The Corridor (The Corridor #1)

Title: The Corridor (The Corridor #1)

Author: A.N. Willis

Genres: Dystopia | Fantasy | Romance | Science Fiction

Length: 217 pages | 2661 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

Seventeen years ago the Corridor appeared in First Earth. People from Second Earth came through, the ones who built the Corridor. They are called Mods, genetically modified human beings, who are feared by everyone in First Earth due to their abilities.
Due to a Corridor malfunction, Estele finds herself with a unique ability, one that may get her incarcerated if anyone finds out. Can she keep hiding it, while finding away to stop Dr Tabor’s plans, which results could be catastrophic? What exactly does she want with the mods?

Review:

The Corridor grew on me fairly quickly, because there was plenty of showing and not telling. I saw the world through Estelle’s eyes and wondered what everyone’s agenda might be.

But there were a few things that inhibited my further enjoyment.
The whole business with Estele’s teleporting could have been much better explained. For instance, ever since I found that she could open a portal to different Earths, I wondered what would happen if she went to somewhere so devastated that the air wasn’t even breathable. I wanted her to wonder that as well.
Also, Estele would mention that the location where she teleported was very important, so that she would end up in the same place on the parallel Earth and yet one time she opened the portal in her apartment and there was no mention where she ended up. There were other instances where I was similarly confused.
And then there was the time when she could not teleport try as she might because she was hurt and yet she could create a portal when fighting the big bad doctor after having been shot.

The novel got a bit too teenagery for my taste in parts, like some of Estele’s lines and the whole romance bit, which I have to admit I did not care for in the least.
Some things seemed overly simplistic, not explained at all, like Estele one minute not believing her dad’s theories and then suddenly she did, without anything happening in between to change her mind.
I had guessed several things before they happened, like how the story Justin told about the kids was crap, what happened to the people in the Barrens and who would end up betraying Estele, although I have to admit I thought Lissa would too. And I never understood why Dr Tabor wanted to build the second Corridor, knowing it was so dangerous. Estele kept wondering that too but I never got an answer.
And the whole naming herself Stel thing was a bit too Divergent for me.

But you know what? Even with all the flaws I enjoyed the book quite a lot.
The world building was very good. Every Earth was different and interesting in their own way. It was funny to see how some things were similar but have different ways. Watching Estele trying to blend in, not raise any red flags, made me anxious and it was a thrilling read for several passages.
At times, the novel was so fast-paced that I almost did not notice the above mentioned holes. Also, some moments were quite emotional, like the scene in the hospital.
I did not finish the book feeling mindblown by any means, but it was a fun ride and I am curious to see what happens next.

Younger audiences will appreciate this book even more than I did.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Aug 29 to Aug 31, 2015
GR Review

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Church of the Oak (The Brigid Series, #3)

Title: Church of the Oak (The Brigid Series, #3)

Author: Sheila R. Lamb

Genres: Fantasy | Historical Fiction | Paranormal | Romance

Format: Mobi

Length: 245 pages | 3491 locations

Source: Author

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

In this direct sequel to the second book of the series, Patrick continues trying to find Brigid, while remaining true to his faith in Christianity.
In the meantime, Brigid strives to keep her druid school while remaining a free woman and yearning to find Patrick again.

Review:

This book did not start as well for me as the previous ones. There were a lot of characters and I did not remember some of them.
One of the things that bothered me the most was Brigid’s father. I felt that he was out of character compared to I knew of him in the previous book. He had left his family to stay with Brigid’s mother and raise her as his own and yet now he stooped to a level I never saw coming, making all sorts of evil threats and even willing to sell her freedom to Maithghean. This is the part that stung the most: “Maithghean could probably use a servant’s help more than me.” Father’s lip lifted as if in satisfaction, a grin quickly reigned in. Not only is he pimping out his daughter, he’s actually happy about it? Eurgh.

Then as we went back in time and I began finding out what had happened since Brigid left in the previous novel, I reconnected with the story. I felt her struggle between wanting to help the Túatha de Danann and not allowing them to control her fate again, as well as her love for Patrick but loath of what he had become. She had a goal now, her school, and she was committed to it.

But I continued having trouble connecting with Patrick. It bothered me that he obviously wanted to be with Brigid, and he had experienced first hand the Dannan power, even having glimpses of his past life. Yet he acted as if none of that happened and that Christianity’s one God was the only one that ever existed.

I understand that he would choose not to be with Brigid, but I could not understand why, when he and Brigid met, she felt their energy as anam cara and yet he appeared to be immune to her touch and just so aggressive, with such an aversion towards her.
As in the previous book, it frustrated me that he did not listen to what Brigid said, she would have to repeat the same things over and over again (like her warnings about Maithghean) and he just would not get it. It wasn’t so much as he was confused about what she was saying, more that he would not register it.

