feel for, when they themselves felt emotionless.

This book was easy to read and as I mentioned before, I did quite enjoy the writing style. But in the end, this book, just wasn’t for me.

 

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings – New World: Ashes by Jennifer Wilson

Welcome to another session of Review and Ramblings!

If you are new to my R&R blog posts, here is a little warning to you, a warning of the spoiler kind. This post will contain spoilers from New World: Ashes and New World: Rising. So if you haven’t read either of these books and you don’t want to be spoiled, look away or click this LINK to go and read my spoiler free review on GoodReads!

 

51JcHGZ6ERL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

New World: Ashes by Jennifer Wilson

Book Depository

GoodReads

Published June 7th 2016 by Oftomes Publishing

 

Woah, this book is so much darker than New World: Rising. I am 80 pages in and the difference in the total feel of the book is incredible. I am glad we are finally calling Phoenix, Prea, it makes her feel more like a real person, not a fictional character. Which is working in her favour, I’m starting to like her now, if you can’t remember, I really disliked her in book one (You can read my review and ramblings of New World: Rising, HERE).

I am a little sick of being reminded of Triven and Mouse yet having no updates about them. I understand the books are from Prea’s point of view, but I love Triven and want to know how he is surviving. So I am hoping either Prea escapes like she plans to, or we get an alternate point of view chapter.

Also what the heck is up with the minister of the Sanctuary being Prea’s grandfather! I knew there was going to be a twist in there somewhere but I wasn’t expecting that!

The pacing in this book isn’t as off as the first one, so far anyway. It is easier to read, but maybe that is because I am used to the writing style and used to the characters.

I actually hate the way they are conditioning Prea within the Sanctuary. Her grandfather didn’t even try to get to know her, he went straight to ‘breaking’ her, to brainwashing her, stripping her of who she is and trying to find the militant soldier within her that he created when she was a child. What is truly horrific is the way that the guards are forcing her to fight children. Children as young as 10. I can’t imagine being in that situation, but I can imagine how soul crushing and defeating it would be, especially when each child reminds her of Mouse.

I feel a little conflicted, because as much as I hate seeing Prea being stripped of who she is and being forced into doing all of these horrible things, I am loving seeing her come into her own power. She has grown so strong, mentally. Yes she is being worn down, yes she is moving into a state of constant fight or flight. But she is finding herself, finding out who she is and how much she is willing to sacrifice to stay that person.

150 pages in… Is anything actually going to happen in this book? I am honestly over reading about torture, trauma, mental conditioning… It is too intense, these 150 pages have been so hard to read, just one trauma after another. Also what was the point of having Triven and Mouse killed and then having them not dead? Shock factor or just to keep us on our already shaken toes? I am glad to see Triven again, he grounds Prea which is just what she needs now. But was it necessary for us to have to go through all of that torture with her? Was it really pertinent to the story line for her to go through all of that? I guess I will have to wait and see.

Ughh and now there is a love triangle. How totally YA Dystopian… There didn’t need to be a love triangle, it is giving nothing to the story at all… I understand why Wilson thought it would be a good idea, linking Prea and Ryker in more than a childhood friend way. But it makes so much more confusion for no reason. This book is already going nowhere, why add another useless element?

Now that Prea, Triven and Mouse are leaving the Rebel safe house, things are starting to pick up… slightly. I’m still not sure how Prea managed to piece herself back together so quickly after half of the book shows her to be a broken, shadow of herself, then two chapters later she is almost back to her normal self, planning a mission to unite the tribes.

What I am enjoying about this book is the interconnecting parts. We get told so much information throughout the books that it is a little messy. But it is nice to see all of that information meet up eventually and make sense. For example, we have found out, how mouse got her scar, who Gage really is, how Prea got the scar on the base of her neck, why Prea’s parents decided to leave, how Prea lost her mind so quickly within the Sanctuary’s prison. There has been a lot that has been revealed, which doesn’t make this book a little easier to read.

That being said, in 290 pages, nothing has happened. Other than the torture I mentioned at the beginning of this review. I’m hoping something happens in the next 80 pages, or I doubt I’ll read New World: Inferno. Which would be a shame because I have read the first two books, but I also feel like it could have been condensed into one longer title? Like this book didn’t need to be an entire, single novel?

Side note, how amazing is the medicine and technology in this trilogy? It blows my mind that there is a serum that can repair broken bones, heal burns, cuts bruises and any other bodily harm that you can think of. But it also makes the characters sloppy, they know they can train or be hurt but they won’t die of infection or of their injuries. It takes away their fear of getting hurt, which makes them insensitive. It also makes the soldiers much more violent and unforgiving.

