Review: Rabbit Ears by Maggie de Vries

Rabbit Ears by Maggie DeVries
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: eARC
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, abuse

Wow… I haven’t read a book like this in a very long time. Books like this make me realise how fluffy and shallow a lot of young adult books are. Because this… This was haunting, powerful, devastating and unlike anything I’ve devoured in… well, ever.

Blurb:
Kaya is adopted, multiracial, grieving the death of her father—and carrying a painful secret. Feeling ill at ease with her family and in her own skin, she runs away repeatedly, gradually disappearing into a life of addiction and sex work. Meanwhile, her sister, Beth, escapes her own troubles with food and a rediscovered talent for magic tricks. Though both girls struggle through darkness and pain, they eventually find their way to a moment of illumination and healing.

What I didn’t like about it:
Rabbit Ears is written in alternating points of view. Kaya’s sections were written in second person and Beth’s were written in first. I didn’t hate the style, but there were a couple of times I found myself backtracking because the sudden changes were a little jarring. That said, I couldn’t imagine this book being written in any other way.

I guess another minor dislike was that while I loved this book, it isn’t the sort of story I’d read over and over again. It isn’t a book that makes you feel good about the world and fall in love with life. This is the sort of story that makes you think, and in my case, appreciate my good fortune that I never had to go through what Kaya or her family did.

What I liked about it:
The authors writing… wow. From the very first page it was incredibly visual. I devoured this book in one sitting and at 158 pages, it’s a short but intense read.

Kaya was like a car crash waiting to happen and I loved how her life and past were slowly revealed. In some deep part of my mind I’d always wondered how people end up with a life in drugs and prostitution, and I thought Kaya’s story was incredibly moving. I believed every single word.

Overall, I loved this book. It dealt with an incredibly intense subject in a powerful and moving way. This book will stay with me for a while!

My Verdict – 4.5 stars – highly recommended.

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How did you choose the genre you write in?

I’ve written a science fiction novel, I’ve written a fantasy novel, I’ve written a contemporary novel and I’m brainstorming a new fantasy novel. I don’t think there is any rhyme or reason as to why I choose genres. I chose fantasy this time around because I want to write an epic romance. And to me, an epic romance is set in an epic setting with a million and one things that could keep the relationship from working! Hence, fantasy. But maybe next time I’ll write in another genre. I don’t think I could ever stay true to just one.

What about you guys? Do you write in one genre, or heaps of different genres? What is your genre of choice?

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Review: Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer

Title: Bloodrose, Book 3 in the Nightshade trilogy
Author: Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, wolves

Blurb:
Calla has always welcomed war.

But now that the final battle is upon her, there’s more at stake than fighting. There’s saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay’s wrath. There’s keeping Ansel safe, even if he’s been branded a traitor. There’s proving herself as the pack’s alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers’ magic once and for all. And then there’s deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is.

Why I picked it up:
In retrospect, I probably should have stopped reading after the second book, because while I liked the first book, I disliked the second and hence, I ventured into “don’t care” territory and there is no real coming back from that. But I was interested to see how the trilogy ended.

What I didn’t like about it:
As a general rule, I don’t mind a love triangle. Are they a little overdone in YA fiction? Yes, they definitely are, but I don’t mind them if (and only if) they are executed in a way that doesn’t make the girl come across as a selfish and indecisive bitch…

Calla came across as a selfish and indecisive bitch. It would have been okay if she was weighing up her options without acting on them, but she was acting on them all over the place to the extent that I couldn’t believe Ren or Shay were sticking around. What the hell were they even thinking begging and pleading for her attention and pledging their undying love? Urgh.

While Wolfsbane was all chatter, Bloodrose was all action. I would have liked the author to take the time every once in a while to ground us in the moment instead of flying from one action scene to the next. A couple of times I was struggling to remember why I was supposed to care about the characters.

What I liked about it:

As a whole, I thought it was a nice end to the series. I won’t give away all the spoiler endings, but I was satisfied. Is it one of my all time favourite series? No. But I liked what the author did. I thought the world was interesting and the development throughout the trilogy was good. I’d read more from Andrea Cremer because for the most part, I like her writing style, but I wouldn’t read anything more from this series. I’m happy to move on to the next book on my shelf.