Alas, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Brigid as a teacher, as well as all the techniques described. Watching her absorb energy from the earth and developing her powers was enthralling. I was eager to learn more of the magic – rituals, potions, spells… I did get to see some, but I wanted more. Instead, it seemed like chamomile kept being used all the time.

I felt for her in all the hard choices she had to make, even when none of them seemed to bring a way out of her predicament. Every decision made her grow as a woman and led to her finding out who she really was and what she wanted her future to be. She deserved to be happy and would try to do whatever led to her happiness, while trying her best to stay true to her values and her missions. I admired her.

I would like to point out that I am not familiar at all with irish folklore, so I took this series at point value, that is an independent work of fiction regardless of what it was based on. I have to admit I thought it odd that a woman would be appointed bishop, for instance. I don’t know if that ever happened back then but it just sounded weird.

I thought some things were repetitive, like all the mentions of Patrick and Brigid’s past together or how it was against druid customs to write. I did not get why Maithghean would kill Conleth when he knew about Patrick and their much stronger connection, and yet he seemed surprised to see them together. Regarding the formatting, I think it would make sense if thoughts were put in italic. Sometimes I would not notice the voice had changed and had to go back and reread.

So, all in all, there were bits and pieces here and there that I would have liked to have been handled differently, but I generally enjoyed Church of the Oak very much and sped through it. Getting lost in Brigid’s world is a joy.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Aug 27 to Aug 29, 2015
GR Review

Bird Box

Title: Bird Box

Author: Josh Malerman

Genres: Horror | Post-Apocalyptic | Thriller

Length: 473 pages

Source: Purchased

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4.25/5

Premise:

When Malorie finds out she is pregnant, news start reporting odd occurrences. People are going crazy for no apparent reason, hurting and even killing themselves. Theories say this behaviour is triggered by something they saw, something their brain is unable to understand. So soon enough, what was once dismissed as conspiracy theories turns into the few survivors’ lifeline: no one goes outside without a blindfold.
Can Malorie survive in such a world? Can her baby?

Review:

Bird Box has made it well up in my list of most suspenseful and bone-chilling books.

It was not perfect. There was a lot I wanted to know, like what was up with Malorie’s baby daddy, and there were a few things I felt were assumed for no justifiable reason, the most striking of them the very premise of people being absolutely sure that sight was the trigger to folks going mad. As far as I am concerned, nothing presented in the book up to George and his video proved that beyond any reasonable doubt, particularly because the people suffering from such an affliction never seemed coherent enough to formulate a plausible sentence. I could easily assume that it was touch that caused it, or even smell. And yet no one else seemed to hypothesize that.

Then there were things I thought were just too much of a coincidence or just didn’t make sense, like Malorie and Olympia going into labour at the same time or her naming the children Boy and Girl. They never sounded 4 years old to me either. Not only did they sound much older but at times they would say things I have no idea how they could possibly know, having only lived in that house with Malorie. And it truly bothered me that she never once hugged them or had a single gesture of affection towards them until the last page of the book.

The narration alternates between the present – which is roughly four years after everyone went nuts – and the past, starting with the moment Malorie finds out she may be pregnant, which coincides with the first stories popping up in the news. I felt that some of what was written in the present chapters was basically filling space, just to say we had narration from both timelines. A lot felt repetitive and that it did not really add much to the story.

Obviously, I wanted more answers. The novel ends with no resolution towards the creatures, but not utterly devoid of hope. And the fact is the story constantly kept me on edge. I wanted to know what happened next and kept wanting to pick the book back up whenever I was not able to read. At times, it freaked me out. I was amazed at how terrified I felt. Imagine every single thing that can go wrong in such a reality, every fear you could have when dealing with the outside world while utterly blind. Josh Malerman put it into words.

There was a bonus story in the end which I did not enjoy much at all. Even though it was interesting to picture all the horror movies, the fact is it confused the heck out of me from the very beginning, since I could not even tell if it was fiction or an essay sort of thing, and I felt it dragged on and on for a long time.

Read Bird Box for its power to chill you to the bone with its suspenseful, terrifying scenes – not for a flawless story. It may not be perfect, but it is a guaranteed thrilling read that will surely mess with your sleep.

Read from Aug 23 to Aug 26, 2015

GR Review

Self/Less

Self/Less

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
A dying real estate mogul transfers his consciousness into a healthy young body, but soon finds that neither the procedure nor the company that performed it are quite what they seem.

Review:

Self-Less is a fast paced, action packed sci-fi movie.

