Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sidetracked Saturday: Fifty Shades...

One thing that's bothered me ever since 50 Shades hit popularity - other than that existence of the books, that is - is the constant refrain of 'you can't criticize them without reading them!!' Which I strongly disagree with, to be honest. I've read several take-downs of the series (over here, for example) and I find that more than sufficient, along with the fact that people whose opinions I trust completely have eviscerated the books for the way they have romanticized an abusive, controlling relationship.

Yet still. 'You can't criticize unless you've read them!" And just, no. I am not willing to give up that much of my precious time. My wall would also probably suffer from having a book hurled at it more than once, too, and well, I rent. Probably not a good idea!

So what's a girl to do? Simple: watch the movie instead.

So that's just what I did. It only involved sacrificing two hours of my time rather than triple that, plus I don't seek to deliberately raise my blood pressure, so this was better for everyone involved.

I've had people tell me that the movie is better than the books in terms of the relationship depicted. That honestly distresses me because good fucking lord, people, the movie is BAD. I knew that the books were bad, even terrible, but now I am just left shaking my head at how god-awful terrible they must be!

So let's go through a few things here.

First of all, we have the downright ridiculous. Like there's a moment where Grey strips off his shirt, tells Ana that if she was his then she wouldn't be able to sit down for a week, followed by sexy-toast biting. Yes, you read that right. He does this lean towards her and takes a bite out of her half-eaten toast, and the cinematography make it clear that we are supposed to find this sexy.

Oh dear.

Anyway, hilarious moments like that aside, the rest of the time I just spend being really pissed off. Listen, I love reading good BDSM. Not touched on much on this blog, but I do! It can be really hot to read about that sort of absolute submission and the heights of pleasure that can come along with it. None of that exists in 50 Shades.

Let's take Anastasia's virginity, for example. That would have most experienced doms backing off entirely, or at least slowing the hell down. Instead Christian gets all intense, says that they should rectify that. Ana agrees, and what follows might be the quickest deflowering I've ever witnessed. I'm pretty sure it took about five minutes of screen time and it felt like that was supposed to be *accurate timing*.

Virgin + five minute sex. Yeah, that sounds like a recipe for *disaster*, just saying. In this case I'm going to blame it on the cinematography because it seems like the scene in the books is longer.


Pesky virginity dispatched, that still doesn't change the fact that Ana's pretty inexperienced, which is another reason this damn movie pissed me off so much. Does Christian back off, sit down to have a serious talk about this with her, introduce her to things gradually, etc, etc? Nope. He just wants the bloody contract signed (btw, she doesn't know what a butt-plug is) and for her to be his. Nevermind that she shows no real interest in BDSM on her own, or that she obviously has no idea what she is getting into... Nope. Apparently none of that even makes Christian Grey pause for even a minute.

It's just all irresponsible, inaccurate, dangerous bullshit. BDSM is so much more than what was depicted in the movie and I can only imagine the impression that young teenagers and people in general are coming away with, now. It's just really gross and if E. L. James had done the slightest bit of research she could have done so much better.

When combined with Christian's stalkery behaviour (and the fact that he sold her car, wtf - I don't care that he bought her a new one, you don't just sell someone's property like that) it was just not something I would recommend to anyone.

Ironically enough, the end of the movie - which is likely intended to be a cliffhanger - was actually completely satisfying for me. Ana's had enough and she tells Christian that! And she leaves! She's standing up for herself and she has confidence! So you'll forgive me if I move forward pretending that that's how things really ended. Because you know, a story about a shy, unassuming woman gaining confidence and moving on with her life is far better than 50 Shades could ever manage to be.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review: The Last Days Of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley

Title: The Last Days Of Ptolemy Grey

Author: Walter Mosley
Riverhead Hardcover
Publication Date:
November 11th, 2010
Adult, Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Rating: Four Stars
Ptolemy Grey is ninety-one years old and has been all but forgotten-by his family, his friends, even himself-as he sinks into a lonely dementia. His grand-nephew, Ptolemy's only connection to the outside world, was recently killed in a drive-by shooting, and Ptolemy is too suspicious of anyone else to allow them into his life. until he meets Robyn, his niece's seventeen-year-old lodger and the only one willing to take care of an old man at his grandnephew's funeral.

