The Magician

Title: The Magician

Author: D.A. Pupa

Genres: Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Length: 326 pages / 4561 locations

Source: Author

Format: Mobi

Rating: 2.25/5

 

Premise:

Detective Frank Sorello is obsessed with finding the man who murdered his wife.
With a novel coming out which depicts the murder in detail, he is sure he has finally found him.
The hunt begins. But is the prey more cunning than the hunter?

Review:

Well, it’s never easy to write less than stellar reviews when an author is kind enough to gift you his or her work, but I have to admit I had quite a few issues with this story.

First of all, I had a big problem with the punctuation. Misplaced commas always make me twitch.
Example:
He loved the darkness, quietly he entered the bedroom.

There was just something about the prose that felt forced and sometimes even pompous.
I got that feeling from the first line: The orange hue of the early morning sun was casting its rays upon the seashore community of Spring Lake, New Jersey. I thought the sun cast rays, not a hue, I don’t know. Probably not the best example but it was something that I was not crazy about.

This feeling transposed to the dialogues. I kept thinking that people don’t really talk like that, with all the politeness and treating each other by name every other line. Something that should have felt casual came across as much too formal or even fake.

Also, the characters felt less than believable because they all seemed so perfect. Frank was a gentleman and a perfect FBI agent with a tingling extra sense that popped up when real criminals were around, Rob was the perfect director who could see the big picture, Beth was a very attractive, perfect/extremely capable agent, Sarah was a perfect woman who broke through Frank’s shell…

Then there were all the clichés. One of the most noticeable ones was a sensei getting Frank out of his downward spiral with a few words – ones that anyone could have said to him, mind you, but for some reason the sensei saying them made more sense because he was wise. That is one of the examples of things that felt that were thrown out there just for the sake of it, without proper development. I also got that feeling throughout the narrative.

There were other lines that just felt cheesy to me, like Dear God, for everyone’s sake I pray he’s wrong or Sarah had become so in tune with her man (…)

With all that, I guess I may have become over-sensitive or I just focused hard on the story and became more aware of what was my main issue with it: the repetitiveness. The author kept coming back to things I felt should only be said once. At one point I felt I kept reading the same thing over and over, which made it less than special.

There are good things to this book, of course. I loved that the chapters relating present day were interspersed with how our villain came to be. My favourite part was definitely the description of guy’s story and his struggle (or lack thereof), but even that was thwarted by all the repetitions. James was a genius, James perfectly masked his thoughts, James always planned ahead, everything James did served a purpose, James really knew true love when he was with his group, up until then only James first foster parents brought out the good in him, etc, etc.

I am sorry I could not give this story a higher rating but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Even the ending was anti-climatic. I thought there should have been a link that explained the dentist’s appointment, for instance. Did James switch his dental records with someone who looked like him? That would have been cool to find out. Especially if it turned out to be any number of characters that were described to be blonde, blue eyed and tall throughout the book. Because in the end everything James did had a purpose but a lot was left unexplained and I found that a shame.

I honestly believe other folks will appreciate this novel and dive right into the story. Sadly, I was unable to enjoy it much.

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 March 22 to 31, 2016
GR Review

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Alien Child

Title: Alien Child

Author: Pamela Sargent

Genres: Science Fiction

Length: 246 pages | locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 1.75/5

Premise:

Nita has grown up as the only member of her human species in the Institute, aided by her guardian from a different species and even a different world. As she grows up, Nita has all sorts of questions, but is denied access to the answers because her guardian says it is not yet time for them.
As Nita grows and learns of her past, she slowly realizes her future may very well imply the future of the entire mankind.

Review:

The beginning of this book is praise from a bunch of folks. I actually bothered to read it all, not only because I was curious about what they thought of this novel but also because it had praise from other books by her. She was defined as writing unique sci-fi, no one has ever done anything like her, she is a master at characterization and so on and so forth. Talk about setting high expectations. I hope I have learned my lesson.

So here I am, beginning the book per se, and immediately I have an issue. The first line is Nita’s earliest memory was of the day she had nearly drowned in the pool. She was toddling down the wide, lighted hall of her home, but her short legs could not keep pace with her guardian’s long strides. So what do I think? This kid is small, a toddler. And yet, when her guardian engages her later on, she has the speech of a much older child. And this is the issue I have with most books who have children as a main character – few succeed in making them sound as children.

Her guardian has trouble with English and, even though we later learn she has an AI at her service, it just did not justify why Nita seemed so developed from the beginning.

Several things felt like they were thrown out there for the reader to take for granted. Like Nita saying she always knew her guardians came from a spaceship. How did she always know? Did Llita tell her that story? Did the AI?

Not everything was bad. Some descriptions were very beautiful and the idea of Llipel and Llare’s people was intriguing and mysterious.

