Friday, April 29, 2011

The Immortality Virus by Christine Amsden (ARC review)

Genre:Science Fiction, Dystopian
Publication Date  June 15th, 2011
Where to get:B&N, Amazon,
Website:Christine Amsden
The Immortality Virus - Goodreads

     In the mid-21st century, the human race stopped aging. Those who know why aren't talking, and the few who are brave enough to ask questions tend to disappear. To an elite few, The Change means long life and health, but to the increasing masses, it means starvation, desperation, and violence.

Four centuries after The Change, Grace Harper, a blacklisted P.I., sets off on a mission to find the man responsible for it all and solicit his help to undo The Change – if he's still alive. To complicate matters, Grace's employer is suspected of murdering his father, and when the police learn of their connection, they give her a choice – help them find the evidence they need to convict Matthew Stanton, or die. But if they discover Grace's true mission, they won't hesitate to kill her in order to protect their shot at immortality.

 "How much are you selling him for?"  Grace asked, as though only mildly interested.  The mildness wasn't a stretch.
"Who said we're selling him?" Blondie asked.
"Why else would you have him here?" Grace asked.
"Decoration?" Blondie suggested. "He's just so handsome."
An old timer. Grace hadn't realize that he was one of the few remaining people who had already been old when humanity stopped aging.

      The Immortality Virus is a dark dystopian Science Fiction novel by Christine Amsden. It's an action-packed, fast-paced and thrilling book, spiced up with mystery and sprinkled with a tiny bit of romance. Everything is perfectly balanced, making this book a great treat for every Science Fiction fan.

     The story takes place in the far future, sometime around the year 2450, which is 400 hundred years after The Change, an event that caused people to stop aging and dying from natural causes. The world is in chaos. People are forced to live on the streets. They're dying from cold and hunger or they end up being slaves on the farms outside the city. The planet is overpopulated, the Rebellions are bombing public places, in hope to kill as many people as possible. It's a dark, violent and deeply depressing world, in which only the rich people, The Establishment, can live a long and healthy life. Everyone else lives in constant fear and poverty.

     Grace Harper, the heroin of this story, is a private investigator, who once worked for Kansas City Police Department. Many years ago she saved a female reporter from being killed by two vagrants, killing one of the attackers in the process. Unfortunately for Grace, as it later turned out, the "vagrant" he killed was actually a son of one of the wealthiest people in Kansas City, and, as we all know, people like that have the power and connections to easily get anyone killed. She was lucky enough not to get a death sentence, but her carrier was undeniably over. Grace was officially blacklisted, which meant she would never be able to get a legitimate job for any company owned by The Establishment or the government.

     The story starts with Grace being offered an investigation job, by a CEO of a Medicorp company, Matt Stanton. Mr. Stanton wants Grace to find Jordan Lacklin, a scientists who once worked for Medicorp. He was working on a cure for Alzheimer's disease for his wife, who was diagnosed with it. In the process, he discovered that aging, linked to all kinds of conditions, including Alzheimer's, was caused by humans own generic structure and that it could be turned off. Not long after this discovery Jordan disappeared without a trace and the humanity stopped aging. Matt offers Grace a very generous amount of money for finding Jordan and bringing him back to Medicorp, so that, as he claims, he could ask him to reverse the effects of the "immortality virus". Grace, knowing that refusal equals death, accepts the offer and agrees to take the job. With that starts a thrilling roller-coaster ride, filled with danger, mystery, life-threatening events and unexpected twists and turns, all leading to a bone-chilling and surprising conclusion.

     It took me 4 days to finish the book. Not because it wasn't engaging enough or it failed to hold my interest, not at all! Quite to the contrary, I was very captivated by the story, to the point that I often found myself just sitting in the room, and pondering upon the issues raised by this amazing book. It made me wonder how our lives would look like if we really managed to stop the aging process completely? What would happen to the human race, to the Earth? How would this affect us? Christine's book is so brilliantly written that I found myself totally absorbed in the world of 2450. It was a disturbing and disquieting read, a delicious dystopian treat! I would definitely recommend this book to all Science Fiction and dystopian fans, you can't go wrong with it! And don't let the cover put you off! It might not be the most gorgeous cover we've ever seen, but trust me when I say, the content of the book is absolutely fantastic!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hunger Games cast news!

