Path Unchosen (Daughter of Ravenswood #1) by Kim Cleary

18681420This book has one of the most amazing covers I ever came across. After reading the description I was almost drooling. Zombies, mysteries, necromancer … Give me this book NOW! I was ready with a cup of hot chocolate, I was in the right mood, I was prepared to be swept away by AWESOME.

I was not prepared for a major disappointment. Don’t judge a book by its cover is all I can say. I am almost mad this mouthwatering cover is bound around this crap content. I want to take the cover and write the story myself. This is so sad.

This book is frustrating on so many levels, because I was left questioning absolutely everything. It begins right from the start. Judy apparently revives a rabbit; a page later there’s an assembly at the abbey where they talk about zombies and steam trains and a few pages later her guardian tells her she is a witch. Aha! Wait no, are we talking about witchcraft or about zombies. Is she now a witch or a necromancer? Why does Judy need to leave the orphanage / abbey? Why is there no electricity, even though at one time there was? Is this a dystopia, a simple paranormal fantasy or a zombie novel? Or even steampunk, as it mentions steam trains? There are a lot of mysteries apparently: The mystery of her birth, the mystery of her magical abilities, and the mystery of the world. It’s a lot to take in in just 30 pages. Don’t get me wrong I dislike info dumping but a little bit more background information would have been helpful. Instead we get confused further, when Judy encounters and commands ghosts on a cemetery. The constant shift between a ghost story on a cemetery, a medieval abbey, a mystical Stonehenge scenario, the almost fey Ravensvood house with dusty libraries full of cobwebs, the modern Winterhurst with overgrown electricity towers, old bungalows, modern flats, ugly brick buildings, glass and steel fronted buildings and solar panels for electricity, makes me cringe inside. I like all of those settings, but not all of them together. It’s too much of a mishmash.

Every chapter in this book shouts loud and clear: This girl must be special because of all the mysteries surrounding her! Her specialness goes so far as to want to make me believe that she can read several books in a few ours, memorizing it, too. Judy is no plain vanilla witch, with her power one day she will control the undead as well as command spirits to rise (and shine *snicker*)

”Every word, every paragraph, every book fed something deep inside me, like I was finally growing aware of my own soul.”
Was that my purpose? Could I shine a light into the blackness, or would it devour me?

But it lacks proof. Because let’s face it. This girl is like a petal in the wind who can’t decide in which direction she wants to be swept away. Making matters worse, is that nobody ever answers questions straight.
”Where am I?” I cried out.
“You are where you need to be, my love.” Says the foreign man with the “lavender eyes” with “hair swinging in soft waves to the middle of his back” and his body moving like a “sleek cat”

More than anything it shows in her every move / thought how immature she is, complete with stomping feet, incessantly sniffing and weeping, her easily impressionable character, her petulant childlike behavior (“I want to have this, stomping my feet) and instant falling in love with a man just because of his beautiful eyes and the way he looks at her:
His long eyelashes curved upwards and almost met his neat eyebrows, both of which he raised. He spoke with a beautiful voice, sweet and musical. I guessed him to be in his thirties, but his eyes and voice held a wisdom ages old. I’d called him? As handsome a devil as I’d ever seen and focused on me as if I mattered.

The story is told from Judy’s perspective, which wouldn’t have been bad in general if not every sentence started with an “I”: Example on p.49 8 sentences start out in the first person: I didn’t know, I ambled around, I stepped over, I peeked inside, I hadn’t thought, I glanced into, I looked out, I pulled. And p. 49 isn’t a single exception to the rule, no-hoooo, almost every page is the same lame. This anaphora serves no reason at all it just is unaesthetic and makes the reading awkward. Some editing would have done the book a big favor.

Thanks to netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book.

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These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

13138635I really like dystopia and science fiction novels. Put in a decent love story and a mystery the main characters have to solve and it should be a real winner. Despite the freaking cover that I most certainly did not like and it being marketed as “If you like The Selection”, I was persuaded by the 4 and 5 star reviews to give it a try.

On my path to finally enjoy this piece of space opera there were obstacles to overcome: Apparently there are hundreds of people who got approved for an ARC. I was not one of them. Disney Hyperion and I have not a very good relationship. They denied me almost every time I tried to apply for an ARC on Netgalley. I have to tell you it makes me not like them either. So instead I got an ARC copy of “These broken stars” via a friend of mine. This is still an honest review despite my misgievings for the publisher.

