Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Sounds of Life

A Short Story

David’s eyes were closed under a pair of dark sunglasses, his phone resting on his stomach, going up and down in the rhythm of his breathing. He seemed to be sleeping but the phone moved just a bit too fast and the skin around his mouth was tense, as if his teeth were busy gnawing on the inside of his mouth. The final proof that he wasn’t really sleeping came when he slowly raised his hands together and cracked the knuckles first on his left and then on his right hand before dropping them back beside his phone. It should've rung by now. It always did, someone always texted him.
David, we're going to the lake house for a beer, d'you wanna come?
Hey Davy, my parents went out for a few hours, wanna hang out?
Dude, Skate Park at 5pm, be there!
He opened his eyes and took the phone in his hand to check if it was even on. It was. He gave out a loud sigh and stood up abruptly to move towards the window, his left hand still clutching the phone.
“It’s still early. Someone will call,” he assured the cactus on the window pane. He could call someone himself, but that wasn’t the normal way of things. He was the called, not the caller. If he were the one to call or text, people might think that he had nothing better to do, and while that was true enough he couldn’t let people know that, could he? He ran his phone-free hand through his thick dark hair and sighed in frustration before throwing the phone on the bed. He tried to convince himself that he didn’t need anyone to call, but then finally his phone lit up and the Baha Men yelled: who let the dogs out, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof. The sweet sound of a text message.
If someone had been in the room along with him, David would probably roll his eyes and say something like: “Oh, who is it now?” in the most bored sounding voice he could muster. But he was alone, so he practically threw himself on the bed and grabbed his phone like a drug addict grabbing his next fix.
From: Dad
I need you in the kitchen.
“You have got to be kidding me,” David buried his face in the pillow. It was a mistake to teach his dad how to write text messages. He threw the phone on the bed and went out of the room as slow as humanly possible.
“What d’you want?”  he asked before even entering the kitchen where his dad was scooping the soft bread out of a stale loaf.
“Polly wants to feed the birds again.”
David rolled his eyes. “Dad, it’s been a year. Just tell her no.”
“It helps her. “
“Yeah, well, it annoys the crap out of me. You’re lying to her, it’s not normal for her to believe that mom changed into a bird.”
His father pushed a paper bag filled with freshly scooped breadcrumbs into David’s hand. “Just go,” he said quietly without looking at him. “She’s in her room.”
His little sister was playing with Legos and the smile that crossed her face when David entered was meant for the paper bag in his hands rather than him. ‘’Hey Polly,’’ he said and walked to where she was sitting, patting her on the head awkwardly while she snatched the bag from his hands.  She pointed towards the childproofed balcony doors and started jumping up and down as David was opening them. “Go on, feed them.” Without so much as a word Polly skipped past him, filled her palms with the contents of the paper bag and leaned across the balcony. She started strewing the breadcrumbs happily on the lawn underneath while David sat down and buried his face in his palms. This was exactly why he needed his bloody phone to ring, exactly why he needed to get out of the house. He reached into his pocket to check if someone had called, but then remembered that he had left the phone in his room.
“Daddy, I think I can see mom,” Polly said and pointed to the freshly mown lawn where amid a dozen sparrows, a lone robin came to feast on the bread.
 “You’re right, there she is,” their father answered from under the balcony and made a few small steps closer to the birds.
Anger flooded every fibre of David’s being and all he wanted to do was yell: “it’s not mom, it’s just a bloody robin, mom’s dead! Deal with it already you stupid kid!” but he managed to hold back and just say: “I’ll be right back, I need to grab my phone.”
Without waiting for his dad to answer he rushed back inside, breathing heavily, his hands shaking. Everything in this house was suffocating him, bringing back the day when dad came home just a bit too late. That was what the doctors said, if you’d brought her in just a few minutes earlier, they said, she’d still have a chance. But he didn’t and so David’s nights and days became filled with countless images of the dark coffin and strangers laughing in the back of the funeral procession.
With a couple of fast steps he was back in his room, but he could still hear his sister’s voice through the open window. “I’m making it snow,” she said, but in a second the tone of her voice changed from calm to upset: “Daddy, look at the bees! They’re attacking mom!”
David threw himself on the bed and pulled the pillow over his face. “It’s not mom! It’s a bird, just a fucking bird!” he yelled, but the pillow muffled his voice.
 “They’re hurting her… They’re…” Polly’s voice faded away, but their father’s replaced it: “David! Get down here and help!”
“It’s just a fucking bird! Let it die! Let it die just like you let mom die!” This time there was no pillow to suffocate his words and for the next couple of seconds everything went silent. Then, within the next few moments, there were several sounds. First there was the sound of something falling from the balcony; a hollow thud that wasn’t followed by tears on account of scratched knees or broken bones. The next sound was produced by David’s father, but it sounded unearthly, distant and raw. And then finally, who let the dogs out, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof.