Dear Hunger Games fans! I have some casting news for you today :) There have been many casting announcements made lately and here's what we know so far:

Katniss Everdeen: will be played by Jennifer Lawrence.

Most of you probably saw her in "Winter's Bone" (an adaptation of Daniel Woodrell's 2006 novel of the same name)

Gale Hawthorn: will be played by Liam Hensworth.

You might know him from The Last Song, Knowing, and Triangle.

Peeta Mellark: will be played by Josh Hutcherson. 

His most known roles include Journey to the Center of the Earth and Bridge to Terabithia.

Effie Trinket: will be played by Elizabeth Banks.

Her recent works include Spiderman, Zack and Miri Make A Porno, and 40-Year Old Virgin.

Primrose Everdeen: will be played by Willow Shields who is debuting young actress!

Rue: will be played by another debuting young actress, Amandla Stenberg.

Thresh: played by Dayo Okaniyi, who's yet another debuting actor in the movie world!

Glimmer: will be played by Leven Rambin. She's played in quite a few TV shows, including All My Children, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, One Tree Hill, and Grey's Anatomy just to name a few.

That's all we know for now. 
Personally I love the choice of actress for the role of Katniss. I saw Winter's Bone and although the movie itself didn't blow my mind, I really loved Jennifer and how she played! She was brilliant! I think she will make a wonderful Katniss :)

Peta? Meh, could have been better. I somehow can not imagine Josh in this role. Can you? I mean, he has this amazing sensitivity painted all over his face.. which fits the role perfectly, but other than that he just looks like a .. kid! 

Gale! I didn't have a chance to see any of Liam's movies yet, so I don't really know what kind of actor he is, but judging my his physical appearance, this was definitely a good choice! He does look like Jen's cousin, doesn't he? And most certainly he looks like a skilled hunter! Nice, nice! :D 

I really like the choice of actresses for Prim and Rue, both girls look just like I imagined the characters to be! And it's really nice to see some new faces for once! 

Effie? Oh my, I dunno.. I saw all the movies with Elizabeth Banks and I do love her as a comedy actress, but I'm not quite sure if this was the right choice for the role of Effie.

What do you guys think about the cast?

Ebooks in the Classroom? by Amy Jones (Guest Post Time!!!)

I'm very excited to welcome Amy Jones to Bookish today!
Amy is a YA fantasy fiction writer and her debut novel, Soul Quest, was one of my top favorite reads of this year! I've been lucky enough to interview Amy before, as well as review her brilliant novel. Here are the links to both posts: Soul Quest review, Amy Jones interview.

Guys, please give a warm welcome to Amy...

About Amy:
I am a 1993 graduate of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro where I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Dance Education. I have seventeen years of experience in education and currently teach Dance and Theater Arts to high school students in southeastern North Carolina. Dancing, acting and writing are all forms of communication. Each form requires exceptional creativity and passion to inspire and impress an audience. I have enjoyed a passion for reading, writing, and the arts since I was a child. As an adult I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to share my passion for the arts with children. It only seems appropriate that delving into the world of teen fiction would be the next logical step in my life.

Visit Amy's website for the Spring Blog Carnival hop (May 1st - May 8th) and get a free copy of her amazing YA fantasy novel - Soul Quest!!!

How awesome is that?
It's a limited time offer, so hurry up and grab it! :)

Ebooks in the Classroom? by Amy Jones

I recently read an article about the prospect of Ebooks replacing textbooks in the classroom.  I remembered instantly what a pain it was (literally) to lug a huge book sack over stuffed with high school curriculum to and from school everyday.  You remember that picture, Literature, Arithmetic, Science and Social Studies busting at the seams, day in and day out.  Just imagine what it would be like to have all of that knowledge at your fingertips in an instant on an ereader device.  I suppose it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise to me.  As a teacher I’ve seen technology pave its way slowly, yet consistently into the nooks and crannies of our schools over the past several decades.  Video projectors were first replaced by VCR’s and finally DVD players.  Those green grading books became networked programs through out a state wide system.  Instead of scratching numbers into a tiny box, teachers plunk them into a computer database and export them.  Chalkboards have become whiteboards, overhead projector images are now on power point, students demonstrate oral report presentations using Video Maker and the old musty Apple computer lab in the back of the school has transformed into a portable Del laptop laboratory. 