There were some things I wished had been tweaked, particularly Ryan Reynolds picking up on Ben Kingley’s ticks and facial expressions and whatnot. That is something I take for granted in these sort of movies where someone takes over someone else’s features, or even when we are seeing some younger version of the character.

I thought Damian, Kingly’s character, jumped into the process of having his consciousness transferred to a different body much too easily. It was obvious the doctor was hiding something from him but he never pressed for answers. Even later, after the deed was done.
I remember a scene where Damian tells Albright I never told you she was latino and Albright basically goes here’s a ticket to Hawaii and that was that. This main character was just so passive the whole time. Even when he was being proactive, trying to get answers, kicking butt and trying to help Mark’s family I never really got why he was doing it. It was almost as if it was just to get the narrative moving along.

Another thing I did not get was, if Damian was taking over Mark’s consciousness when he was on the meds, how could he fight like Mark? Saying his body remembered the training sounded so lame…

If these patients are not supposed to need pills after 2 years, how come Albright still takes them?

Where in the world did they find the kid a bathing suit and buoys to get Damian to teach her swimming??

The whole thing with the bullet was silly as well. The machine has got to work with electromagnetic fields and whatnot, that had to be ridiculously dangerous.

Then there were the typical scenes that make me lose respect for a movie, where the good guy never runs out of bullets and even while having seizures/hallucinations can take out multiple well-trained operatives.

The ending was beyond predictable and I had guessed who Albright was early on. I hate it when that happens.

But the fact is I had a good time watching the movie, even with all the holes. It was different. I liked the little kid, even if I never felt that Natalie Martinez and Ryan Reynolds had any chemistry together whatsoever. I just don’t get what was up with that casting decision.
Still, it was nice to see Kingsley and Garber again, it’s been a while since I watched a movie featuring those guys. And Matthew Goode was a pleasant surprise, didn’t know the guy.

So in a nutshell, I wasn’t mindblown by any means, but I left the room feeling entertained. Cannot ask for much more these days…

Time Salvager (Preview Excerpt)

Title: Time Salvager (Preview Excerpt)

Author: Wesley Chu

Genres: Adventure | Dystopia | Fantasy | Post-Apocalyptic | Science Fiction

Format: Mobi

Length: +- 160 pages | 2255 locations

Source: Netgalley

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

In the 26th century, the world is bleak. Our planet is pretty much a toxic wasteland and humans mostly live in the other planets on our solar system, which are controlled by megacorporations.
Even establishing themselves there, people barely get by. Humankind is at a lowest. The only way they can survive is because of ChronoMen, who go back in time, when disasters are about to happen, to salvage majorly important items.
There are rules to time travelling and James Griffin-Mars ends up breaking the most important one. Now he is on the run. Can he save himself and Elise? Will he ever find out what felt off in his last mission?

Review:

I am always weary of books about time travelling because there is just so much that can go wrong with something based on the concept. This one sounded interesting and it was only a preview excerpt so I figured I would be done with it quickly.

There were some notions I wrinkled my nose at, like the timeline self-healing after a while. The way I see it, it is not possible that this should happen just because someone who was not supposed to live finally died, along with his or her entire bloodline, because every single person influences several, so the ripples are not limited to that.

There were things on and off that I did not find believable, like the theme of Jaws being mentioned in 2097. Come on. I am pretty sure that will no longer be a thing by then.

Also, it seemed to me on a couple of occasions that the actions of the time salvagers affected the future of whatever crisis was unfolding, and I don’t see how that was overlooked. Maybe that is how the book will develop, since it seems James smelled something fishy as well. This preview excerpt only goes to chapter 17, when he officially becomes a fugitive. Again, a case when I believe the blurb tells too much.

Even so, I thought the world-building in Time Salvager was generally well achieved. People don’t say God, they say Gaia, and apparently Abyss is a swear world.
The world Mr Chu built was extremely dark with all the grime and slime and absolute lack of hope. It was difficult to picture anyone living in a world like that, but I think the author did a good job at explaining that. I truly enjoyed some concepts and only wished they had been further developed.

I especially liked James, because I could see how what he did for a living, plus his history, could lead to his psychological degeneration. I particularly liked the notion of the people he left behind to die haunting his dreams. And, most of all, I appreciated the care the author took not to make the thing with him and Elise insta-love.

It was an enjoyable read. Quite frequently, the action was fast but, for some reason, I never felt that urge to keep reading or to pick the book back up. I still don’t get why. I have no idea if this feeling would improve or worsen if I had read the entire book. But I was curious enough to know what happened next to recommend this book to science-fiction fans.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Aug 22 to Aug 23, 2015
GR Review

Dark Places

Dark Places

Rating: 1.5/5

Premise:

Libby day was 8 years old when almost her entire family got murdered. Only she and her brother Ben survived. Thanks to Libby’s testimony, Ben went to jail for the murder.
28 years later, Libby gets contacted by a member of the Kill Club, an association dedicated to finding out the true culprit behind crimes they feel were not handled well by the police. This will bring up all sorts of memories for Libby and the revelations will surprise her.

