The Surface Breaks, Louise O’Neill

A 2*

“How could I have thrown it (my voice) away? The only time I was ever happy under the sea was when I was singing, and I sewed my mouth shut in the hopes that a boy I barely knew could kiss it open again.”

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

The Surface Breaks is sold as a feminist retelling of the Little Mermaid. And even if I consider myself a feminist, I didn’t like this book. I don’t think that all feminist ranting is good and fair.

The only thing that carried me throughout the book is the decent writing that laid down the story in an attractive fashion.

But on the other hand…

It is not feminist to say that everything bad is the man’s fault (white man, in most cases). The Sea King might be a strong supporter of patriarchy and giving no power to women, but Oliver, Ruppert, and Alexander were just weak men, each in their own fashion. Oliver, a spoiled brat, Ruppert, a rapist who should be behind bars and Alexander, an opportunist. But they never could undermine Eleanor, who was a smart woman.

For a feminist retelling, the only strong feminine figure in the book was Ceto. And I don’t think it is enough to make a point. Her story was weak and not developed.

The story was not engaging and the characters were not fully developed. Yes, Gaia comes to the understanding that she is much more than a quiet mermaid who needs to stay quiet and have a pretty face, but beyond that, there is nothing attractive in the narrative. For example, there was an enormous setting for a love intrigue between several characters. Zale (a pedophile in the least), Oliver (insta-love? Again?), Ruppert (misogynistic rapist) and George (the only normal guy in the whole story?)… And even though, George story line is discarded and forgotten, resolved in a line, that says “he isn’t here”.

And I must ask, even though there is no one to answer. What with all the parenthesis? It is a work of fiction, not a paper on the life of poor mermaid Gaia. After 2 chapters, I was on an eye roll phase of it all.

There are too many political opinions in this not-so-feminist ranting for a YA novel. I came here to enjoy a retelling of the Little Mermaid, but instead I got a boring version of a feminist’s angry cries to the world.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. But if you do read it, read it with caution.

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The Nerd’s Guide to Being Confident, Mark Manson

A 2*

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

“Being open with your insecurities paradoxically makes you more confident and charismatic around others. The pain of honest confrontation is what generates the greatest trust and respect in your relationships. Suffering through your fears and anxieties is what allows you to build courage and perseverance.”

This book was by far the earliest of the books I read by Mark Manson. And the first one I didn’t like.

What I liked about both The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and Everything is Fucked, is the snarky way Mark Manson gives his advises, infused with his own experiences and backed up by the statistical data behind. In The Nerd’s Guide to Being Confident, there was less humor to it, the arguments less developed.

The book itself was much shorter. And maybe that is the reason why there was less complexity to it.

The advises that Mark Manson gives are easy to apply to those who feel that they could get easily be swallowed by the modern world. But the tips given are less useful than those that appeared The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck and Everything is Fucked.

But one of the most important points and it is mentioned in all Mark Manson’s books is this “You can do this” attitude that never fails and that mark Manson preaches. And I think this is a thing that we forget most of the time. That no matter what others think, no matter what life throws at us, we can do this. We just need a reminder from time to time. Even if it comes in the form of a bad book.

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I Killed My Son-In-Law!, Shay Mills

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions included in this review are my own and are in no way affected by the exchange.

I must say, the title says everything you will find in this book. And not in some memoir version of it. In a fiction, but full gore version of it.

I felt disgusted and wanting to close the book and throw it in the corner from around 1/3 of the book. But I couldn’t. First of all, because it was on Kindle, and I don’t want to break it. But most importantly, because I was interested in what was going to happen.

Even if, I felt disgusted and hated the main characters, I wanted to go till the end. To find out if there will be an exciting twist to the story.

The story isn’t perfect and had things missing.

I found the characters too dull. Well, except for Mr. Burrows. But who needs a complete development of a character in a story of 30 pages.

But the story in itself had no twist to it, no abrupt change or sudden realization. Only a way to get from point A to point B.