Has all of this changed how kids are learning in the classroom?  You bet it has.  It has engaged them deeper in the learning process, furthering their understanding of the curriculum. So, what does the emergence of ebooks equal in this equation?  More kids reading? Maybe.  Children in today’s world are entirely tuned in to technology.  They have cell phones, ipods, laptop computers, Zunes, Wii, Xbox, accounts on Facebook and Twitter… you get the drift.  When you really think about it, if you want to encourage a child to read into today’s society it almost sounds crazy to consider handing them a paper bound book.  You might as well hand them an old forty – five record or VHS video.  The reality is traditional books may become obsolete sooner than we believe. Many school systems in the more affluent areas have already traded in their bound textbooks for ebook formatted curriculum. Instead of passing out textbooks on the first day of school teachers are downloading the documents to their student’s laptops.  Colleges and universities are doing the same thing on a greater scale.

What does this mean for the writing industry? What does this mean for indie authors? I know many of us love to feel the weight of a book in our hands as our fingers sift through the pages. There is nothing like the scent of fresh ink on paper, or in contrast, the weightlessness of the paper thin worn copy of your favorite novel that you’ve read at least twenty times.  Never the less, I believe a Golden Era in publishing may be on the approach.  I believe many would argue it has already emerged and a revolution in writing dawns upon us.  What do you think? Please interject your thoughts. I would love to hear your opinion.

Both Amy and I would love to hear your opinion on the subject! What do you guys think about the prospect of eBooks replacing textbooks in the classrooms? Let us know in the comments below!

Amy, thank you so much  for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us here today! It's always a great pleasure to talk to you.  I am  looking forward to the next installment in the Soul Quest Trilogy!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Wasteland (The Kin Trilogy #1) - Patricia Williams (review)

Genre:Science Fiction, Fantasy, YA
Publication Date  March 14th, 2011
Word count:3743
Where to get:B&N, Amazon,
Website:Wasteland (The Kin Trilogy #1) 
Wasteland - Goodreads

     One year ago, Becca Wilkinson changed the lives of dozens of people. Now, one word will change her life forever...

Becca Wilkinson is a nobody, and those that are aware of her existence know her as "that quiet girl in the back of class", "loser", or her favorite-"that chick that killed all those people."

While most people at Leeville High have long forgotten Becca's role in the devastating car wreck that happened over a year ago, she still has nightmares. Her memories are in fragments and what little she remembers doesn't make sense--things like hearing voices and moving things without touching them.

New at Leeville, Luke Johnston has all the girls at Leeville eating out of the palm of his hand...except Becca. There's something dark and dangerous about him that she distrusts. But he's drawn to Becca, despite her rebuffs. Luke knows something about her...the true nature behind the accident.

Becca will have to let her guard down if she wants answers--but can she handle the truth?

     "I thought about how nice it would be to see Mona go to bump into someone and the person decide to stick out their leg. It would be exactly what she deserved.
      Just as the thought rolled out, it was like some invisible arm reached out and shoved her."
"Who does this guy think he is? I thought angrily. I fought the urge to say something particularly rude. Like how I wouldn't date him if my life depended on it. Or how the tattoos that colored his arms looked like they were drawn by a 5 year old."

     Becca Wilkinson is just another quiet and "invisible" 17-year-old girl. She's smart, she does well in school, but she doesn't want to be noticed. She does everything to avoid standing out in the crowd. Even though she could easily get straight A's in every subject, she maintains a "safe" 3.0 average, to avoid drawing too much attention to herself. Together with her best friend, Patrice, they're doing their best to get through their days at Leeville High.

     Ever since the horrible car crash, she caused exactly one year ago, Becca has been a loner and an outcast. She doesn't remember much about what happened during the accident, only bits and pieces of memories, but it's enough to make her life miserable. Unable to deal with the guilt, Becca is haunted by nightmares and suffers severe panic attacks. As if this wasn't enough, weird things are happening to her. She is starting to hear people's thoughts. She also discovers that when she's under stress, she has the ability to influence people and make them act in a certain way, to control them. And things just keep on getting weirder. She learns that her panic attacks are not really panic attacks at all, and that the pills she was taking are not exactly antidepressants either. One shocking discovery leads to another, and so Rebecca's whole world, everything she believed in, falls apart. She's going to have to face the truth about herself, who she is and where she's from, and she will be forced to make some tough choices.

