Posts Categorized: reviews

Book Review: Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle (Or the One With Carla the Car)

December 16, 2014 books, reviews 2

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle cover

An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today’s bestselling authors – John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle- brings all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

If you want to get on your holiday cheer with an easy read, then this is the book to enjoy while curled up in front of the fireplace.

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Book Review: Orla’s Code by Fiona Pearse (Or the One With the Anonymous Lover)

December 14, 2014 books, reviews 0

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld cover

“If you want to get ahead, get noticed,” is Orla Hanlon’s motto. New to London and the first female programmer at CouperDaye, a global investment bank, she takes on a high-profile but controversial project.
With her new luxury apartment and a work-romance quietly on the side, Orla thinks she has everything under control.
Until a bug in her code causes chaos on the trading floor and Orla finds herself a scapegoat in a corporate game, fighting to save her new life in London.

I bought this book mainly because of the programming aspect and because the blurb sounded intriguing. I’m not an expert on coding, so I can’t tell you whether the author got it right or not, which is why I’m only going to talk about the story itself.

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Book Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (Or the One With the Hot Death God)

December 3, 2014 books, reviews 0

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld cover

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings… Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

I have the suspicion that this book is going to inspire a lot of people to write. Which is a good thing because yay, books!

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Book Review: Loop by Karen Akins (Or the One With Female Snape)

November 16, 2014 books, reviews 0

Loop cover by Karen Akins

At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels… at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future.

This review contains spoilers.

You had me at time travel academy! I found this book on Goodreads First Reads a few months ago. I didn’t win it (obviously), but I bought it anyway because the premise sounded fun. I had to struggle through some university books before I finally got around to this one, but it didn’t disappoint! Loop is an entertaining, fast-paced read that contains a lot of action and wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.

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Book Review: Dear Comrade + Childhood Favorites Feature(?)

October 15, 2014 books, psa, reviews 0

I didn’t actually finish this book just now, but I was reminded of it recently and after looking it up on Goodreads, I saw it didn’t even have a review there (now it does). Since this is one of my childhood favorites and it saddens me that not a lot of people seem to know it, I decided it deserves some space on my blog. I’m also toying with starting a Childhood Favorites feature of some sort on my blog so people have a chance to highlight those little almost-forgotten gems that impacted their childhood. If you’d be interested in showcasing a favorite book from you’re childhood/youth, definitely drop me an e-mail at reviewsandcake@gmail.com!

If there’s enough interest, it’ll definitely happen! If not, I’ll delete this part of the post and we’ll never talk about it again.

Okay, so now for the actual review:

Dear Comrade cover

After a party Kate and Paul start to write each other. The letters reveal their very different political convictions, but even so they can’t stop themselves from falling in love with each other.

(Goodreads keeping it short and snappy there.)

The main reason I like this (very short) book is that the two main characters manage to respect each other and establish a relationship despite the fact that they have vastly different world views. Even though their ideological perspectives couldn’t be more different, they don’t just SAY they’ll try to understand each other, they actually DO. Try, that is, not understand each other. There’s still a lot of fighting and casting stones (metaphorically) going on. Couple that with all the confusion and insecurity of first love and you have Dear Comrade.

That’s another thing I like about this book – Paul and Kate’s relationship is sweet without being annoying and develops naturally. Whereas the premise of the book can feel a little constructed at times, their relationship progresses organically as they begin to care more and more about each other. They often struggle to even stay friends, which of course makes it even harder once romantic feelings are involved. But when things get serious, they can rely on each other, which makes this story more romantic than a lot of things I’ve read recently. This book is basically the opposite of instant love. Plus, it’s an epistolary story, so what more can you wish for?

4 out of 5 cupcakes to this novella!

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Book Review: Joss Whedon – The Biography (Or The One With Tom Hiddleston’s E-Mail)

October 13, 2014 books, reviews 0

Joss Whedon: The Biography by Amy Pascale cover

From the cult favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which netted four million viewers per episode, to the summer blockbuster The Avengers, which amassed a box office of $1.5 billion, Joss Whedon has made a name for himself in Hollywood for his penchant for telling meaningful, personal tales about love, death, and redemption even against the most dramatic and larger-than-life backdrops. This biography follows his development from a creative child and teenager who spent years away from his family at an elite English public school, through his early successes—which often turned into frustrating heartbreak in both television (Roseanne) and film (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)—to his breakout turn as the creator, writer, and director of the Buffy television series. Extensive, original interviews with Whedon’s family, friends, collaborators, and stars—and with the man himself—offer candid, behind-the-scenes accounts of the making of groundbreaking series such as Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse, as well as new stories about his work with Pixar writers and animators during the creation of Toy Story. Most importantly, however, these conversations present an intimate and revealing portrait of a man whose creativity and storytelling ability have manifested themselves in comics, online media, television, and film.