The last 40 pages of this book were amazing, they were the only thing that bumped my review up to a 3 star level. The action picked up, we saw some of the amazing relationship between Prea, Triven and Mouse again and we saw Prea coming to realise that Ryker is actually a true friend. The pacing speeds up incredibly in these last few pages, making them go too quickly.  We see Prea as her true self again, racing along rooftops, searching the skyline for landmarks, sensing movement and wrongness in the air before impact. These last 40 pages really saved this book for me. It is such a shame it took 340 pages for it to get good.

As I said in my GoodReads review, I wasn’t going to read the next book in the trilogy, New World: Inferno. But now I think I owe it to myself and to the author to complete the trilogy. I have invested in the first two novels, and I am somewhat curious to see how it all wraps up. There are a lot of unanswered questions that will need answering in the final book, and after reading this one, I am unsure if those answers will be revealed.

What the heck was the ending though!? I get it was designed to act as  a cliff hanger, but it just cut the best part of the book, short. It made it feel false and as though everything our trio worked for, was for nothing.

Also the connotation of Ashes is not what I was expecting. I didn’t expect it to be literal. Or human. Those scenes were so hard to read, as many of them were within this book.

I want to know more about Ryker, I know previously I wrote how I don’t want a love triangle between Ryker, Prea and Triven, and I still maintain that. But I think it will be an incredible shame to see Ryker snuffed out so soon when I think he could be the one thing that helps Prea remember who she was before she left The Sanctuary. He also seems like a top guy, even if he has to live two lives in order to survive and help the Rebels to create a new and better world.

All in all, I guess the last 40 pages really lifted my opinion of this book. Which is annoying because we can see that Wilson can write incredible scenes, but they happen right at the end of the book! The writing style is fantastic as is the language used, it is easy to read and you definitely can’t say that this book is lacking in plot. I am hoping, with everything crossed that Inferno keeps up the pace we saw at the end of Ashes…

Have you read this trilogy? Thoughts?

 

Julie

 

Uncategorized

You Wanna Know What Grinds My Gears??

Welcome to the You Wanna Know What Grinds My Gears – Bookstagram edition.

Be warned, this post contains mild coarse language, all the ranting, and some opinions that you may not agree with. If you disagree or agree with any of my views, comment below! Lets chat!

Ready to dive in about what grinds my gears about Bookstagram? I’m ready to share!

 

images

 

You wanna know what grinds my gears? Advanced Reader Copies, physical ones. Now don’t take that the wrong way, I am so, so, soo grateful for each and every one I receive (I have literally gotten 1… ever. From a giveaway), I love the purpose they serve and the chance to read something prior to its publication. But what annoys me about them is that Bookstagrammers tend to think that they aren’t good enough, have enough followers, don’t have good enough photos, that they aren’t a real part of the Bookstagram community etc. if they aren’t being sent ARC’s. Well lemme tell you a thing right now. That my friends is a load of steaming hot bullshit. You are enough, your photos are amazing, your opinions are amazing and if you have 1 follower that is incredible. It means there is another person who is into what you are, and when there is 1 there are always more.

Also, you wanna know what makes you a part of the Bookstagram community? YOU!! You and your love of reading, your love of characters, plots, scenes, authors and sharing your views with other like-minded people. What you have or don’t have has absolutely nothing to do with your worth and value. Don’t let not receiving ARC’s get you down. It doesn’t define you!

You wanna know what else grinds my gears? Being upset or feeling left out because you don’t have much bookish merch. Again lovelies, bookstagram isn’t about how many different Book Depository book marks you have, it is about the love of reading. Yes everyone tends to use book marks, candles, prints, pop Funkos etc as props, but you don’t need fifty-thousand of them to be a part of the community! Do you read? Yes. Then welcome aboard! If you have one scarf that you love, make it your background? One candle you can’t get enough of, use it in every photo. Use what you have access to, be proud of your photos, you don’t need the newest everything to feel great about your place on Bookstagram. If you love it, we will too (not necessarily true about books, but if you are confident and love your photos, we will too!).

Which leads me on to feeling shitty about yourself because you aren’t in a financial position to go out and buy all of the new release books, the book subscription boxes or the merch. Buying books is bloody expensive, you shouldn’t feel bad because you can’t afford to have a library full of every YA book released in 2017/18! And your local Library is a magical thing. The best thing about the library is they let you take books home, for free! and if you hate them, you just take them back and never think about them again, there is no regret from buying books, hating them then having to look at them on your shelf. Libraries are my life, I’d be lost without it!

There is no where on Bookstagram that says “You must only read books that you own”, I would definitely be broke by now if that was the case. You know what I like to do? request new releases from the library, take them out, read them, decide if its love or hate, then purchase the ones I need to own. A little try-before-you-buy action. But the best part about ordering them in through the library, is that hundreds of other readers in your community will also be able to have access to books that they usually wouldn’t have access to! Libraries are literally the best things ever.. AAaaand I am off track…

Too much importance is placed on physical items. Yes it is awesome to treat yourself to new books, merch and the like, but does your worth or value come from the things that you own? Or does it come from who you are and the way you interact with the world.