     Wasteland by Patricia Williams is definitely one of my top favorite debut novels of 2011. The storyline is fantastically unique and fresh. It's a fast-paced read, the plot develops very quickly and there is this really awesome tension to it, that makes you squeeze the eReader tightly in anticipation of what will happen next. It's unpredictable, I was very surprised to find out who Becca really was and what she could do. There's a great deal of uncertainty here, the story is so brilliantly constructed that the reader is never really able to predict anything. In the first book we have many burning questions and only a few answers. I enjoyed the twists very much, this novel keeps you captivated and it's just impossible to put it down. It's one of the best page turners I've ever read.

     Becca went through many hardships, yet she's not a winy or overly melodramatic character. Quite to the contrary, she has a strong and likeable personality, she never backs down, she stands up for herself and tries to do, what she thinks is right. Same goes for the rest of the characters, each and every single one of them is very vivid and real, it's easy to imagine them and either like them, or hate them. The story is being told in first person narrative and it definitely works to its advantage, making it very dynamic.
     I loved Patricia's writing style, she is no doubt a very promising and talented author and I can't wait to read the next installments in The Kin series. If you like Young Adult dystopian and/or fantasy novels, you just have to add this book to your collection, it's a must read!


Friday, April 22, 2011

Zaftan Entrepreneurs, Book One of the Zaftan Trilogy by Hank Quense (review)

Genre:Science Fiction, Fantasy
Publication Date:January 31st 2011
Where to get:B&N, Amazon,
Create Space:Zaftan Entrepreneurs 
Zaftan Entrepreneurs - Goodreads

     The Zaftans are coming! These aliens are 7 foot 400 pound squid-like creatures with a nasty disposition (when they are in a good mood)

     An alien mining ship from Zaftan 31B discovers Gundarland and orbits the planet. Initial scans show promising mining sites that could yield exotic minerals ladened with rare elements. The zaftan crew launch robotic explorers which do considerable damage to private property and enrage the native population. At the center of the explored territory, Drakin Gemseeker, a dwarf miner, and Leslie Higginbottom, the only constable in the area, are attracted to each other, but the alien incursion comes between them. The politicians in Dun Hythe, the capital, have worked a deal with a zaftan negotiator and the constable must protect the robotic explorers, much to Higginbottom's dismay. Meanwhile, MacDrakin's mining property is twice invaded by robots and he destroys both of them. The second one was armed and fired a weapon at him. MacDrakin declares war on the aliens and the robots and vows to destroy them all.
     With Higginbottom ordered to protect the robots and MacDrakin hunting them down, their budding romance falters and seems doomed. On the space ship, the zaftan captain, Yunta, is furious at the loss of so many expensive robots. When an extensive mineral deposit is discovered underneath the town, Yunta sees an opportunity to avenge the loss of the explorers. She orders the mineral deposit mined without regard to the town or its inhabitants. She dispatches as many crew members as possible to protect the mining machines and remaining robots.
     MacDrakin, in the meantime, has assembled a small army and intends to defend the town. If he can defeat the zaftans and drive them away, he hopes that will also clear the way for him to resume romancing Higginbottom.


"Penelope Hogsfoot formulated the Three Laws of Thermo-Necromancy: Magic can be altered, but it can not be created or destroyed; The universe never gets tidier; When it's really, really cold out, magic is hard to do."
"(...)Wot does abdi-whatever mean?" a half-pint male asked.
"It means he quit", she replied.
"Why didn't they just say that?"
"They're bureaucrats. They need to use big words to make themselves feel important. (...)"
"Dwarf romance was fraught with peril because both males and females grew beards."

     Zaftan Entrepreneurs is an extremely funny and highly entertaining science fantasy novel by Hank Quense. This book has everything: humor, adventure, magic, war, aliens, fantasy creatures and humans. Spiced up with a hilarious political satire and a healthy dose of romance, it's a delightful fast-paced and engaging read, that will leave you craving for more. I can promise you that it's nothing like you've ever read before!