Depression. Because why not. Anyways. Hope you liked it. Feedback and constructive criticism are always welcome :)


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn parts 1 and 2

I have a love-hate relationship with series. Not just book series, but series in general. There's a whole scale in my head, going from love to hate. There are three main types.

First, it’s the Twilight type. This happens when I don’t even like the first book in the series, but I still force myself to read the rest. Just because I either still hope that the sequels will be better or because I just don’t want to give up in the middle. I do the same with candy: even when I’m not really hungry and don’t even like the taste of it, I’m damn sure gonna finish it.

Second it’s the hunger games reason. This means that the series starts off fantastically and it makes me fall in love with it and go on a fishing trip with it and convince it to create a steam account so that then we will never be far apart. But then at some point, things change. In the case of hunger games that point was book three. It let me down, betrayed my trust and we had to break up. It looked a little something like this:

Me: You were the chosen one! You were to bring balance to me, not leave me in darkness.
HG: [shouts] I hate you!
Me: You were my brother, HG. I loved you. 

And then there was that whole lava business. It was not pretty.

The third reason is the Harry Potter reason. This type is similar to the second one, except without the betrayal. That occurs when the series is perfect from the start to the end. And even when it screws up sometimes, it doesn’t really matter. These are the series that stay with me, the ones that are just pure love. But when they end, I guess these are the ones that really break my heart.

So when I start reading a new series I'm always a bit nervous that it'll end up being the second type. Me and Brandon Sanderson's the Final Empire (Mistborn #1) hit it off like in a dream. It wasn't as good as the Way of Kings, but it was still better than a lot o fantasy I've recently read.
Here’s a quick overview: We’re in a world that is ruled by in immortal god called the Lord Ruler. He is thousands of years old, has god-like powers and is, naturally, an oppressor. And there are some people who want him dead. But how do you kill a god? Good question. A man called Kelsier might have an answer to that, but you’ll have to read the book yourselves to find out.
The good thing about this particular series is that it's already finished, so as soon as I've read the first part I dived into the second one (the Well of Ascension). And well. Ugh.  First there’s Vin. I wasn’t a big fan of Vin in the first book, but in the second one she really got on my nerves. The constant whining and the inability to talk to her boyfriend really annoyed me. I’m not worthy of him, he should be with someone more suitable to his position, he’s a nobleman, I’m not, I shouldn’t be with him, but he loves me, I love him, but I’ve never been in love before so how do I know this is love  and yadayadayada. Girl, there’s a war going on. Focus. Second, the pace is slow, too slow. It was wonderful in the first book, fast and exiting, but in the second one I felt it just came to a sudden stop. With the exception of a few parts there was very little action, save for the last 200 pages all the tings happen.
Third, the characters that aren’t exactly main are not very well created. I know there are Breeze, Ham, Dockson, Clubs and Marsh, but they’re all mixed in my mind, I have no idea which one is which, despite the fact that a portion of the book is narrated by them. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.

