Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Monsterland by Michael Phillip Cast

I was really excited to read this book because it sounded like Jurassic Park, but with monsters. Unfortunately, the book had a really slow start, though it got better by the end.

Monsterland is, like its name says, a theme park where real monsters come to live. Zombies come from humans infected with a virus, Werewolves have always been around, and Vampires sound suspiciously like Visual Kei musicians, only that they actually do drink blood. Anyway, in the park, vampires are in the top of the hierarchy (since they came here on contract, rather than being captured), then I suppose the werewolves and zombies are more or less the same.

The park is run by one Vincent Conrad, who for some reason gives Wyatt (the protagonist) VIP passes. So Wyatt, his brother, his friends and enemies and the girl he is crushing on go to the park, and of course, something terrible happens. Not going to say anything more, because that would probably be a spoiler.

The problem with Monsterland is that it has a very, very slow start. The first four chapters felt like an info-dump of who's who and what's going on. I suppose that the background knowledge was needed, but to be honest I think it could have been integrated into the park opening instead. There was also a multitude of POVs, which might have worked, but basically confused me (not to mention that there was a conspicuous absence of dialogue tags throughout the books, so if more than two people were talking - which was often - I ended up having to guess who was saying what).

The other problem that I had was that there were too many characters. To be honest, even after reading the book, I still don't really know how many kids there were. I know there was Wyatt and his brother Josh, then there were a bunch of people and I'm not sure if there were four tickets or four regular tickets and four VIP tickets. Add to the fact that Vincent Conrad can be called Vincent in one sentence and Conrad in the other and that one character alone basically turned into two (maybe he was actually a siamese twin).

These problems made the first half of the book hard for me to read. But I was really interested in seeing how Monsterland was going to fail (because Jurassic Park did), so I read on. The second half of the book was much better, because once the action started, it was a pretty fun read. I won't say that the ending was perfect (it was an almost too coincidental plot twist), but at least it's a sort of good guys win kind of thing.

If you're a huge fan of Jurassic Park and monsters, you may be interested in reading this book. Be prepared for a confusing start, though.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a free and honest review.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Paperweight by Meg Haston

I heard about this book from PD Workman's Teaser Tuesday, and it intrigued me enough that I borrowed it from the NLB eReads program!

Paperweight is an incredibly sad, incredibly hopeful book (but only hopeful towards the end). It follows Stevie (Stephanie), who is checked into an eating disorder clinic against her will.

Stevie is determined not to get better because she has a plan. She's going to make sure she disappears/dies on the one year anniversary of her brother's death because she's the one who killed him.

Of course, she's not technically (or even morally) the one who killed him, but she feels the guilt, and she's very adamant on feeling the guilt. But slowly, despite her unwillingness to listen, her therapist makes her think, and she forms friendships with the other girls.

I'm not going to describe more of the plot because it would lead to spoilers, but rest assured, it's sensitively written and I liked the pacing. As the days pass, we find out more about what happened to Stevie's brother, and after she reached the lowest point, she slowly begins to get better.

Stevie is not charming, but it's easy to feel empathy for her. The more I read, the more I was rooting for her to be able to heal, and not to succumb to her disease and guilt.

The ending is hopeful enough. It's not perfect, and there wasn't an emotional blowout (the kind that is satisfying for the reader to read) with two characters that I expected, but Stevie is on her journey of healing, not reaching the end, so it's only natural for there to be a few loose ends.

This book isn't for young kids because of some adult language, but I would encourage everyone else to read this.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Clouds of Witnesses by Dorothy L. Sayers

I think this is my first Lord Peter Wimsey mystery. Or is it my second? I'll have to go check. Anyway, in a bid to read more of the Golden Age of Mystery authors, I picked this up at the library.

Lord Peter Wimsey is a fairly respected (well, does work with a few police officers) amateur sleuth whose mannerisms remind me of a British version of Ellery Queen. Kinda flippant, if I'm making sense. When he's back from a holiday, he discovers that his brother is under the suspicion of murder and refusing to give an alibi. So Lord Peter investigates, and he finds out that not only his brother is has a secret, but his sister too.

Clouds of Witnesses is very cleverly written, and I did not figure out who the murderer was. Or rather, I couldn't figure out how it was done. At any rate, I enjoyed reading it, especially the climatic scene in the courtroom that I shan't spoil for you.

As for the characters, I liked most of them well enough, but Lord Peter feels rather dated (in a charming way, of course). I find that my memory of Poirot and Miss Marple feel more current than Lord Peter, possibly because I'm not familiar with how the upper class of Britain were at that time. So a lot of this felt rather new to me.

Still, I enjoyed this and I'll definitely be on the look out for more Lord Peter Mysteries.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Raven's Fall by Lincoln Cole

Raven's Peak came out in July and luckily for me, Raven's Fall just came out, which means that the series was still fresh in my mind (and I was still craving for that second book).

If you've already forgotten, Raven's Peak had Abigail breaking some pretty big rules, and with Haatim's dad rampaging for blood, well, poor Abigail is waiting for the trial of her life. Close by is Haatim, who is trying desperately to be helpful (and getting some valuable training in). While this may sound like a rather tame setup, especially compared to the first, let's not forget the greater evil that stalks the world, and that results in some amazing twists.

To be honest, I felt like this book was much heavier on the workings of the Council and I loved it for that. The first book was all about Abigail, The Ninth Circle was about Arthur, and now we know a little bit more about the world that they live in.

By the way, while Abigail has a lot less page time in this book, Haatim manages to develop and take the spotlight. Things that I dismissed as trivial in Raven's Peak end up holding great importance in Raven's Fall (you'll know what I mean when you read it), and I really, really want to see how Haatim and Abigail are going to work together now that I know what baggage each of them carry.

After reading Raven's Fall, I seriously can't wait for the next book, because it promises to be good.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author (whom as I mentioned in Raven's Peak, I know) in exchange for a free and honest review. All the fangirling was voluntary and sincere.