May 17, 2018

Tyrolin Puxty: "Down to Oath"

Title: Down to Oath [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
[*Friendly advice: beware of the Down to Oath page on Amazon, and the duplicate page on Goodreads (not the one I linked to). Their blurb hints at the twist in its very first line]
Series: None
Author: Tyrolin Puxty [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: SPOILER - revealing the genre(s) would partially ruin your reading experience...If you want to go into the book without knowing anything vital about it, I recommend you not read the Labels at the end of my review either. No need to worry though - the review itself will be spoiler-free...
Year: 2018
Age: 10+ (I was told this one falls into the MG category, but I think children under 10 years of age will struggle a little with its concept. Then again, this book is likely to appeal to anyone regardless of age - adults will definitely take something away from it)
Stars: 4/5
Pros: Light and deep at the same time. Weaves reflection with adventure and surprises. Tackles a theme we rarely get to see in MG/YA.
Cons: For the story to work, the parallel town system needs to be inherently flawed in a couple of instances.
Will appeal to: Kids and adults looking for a quick, simple-yet-profound, offbeat story.

Blurb: Codi lives in the exceptionally drab town of Oath; a settlement without colour, children or personality. When a child manifests in the library and introduces Codi to parallel towns that contain aggressive, manic versions of herself, she must decide between saving Oath...and saving herself. After all, how much can you truly trust yourself? (Goodreads excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I am a semi-regular reviewer of Curiosity Quills titles (like this one), but if you look back at my ratings, this never prevented me from being unbiased. And all the books I received from them were generously sent with no strings attached.


You all know I've never reviewed a MG book on the blog - when I requested this one, I thought it was YA (I had read the first chapter on Amazon to get a taste of it). The fact is, when we first meet the protagonist (whose age we aren't privy to), she comes across as a young woman, and the writing style is accessible but not simplistic - so I just assumed those things settled the matter once and for all. Then the publisher told me it was, in fact, MG. After reading it, I can see that the label is appropriate, but even if you're an adult who doesn't usually read in that age range, don't let that discourage you from trying this one. Down to Oath is a deceptively simple book, with as many layers as you can peel away. You can even be at odds with a certain theory the book puts forth, but that very likely won't detract from your reading experience - as it didn't from mine 🙂. [...]

May 14, 2018

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #8 Neal Shusterman, Karen Healey, Nova Ren Suma


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I had never though I'd done minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps 😊. Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long review - no such luck LOL. But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, or in case I want to draw attention to some old ones I've already reviewed, I might as well give you the short version ;). Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random! So, here goes...

May 07, 2018

Matthew S. Cox: "A Beginner's Guide to Fangs"

Title: A Beginner's Guide to Fangs [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Vampire Innocent (2nd of ?? books)
Author: Matthew S. Cox [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Year: 2017
Age: 16+ [NA]
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Never a dull moment. Funny and quirky, but at the same time, deeper and more introspective than Book 1.
Cons: Fragmented in a series of vignettes that, more often than not, are only held together by the main character.
WARNING! Some explicit sex.
Will appeal to: Those who like a sassy but family-focused heroine caught between two worlds. Those who like vampires with a dose of fun.

Blurb: Two weeks after waking up as a vampire, Sarah’s doing okay, if you don’t count wicked mood swings, crushing guilt, and a pervasive sense of existential dread. On the upside, her family is adjusting to the new normal of supernatural in stride and she’s even testing the waters with a new guy. However, something’s changed with her best friend Ashley, who’s not acting at all like herself. To make matters worse, someone’s stalking Sarah. Formal entry into vampire society sends her down a dangerous path, right into the middle of a war between elders - that her sire started. All Sarah wants is some semblance of a normal unlife, but she finds herself stuck between two groups of angry vampires itching to spill blood…And they don’t care if it’s from her innocent family. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I was offered a review copy by the author, having previously reviewed other books by him and a couple of collections where two of his short stories were featured. This didn't affect my opinion about this novel.

As a whole, I did like this second installment of Sarah's story better than the first. On the one hand, this one is funnier (and much less gory), with a good dose of humour and witty remarks. On the other, what I thought A Nighttime of Forever lacked, ABGTF makes up for. Amidst the funny (and sometimes salacious) exchanges and situations, there's a lot more space for introspection and relationships, whether they involve family, friends/acquaintances or romantic interests. While Sarah's parents are still partly in denial (though they do their best to adjust), she muses on her situation - especially with regards to them and her siblings - and experiments a series of mood swings that apparently are the result of her new unlife coupled with the inherently messy phase of adolescence. Also, Sarah tries to navigate the vampire scene and the dating one, plus strikes an unlikely, but heartwarming friendship with the vampire equivalent of an outcast. And finally, she fights like a champ (though it's probably a bit of a stretch that, only two weeks into her undeath AND despite being an Innocent, she can hold her own so fiercely against much older and more experienced vampires). [...]


While Book 1 mainly dealt with Sarah's first reaction to waking up a vampire, her family and friends coming to terms with it, and her attempt to find closure (so to speak) with the incident that put her in that spot, this second installment is multifaceted and multiflavoured, which is both its strength and its weakness. We follow Sarah in a series of disjointed situations involving her family, her boyfriend, her friends, her enemies, her sire, her peers - you name it. While this add to variety and keeps boredom at large, sometimes it makes you feel like you're reading a series of short stories with the same lead, instead of a novel. Some characters are dropped for a whole lot of pages, then take center stage until they're kind of swept under the rug again. While Sarah is going on dates, her friends apparently don't even talk to her on the phone - while she's with them, we lose track of her love interest completely. And so on. Not one of the most jarring thing you can experience in a novel, but it was able to pull me out of the story at times.


Now, this is a "me" thing, and it won't probably mean much to most readers - especially since this is a NA series. When I accepted the first installment for review, I knew it didn't involve romance, if not (let's say) obliquely. And for romance, I ALSO mean sex. Or - in this case - I MAINLY mean sex. Because in this sequel, not only there's a lot of talk on the subject (things like getting aroused, etc.), but also a very explicit scene that, me being me, I was a bit uncomfortable with. It's a personal preference (or lack of), and as I say, it won't probably be an issue for anyone who decides to take a chance on this series knowing it's aimed at a more mature audience - but it detracted from my personal enjoyment (though I AM, definitely, mature audience enough...). I'm NOT saying that explicit sex in books is necessarily inappropriate - only that it's a bit awkward FOR ME to read it. I only mentioned it because there are other people like me out there, and (mainly) because it partly explains my rating. Then again, if you like vampires but feel a little jaded with their scene, this is a fresh take on them that I wholeheartedly recommend.

(P.S.: did you notice? my headings were all song titles this time 😊).

For my "A Nighttime of Forever" review (first installment in the series) click here.
For my review of Matthew S. Cox's book "Nine Candles of Deepest Black" (YA) click here.
For more Afterlife books click here.