All in all, I was disappointed, and I’m not sure what to expect from the third book. Some have said that they hated it; others said that the third one is the best of the three. I guess I’ll just have to read and see. Yet the fact that I was disappointed doesn't mean that the series isn't worth reading. Despite all the flaws I would still say that it's pretty decent. It just let me down, so I'm a bit bitter.

The Final Empire

The Well of Ascension

Friday, 15 March 2013

Creepy Book Covers

Have you ever come across a book whose blurb was extremely intriguing... but then you didn't dare buy it because it would haunt you forever from your bookshelf? Here are a few such books I encountered while perusing the bookshelves of Goodreads:

Tainted Grace (Grace #2) by M. Lauryl Lewis
Can you imagine getting this for Christmas or birthday? I mean, it's awesomely gruesome, but gruesome nevertheless.

The Passage by Justin Cronin
A black and white picture of a child with a creepy look in her eyes and the tagline 'Something is coming' is not something you'd find on my night stand. Especially since I hate horror movies and evil children in horror movies are the worst kind of horror movies.

Night Of The Living Dummy by R. L. Stine
Even in Slovenia we've got R. L. Stine books (fun fact: In Slovenian goose bumps are chicken bumps, kurja polt) and I remember them being scary as heck. Night Of The Living Dummy gave me a lifetime fear of ventriloquist dolls. And Buffy also had an unpleasant encounter with a doll that came to life. I'm a little traumatized.

The House Of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle
Eee, she's got no eyeballs, am I the only one disturbed about this? It's giving me the heebie-jeebies.

Prophecy Of The Sisters by Michelle Zink
Everyone who's ever watched Doctor Who and knows of Weeping Angels will understand.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

I heard nothing but the best about Cinder, and everyone's been raving about it for ages. So you understand why I've been hesistant about reading it. Also I couldn't get past the first page. "Tossing the screwdriver onto the table, Cinder gripped her heel and yanked the foot from its socket." I just couldn't relate to the heroine. But after a while curiosity got the best of me and once I got past the first chapter I was sold!

Cinder is not your typical Cinderella adaptation's story. The heroine is a teenage cyborg and a mechanic who is living with her stepmonster (pardon me, legal guardian) and two stepsisters (one is actually nice to Cinder, but she dies from some illness that is plaguing the provinces). One faithful day her path collides with a charming prince Kai, and it is not long until she has bigger issues than finding spare parts for a hover or hiding a new artificial leg from her stepmother.

I liked how perfectly complicated and complex the story was and how the pieces of the puzzle nicely fit together at the end. Even though the "shocking relevation" was neither shocking nor relevating (I figured out what was going at the very beginning) the plot progressed nicely and once I was pulled into the story I couldn't quit until I knew how it all ended. The characters were interesting and nicely developed, Cinder was a solid lead, although a bit impersonal and distant. I had a few issues with Kai, who had a character too weak for my liking. He came across as a ... weakling for the most part of the book. I also thought the romance would be developed in a more clever way, but I am curious to know how their relationship will progress (and where will it lead) in the sequel. Right now it doesn't seem Kai likes Cinder much.

All in all, it was a nice story set in an interesting world I would like to read more about. The heroine is not your ordinary Cinderella and New Beijing is not your ordinary city, and there are folk living on the Moon and they have superpowers and they're evil!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Devil's Metal by Karina Halle

The year is 1974 and Dawn Emerson, a huge music lover and an aspiring young music journalist, gets a chance to go on the road with her favourite metal band Hybrid and document their tour that will supposedly make history. After she meets the band members and is swept into their world of drinking, drugs and debauchery she realizes the life on the other side of the stage is nothing like she imagined in her wildest dream. Dawn is inexplicably drawn to the reserved and elusive guitarist, Sage Knightly, who clearly does not want her following the band's every move, listening to every word they say, sleeping on the same bus and making out with the singer. It's not long until she suspects something sinister and diabolic is going on as she starts seeing people's faces turning into gruesome images of horror and death and strange things begin to happen.

