Saturday, 22 June 2013

A Veil of Glass and Rain by Petra F. Bagnardi

A Veil of Glass and Rain

*Copy of book provided by Petra F. Bagnardi in return for an honest review*

I'm not sure how to begin my review of this book in a formal manner, so I'm just going to start with what comes to mind first.

The Writing:

To me, this is the most crucial aspect of a book. It's the number one thing I consider when writing my own book because writing that is cheap and tasteless really isn't authentic (I have a few books in mind). Some people can read a things like Fifty Shades of Grey and enjoy it despite the quality of the "prose" being weak. I certainly can not. I've experienced this a lot with other contemporary novels that have such themes of romance and erotica, though I won't name any more as they're irrelevant and it would be unfair.

I digress. Anyway, I actually enjoyed the writing in this book. I'm a visual person and I enjoy any type of writing that is poetic and portrays strong and aesthetically pleasing visuals. I think that Petra Bagnardi's writing is reminiscent to that of Tahereh Mafi's, regarding the ways in which they both manage to captivate the readers interest through poetic imagery. The writing is particularly effective in it's depictions of beautiful Rome and the story's steamy romance scenes.

Concept & Plot:

There wasn't a whole lot of movement within the plot that is set in the present tense, but that is because the narrative directs us from chapters past to present, in a snapshot type of style. We also get to see different segments of the story told from both main characters, Brina and Eagen's POV.

Characters and Relationship's:

The dynamic between the two main characters, Brina and Eagen is interesting because firstly, it wasn't a typical all-American 'girl meets boy in college and they fall in love' type of romance. There is a significant age gap of five years between the two. Brina met Eagen when she was nine years old and he was fourteen. Eagen began to crave Brina when he was twenty-one and she was sixth-teen. Despite the difference in age, gender and race, they bonded through their loneliness and otherwise similar situation. The relationship between them however, turns from a comforting family bond to that of a sexually intimate and lustful one, as the pair grow up and their story unfolds.

In general, the story takes you through the journey and development of this type of complicated relationship, along with troubles that coincide along the way.

Thank you to Petra F. Bagnardi for kindly giving me her story and allowing me to delve into her characters and writing.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Callum & Harper (Sleepless #1) by Fisher Amelie

Callum & Harper (The Sleepless Series, #1)

Rating:  Solid 4*

I didn't plan on buying this but was captivating by the first sentence and so ended up reading the full sample before proceeding to unexpectedly read the full thing in one day. I've been waiting a long time to read a sweet and innocent YA story such as this, that takes the readers through a touching journey of the difficult graft of two really cute but misfortune souls, wronged all their life by the actions of others, just trying to survive life's hardships. It's a sweet, gut-wrenching, heart stopping (John gave me flippin' hives), nail biting and frustrating story of an adorable pair; hard to put down.

Avoiding Responsibility by K.A. Linde

Rating: 2*

I can't see myself finishing this book anymore after having abandoned it 3 weeks ago. Basically, I got fed up of the writing style. I really hate having to criticize authors on the way they write because I believe in everyone having the freedom to write in their own unique style no matter how eloquent or opposingly, non-sophisticated it is. But...(the big B-U-T)...

For me, the writing was too repetitive and heavy, and I lost patience to the point where I ended up leaving the book nearly half way through. There were too many sentences in between a couple of lines of dialogue which I couldn't seem to digest, and I ended up skim reading nearly everything after I realized that having read those sentences (interior thoughts of the narrator etc), I was non the wiser and was neither absorbed or intrigued on reading more.

It's a shame because I hate leaving books unfinished, and I do kind of want to know about some of the lies and secrecy, but everything was dragged out far too much and for too long that I ended up losing interest. I did enjoy the first book and even rated it with 4 stars based on the levels of nostalgia, excitement and angst present between characters. 

If the author reads this review, I hope it doesn't sting too much. I know, being a writer myself, how much work, effort and determination creating a story like this consists of.

Lastly, I have to be brutally honest and say that I detested every single character in this book. I couldn't swallow their immaturity, lack of control, morals or self respect, naivety, sex obsessions... I could list a few more stemmed by my personal upbringing and moral attitude but don't want to berate the author too much. I would like to address the author directly however, and say that you, K.A. Linde, have a lot of potential and a knack for creating awesome sexual tension. Listen to your readers and their criticism in order to become a whole lot better. :)

Thoughtless (Thoughtless #1) by S.C. Stephens

Rating: 4.75*
Five stars solely based on the fact that this book was written with so much emotion that I felt it and cried so much in the hospital and airport extracts that I was sick. Yes , I hurled but in my defense, it was also due to the fact that I was feeling particularly panicky about my college exam deadlines and I hadn't eaten at all.