     The story takes off when a Zaftan space ship approaches the Gundar planet. Zaftans are rather repulsive looking, squid-like creatures, standing seven feet tall and weighing over 400 pounds, with grayish skin oozing green slime. Oh, and did I mention that they don't wear clothes? It's because the slime makes most cloth materials smolder and eventually catch fire. Not only do they look nasty, but they're also quite snarly and treacherous, even toward their own kind. They come from a planet called Zaftan 31B, colorless and depressing place, permanently covered with dark clouds. Living on a planet nearly deployed of natural resources, zaftans are forced to explore the space.

     During one of the exploration voyages a zaftan space ship, commanded by Captain Yunta, comes across Gundar, a bluish planet populated by diverse races, such as dwarfs, elves, humans, half-pints, yuks and others. After a brief analysis of the surface, Yunta decides to send Shtap, one of her officers, to negotiate the mining treaty with the leader of the natives. After learning the language of the natives, Shtap pays a visit to the president of Gundarland, Albert Webley. In exchange for the mining permission, he offers to teach them how to clean up the pollution and keep their water clean. Shtap says, they will use robotic explorers to explore the surface of the planet and promises to respect the property rights and the people. The officials, tempted by the prospect of having their pollution problem solved, agree to the treaty. Everything seems to be going well for zaftans, up until the point when the robotic explorers start trespassing and causing damage to the private properties. One thing zaftans don't yet realize is how feisty a  creature each Gundarians can be when it comes to protecting his/her land and property. Zaftans are about to learn their lesson the hard way!
     I haven't read any previous novels from Hank Quense, but in this one, he definitely makes his great talent clear. Hank is no doubt an ingenious comedic writer, blessed with intellect and the ability to make the reader laugh out loud. It really doesn't even matter whether you're a fantasy or science fiction fan, if you like a good laugh, this is definitely a book for you. Zaftan Entrepreneurs is remarkably fresh and consistently funny, very Pratchett-ish! The characters in this book are fascinating and even the smallest ones are very relevant to the plot. I loved how the story was told from many different perspectives, all of them complementary to each other. I enjoyed the story and the humor a lot, I found it extremely hard to put this book down and I'm definitely looking forward to the second part of Zaftan Trilogy!

     So is there anyone I wouldn't recommend this book to? Well, yes, actually, there is. If your book shelf consist mostly of YA/Paranormal novels, you might not find this book to be a good fit for you. It definitely takes a rather mature and open minded reader to fully appreciate the political satire (which by the way, is oh!-so-genius!). But if you're one of the people who can "think outside the box" and you feel like a good laugh, then by all means, grab the book and start reading! You definitely won't be disappointed!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle (review)

Genre:Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publication Date:1962
Where to get:B&N, Amazon,
MACMILLAN:A Wrinkle in Time
A Wrinkle in Time - Goodreads

     Meg's father mysteriously disappears after experimenting with the fifth dimension of time travel. Determined to rescue him, Meg and her friends must outwit the forces of evil on a heart-stopping journey through space and time. A commemorative edition with an Introduction by the author. A Newbery Medal winner.

"No" Charles Wallace said. "I have to go on. We have to make our own decisions, and we can't make them if they're based on fear."
"Maybe I don't like being different," Meg said, "but I don't want to be like everybody else, either."
"The heart has its reasons whereof reason knows nothing."

     A Wrinkle in Time is a wonderful and heart-warming science fiction novel by Madeleine L'Engle. First in series of books about Murry and O'Keefe families, it's a classic Young Adult book, one, that every YA fan should have on his/her shelf.

     The heroin of this story is a young and incredibly talented in math, Meg Murry. She is one extraordinary and unique girl, perhaps even a little bit too much than she'd like to be, as it makes it hard for her to fit in at school. Troubled by personal insecurities, Meg seems to be lonely and often misunderstood. The braces she's wearing, together with her thick glasses and always messy hair, only add to the image of a weird, "awkward" and troublesome kid.