But Robyn will not tolerate Ptolemy's hermitlike existence. She challenges him to interact more with the world around him, and he grasps more firmly onto his disappearing consciousness. However, this new activity pushes Ptolemy into the fold of a doctor touting an experimental drug that guarantees Ptolemy won't live to see age ninety- two but that he'll spend his last days in feverish vigor and clarity. With his mind clear, what Ptolemy finds-in his own past, in his own apartment, and in the circumstances surrounding his grand-nephew's death-is shocking enough to spur an old man to action, and to ensure a legacy that no one will forget.

Review:  This book was a welcome change from everything that I have been reading lately - definitely not YA, and definitely not full of magic and fantasy! And because of that it stood out all the more, I think. One of the goals that I have in mind for 2015 is to try to read a wider range of genres, and that was partly why I picked up this book.

Ptolemy Grey is 91 and in the early stages of dementia, and this is the story of how a young girl named Robyn comes into his life and changes it for the better. It's a story of how there's still living to be done no matter how old you are, and an exploration of Ptolemy's life and the people that have meant the most to him over the last almost-century.

It's also a story of racism and black culture in the US, of family and love and violence and betrayal. It takes us through Ptolemy's childhood and the things he's experienced and seen - horrible things - and also the loves of his life. All of this is shown to us through his memories, both unbidden and reclaimed as the book unfolds and he pushes back the shroud clouding his mind. There are some incredibly poignant moments as Ptolemy struggles with his own mind and considers the perceptions of those around him, and we see his strength and the type of man he is, 'even' at 91.

It's by turns entertaining, soulful and incredibly moving, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you have any older relatives, like I do - my grandmother is 89 - then it may hit even closer to home. I'd recommend it and I'm glad I took a chance on it.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Book Haul Round-up!

Helloooo everyone!

It's been a few days since I last posted, so I have some reviews and such to post, but I thought I'd touch on the books that I've picked up over the last few days!

I... have been to the bookstore more often than I probably should have been. It wasn't entirely my fault... Chapters was having a 'buy a gift card, get a percentage off' with these coupons' deal, which I'd been studiously avoiding. But then one of the employees gave me a coupon and said that he thought that the percentage would be higher than normal, and, well.. I couldn't resist!

This is one of the books that I picked up - Splintered, by A. G. Howard! I've wanted to read these for awhile, to be honest - the covers are gorgeous, and the story sounds interesting. I'm partway through this one at the moment and I'm liking it so far. Very dreamy, 'out there' sort of writing that really suits the idea of a sort of creepy, everything's gone wrong Alice in Wonderland. I also picked up Unhinged today on a whim (shouldn't have done that, prolly) and will obviously buy the third one assuming that I like the first two.

This was one of the others, another buy partly because of the cover and also because it has pretty good reviews on Goodreads.

I also picked up 'Written In Red' by Anne Bishop (I love love love her Black Jewels series) and Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano. $5.99, how could I resist!

Then last night my Book Depository order came... With this!

My pretty LoTR + The Hobbit box set!!

I'll be honest, I'm kind of annoyed because the printing on the set is off-kilter :/ Luckily it only matters if you're looking at the case for the books, and the books themselves are perfectly fine. They're gorgeous - small and easy to hold, but the printing isn't too small. They also have some gorgeous maps:

Gorgeous, right? :D

I bought these for two reasons. First of all, I realised that at some point or another, I had misplaced the set that I had! I had a one-volume version of LoTR and the movie version of the Hobbit, but neither of those was particularly satisfactory anyway, to be honest, so I'm not too upset.

Second of all - and I have a confession to make, here - I've never actually finished LoTR. I always get stuck partway through The Two Towers, right around where they run into the Ents. So a goal for 2015 for me is to get through the whole series! I've seen the movies and I love the story in general, plus these are such classics, it feels wrong to not have read them.

Ohhh and I almost forgot, I picked up this:

My local bookstore finally had them in stock, so I had to go in to pick up a copy. I was lucky enough to get an ARC from Netgalley and I've already posted my review here, but this is one of the books this year that I feel strongly about and I want to support it!