Review:

I have not read any books by Gillian Flynn. I watched Gone Girl and now Dark Places.
Unlike the previous movie, I cannot say I enjoyed this one. I have been trying to wrap my finger around why exactly I did not like it and I just cannot seem to find a straight answer.

It’s not that I did not like Libby. From my experience with Gone Girl, I can tell one of Flynn’s strengths is getting the reader wrapped up in a story where he or she does not even like the main character.
Her nonchalance towards the entire situation did tire me a bit, but I was ok with it for the most part because I found it interesting how a person could devolve like that. Because of what happen to 8-year-old Libby, she did not become this heroine most books and movies show us; she is a kleptomaniac, a hoarder and a mooch. I did not have to like such a character, but I could have been interested by her and wanted to know what came next. Instead, I did not feel engaged by her or the story at all.

Most of the time, I found the movie slow, gloomy and pointless, where stuff just happened instead of building up to it. There were no particularly stand-out performances. The actors were good, but not brilliant. Probably not their fault, but still. I never cared for any of the characters or what happened to them. I was bored during large sections of it and kept looking at my watch, wondering how long till it was over.

Also, early on I had already guessed in part what had happened on that dreary night, and the rest of the revelations did not surprise me that much because at that point I no longer cared.
As often happens with movie adaptations of books, I could tell a lot of important scenes were cut out because there was no set-up, we were just fed things and expected to take it even though they made no sense, whereas they could have had major impact if precessed by a proper build-up.
When the major revelation came, it was completely anti-climatic and nowhere near the end of the movie. So I guess I felt like there wasn’t a proper balance. Some scenes seemed utterly unnecessary, while others needed to be better set up.

It was just a bland film. I felt it should not have been bland at all. There was room for so much more.
This is an instance where I am absolutely certain the book has got to be miles better than the movie.

Into Coraira (Legend of Rhyme, #2)

Title: Into Coraira (Legend of Rhyme, #2)

Author: Jaime Lee Mann

Genres: Adventure | Children | Fantasy

Format: Mobi

Length: 202 pages | 1975 locations

Source: Netgalley

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

After having defeated the evil one, twins Asher and Ariana are now reunited with their parents, and all finally get some answers regarding the truth behind the curse.
Now, a new evil has been unleashed. While learning they have new powers and learning how to use them, Ariana and Asher will try to keep the kingdom of Coraira and all the realms safe.

Review:

I found the second book of the Legend of Rhyme series generally more enjoyable than the first one, in part because there were more answers. The imagery was, again, stunning, particularly of Coraira. I am sure little girls will absolutely love the unicorns and beautiful streams and flowers and animals, and the boys will appreciate the dragons, for instance. I for one grew fond of Wink and Fidget, although I felt Fidget’s character changed a bit since the first book but the fact is they were hilarious – and particularly liked the living map.

It did not fully satisfy me though, and not only because it is a children’s book.
For one, it presents a lot more characters than the first book and I have to admit at some point I did not know who some were any more, let alone how they were related.
There were also a few things that felt off for me:
I did not understand why Ariana was immediately Calla’s successor and Asher was not even considered.
I was not a fan of the thing with the pendants, especially if Ariana’s power was that great she should be able to come and go as she pleased once she trained enough. I felt some other explanation should have been given for her not to be able to return once she made the decision to become Calla’s successful and go to Coraira.
Similarly, I did not get why the twins would take their grandmother there when she was simply tired and would obviously recover if she rested, and knowing they would not be able to use the pendants again.
And finally, I have to admit I did not like the thing with Asher’s voice. It gave room to a funny scene, where his voice sounded older, but it just sounded like an easy escape of the situation. Now I am left wondering what will happen to Asher’s voice, the real crystal. Or why the crystal they used was green when Calla said the spell turned the crystal blue.


I know it’s a children’s book, but I feel some scenes should have been better elaborated. For instance, the thing with Rebecca’s reaction to the bee sting could have been more dramatic and yet it was over almost as fast as it began. It’s the sort of thing that I don’t think would hurt the book’s audience much but might actually reel older readers in. It didn’t have to be gross or very detailed, just a bit more of a build-up, so that the resolution had more impact. Instead it kind of renders the magic almost meaningless, as if too easy.

Overall, I had a good time reading Into Coraria and the ending left me wanting to know what happens in the third book. It looks like it will become more contemporary fantasy, which is a great, unexpected twist.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Aug 19 to Aug 21, 2015
GR Review