     Meg's family is not one of the ordinary kind either. Both her parents are scientists. Her mom is a stunningly beautiful woman, with degrees in both bacteriology and biology. Her father, a physicist, is gone working on some kind of Top Secret project and no one knows exactly where  he is or when will he be back. Meg has three brothers and she loves them all very much, especially the youngest one, Charles Wallace. Charles is an adorable and gifted five-year-old boy. He didn't talk until he reached the age of four, at which time he began speaking in full sentences. Even now he doesn't really speak to anyone except for his own family, which leads people to believe he is "a moron". One of Charles' many talents, is being able to emphatically or telepathically "read" certain people's thoughts and feelings.

     The story begins with the unexpected visit of Mrs. Whatsit on a dark and stormy evening. Although she appears to be just an ordinary elderly woman wrapped in layers of clothes, she's actually a celestial creature and her true form is a centaur-like winged being. Just like Mrs. Which and Mrs. Who, she once was a star, who sacrificed itself by exploding in order to destroy a section of the Black Thing, an evil being attacking the universe. After drying her feet and having a snack with Meg's family, Mrs. Whatsit is ready to leave. However, before she does, she tells Mrs. Murry that "there is such a thing as a tesseract". This seems to upset Meg's mom a lot and nearly causes her to faint.

     Meg is set on discovering what this term refers to and how is it related to disappearance of her father. The following morning, accompanied by her brother, Charles, and a school friend, Calvin O'Keefe, she goes to visit an old haunted house near town, where Mrs. Whatsit lives together with her two friends, Mrs. Who and Mrs.Which. There Mrs. Whatsit reveals to children that the universe is under attack of evil forces. She tells them that their father, while working on a secret project to achieve faster-than-light travel, was accidentally trapped on Camazots, an alien planet controlled by the Black Thing. She also explains what a tesseract is and that they could use it to travel to Camazots in order to save Mr.Murry.
     This will be the beginning of their great and dangerous adventure through time and space.

     Wrinkle in Time is no doubt one of the greatest works of literature for kids. It's an inspiring and empowering book, that teaches us about friendship, love, courage, importance of individuality and non-conformity. If you ever felt "different" or lonely, if you had to deal with loss of someone close to you - this is the book for you.
     It's one of the very few books I will surely be re-reading in the future! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I can't wait to pick up the next book in the series.

Other titles in the Time Quintet series are:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

These Dark Things - Jan Merete Weiss (ARC review)

Genre:Mystery, Crime
Publication Date:May 10th 2011
Where to get:B&N, Amazon,
Soho Press:These Dark Things
These Dark Things - Goodreads

     When a beautiful college student is found murdered in the catacombs beneath a monastary, Captain Natalia Monte of the Carabinieri is assigned to investigate. Could the killer be a professor the student had been sleeping with? A blind monk who loved her? Or perhaps a member of the brutal Napali criminal organization, the Camorra? As Natalia pursues her investigation, the crime families of Naples go to war over garbage-hauling contracts; and all across the city heaps of trash pile up, uncollected. When one of Natalia's childhood friends is caught up in the violence, her loyalties are tested, and each move she makes threatens her own life and the lives of those she loves. 

Since this was an ARC I am not allowed to publish any quotes yet, I will add them after the official publication date!

     These Dark Things is an interesting and captivating mystery novel set in Naples, Italy. It's a pleasant and satisfying read, that leaves you craving for more.

     Gina Falcone is one of the last "bone cleaners". Her job is to prepare the bones for the second burial, an ancient practice going back to Egyptians. When she goes to the local church to collect the bones for cleaning, she discovers a corpse of a beautiful young girl. The victim, a young student from Germany, has been brutally stabbed in the heart, yet not even a single drop of blood has been found near her body. Captain Natalia Monte, member of the RAS elite within the national police (Carabinieri), is called in to investigate the murder. She and her partner, Sergeant Pino Loriano, will do everything it takes to find the murderer.

     It's nothing like I've ever read before. I was prepared to be served a simple murder mystery, instead I got an excellent mix of culture, history, crime, political issues, personal drama and even a tiny bit of romance.  J.M. Weiss skillfully incorporated many interesting historical and cultural facts into solid and well-thought-out plot. The characters were brilliantly depicted and vivid, the detailed descriptions made even the minor ones stood out.
     I found it really interesting to read about Italian traditions and customs, political issues and conflicts with local criminal organization (Camorra). I must say, I'm deeply impressed by the amount of research the author must have done for this book.