In the coming weeks I think I'll be picking up 'Red Queen' by Victoria Aveyard and also A Darker Shade Of Magic by Victoria Schwab, but I think I'm going to try and limit my purchases other than that! I need to go through my bookshelves and get rid of some of the books that I don't necessarily want - or at least my DVDs, so that I'm not just accumulating more stuff that I will eventually have to move.

Anyway, so that's what I've been up to! I will be posting at least one review later tonight or maybe tomorrow :)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Review: Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

Title: Anna Dressed In Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: October 17th, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller, Paranormal, Romance
Rating: Five Stars
Summary: Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas's life.

Review: I freaking loved this book!!

Okay, first off, I have to say this: it reminds me a lot of early Supernatural. Not now, when it's dragged on for ten years and has weird angel plotlines, etc. But the original show - 'saving people, hunting things'? YES. I am so glad that I have a pretty physical copy of this to stick on my shelf.

So yeah, this book reminds me a lot of those early days and it's awesome. The main character, Cas, is carrying his baggage and is incredibly stubborn and wants to be completely self reliant. But something about Thunder Bay and his latest ghost - Anna Dressed In Blood - is different...

Side note here to say: oh my god, I love that this book was set in Thunder Bay. See, I went to school there and the setting is just perfect for this book. It's a pulp and paper city, nestled right on the lake, and it really does have that sort of old-and-creepy vibe. Plus, I just love it in general when authors set books in Canada (it gets neglected)!

The atmosphere in this book was well done. Descriptive, haunting, downright chilling and spooky and just perfect for a thrilling horror book. I said this in my review of 'Shutter' by Courtney Alameda, but I'll say it here too - it takes a lot for horror books to work for me! Generally I just end up bored or not scared at all, but the creepy tones of this one really worked for me. And we just jumped right in from the beginning, too - there's no slow 'this is what I do, yadda yadda' in this book, it's just BAM, action! I liked it. It drew me in right away and endeared Cas to me in just a few short pages.

The characters in this book were so well done, too. Like I said, we have Cas, who I couldn't help but like in spite of how closed off he was, and his stubborness - and then we're slowly introduced to other characters who are completely awesome in their own rights. Anna. Carmel. Thomas. Gideon. Even the cat!  I love the way the book slowly developed the friendships throughout the book, and the unexpected twists and turns certain things took along the way (particularly romance)!

The one character I wish that we had learned more about was his mother - she was well done, I just would have liked a bit more depth because she seemed more interesting. Hopefully there's some of that in the second book!

So, yeah. I loved this. I read it in pretty much one sitting last night and I'm pretty excited to move on to the sequel, 'Girl Of Nightmares'... and I'm kind of sad that it seems like there aren't any others :( But I recommend that all of you check this out, it's worth it and I'm sorry I put it off so long!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Review: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

Title: The Girl On The Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publication Date: January 13th, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Adult Fiction
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Summary: Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Review: What a gritty, uncomfortable little thriller this turned out to be. I actually wasn't sure what I would think of the book, because it's being compared to Gone Girl, and to be honest, I avoided Gone Girl because it just did not sound like something I would enjoy.

This book got my attention right from the beginning in the summary, though, and that continued throughout the book.

I'll admit that this book surprised me - I didn't expect bits of it to be as harsh as they were, or as difficult to read. The story unfolds through the eyes of three narrators - Rachel, Anna, and Megan. To be honest, none of these women are particularly likeable in various ways - all of them have their weaknesses, their flaws, and sometimes they are downright uncomfortable to read about, if I'm honest - Rachel in particular, for me. This isn't a book that's about making you fall in love with the main characters, this is a book that weaves their lives together and builds suspense and makes you want to know more about what binds them together.

Once you get into this novel, what you get is a surprisingly intriguing mystery that weaves the three lives together and brings everything together in a climax that I honestly wasn't initially expecting. There were some moments where I just thought 'Damn...' because that is the appropriate reaction to the events going on! It's a character study, a mystery and a thriller all at once, and if it doesn't prove to be immensely popular I will be very surprised. I definitely recommend checking out, though with a warning - give yourself some time, because once you hit the midway point you won't want to put this down!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Caught My Eye

So... I bought some more books.

But I didn't want to just talk about that - though I will briefly touch upon it - I also wanted to share some pictures and thoughts!

