Friday, July 25, 2014

A Hollow Dream - Eternal Autumn by Andrew Van Wey

Back when I was still living in Singapore, I was approached to review Forsaken by Andrew Van Wey. I loved, and raved over, it so much that I was given the opportunity to review A Hollow Dream of Summer's End. That was almost two years ago, so imagined how surprised I was to learn that there is a sequel to A Hollow Dream of Summer's End, and yay, I got a review copy for that too!

Without giving too many spoilers, Aiden from the first book has died. And now, he's in Everland, a world completely different from the world we know. Here, Aiden meets his grandfather, a city of children, a charismatic leader and a whole host of secrets. What's a dead boy to do?

Ok, that last sentence made it sound as though this book is for kids. It's not. The language is stronger is this book, and the horror is for adults too. Aiden goes through "trials", where he sees the lives of those left behind. That's going to speak to adults, or anyone that has contemplated death. And trust me, those trials were scary. It hit very close to me, being one of those who have lost a loved one.

The strength of this book has to be in the immersive world. As the new kid, Aiden gets to learn about this strange world, and we learn with him. It's fascinating, and I don't think that the depths of this strange limbo has been fully dealt with. In fact, the plot of this book hinges on how this world works - this is where the setting really ties in with the plot.

I'm so glad that there's a sequel, because I want to read more. Horror's not really my genre, but I'm making an exception for all of Andrew Van Wey's books. They're addictive reading - if you want to stay up all night reading with a flashlight (or with the artificial light from an ereader), choose one of his books.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a free and honest review. The gushing was done of my own free will.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Hatmaker's Heart by Carla Stewart

This is one of those books where I'll invariably feel torn if I have to give it a rating. I enjoyed the story, but I felt it was quite different from what the blurb was. So, ignoring the blurb, here's my synopsis of the story:

Nell Marchworld may be related to English nobility, but in New York, she's just a lowly hat-maker. However, one of her hats catches the eye of a wealthy client and she's introduced to more and more opportunities. However, her boss is so terrible that she wonders if she'll ever achieve the success she wants. Oh, and there's something in there about a romance too.

For me, the enjoyable part of the story would be reading about Nell's struggle to make a success of herself. She's clearly a talented hatmaker, but way too unassertive (I feel her pain, I'd probably be unassertive in her case too). The problem is that her designs are too modern for her stuffy old-school boss, who happens to be a quit. The obvious thing to do would be to quit, but the chance of having her own label means that Nell will slog through whatever hardships her boss puts in her way.

And that childhood friend Quentin? Well, she definitely pines for him the whole novel, but I never saw a hint of him liking her. I mean, that guy has a girlfriend and, at one point, was engaged to said girlfriend. As far as the I could tell, he wasn't interested in her.

But an even bigger disappointment than the "love story" would be the ending. There's supposed to be a twist, but personally, it felt very forced and unbelievable. Nell spends the whole book being mentally abused by her boss, but she leaves because of... something her boss did (and not something he did to her, or a friend). I can't say that I was convinced by the ending.

Overall, I enjoyed most of the novel. I didn't even mind the lack of love story, since that's never a main pull for me. However, the forced ended let me down.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hipstopia by R.A. Desilets

Hipstopia was written by Google+'s +Rachel Desilets. In fact, I got to know about the book through Google+! Does this make me hipster? I'm not sure, since I don't even know what a hipster is.

But, even with my woeful lack of knowledge of contemporary culture and subculture, I found this short novel to be an entertaining read. It envisions a world where the hipsters have broken away from America to form.... Hipstopia. There, everyone is unique - which is to say that everyone smokes, drinks coffee and wears glasses. That would be me, except that I don't smoke or drink coffee. Darn, I wanted to ride on one of those scooters too!

Anyway, while Hipstopia seems like the perfect place, free of marketing from the Big Corporations (and with seven, count'em seven choices!), it's not. At least that's what Jay, the right hand man of the guy running Hipstopia is starting to find out. When he gets sent to quiet a disturbance, he meets prisoner number forty seven, a beautiful girl that grabs his attention immediately. Add that to a shock that he receives when he accidentally kills someone and Jay is disillusioned with the place.

Personally, I found Jay's escape from Hipstopia too easy. While this book is supposed the first in a series, the latter half felt rather free of conflict. Sure, there's a covert war going on between Hipstopia and the rest of America, but Jay seems to resolve his problems a bit too easily.

Overall though, this was an entertaining book. I'm not sure if I want to read more yet, but I suppose the blurb of book two (which I haven't seen yet) will convince me yes or no.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by mark haddon

This book is really famous, and I've been meaning to read this book for ages, but I've never gotten to doing it (strange right?). So today, while I was browsing Ranbow Plaza for something to read while taking a break from studying, I found it and decided to read it.

Here's to hoping that it lives up to the hype and is a wonderful read.

My teaser:

I like Sherlock Holmes, but I do not like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was the author of the Sherlock Holmes series. That is because he wasn't like Sherlock Holmes and he believed in the supernatural. (Page 88)

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB of ShouldBeReading. To participate, share a two sentence teaser along with the title and author of the book.

What is your teaser this week?