I received an e-book version of this book from the NetGalley, and for that I'm very thankful!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, I think I finished it in a couple of hours! I read it in the car, while waiting at the mechanic, while eating, and I almost convinced a friend to read it to me while I was showering. It was that good! 

The plot was gripping, well-developed, everything was to my liking and I could easily relate to the heroine because we're the same age - which is rare since all the heroines in my favourite genres are teenagers with teenage minds and problems. Dawn was a solid lead and Sage was smokin'! 

“And then he laughed. It was short and brief, but genuine and made the dimples stand out on his scruffy cheeks. It was the best sound I’d heard all year.” 

Plus, the fact that the story was set in the 1974 was refreshing - I want to live there (then?) for some time, too! Where's The Doctor when you need him!?

If I think about it I actually don't have anything bad to say, or I just cant remember at the moment, because all the good things outshine the bad ones and therefore this review is going to be short. It's not really a review but a recommendation. If you like a strong heroine, a dark and mysterious hero, interesting second characters, a good twist, Led Zeppelin, 1970s, creepy elements and debauchery then you've hit a jackpot with this one. Also, in the very end Karina Halle throws us an unbelievably unexpected twist that literally left me with my jaw hanging to the floor. I can't wait to read the next installment, The Devil's Reprise, that comes out in fall 2013. Aaah, that's like bazillion eons away!

One little thing I do have a tiny issue with. The title. It gives too much away, don't you think? If I didn't know the devil had a part (or his minions) in the whole thing, it'd be a bigger  (and sweeter) twist to the story. But I don't want to put a damper on it, I still think it's a great read.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Bloodlines, The Golden Lily and The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

Bloodlines (Bloodlines #1)

The first thing I noticed was that Sydney's world is very very very different from the world Rose lived (and fought) in, which was actually a nice surprise at first. No one wants to read a spin off that's exactly like the original series. However, I still thought there would be a little more action - and there was only snoozefest for the first two thirds of the book. I kept expecting for something to happen because there were so many different things happening at St. Vladimir's Academy, but since Sydney is ice to Rose's fire, prudence to her impulsiveness and brain to Rose's brawn, we got little of that. The only bright star was Adrian (who I'm sure we are all madly in love with...). I'm so glad he got his own story, and I liked how Adrian and Sydney's relationship is progressing. That was written very nicely. However, the secondary characters (especially Jill) were mostly annoying and uninteresting. Jill is a little whiny bi...birdie whose neck I'd like to wring.
P.S.: The professor Sydney is helping is awesome. And brilliant and cunning and awesome! 
2,5 quills

The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2)

The first instalment left me quite cold and we did not part on a good note, that is why my expectations for the sequel were not high. And this is where the surprise punch came in! The character development is something Richelle Mead is quite good at and I think Sydney grew on many of us more in this instalment (if not in the first book). She is more relaxed and open-minded, and it was nice to see how her walls separating her from others are beginning to shatter and her beliefs about vampires weakening. The main culprit for her turn to the better is af kors Adrian Ivashkov *girls all around the world sigh and swoon in unison*. One cannot not love Adrian, it is humanly impossible (as Sydney witnessed herself, haha). Moreover, one might have expected that Sydney would make Adrian a better person, but Adrian also made Sydney better.

3 quills

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3)

Definitely the best book so far. I really hope it goes on like this, only getting better and more intriguing, because it's usually the other way around - the first book is awesome, the second one is okay, and from then on it just fizzles out and leaves you deeply disappointed. Ah expectations expectations. So, Sydney has finally grew some balls and is finally acting like a real ass-kicking, magic-yielding heroine. The character development is much to my liking, but I still have reservations toward Jill and Angeline. A couple of scenes got my pulse racing (I'm not spoiling anything, let's just say there's more action in this instalment. Action and action, yes!), I can't wait to see what happens next in Palm Springs, especially since the ending was so surprising and unexpecting. Sydney does not have a pleasant journey ahead of her, that's for sure! But no worries Sydney, I'll be there by your side every step (book) you take (Richelle Mead writes).

4 quills