I don't know why I held off from reading this book for so long; I think because it was not what I expected. Instead, it was so much better. I'm satisfied with it, almost to the point where I don't even feel a need to read the second and third book; as the first suffices as a single book just nicely; but curiosity always gets the better of me so I know i'll end up reading them some time soon.

Kellan cries too much but I'll let it pass since he is so lovely. I can hardly judge his character since he is such a scarred and emotionally damaged guy but damn, he really is a softie under all that rock star persona and those striking looks.

Another think I need to comment on is the fact that these characters were flawed and believable. They were realistic portrayed. One of the aspects I value most highly within an authors writing is the way they write their characters. They need to stand out but at the same time be realistic, and I believe S.C Stephens achieved this.

5* for an addictive read

Vain by Fisher Amelie

Rating: 4*
So I really should be outside making the most of the current few days of British summer that we rarely have here in Newcastle, but I just spent all of yesterday reading it and now want to review! 

The concept of this book would have made it five stars if the writing had of been to a higher standard (not saying it was particularly bad) and also had it not been for the amount of typos, grammatical errors and the rushed ending.

Firstly, I'm one of those people who gets easily put off a book by its grammatical errors, because it comes across to me as unprofessional and it tends to draw me out of the book making it less engaging for me. Based on this fact alone, I would normally rate a book 2.5*/3* however I really did love the ideas, characters and message conveyed by this story.

I have to thank the girls in one of the group discussion that I'd set for TSoT because I had no intentions of reading this because the cover and blurb didn't interest me, however, the girls were adamant about me reading it so I gave it a try. When I read someone else's review of this where they briefly explained some of the books concept and plot, that's when I was really taken.

I'll tell you what I liked:

1) Ian. 

Mmmm-Mmmmmm Damn! He reminds me of Gale from the Hunger Games and I bloody love me some Gale type characters ;)

2) Sophie. I hated her at the start and that's what I admired about how the author wrote this book. Instead of having the all too common endearing, angelic and innocent thinking character with a light conscience, Sophie was a bitch. Not just a bitch, she was far worse. I loved her journey, her character development and her redemption. 

3) The other heart warming characters, especially Karina; she reminded me of a lovely lady I once knew :)

4) The depictions of the scenes in Uganda. They were subtle but visually effective and not overly described to becoming mundane.

5) The book somewhat bring awareness of the real life situation of Joseph Kony and the LRA in Uganda, and allows the reader to sympathize with the poor Ugandans. 

Now the things that kept me from giving 5 stars:

1) The typos (already explained)

2)The ending. The epilogue and ending in general was just a bit too peachy for my taste and far too rushed, availing little conclusion. 

3) I wish the book had of been longer! I feel like it should be because firstly, Sophie's past life took up a relatively large fraction of the book; I think it was 20% of the story. 

Secondly, I feel like there should have been a few more chapters in the book that were about Sophie working in the orphanage, changing her ideas and being accepted by Ian and the other characters because to me, that was a bit too sudden and undeveloped. The growing of the relationships are what I think need expanding because they were too abrupt. Example: One second, Ian loathes Sophie (or at least acts like it), then out of the blue, he's completely enamored by her and can't stop fussing around her.

Also, another example of this that I feel I need to add, are the time gaps in the story that which I think should have been filled because they had the potential to cover what I said in my previous point about the dynamics of character relationships. I disagree with the author's choice in having significantly large and important time periods and possible events out of the book. I mean like after Sophie's first couple of days in the orphanage she knew no one and hated the position she was in, then suddenly, a couple of relatively important weeks later, she's all happy-dappy and hugging the life out of Mercy like they're best friends. We don't even get to know about Mercy so what da hell was the all about? (I don't actually talk like 'da'). At that point I was a little frustrated, feeling like I've missed out on a lot and I couldn't stop myself from saying "What? WHAT?! What Da?!".

Overall, I did completely LOVE reading this and couldn't put it down, so I'd definitely recommend it. It was such a nice change to read some nice Y/A prose as a change to my usual stuff but I can't help but feeling like I should still currently be reading it because such a good concept for a book deserves a lot more creative development and for the journey/adventure to just be longer really.