You don’t need to OWN books and merchandise to be a book lover, a reader or a bookstagrammer, all you truly need is YOU and your love for reading.

 

Wow I feel better for getting that off of my chest! A little reminder about how awesome YOU are is never a bad thing.

YOU are valued

YOU are important

YOU do matter.

Thanks for reading folks!

Julie

Reviews & Ramblings

Reviews and Ramblings – Nyxia & Nyxia: Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

Before I start, please be aware that this is going to be super spoilery! This is my review of both Nyxia and Nyxia: Unleashed. This post will have links to my original GoodReads reviews if you are interested in those, as well as my ramblings about these books, along the way.

So without further adieu.. lets get started!

Nyxia – Scott Reintgen

download

 

Published 2017 by Crown Books for Young Readers.

The link to My GoodReads review is here if you are interested in my original review.

 

Wow, this book was such a different look at an inter-stellar universe. It had been on my TBR since it came out and I finally got around to reading it.

What originally drew me in, was that the reason these kids get drawn together is because this massive company, known as ‘Babel’ targets them because they come from low socio-economic places. They are kids who were raised in poverty, with nothing, with severe illnesses, kids that have always worked for everything they have, but what they had was never enough. Then this huge company swoops in and offers them millions of dollars, for participating in training for a space adventure.. and what 16-year-old with nothing, would turn that down?

Then things start getting weird. The training that these kids are put through is incredibly specific. Targeted training for what life is like on Eden, for swimming in rough oceans, for running on any and all terrain, for space travel and boat travel. And most importantly, manipulating Nyxia, the substance they are being sent there to mine.

What gets me, it that Babel is definitely untrustworthy, from the moment we learn how these kids are being trained, I had this feeling that they were using them, turning them into soldiers for some purpose other than mining. Why else would they have them fighting each other, to the death, if there were no ulterior motive.. They are pitting these children against each other, scoring them, ranking them and making sure they are constantly battling against each other, in all aspects of their lives aboard the ship.

Then bam… when everything has settled down, they introduce another Genesis team and the battles continue and get harder. But the worst thing is, this second team, Genesis 12, has been trained as exactly that, a team, which leaves Genesis 11 battling against a well oiled machine, when they are still conditioned to be working as individuals.

Babel’s deceptions are so ingrained into the culture of the ship that it is hard to tell deception from truth, but when Emmett and Kaya find an Adamite in the ships hull, things begin to get messy. Everything that the kids knew or thought they knew gets turned three-hundred and sixty degrees, completely confusing them before the biggest moment of their young lives.

Babel well and truly brain washes these kids, they turn them into soldiers, in every sense of the word, then send them up into space… But oh, no, it isn’t that simple. Right before they launch into the atmosphere for the decent into Eden, they are ambushed by past genesis applicants who didn’t make the cut, and are forced to fight to the death for a spot on  Eden. What the actual heck!

This book was fantastic, fast paced, emotionally charged. Well written and engaging. I was constantly asking myself, what the heck is going on? It is a fantastic representation of what big companies can do, that their reach is so great that they have more power than the president or prime-minister. They have their hands in so many pies and have so much financial backing, that the world is literally their oyster. I immediately went and bought Nyxia: Unleashed, I have to know what happens once they reach Eden!

Nyxia: Unleashed

download (1)

Published: 2018 by Crown Books for Young Readers.

My review on GoodReads is here if you are interested in my review as well as my ramblings! Extremely spoilery down here, not as much re-telling the story, just my thoughts as I was reading the book.

 

 

Firstly I knew it! I knew Babel were trading Nyxia for babies! This company is so manipulative and have no idea what it is like to be truly human. The fact that they were willing to train up and convince a group of teenagers that they were going to a new planet to be miners and become millionaires, when in reality they were being sent to be miners and population savers. Off you go kids,  go make us millions of dollars while being used to re-populate a dying alien race!

The Imago (Not Adamite’s like Babel calls them) seem like, honest people. A little too into playing games but they seem to genuinely want what is best for their people. That being said, the way they treat their returned soldiers and poor people leaves little to be desired.

Speaker – this guy is a champion. I am a little worried he might double cross the gang at some point, because he just seems too good to be true, but fingers crossed he remains the overall good guy we are shown so far. He is like the Imago father figure that Emmett so desperately needed, a male figure who was in his court, to remind him of who he is.