I did try to go along with the story but I kept thinking “wait, why didn’t she do this? Why didn’t she go there?” or just felt that some things were entirely too convenient. I just didn’t buy it and kept trudging on. I figured hey, it’s only 246 pages, how long can it take? Well, if felt like ages.

Even the ending was anti-climatic. The dialogues were stretched on for miles and miles and the entire idea was so repetitive. I almost yelled OK, I get it, mankind is bad, they are afraid to become like that, I get it already, can we move on??

I just could not take the novel seriously. I believe that had I read it at a younger age I would not have had nearly as many issues as I had. As it is, I cannot recommend it and definitely feel the praise was overdone.

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 Mar 11 to Mar 22, 2015
GR Review

Allegiant

Allegiant – Part 1

Rating: 3.8/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
After the earth-shattering revelations of Insurgent, Tris must escape with Four beyond the wall that encircles Chicago to finally discover the shocking truth of what lies behind it.

Review:

This was actually pretty good, considering the major disappointment I got in the previous movie.

It didn’t start very well, in my opinion. The main characters were posey, their dialogues dull and after a while the running starts and, again, the good guys never get shot while running on open field, and yet the bad guys drop like flies. Then someone dies in a really obvious way and I was like… Eurgh.

But then we see the world outside the wall and the CGI there was pretty cool, even though something felt off. Throughout the movie some parts where blotchy, but the art concepts were tremendously well conceived. There was a lot of cool tech in this one!

As usual I think some fighting scenes were overdone and the sound effects were just ridiculous – especially the knife ones – but I guess it was to be expected.

There was a fairly good pace to the movie and it did not focus sickly on lovey-dovey Tris and Four. She actually did not seem that annoying and attention-seeking to me in this one!

I cannot say the story or even the plot twists were mind blowing but, for once, I let the FX dazzle me.

I wish the story had been better developed because it felt disjointed quite often, but I was actually too entertained to mind that.

Overall a time well spent, quite entertaining.

The Pit: Watchmaker’s Hell: Book One

Title: The Pit: Watchmaker’s Hell: Book One

Author: L.A. Barnes

Genres: Fantasy | Horror | Mystery | Paranormal | Post-apocalyptic

Length: 460 pages | 4617 locations

Source: Author / Netgalley

Format: Mobi / Locked PDF

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

When people die, they go to a far different place than what they had pictured.
One man, with his own agenda, knows how everything works. But he won’t tell.

Review:

I have to admit The Pit surprised me.

It took me a while to get into this book. There were a lot of characters and the setting of the world seemed a bit too abrupt – in other words, it felt like info dumping.

Throughout the story, I was confused because I could not keep track of who was who and what their story was on Earth and in the beginning things were particularly difficult because certain premises about the world seemed to contradict themselves.

Some still didn’t make much sense, like why only two dozen bodies fell on the Pit at a time or even why it took 2000 years for something like this to happen to someone as experienced as Marcus or why Lauren wasted a bullet if they were that valuable, amongst others I can no longer recall, but you know what? I actually enjoyed this quite a bit and I am sure that with enough time to fully dedicate to the story I would not experience most of the difficulties I had – even if I had to take notes it would be worth it.

The version I read could use a good editing. Sometimes the way things were written wasn’t the clearest, some words or expressions felt almost pretentious, and I personally could have done without the several ‘with (…), what was X to do?’, but that’s a personal pet peeve of mine.

It was very refreshing to see such a new version of Hell and Heaven and the author did a great job overall, building several new concepts. The narrative is quite suspenseful at times and as the pieces come together you cannot help but feel enthralled by the story and wanting to know what comes next.

Keep in mind that this is a dark book. It addresses several sensitive subjects and experiments with them, such as violence, sex and religion, amongst others. So it is not a book everyone can handle. However, if you are ok with this, you should definitely check it out.

The author has 4 more books programmed for this series. I, for one, am intrigued to see what comes next.

Note: I would like to take the opportunity to thank the author for the Mobi file as, once again, Netgalley only provided the locked ACSM file.

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

Read from Mar 03 to Mar 10, 2016
GR Review

The Boy

The Boy

Rating: 1.5/5

Premise:

From IMDB:
An American nanny is shocked that her new English family’s boy is actually a life-sized doll. After she violates a list of strict rules, disturbing events make her believe that the doll is really alive.

Review:

Oh man, I just cannot seem to catch a break with horror movies lately.

Quite frankly, The Boy bored me. The beginning was intriguing and the ending fast-paced (kind of too much, not sure if I really got what had happened) but, in between, there just seemed to be a whole lot of nothing. The main character’s evolution is one example of why I found the movie unappealing. There was no cohesion.

The story starts with a quirky couple about to leave, supposedly on vacation, so they hire a nanny to take care of their son, who turns out to be a doll. There is a list of tasks she must perform with the doll everyday or bad things will happen. At least that’s what the trailed led me to believe.