     The mystery itself was a solid one. Just when I was starting to feel a little bit disappointed at how easily Natalia solved the murder, a few unexpected incidents and twists came up along the way and I finished the book with the soothing feeling of satisfaction. I can't say I got attached to the characters, nor was I especially fond of them. Despite the colorful and detailed descriptions, the characters lacked emotions and were a little bit... flat. But looking at the whole construction of the plot, I can understand why it seemed like it, after all there was so much going on on the 224 pages of the book. In the end I was pleasantly surprised at how the author concluded the story. What at first seemed like a simple and easy to solve mystery, suddenly gained a whole new perspective and so much more depth, I thought it was absolutely brilliant!

     I would really like to get to know the characters better and see them solve more mysteries, so I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment in the series.
     I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery novel with an interesting cultural and historical background. You won't be disappointed!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Heaven Sent - Xavier Leret (review)

Genre:                           Contemporary Fiction
Year:                              2011
Word count:                  5158                            
Where to get:               Smashwords, Amazon,
Author's Website:       Xavier Leret
                                       Xavier's Goodreads Page

     Sixteen year old Carlo has no experience of the world. He desperately wants eternity to provide an alternative to the strict moral imperative of his Catholic parents. When Daizee Byatt, a girl from the other side of the tracks, crashes into Carlo's life, the course of his future veers off the road. This is the story of what Heaven Sent. 

He pictured Daizee lying in a field, broken, naked, on her front. Saw himself searching for her, trolling the whole of Bristol, every building site, every disused building, the Downs, Leigh Woods and finally, after walking out into the countryside, seeing her from a distance. A white blur, it could be anything but he knew it was her, could feel it in his stomach. Throughout his search he knew that this was how it would end, that she hadn't abandoned him, but had been taken from him. Falling to his knees to take her up in his arms, his lips brush with her hair. Carlo bit his pillow, choked and as he told her that he loved her again and again he could not control himself from soaking his pillow with tears.
Carlo watched and wondered that if there was eternal life whether it would involve going to church everyday, or would God demand that you just kneel forever in his light and occasionally get up when it was your turn to make the tea.

     Mix together Romeo and Juliette with Bonnie and Clyde and throw them into J.D Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and you'll get an explosive, brilliant and breath taking novel: Heaven Sent, by debut author Xavier Leret.

     Superficially the story of two young people from the opposite worlds, undeniably drawn to each other, Heaven Sent is in fact a perceptive study of one's individual understanding of his human condition. It's a heavy and dark story which deals with some big, hard-hitting topics like social prejudices, religious beliefs, child abuse and prostitution.

     Carlo is a sixteen year old boy from a deeply Catholic family in Bristol, England. He grows up the only child in a severely religious household and is being forced to follow strict rules of Catholic Church. It seems that he's suffocating under the pressure his parents are putting on him to be perfect, pure and devoted. He's not allowed to have normal social interactions with his peers, which makes him feel disconnected and lonely. Lost and confused, he struggles to make sense out of the world around him.

     His world is turned upside down when he crashes into a young girl on the street. Daisy is a young prostitute, with a beautiful face and heavy Bristolian accent. Her childhood was a nightmare, she was abused, repeatedly molested and then forced to make a living by selling her body on the streets. She didn't have anyone she could trust to, no one ever made her feel safe, loved or understood. Carlo was the first person to reach out to her in attempt to help her. The only one to accept and love her for who she was.

     So what happens when these two opposite worlds come crashing together? Be prepared for a wild emotional roller coaster ride! I was captured by Xavier's exquisite writing and his ability to depict the world so vividly, it made the characters seem so very real. Especially Daisy, with her lines written with thick Bristolian accent. Once i started reading, I found it virtually impossible to put this book down. It was absolutely phenomenal!

     Is there anyone I wouldn't recommend this book to? Yes. I would say the content of the book, as well as coarse language makes this book not suitable for people under the age of 16 (maybe even 18). Also, if you're one of the people who get annoyed at the lack of speech marks, you might find it a little bit difficult to read it. I, personally, found it mildly irritating, for sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between dialogue and narration parts.

     Overall, I had a wonderful time reading this book. It left me speechless. I know I will be thinking about Carlo and Daisy for a long time!

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