My Verdict: 3 stars

My Verdict for the Nightshade series: 3 stars

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What does your family think of your writing?

I live alone at the moment so I don’t have to deal with friends and family when it comes to my writing/reading/blogging and general fandom activity. But as far as they’re concerned, it’s just my thing, it’s what I do. I read a lot, a write a lot, and that’s okay with them. My boyfriend calls me a nerd and then tells me to write a best seller so I can buy him an awesome boat, and that’s about as far as it goes haha.

Writing is almost like an “after thought” to friends and family. They don’t really “get” what it’s like to write a novel and to chase an impossible dream, so they ask ‘how’s the novel going?’ ‘what’s it about’ and that’s really about it.

What’s your experience with friends/family in regards to your writing?

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Review: Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

Title: Wolfsbane, Book 2 in the Nightshade series
Author: Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, wolves
Relevant Reviews: Nightshade

Blurb:
When Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of her sworn enemies, she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer, one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack – and the boy – she left behind.

But is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side, no matter what?

Now in control of her own destiny Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can survive.

Why I picked it up:
I loved the first book in the series, Nightshade. I rated it four stars.

What I didn’t like about it:
To be blunt, this was the worst start to a book that I’ve ever read. I loved Nightshade and had high hopes for Wolfsbane, but they literally stood around and talked for the first 70 pages. 70! If I didn’t like Nightshade so much I would have stopped reading. The worst part was that there wasn’t even any new information given, they just rehashed and argued over things we’d already learnt in the first book.

Unfortunately, talking seemed to be the theme of Wolfsbane. It seemed like the “story” happened back in the Vail between the Guardians and the Keepers and all we got was Calla snarling and the Searcher’s talk, talk, talking, info dumping and talking some more.

In between all that talking, something else really bothered me:
My body quaked (pg.41)
A trembling began in my shoulders, traveling down my back (pg.53)
I noticed I was trembling (pg.348)
I shivered (pg.346)
I backed away, limbs trembling (pg.335)

This is Calla:

What I liked about it:

I liked that Andrea Cremer didn’t hold back. The Guardian’s got screwed over from Calla’s actions and I liked that she didn’t sugar coat it. Despite the execution, I still think the story is interesting and I’ll read the third book to see how it all ends. Hopefully the third book will be more like the first *crosses fingers*

My Verdict: 2 stars

Have you ever read a series where you loved the first book and were disappointed in the second? I could make a list of them! 

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Writers, do you start with character or plot?

When you start brainstorming a new novel, do you start with a character or plot?

I love this question! It’s a question that Mel asked me from The Writing Room 101 as an interview question and I just had to share it with you guys.

My answer… neither. I actually start with a setting. I usually have an idea of the genre and the setting and then I’ll create a female character and her love interest from there. The plot generally comes last because I always start with a setting. I’m not really too sure why, I suppose because a setting can define the type of people you place there. For example, if it’s a modern day country town or a post-apocalyptic society. You’d create very different characters for each.

What about you guys? Do your ideas come from characters or do they come from the plot?

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Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Title: Nightshade, Book 1 in the Nightshade trilogy
Author: Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Young adult, fantasy

Blurb:
Calla Tor has always known her destiny: graduation, marriage and then a life leading her pack.

But when she defies her masters’ laws to save a human boy, she must choose. Is one boy worth losing everything for?

What I liked about it:
I loved the world building. It’s so strong. I also love how the mystery of their world is slowly revealed. At first Calla thinks everything is okay and then the cracks slowly begin to manifest and she starts to question everything. I love that she does that. That she notices what isn’t right and stands up for herself. Like she’s on a quiet rebellion, it’s excellent.

I think the thing I loved the most about Nightshade was the theme of choice. The ultimate choice between you family, friends and everything you have ever known versus your gut feeling and what you think is right. It’s a timeless theme and it was executed so well.

What I didn’t like about it:
I first read Nightshade back in 2011 and I loved it then and I loved it now. I really can’t fault it. So, why aren’t I rating it 5 stars? I suppose because while it was great, it didn’t have any moments that made me want to do this:

My Verdict: 4 stars

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