First of all, the books that I bought:

Mistborn!! Now, I am also in the middle of Way Of Kings, but with epic fantasies I quite often need a break just to absorb everything and also read something else for a few hundred pages. (So far, though? So much better than Game of Thrones. Blasphemy, I know.) I have heard nothing but good things about this series so I am excited to give this a try!

I also bought The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. This is a book I've had my eye on for awhile - it's had some mixed reviews but it's intrigued me so I'm going to give it a go.

Unfortunately for me but fortunately or my wallet, I did not buy every single book that got my attention - and hence the title of this post! I figured I'd share some pictures of some books that I saw but did not buy (though they sure tempted me).

Here is the first one! Which is actually the one that caught my eye on the way out! It's Gretel And The Dark by Eliza Granville. The cover was what caught my attention first, with those dark covers and the butterflies... But the synopsis sounded pretty interesting too, contrasting a psychoanalyst in 1899 and a girl in war-torn Germany years later - and a mention of fairy tales, too! Hadn't heard of this book before today, now it's on my TBR.

This is The Original Folk And Fairy Tales Of The Brothers Grimm, which pretty much doesn't need much more explanation. It's a gorgeous hardcover and from what I can tell, it's the original versions, which are very interesting and different than the ones that we all know! A book I'm keeping in mind.

I almost bought this one... Looking at the picture, I kind of wish I had! This is Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, and it has super good reviews on Goodreads. I may actually either buy this in ebook form or go back for it at some point... It's a story about a young girl who locks her brother in a closet to be safe from the police who have come to take her and her parents away - and apparently there's a modern story twining with it! Sounds good to me.

And the last one... Jim Henson's Labyrinth: The Novelization! This book is beautiful. I may go back for it next week when I get paid... It's just seriously pretty, and has illustrations. (And if you haven't seen the movie, well... Why are you still here? Go!)

So those are the books I bought and the ones that I have my eye on! This is going to be a good weekend. :D

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Book Outlet Book Haul!

So a few posts back I mentioned my new discovery of Book Outlet, and here is my first shipment! (Yes... First... Let's not talk about how many books I've ordered.)

So here's a picture of them all but I thought I'd run through each of them and why I ordered them.

Mila 2.0: First of all, I bought this one because of the absolutely gorgeous cover. I'm a sucker for blue, and I love the digitalised tone of this one, making the girl look like she's dissolving into pixels... The pitch is that Mila is a young girl living a lie - she was designed in a lab and programmed to do things that regular people can never do. The book is an exploration of her learning about herself and how she goes on the run to escape people who want to capture her for her technology and abilities!

Sounds pretty cool, imo. Around 500 pages but the print is pretty big so I think it won't take me too long.

Parallel: I've always been fascinated with the idea of how our split second decisions can impact our life, and this book is supposed to go into that sort of thing. Again, the cover is very pretty, and the description details how Abby, at eighteen, suddenly wakes up in a seemingly different world, where her past is different, and the story is to unfold from there... I am intrigued!

Rot & Ruin: One word: zombies. No seriously, that's pretty much it. That and the fact that it seems as though many people I respect love this book and series, and I love the pitch that this is a story about Benny (the main character) learning about human character through interacting with zombies.

Glow: Hmmmm. This one has the pitch ''Glow begins the most riveting series since The Hunger Games' on the back. Pretty big shoes to fill! We'll see... This is supposed to be a story of a people travelling through space, on their way to a new planet to populate it. But what happens when young girls are a precious commodity, and one group betrays another? That's what this book is supposed to be about, and it seems to hint at some romance, too.

Extraction: This book starts with the sentence Today I have to prove I deserve to stay alive. Pretty sweet :D I'm really excited about this one. Clementine has been waiting all her life to go to the safer 'Core', away from the Surface... But then she has to leave without Logan, the boy she has fallen in love with. Things are not always what they seem, though, and when Clementine finds out that Logan and the others are in danger, she knows that she has to do something.

Archetype: The cover on this is gorgeous, seriously. Here is a link if you're interested. This is a story of a woman who wakes not knowing the truth about her past, and the two men in her life, Declan and Noah. The description has the following line: Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which. . . .  Sounded intriguing enough for me to grab it!