Let me start this review by saying I HATE reading non-fiction books with a passion. I can’t remember a single instance where I managed to read a non-fictional book from start to finish unless it was also meant to entertain in some way or another. I even struggle with essays I have to read for university. Don’t get me wrong, they’re always interesting in some form or another, but where are the DRAGONS? Where’s the MAGIC and the CHARACTERS and the SUSPENSE? I actually love books that contain scientific elements, whether real or made-up, and I only vaguely remember the time frame of the French Revolution because of Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Wrap it up in a story of some sort and I can retain (fictional) virology and dates of important historical events like no one’s business, but serve it to me as actual facts and I’ll forget it in a min- what was that? I DON’T REMEMBER I WAS READING ABOUT A MAGICAL KINGDOM.

However, this biography is about Joss Whedon. The creator of fictional stories like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Firefly and to top it all off Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. All of those I love more than I would my firstborn child (don’t judge me, I hate children – you’re judging me even more now, aren’t you?), so when a friend walked into the room with this book, I just had to borrow it.

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Book Review: Trial by Fire (or The One With a Lot of Aquiline Noses)

October 4, 2014 books, reviews 0

Trial by Fire cover by Josephine Angelini

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily’s other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a YA fantasy book that entertained me this much. Let’s talk about the good things first.

This review contains spoilers. Please only read on if you don’t mind or have already read the book.
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Book Review: Throne of Glass (or The One With All The Balls, No Not Those)

October 3, 2014 books, reviews 0

Throne of Glass Cover by Sarah J Maas

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

Initial Impression

I was fully prepared to like this book. Guess it goes to show that you should never trust the hype.

The word that best describes my feelings when reading the first couple of sentences of this book is relief. The author’s writing style didn’t suck, so how bad could it be, right? Wrong. I feel like the gifs in this review express my feelings perfectly, but I’m going to attempt to review it anyway.

Thoughts While Reading

BEWARE, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS

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Book Review: The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer

September 16, 2014 books, reviews 0

I’m back from my holiday in North Germany, which was actually very nice (who would have thought), so have a review! Also check out my guest post at Laura Plus Books, in which I talk about reviewing older books, as well as the best method to review book series when you’re late to the party.

The Dark Wife

Three thousand years ago, a god told a lie. Now, only a goddess can tell the truth. Persephone has everything a daughter of Zeus could want–except for freedom. She lives on the green earth with her mother, Demeter, growing up beneath the ever-watchful eyes of the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus. But when Persephone meets the enigmatic Hades, she experiences something new: choice.

Zeus calls Hades “lord” of the dead as a joke. In truth, Hades is the goddess of the underworld, and no friend of Zeus. She offers Persephone sanctuary in her land of the dead, so the young goddess may escape her Olympian destiny. But Persephone finds more than freedom in the underworld. She finds love, and herself.

I really wanted to love this book. I absolutely adore the cover and the description sounded exactly like my kind of thing. Unfortunately, even though I was very excited to read this book, it did not live up to my expectations.

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Book Review: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

August 26, 2014 books, reviews 0

After I Do

When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?

This book severely disappointed me. And then it didn’t.

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Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

August 21, 2014 books, reviews 2

The Queen of the Tearling

Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother – Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea’s 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother’s guard – each pledged to defend the queen to the death – arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding…

This book is hard to review because I simultaneously liked and didn’t like it. That’s probably the reason the review turned out so long, so skip to the ending if you just want to see the conclusion and my rating. The Queen of the Tearling was entertaining, fun and my kind of book while having so many issues I need more than one hand to count them. Let’s start with the flaws and then let me tell you why you should read it anyway.
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Book Review: The People of Forever are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu

August 18, 2014 books, reviews 0

The People of Forever are Not Afraid

Yael, Avishag and Lea grow up together in a tiny, dusty village in Israel. They attend high school, gossip about boys, and try to find ways to alleviate the universal boredom of teenage life. Then at eighteen they are conscripted into the army. Yael trains marksmen, Avishag stands guard watching refugees throw themselves at barbed-wire fences and Lea, posted at a checkpoint, imagines the stories behind the familiar faces that pass by her day after day. All of them live in that single intense second before danger erupts, all of them trying to survive however they can.

Last semester, I watched Scorcese’s Taxi Driver for a seminar at university. I remember my teacher stating that it was one of the movies on which she could base an entire seminar because it is so complex. The People of Forever are Not Afraid reminded me of that. It sometimes has the same feeling of clinical detachment and austerity while being very layered and open to interpretation.
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