This was not a very good read. But for lovers of a book filled with gore, brutality and savagery and a simple story, this is the book they will love.

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The Journal of Blake, Adrienne Woods and Lea Cherry

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

The Journal of Blake Leaf is a recollection of Blake’s poems and his thoughts, one of the main characters of The Dragonian series. It is what it says in its title, a journal.

Even though it is marked as a prequel, it should be read after finishing The Dragonian series, if not it will spoil the second and the third book of the series. For those who get too tired of Elena by the end of the first book and just want to know the ending, should read this installment and then jump to the end of the fifth book.

The journal gives too much information, compared to the rest of the series in a fast-paced tempo. Even though, it does not cover much of the fourth and fifth books and doesn’t go till the end of the series which is sad. The last book might be the most interesting one. It would allow us to see the story from Blake’s point of view, his internal change and struggle.

The conflict between Blake’s consciousness and his dark side was something A.Woods showed during the series and we get glimpses of it in this journal, but there is little new insight on Blake’s character. Nothing new is added to the story.

It is confusing, but every person’s journal is. It has good poems and L.Cherry did a great job showing Blake’s character in them.

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Starlight, Adrienne Woods

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

“When it feels as if the darkness will descend, a united team will rise and defend. The power to see their destiny through, lies within the hearts of an unlikely two. Their strength, power and love as one, liberty brought by The Courageous and the Prodigal Son.”

Yes!!! I finally have finished this series. It was getting too long and too tiresome. So this is as much a review of this book, as of the whole series in general.

Most books of the series got a 3* rating because of the rich world created by A.Woods, with dragons and their riders, in a hidden country that is more advanced than the rest of the world, as dragons can create more advanced technology (weirdly, all the scientists Elena has met are just normal humans… not dragons). They did not get that rating because of the rich storyline or developed characters.

But this book was too long without a real reason for it. It turned around Elena, who created too much drama in her life. There was no action, no real adventure that we were prepared for, for the last four novels and two novelettes.

Etan is finally going to be freed in this last installment and the prophecy is going to be fulfilled, something we hoped for far too long. As the reward for all the waiting and four books of constant drama between Elena and her boyfriends, we get a 600-page book with only the last 100 pages of real action. And on top of that, while the final battle happens between dragons with their riders and wyverns with the magic wielders (who are just pure evil, because why not), A.Woods only shows us Elena in the castle with a confusing narrative of the events and no view on the epic battle happening outside. Enormous dragons fighting with devious wyverns outside. Legendary war, exquisite story… Talk about missed opportunities.

There ARE good things about this book. Paul is back and Blake is no longer dark. It certainly brings closure to many opened subjects in the last books. And there is a happy ending, not for everyone as there are characters who died useless deaths, but it is an ending.

But in general all the drama is too shallow, Elena is too superficial for all the series. The constant push and pull between Elena and Blake gets too old really fast. We were teased about their relationship on the first pages of the first book and it happens in the second half of the last book and it is not as attractive that it needed four books to develop. Only because I managed to sit throughout all the other books did I master some courage to finish this one too.

As with all the other books, there was this constant repetition of phrases, grammatical errors and confusing paragraphs. The characters’ reactions were not always within the normal attitude of the constructed persona and the same passages showed over and over again.

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Moonbreeze, Adrienne Woods

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

“The brave aren’t called the brave because they weren’t scared, Elena, neither the courageous, nor the heroes. All of those people written in history have one thing in common: fear, and plenty of it, but that is when true courage shows itself.”

Here I am, the 6th book I read in The Dragonian series, counting the novelettes, and the 4th one of the main series. I must tell, the characters evolution and the well-built world the story happens in hooked me from the first book.

After a bit of a disappointment with Frostbite, I wasn’t sure if to keep reading was worth it. I even took a pause when I was around 25% and read the novelettes.

When I first wrote a review, I gave it a 3*, but I changed it to a 2* shortly after that.