So, those are the books that just came in... And I have six more coming! Plus a hardcover set of LOTR, which I will probably post pictures of, but those don't really count, right? ...Right? :)

Review: Riding The Odds by Lynda K. Scott

Title: Riding The Odds
Author: Lynda K. Scott
Publisher: Entangled
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2015
Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Summary: Spaceship captain Tara Rowan has her secrets. One is her Rider, Zie. Zie is an organic symbiote—like a living tattoo—that enhances Tara's physical abilities, including superhuman strength and reflexes. The other is the past she's tried so hard to leave behind her. But it's not until oh-so-sexy Trace Munroe decides to blackmail Tara that she realizes her secrets aren't so secret after all...

Trace is a Holy Knight who does everything by the book. Desperate to find a missing princess, he'll do whatever it takes to rescue her and bring her kidnappers to justice. Including blackmail. Yet something about the feisty ship captain draws Trace in and stirs his desire—even if she is a wanted criminal. Because the last thing he needs is any complications...especially when he has his own secrets to hide.

Review: 3.5 stars for this one.

Look at the cover! *_* I am such a sucker for covers, honestly, that's what made me want to pick up this book.

Riding the Odds was such an interesting combination of romance and sci-fi, I quite liked the contrast, to be honest. Let's start off with part of the description:

Spaceship captain Tara Rowan has her secrets. One is her Rider, Zie. Zie is an organic symbiote—like a living tattoo—that enhances Tara's physical abilities, including superhuman strength and reflexes.

I LOVED the idea of a living tattoo, and throughout the book it's honestly quite fascinating. Right away I was intrigued because it reminded me a bit of Harry Potter (though off the top of my head, I can't remember whether moving tattoos was canon or fanon). Mix that with a little intrigue and a little romance and that's the way to get me interested in a story!

I loved the character of Tara. She's got a mixed past and vulnerability, but she's also brave, smart and caring, too. The relationship that she has with Zie, her Rider, was a pleasure to read - although Zie has an almost childlike quality, it's obvious that she is very intelligent and cares about Tara quite a bit. She's strong and the two of them are mutually dependent and make for quite the fearsome duo, which I loved. Especially when it comes to romance, which so often just focuses on the guy being brave and strong and rescuing the woman and less on having her be amazing in her own right.

Now Trace... Trace I was more iffy on. To be quite honest, it could just be the mood I was in while reading this book, but I was just really irritated by the whole 'guy behaves like an asshole but it's because of ____ reasons which make him a good guy, honestly!' trope that was on display in this romance. The reason I say that it might just be the mood I was in while reading this book is that, well, this trope is incredibly common in romance, and normally it doesn't really bother me. I guess perhaps Trace just wasn't well constructed enough for me to be completely taken in...

Now this brings me to my next two points, which were regarding the plot and the romance. First of all, I found the story pretty interesting. Trace is searching for his missing sister and that happens to bring up a lot of things that Tara thought she had left behind a long time ago. Along the way we learn about a fascinating world that Lynda K. Scott has built, the Riders, and the story twining it all together. I think my biggest complaint is simply that it took too long. I just didn't feel that this book needed to be 350 pages, there were bits along the way that could have been cut or trimmed and the story still would have maintained its integrity.

As for the romance, while I enjoyed bits of it, to be honest in some ways it was the weakest part of the book. Trace and Tara's attraction was overemphasised and made me roll my eyes more than once, and sometimes the descriptions were just too much. (Heart shaped rear? Eyes sparkling with jade and amber and chocolate? Yeah.) They both repeatedly tell the reader how very attracted they are to the other, and the descriptions really just went on for too long, and it's something that detracted a bit from my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, though, I did enjoy this book. There's chemistry between the two main characters, an interesting story to be told, and a fascinating world that they're living in. I'm definitely glad that I picked this up!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Book Haul!

So, I went to Chapters tonight! I probably should have waited, especially since I think I'd like to pick up a physical copy of 'Shutter' and maybe 'Red Queen' too, later on this month... But oh well, I went anyway!

Considering that I spent an hour there, wandering around, I think just three books is pretty good.

So, The Way Of Kings was one that I was intending to purchase. I have it on my Kobo but for such a big book I thought having the physical book and being able to see my progress would be good. I almost bought the larger paperback version that has illustrations, but in the end I decided against it because I wasn't sure if I'd actually carry that with me (and carrying may be involved if I take it to work with me).

