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?

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What The Woods Keep by Katya De Becerra

Published September 18th 2018 by Imprint Macmillan

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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!

 

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New World: Ashes by Jennifer Wilson

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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