The plot is better built in this book than in the previous three. There was suspense, hope, and intrigue. Even though it was still too predictable as to who Annie was and where did Elena disappear after that kiss with Blake.

But, there was no point to this book in the general advance of the story. There was a lot of drama, self-loathing by Elena and even more drama. But it didn’t add anything interesting to the development of the series.

There is, also, the rape thing that happened to her. And yes, it is a YA genre, but it happens to girls of all ages and I actually like that A. Woods brought it up. I just don’t think it showed all the tragic part of it, and it didn’t add more layers to the main characters. Only a way to cover some plot-holes in the next book.

I want to take a moment here and talk about the romance in Moonbreeze. I don’t find it good. I find it shallow and too simple. The love/hate relationship Elena has with Blake, I found a bit annoying from the beginning. And now that Blake is good, with no evil trying to claim him, I understand Elena.

What I don’t understand why should we hear the main character say the same thought over and over. I get it, Elena doesn’t trust Blake, but I don’t need to be reminded of it every time Blake says something. Or what Blake himself thinks something, for A.Woods gives us the privilege to hear what Blake has to say about it. The split in the narration does allow the pause from Elena’s constant babbling but it just shifts into Blake’s babbling.

This part of the review is annoying because it will be the same thing I say from the first book in The Dragonian series. But seriously what with all the mistakes, missing words, and unrelated sentences? I just can’t repeat it anymore in every review I post, but I guess I will because the writers need to know what is the problem with their books.

Poison, Adrienne Woods

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

“When it feels as if the darkness will descend, a united team will rise and defend. The power to see their destiny through, lies within the hearts of an unlikely two. Their strength, power and love as one, liberty brought by The Courageous and the Prodigal Son.”

As well as Venom, Poison is a novelette in The Dragonian series. And as well as with Venom the review will much shorter than with a traditional novel. There are just not as many things to say.

At around 1/5th of the book I was more invested in the story than with the other novelette in the series, Venom. The story was not as shallow and much more attractive, but it was still a repetitive story about Elena’s feelings, doubts, and hopes.

The book carried in it the mistakes from the previous novel Frostbite, which was grammatical mistakes and no relationship between different sentences or paragraphs. But I won’t take much time discussing it. I feel like I will do it anyways in the next posts.

The only plus was the half love story that appeared between Elena and Emmanuel (even though it lasted for half a page) and her struggle with Blake. Thanks to this novelette, the transition between Frostbite and Moonbreeze is easier, but it was not a necessary addition to the series.

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Blood Born, Renee Lake

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions included in this review are my own and are in no way affected by the exchange.

I have a big problem with this book.

I wanted to read something in a horror genre and, even though it was stated that it is for teens and YA, I didn’t mind if it would be milder than a horror book for a more grown-up population.

What I did mind was that it had simple writing wrapping a childish story with shallow characters that didn’t have any background or a major development in the story. But in midst of all this, there are scenes of sex, murder, and violence, far from appropriate in a book for teens and YA.

I think this book was labeled badly in its genre, and it should be more of paranormal or erotica. The thing though, that even then, the characters would be too dull, the story too simple and predictable. There was no real love-story, only a new try at this phenomenon in modern literature known as instalove and, on top of it, with the older one in the couple treating the younger one as property.

If you can close your eyes on all this for a moment, or more like the whole book, there is an interesting world hidden, with another dive into vampire culture. Some of the things are old and known from classics like Dracula, others are new and surprising.

I love when the author is not scared to kill a character or a few, even if it is a teen & YA novel. But for a horror genre, there was not enough of any kind of scary thing happening to install the feeling of fear or horror.

All in all, it is a new look on already known world, that is charming, addicting, but hard to see through all the bad writing and the world that is not developed enough.

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Frostbite, Adrienne Woods

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

“I’d paralyzed their lives, their futures. I was like ice, like frost freezing their hopes and dreams. I was the living embodiment of frostbite.”