In anticipation of a good story I made myself a hot chocolate with marshmallows, enveloped in very comfy blanket and started reading. Unfortunately my hopes for a good novel to read on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon were dashed pretty fast. Pretty rich girl (the richest in the whole galaxy of course) meets decorated soldier, a war hero no less. Because her father doesn’t like her to date, he kills all boys who even look at her twice let alone have the audacity to talk to her and ask her on a date. So the pretty rich girl is being very unfriendly to our poor Major which leads to a long lasting animosity between our two protagonists. On their extended trip on an abandoned planet they overcome their misunderstandings and develop real deep feelings for each other. Nice enough love setup but it was the mystery behind the planet that kept me reading, not the epic love the author intended to create here.

Maybe it would have been better to make this a New Adult novel and let the characters be older. Come on you want me to believe in epic love at 16, or that there are war heroes at the age of 18? The characters don’t even behave like teens. They are much more grown-up. Another point that didn’t work for me much is this regency crap dress she’s wearing throughout the story. Why does it always have to be wide flaring ball gowns? There’s a reason why this fashion is outdated today. Please don’t try to make me believe we would actually return to old fashion standards in the future. In the middle ages people thought that washing was unhealthy. In the 17th century men and women wore wigs and bonnets. If as an author you take the time to create such a splendid science fiction world with hyperspace travel and terraforming at least you could take 5 minutes to think of a futuristic fashion style that is convincing. One of my favorites for example is shown in the movie The 5th Element.

The setup reminded me simply too much of the Titanic. But whereas Kate Winslett and Leonardo diCaprio had me convinced Lilac and Tarver made me yawn. Another small point that might have benefitted the story: secondary characters. There are for the most part none because from 50.000 passengers onboard the ship only those two survive. (Of course only Lilac the rich spoiled 16 year old girl was able to shortcircuit the “life raft”)10% into the story the ship breaks down and our teen rich girl and war hero are alone until almost to the end. Another reviewer here wrote that Tarver and Lilac had less chemistry than Tom Hanks and Wilson the volleyball. And she’s right. When almost 90% of the story is made up by the interaction of only two characters they better be real good.

The opening chapters are so interesting and intense, full of action, but with their landing on the planet the momentum is lost and I never got caught back up with the novel after that.

Cracked (Soul Eater #1) by Eliza Crewe

16093908 The dialogue and 1st person narration are absolutely terrific. I seldom encountered a MC wittier, snarkier or more shrewish than Meda.

“When Mom told me I was special and unique, I thought she literally meant I was special and unique. … Turns out I’m only ‘mom-special’. Special like a snowflake is special. Special like a school kid on honor roll.”

You not often encounter a convincing antihero in the young adult department. Meda has in the beginning almost no redeeming qualities. She kills people because she needs their souls to survive, but she isn’t one to cry about the unfairness of it all like Louis de Pointe du Lac in Interview with a Vampire. Even if it was Brad Pitt. This vamp was insufferably whiny.

Meda actually revels in the killing, stages some of her slayings even like a dramatic play, and she absolutely enjoys the powerplay.

As unapologetic as her opinion is about humans (fodder), Meda is not completely without conscience. She knows moral and honor as is apparent when she talks about her human mother. But those terms are at first only almost blank concepts for her. Canvases to be filled with color and meaning in the course of the story. She lies, cheats, steals, and is really a bad girl with a hilarious POV. The part I loved most about Meda was her attitude. She’s witty and intelligent and comments in her unique snarky and sarcastic way on everything that happens and what is being said.

This boy might have the answers; I just have to take them from him. My eyes fill with tears. “Wha-“ I swallow hard “- what were those things?”
“Demons.” Thanks, Einstein. I got that part. “Turns out spiritual warfare is a lot less theoretical than you probably think.”
He hurries to reassure me. “Don’t cry – I’ll protect you.”
Humiliating. Absolutely humiliating.

This book was terrific! I loved so much about it: from the characters to the dialogue and the history of both groups. Thankfully there was no love triangle, regrettably there was almost no romance either, at least for Meda. I can understand that she might be a bit too young, and also it wouldn’t have fit the overall story. Meda has to come to terms with herself first. But everything else fit together so well that I was immediately immersed in Meda’s world. She is a truly fascinating and multi-layered main character. She’s smart, witty, and determined to figure out who and what she really is. This was an hilariously entertaining and fast paced read. I wasn’t sure this would work with a main character that eats human souls but it was a unique idea and worked really well. The secondary characters are well written too – especially those of the three Crusaders. They each have a unique personality with flaws and strengths.

If you are looking for a fun read with a sarcastic heroine this is the right book for you.