For me, the highlight of the movie was precisely watching that couple and how each handled the doll. The entire set was lovely as well, both the house and the few surroundings we get to see.

Even though the film had its moments, there isn’t nearly as much suspense as I had hoped. Or rather, it felt like all the suspense’s resolution was saved till the end, in a sequence that came across as jumbled and nonsensical.

First of all, why would that ridiculous list matter? I found no connection to the way the plot developed at all. Seems to me like things were bound to go batshit at any point, list following or otherwise. Also, if Brahms was really an adult, how come she heard a kid’s voice every now and then? Calling her name, so it couldn’t be a recording from the past. And finally, was there anything supernatural about the guy at all? The mask was all sparkly and he seemed inhumanely strong but the story seems to point towards him living locked up his whole life in the walls of the house. The supernatural strength doesn’t really make much sense, does it?

If I am going to wait that long to have resolution, it better make me drop my jaw. It didn’t. Not even close.

I just cannot recommend this one.

The Oddfits (The Oddfits Series #1)

Title: The Oddfits (The Oddfits Series #1)

Author: Tiffany Tsao

Genres: Adventure | Fantasy | Science Fiction

Length: 256 pages | 4191 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 2.75/5

Premise:

Murgatroyd Floyd has never felt that he fit in anywhere during his life but knew that, one day, something special would happen to him. At 25 years of age, strange events start to unfold, confirming his suspicion.

Review:

This is a tough one to review. I cannot say I loved it, I don’t know if because of the story itself or the asian influences that I still have not gotten used to in literature but the fact is for a long time since I began reading it all I could think of was that it has been a long time since I read a book that dragged on this much, if ever.

At times, the prose was beyond repetitive – not only the pages and pages about food and other random stuff but the characters themselves. They would be described, then stuff in the middle, then a repetition of the description in more or less an elaborate manner. This happened most often with Kay Huat, our main character’s best friend came into the picture. I felt I kept reading the same kind of stuff, and this applies to Murgatroyd’s dumbness as well and how he kept saying he felt something great was coming for him.

For a large part of the book we hear how our main character is dumb and how his parents seem absolutely crazy but no one seems to mind or even notice.
There are hints of interesting things just waiting to happen but, again, the narrative just drags on and on about boring and meaningless topics.

There were positive things as well, of course. I especially enjoyed the transformation that Murgatroyd went when he went to work as a waiter but overall he just wasn’t an interesting character. None of them were. The world was a bit but too much was left unexplained or felt contradictory.

The story got more interesting in the last third of the book but, honestly, the few things I read about the premise, which will supposedly be developed in the following books of the series, did not interest me enough to keep reading it.

I recommend it to people more patient than me and who can appreciate this sort of literature and humour.

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 Feb 28 to Mar 02, 2016
GR Review

February 2016 Wrap-Up

February flew by!

I didn’t even get to celebrate the blog’s first anniversary on the 19th, bummer.

Happy anniversary, Ana’s Lair!

I read four books and watched three movies.
Not all were brilliant but I had some new experiences, which I value very much.

Overall I would say it was a great month!


February Summary:

Total Books Read: 4

Longest Read: Room (433 pages)

Shortest Read: The Field Trip (272 pages)

Book of the Month: Room

Favourite Cover:

Challenges Progress:

GoodReads: 9/50
2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss: 6/?


February Books:

 

The first book I finished in February was The Field Trip, by R.A. Andrade.

It was quite a disappointment. Not an impressive plot nor execution. Poor writing, convenient development and predictable.
Could not care less about the characters or what happened to them.
Not much more to say except I do not recommend it.

I rated it 1.5/5 stars.

 

 

I moved on to something completely different from what I have read so far: The V Girl, by Mya Robarts.

I can see why young adults, particularly girls, would go crazy over this one. It explores sexuality and its boundaries and has plenty of steamy hot scenes. Personally, I would prefer a bigger emphasis on the dystopian world and not so much on the romance, but I know this will be a hit for fans of the genre.

I rated it 3.5/5 stars.

 

 

I moved on to a crime novel taking place in the late 80s, A Thorn Among the Lilies, by Michael Hiebert. It is the third of a series and I just could not seem to connect with it much. It was mostly the writing that put me off, but also that my hunches about the mystery being right from the get-go.

I rated it 2.5/5 stars.

 

 

Room, by Emma Donoghue was such a powerful book.

There were bits and pieces that felt off but, on the whole, this is a very powerful book that addresses a highly disturbing theme. It’s a wonder that the author managed to do it without making the reader burst to tears all the time.

I rated it 4.8/5 stars.

 

 


Where I got the books:

Book Depository

  • Room

Netgalley:

  • The Field Trip
  • The V Girl
  • A Thorn Among the Lilies (Detective Leah Teal series #3)

 

Movie Reviews:

 

Other Posts in February:

 


How was February for you?

Do you have a Wrap-up post? Please link it below!