The third book in the series and Woods still manages to make a good hook with her story. It is well thought even though it is darker than the previous two. The death of Lucian, the grief suffered by Elena, the ever-growing dark side of Blake and the appearance of Cara were interesting twists, even if sometimes hated by me and probably other fans of the series.

Adrienne Woods kept her well-thought world and stories, full of suspense. Finally, we had some answers to the questions we had since Firebolt and they were good, even though they were a bit too predictable. But that seems to be the problem throughout the series.

I had one problem with the new character Cara and it was what is it with all the ‘honey’s and ‘sweet bun’s. I understand the love she felt for Elena but it was just a tad too exaggerated to be normal and believable.

The low didn’t come in the second book as it is usually the case but in the third one, as the repetition of phrases or parts of the dialog appear more than in the 2nd book where this problem has started. Grinding my teeth, I flipped the pages, skipping paragraphs to get fast to the more interesting parts.

But the main reason this book got two-star rating instead of the three-star one I gave to Firebolt and Thunderlight is that some of the paragraphs held no connection to each other, mostly by the end of the book. I felt as if A.Woods wanted to be done with it as fast as she could.

I needed to re-read some pages to be sure I didn’t miss anything when a problem appeared out of the thin air or some characters reacted in the way they were not supposed to. The book in itself was far too long and tedious compared to the other books in the series and in an urgent need of an editor.

I do love the story and the characters but I hope that the writing gets better in the next parts of the story as this one was a bit hard to get through.

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The Magicians, Lev Grossman

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

“If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so.”

I read some of the reviews from the people I follow before buying this book. And I actually left it on the bookstore shelf several times before finally picking it up and moving to the checkout line.

Usually I think about it for a long time if a book has a lower than a 4-star rating on the Goodreads. I have enough trust in the community, unless it appeals to me with its cover or its summary. The latter is what happened in this case and oh, boy how I much I regret it.

From the first pages of the book I had this feeling that I have read all of this somewhere else. Harry Potter, Narnia… but well it has been said so many times before and by better reviewers than me.

So let’s start with what I liked about this book. Sometimes I like reading about characters who are all perfect, other times the bad-ass crazy one appeal to me more. In this case the protagonists seem to be real people, who have problems and real feelings, who have relationships that are not perfect and which are constantly changing.

And that’s about it. Now to the stuff I didn’t like.

The characters are so dull. Quentin, Elliot, Janet, Josh… They have no depth. Almost in the ending I wondered maybe it was Alice the real protagonist, but no, I was right from the beginning. It is Quentin.

He is just a person with no motivation, who always gets what he wants and seems to get no satisfaction from it. Which leads to a heavy alcoholism for about 2/3 of the book. There were chapters that were so hard to get through just because it went on an on how the famous Brakebills quintet took all the drugs they could lay a hand on and tried to find their way to oblivion because they were just too perfect for this world.

Now to the plot-holes. The characters that appear in a scene and then are gone till the end of the book seem to be an endless treasure for L. Grossman. Their appearances almost seem to be there to tell you ‘Well, you heard of him/her once, isn’t it enough for him/her to be the biggest hero/enemy of the book?’

The information is laid in front of the reader so he doesn’t start doubting anything he is told.

The little cherry on the top of all this pile of nonsense seems to be the fact that all the narrative arc happens on the last 100 pages.

I wondered for a long time when will we finally know what this book is really about till I reached the 350 pages. For an exposition and the conflict to incite the readers’ attention that takes a really long time.

And it happens again at the resolution, when the tracks for the next book are laid. Quentin has finally accepted his uselessness as a character and he becomes what he should have been from the start only to be swept away on a new adventure on the last half-page.

The fact that the show that is loosely based on the book is already on its fourth season and has a 7.6 rating on IMDb, tells me that the show is better than the book.

Out of curiosity, I watched a couple of episodes and I regret to tell you that the show is definitely better than the book.

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