Morning and Emmett – come on, as if you don’t ship them!? Yes Emmett and Kaya were super cute too but without Emmett losing Kaya, he wouldn’t be on the path he is now. He also wouldn’t have developed as a character, mentally he has grown intuitively into who he needs to be to protect his new family. Morning makes Emmett who he is, she gives him the courage to accept that others rely on him, that he is a leading figure. She makes him able to come to terms with the horror that they have been thrown into, she makes him strong, and in some ways he makes her weak.

This book shows us, in incredible fictional ways, that life isn’t always what you expect it to be. Even the most obvious agreements can have underlying falsehoods. We learn that people will always do what they need to, to survive. That desperate people will kill others to get ahead. I guess this is human nature, all fiction is based on these elements because we see it in real life, on the news every day.

What I love about this book is the raw honesty. It is gritty and vivid and doesn’t shy away from confronting imagery or controversial subjects. I also enjoy how Morning can have a male best friend and Emmett doesn’t lose his mind over it. Why is that kids? Because he trusts Morning. Boom. Minds blown. I know right. Who would have thought (apologies for my sarcasm… but not really though).

What an impossible position it is to put 16-year-old children in. Train them to be combat ready soldiers and dump them in a new planet… I do keep forgetting that they are so young. In my mind they are all in their early to mid 20s. The expectation Babel has that they will mine Nyxia, battle and kill Imagos and repopulate the planet is an incredibly difficult pill to swallow.

Finally, our Genesis crew make a deal with the Imago, to destroy Babel before they destroy the Imago and their planet. It all sounds amazing, the plan sounds fool proof and like finally the good guys are going to get a win, and bam, Babel is there for an ambush. How did they know where the Genesis and Imago would be!? Who is the traitor? We will have to wait for the third book to find out!

I loved the final chapter, mostly because Reintgen worked out what his readers needed, we needed to know that Genesis team was okay on Magnia (Eden), but he knew we also needed a win, even if it was a tiny one. And taking us back up to the Babel ship and showing us that Anton and Erone were kicking some serious but was just what I needed to lift the heavy sense of dread and death after the battle on Magnia.

This book was just as incredible as the first, I am literally dying because there is such a long wait until the third book comes out, and I need it now.. actually I needed it yesterday, so I could be reading it now… Well written with a writing style that makes you want to read on, incredibly diverse and interesting characters, each with their own back story, flaws and personalities that you grow to love (even the ones you think you hate).

I can’t wait to see how this trilogy (or Triad), wraps up. And finally, a little quote from my boy Emmett, who definitely sums up my feels for the final novel….

“Babel will burn: – Emmett Atwater.

 

Thanks

Julie

Personal Experiences

Tumblr: Do you grow out of social media?

Tumblr used to be so important to me, sharing photos that I would spend hours setting up, hoping they would be good enough to be re-blogged. Likes weren’t enough, I needed the reblogs. It was like I had been dragged into the rabbit hole – utterly and completely immersed into the world of Tumblr.

But now looking back, my Tumblr experience was a lonely, solitude one. I have made so many new friends through bookstagram on insta, than I ever did on Tumblr. I think this is because I found Tumblr to be a place for individuals, not a place for community or for groups.. and yes I am aware that I may lose some love for this, but it is my opinion guys and gals. I have found Tumblr to be  a place where everyone shares the same opinion and if your opinion is slightly different, then you will be shamed and attacked for it.           I have also found that even though I still can see the appeal of the platform, I can’t stand it now.

Now when I scroll down through my Tumblr feed I feel a disconnect between the content and myself. Its just pictures, occasionally whitty text posts and gifs of movies or tv shows. Which is slightly annoying because I spent so much of my time in my early 20s scrolling through the endless blue sea. Which is where I think my disconnect is coming from. Tumblr is the perfect platform for bloggers starting out in the world. Finding their voice, finding their people and working out what they like talking about.  It is the perfect platform for photographers (not me), videograpghers (not me), artists (shock, also not me) and singers (definitely not me). Where as little old me, who writes fiction, writes about my experiences, about books I have read, loved and hated, didn’t really find my people or my place amongst the artists in the Tumblr world.

I honestly think I grew out of Tumblr. I used to sit on the couch with my at the time best friend, and we would pop on a movie or the tv and sit together, each on our respective laptops and browse all day. Occasionally showing each other something funny or cute, constantly building up our cue incase we couldn’t make it on in the next 24 hours. Now that idea irks me something shocking. Now I try to lose myself in Tumblr and find myself seeing the same posts over and over again, even if I follow new accounts, and search for more things that I like, but I think it was always like that? I also find it incredibly hard for any blog posts or review posts to be shared or liked or get any kind of audience, and as an aspiring blogger, that kind of makes it hard to do the thing that I am trying to do.

To me now, tumblr has turned into a fond memory of my youth, of summer days spent with best friends past and  I think that is where it will stay.

My question to you is.. Do you have a social media account that you used to live on, that now you don’t spend any time on? Why?

 

Thanks

Julie