goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Oasis (The Last Humans, #1)
Author: Dima Zales
Genre: Dystopian, Sci-fi
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 238
Date read: February, 2016

My name is Theo, and I'm a resident of Oasis, the last habitable area on Earth. It's meant to be a paradise, a place where we are all content. Vulgarity, violence, insanity, and other ills are but a distant memory, and even death no longer plagues us.

I was once content too, but now I'm different. Now I hear a voice in my head, and she tells me things no imaginary friend should know. Her name is Phoe, and she is my delusion.

Or is she?

I received this ARC from Netgalley in return for an honest review. I love dystopian novels, so I figured it would be right up my aisle.

And as the rating indicates - it was. Slightly slow to start, but once it did, I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of "Ready Player One" (Ernest Cline) meets "Across the Universe" (Beth Revis) meets "Unwind" (Neil Shusterman). And if you think that sounds like a really weird meshup, I don't blame you... but it works.

I liked the twists and turns - some of which I'd seen hints of ahead of time, others I'd never seen coming, and not only did I feel nicely entertained, but I actually had a hard time letting it go after I turned the last page.

It's the first in a series, and thus no real resolution is achieved, but it didn't contain any of the stereotypical problems of a first book in a series. No cliff-hanger, no excessive world-building at the expense of plot, no major setup that's never followed through on.

If anything, I might say there was too little world-building. Some things were explained in an aside or left to be read between the lines. I think I got most of them, but a bit more 'showing' Theo's every-day life at the start of the novel might have been nice.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Roomies
Author: Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Genre: YA
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 288
Date read: December, 2013

East Coast Elizabeth and West Coast Lauren are both starting the same college after the summer vacation, so when they receive information that they'll be roommates, they start to exchange emails, in order to get to know each other before actually moving in together.

Though hesitant at first, both Elizabeth and Lauren quickly discover the "safe" intimacy that comes from baring your soul over the internet, to a person you've never met. And as the summer draws to a close, they start to believe that they may be meeting a friend, rather than a stranger, on that first day of college.

As a "geek" who grew up with email, and who's had e-mail friends since the age of 13, I could instantly relate to Elizabeth and Lauren. There's something about the anonymity of email correspondence that leads to greater intimacy than face-to-face communication. It's "safe" to vent about family and friends, because they'll never meet those people, and therefore only have your side of things.

Lauren and Elizabeth discover the same thing, and in a summer of lasts (and firsts!) end up sharing more with each other, than with their 'real life' best friends.

I found the book extremely sweet and poignant, and closed it with tears in my eyes - not because it was sad, but because it had an element of truth to it that touched my heart. I loved getting to know Lauren and Elizabeth as well as their friends and (for Elizabeth at least) families.

A lovely book. I'm grateful for the chance to read it.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Never List
Author: Koethi Zan
Genre: Suspense
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 320
Date read: August, 2013

After a terrible car accident that claimed the life of Jennifer's mother, she and Sarah wrote their "Never List" - a list of things never to do in order to stay safe.

But of course life doesn't work like that, and following an innocent college party, Sarah and Jennifer were abducted by a psycopath, and would spend the next 3 years locked up in his basement - only brought out to be tortured and eventually killed.

Following Jennifer's death, Sarah finally found the strength to escape - rescuing her two fellow captives in the process - and their kidnapper was brought to justice. But now, 10 years later, he is up for parole, and it is up to Sarah to find the evidence that will keep him behind bars.

Very slow to start - it took me a surprisingly long time to read the first 100 pages - but once it did it took off with a vengeance. I'd find myself only being able to read a couple of pages at a time because it was just so disturbing, but at the same time, I couldn't stay away for long, because I needed to see what happened.

So many twists and turns along the way, and most of them I hadn't seen coming at all. They were still believable within the premise of the book though, so it wasn't as if the author had just pulled them out of thin air.

It's a wild ride and a terrifying read. One of the best horror stories I've read in a long time.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Prisoner of Heaven
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Genre: Historical fiction, suspense
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 278
Date read: December, 2012

Christmas in Barcelona in 1957, one year after Daniel and Bea from The Shadow of the Wind have married. They now have a son, Julian, and are living with Daniel's father at Sempere & Sons. Fermin still works with them and is busy preparing for his wedding to Bernarda in the New Year. However something appears to be bothering him.

Daniel is alone in the shop one morning when a mysterious figure with a pronounced limp enters. He spots one of their most precious volumes that is kept locked in a glass cabinet, a beautiful and unique illustrated edition of The Count of Monte Cristo. Despite the fact that the stranger seems to care little for books, he wants to buy this expensive edition. Then, to Daniel's surprise, the man inscribes the book with the words 'To Fermin Romero de Torres, who came back from the dead and who holds the key to the future'. This visit leads back to a story of imprisonment, betrayal and the return of a deadly rival.

Even though The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book in the series of the Cemetary of Forgotten Books, it isn't necessary to have read the two first books in the series. It continues some of the story of especially Shadow of the Wind in such a way that will satisfy people who have read that book, but not confuse readers who haven't.

In The Prisoner of Heaven Fermin is in focus, and we are given his history - how he was imprisoned during the Spanish civil war, how he escaped with the help of a fellow prisoner, and how these events brought him into Daniel's life.

It's very different form the two other books - not the least because it's a lot shorter - but it still has the same gothic style, and I actually ended up thinking it was the best of the lot. I appreciated the look into Fermin's life and getting a better understanding for why he is the way he is.

The book clearly paves the way for a fourth book in the series, and I'll be interested in seeing what happens to Daniel and Bea next.
goodreads: (Default)
Title: The Angel's Game
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Genre: Suspense
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: Audiobook ~16hrs
Date read: October, 2009

In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martin, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city's underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at an unsolved mystery.

Like slow poison, the history of the place and an impossible love bring David close to despair. But then re receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike any other - a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realises that there is a connection between this haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.

A very dark goth novel. In genre and atmosphere it reminded me somewhat of The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, although they're nothing at all alike in plot.

I'm not entirely sure what I thought of the plot though. People seemed to die left, right and center, and not all of those deaths were properly explained. It almost felt like Zafón occasionally wrote himself into a corner, and didn't know how to get out again, so some threads were left hanging.

Still, it was a thrilling book that kept me guessing.


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