So wish me luck with this one, it's a monster of a book so it's going to take me awhile! 

Then The Blade Itself caught my eye because it was at the end of an aisle... That and the cover, which has that fantasy-esque look that's guaranteed to get my attention. It has good reviews from my GR buddies so I'm hoping that it'll be good!

Then lastly is Origin, which happened to be on sale for $6. The cover is beautiful and again, good reviews from my GR buddies!

I don't want this to be a post where I talk about getting new books and then never read them, so I hope to get through these fairly quickly and then post back with reviews or thoughts about them. :)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Review: Shutter by Courtney Alameda

Title:  Shutter

Author: Courtney Alameda
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: July 24th 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Horror
Rating: Four Stars
Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

I am so glad that I didn't let myself be deterred by the cover of this book, because it is awesome. So please, give it a chance even if the cover deters you like it did me! (Side note: now that I have read the book I love the cover, so you can take that into consideration as well!

I'm going to be honest, it takes a lot for a horror book to work, for me. So much of the horror experience for me is atmospheric - the visuals, the setting, the tension slowly building through dramatic music, etc. Often when I encounter a 'scary' book, unless it's actually short stories or something that quickly gets the point across, it just doesn't work for me. I say this as someone who loves horror, too - a tragedy of my life, as most of my close friends don't like it at all! Tragedy :(

Anyway, to get back to the point... Luckily enough, however, Shutter more than met and even exceeded all of my expectations!

There's so much to love about this book. There's a fully realised, vulnerable, brave heroine who kicks ass and takes names and is fierce and protective of those around her. Then there are the trio of boys/men around her and the close friendships that she has with them without too much romance (though there is some!) Basically, there's a whole lot of fantastic character building that helps us really get into the book and get to know who we're reading about and why we should care about them, and what their story is - not just in the book, but before, too. I always think that it's so important for a reader to be able to imagine the world of a book outside of it - to picture what could go on before and after the cover is opened, essentially. That probably sounds weird, but that's how I think about it.

Then there's the world building, and it's so freaking cool. There's a lot of familial history and background built into the core of the story, shaping everything - and then there's awesome technology and really cool lore and monsters, too. I love this sort of stuff. Give me a world that actually makes sense and holds up to some scrutiny and I will be a happy camper. There are some great creepy moments where you might think 'Oh crap' and then wonder just how Micheline doesn't just turn tail and run, even with all her training.

Then there's the story, and it's just so thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end. We have murder and mayhem and action, tragic backstory and witty, annoying friends, a romantic hero and a bruised parental relationship that needs to be mended. And overall, an arc for our heroine that will help her grow and heal and actually move on from all of the crap that she's been put through in her life, a realisation of who she is, and what she's capable of in a good way.

Also, because it really needs to be said, did I mention action? The stuff that goes on this book is just so cool, it'd actually translate pretty well as a movie, I think. There's stuff in there that I could imagine on the big screen in all its gory glory and it'd be fantastic. It's creepy and has the right tone to keep you turning the page.

There's just so much to love about this book, and that's why it has four stars. :D

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

January Wrap-up!

Wow, I can't believe that it's the first day of February already... of course, this means that we are one day closer to summer and I am always okay with that!

January was a pretty good month! Like last year, I am off to a good start.

In case anyone is wondering, yes, I am a pretty fast reader, and sometimes at my job I have time to read at my desk. My shift has recently changed, though, so we'll see if I get through as many in February.

Sorry the first picture is so small, but if you click on it then a bigger one should come up where you can see the images :) 

Out of all of these, I would have to say that my favourites are Shutter by Courtney Alameda (I still need to post my review here!), A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall, The End Of Feeling by Cindy C. Bennett, Storm Fall by Tracy Banghart, I Was Here by Gayle Forman, Queen Of The Tearling by Erika Johansen and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman.

Pretty good: Throne Of Glass by Sarah J Maas, The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins, Love Bites by Rachel C. Burke and Legend by Marie Lu. 

Disappointments: Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre, The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkowski, Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke.

I think that's a pretty respectable start to the year, honestly! My goal for this year is 125 books and I'm hoping I won't have to revise that down. I have so many books that I want to read, and I just need the time to do it! Yeah... We'll see how that goes.