May 27, 2015

Review | I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

I was intrigued by this book because I am a fan of Lyga's previous work, which I adored. Having just finished off watching the entire show of Dexter and feeling more than a little unsatisfied with how things were concluded (that finale was terrible, am I right?!) I turned to I Hunt Killers to continue my thriller/horror binge.

The first thing I noticed, which I didn't know before starting the book is that Jasper "Jazz" Dent is in fact, not a killer hunter (at least, not the way Dexter is.) We get a clear understanding from the start that he is the son of a very infamous killer, and that now that his dad is behind heavily guarded bars, he is trying to live an almost-normal life. This is obviously impossible for a few reasons, but the main one is that the townspeople expect him to become like Dear Old Dad. When bodies start turning up, especially when the victims are murdered in strikingly similar way as his father's victims, people begin to assume that maybe Jazz is following his dad's footsteps. And unlike Dexter (I keep referencing back to the show because it was what I was mostly comparing it to at the time,) Jazz tries very, very hard to fight the urge of becoming exactly like his father.

Jazz is likeable, charming and I really grew fond of him, especially as we see him struggle with his inner thoughts of his old life, when he would help his dad. He's determined to find the killer, but of course, he's not allowed to because he is a 17 year old who has no business getting involved. Instead, he convinces his loyal best friend Howie, to help him uncover the killer. Howie is another character I also really liked, who was the comic relief in some of the more gruesome situations. A few other notable characters are Jazz's girlfriend, Connie, the town sheriff and Jazz's senile grandmother. They had minor parts in the story overall, but played significant roles in Jazz's life and his attempt at normalcy.

It took me a bit to get really into the book, maybe because I was expecting something else, but I was able to dive in after a few chapters. Once I got caught up with the story and the characters, it was hard for me to put this down. Lyga definitely created a captivating thriller, that is a lot of fun. There is definitely some gory moments, that might be a little too much for some readers, but I love the gore and couldn't get enough. This was raw and and a bit horrifying but it was well done and I was reminded of why I loved Lyga's writing so much.

May 13, 2015

Review | Fairest of All by Serena Valentino

Title: Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino
Series: Villains
Genre: YA - Retellings
Publication: August 18th 2009 by Disney Press
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Synopsis: The tale of the young princess and her evil stepmother, the Wicked Queen, is widely known. Despite a few variations from telling to telling, the story remains the same—the Queen was jealous of the girl’s beauty, and this jealousy culminated in the Queen’s attempt on the sweet, naive girl’s life.

Another tale far less often spoken of is the one that explains what caused the Queen to become so contemptuously vile. Still, some have attempted to guess at the reason. Perhaps the Queen’s true nature was that of a wicked hag and her beautiful, regal appearance a disguise used to fool the King. Others claim that the Queen might have hated the girl for her resemblance to the King’s first wife. Mostly, the Queen is painted as a morally abhorrent woman who never loved another being during the course of her miserable life.

In fact, the theories about exactly what cause the Queen’s obsessive vanity and jealous rage are too numerous to catalog. This book recounts a version of the story that has remained untold until now. It is a tragic tale of love and loss, and it contains a bit of magic. It is a tale of the Wicked Queen…

Thoughts: To be honest, the main reason I got this was the gorgeous cover. It's prettier in person than on screen and when I saw a copy I had to have it. That was years ago, so I finally decided to give it a shot. Of all the Disney princesses, Snow White is one of my least favorites, but I was intrigued to read this to find out what re-telling Valentino created for the Wicked Queen. Unfortunately, I was sadly disappointed at everything inside the pages.

There were quite a few issues I had with the book and the writing. One of them was how wordy the paragraphs were. There was too much prose, too much unnecessary descriptions, etc. I didn't connect with any of the characters either, and thought they didn't have much depth. I really had a hard time finding the story itself enjoyable since there wasn't anything remarkably unique about it other than learning a little more about the Wicked Queen, which wasn't all that interesting either.

The writing seemed to be directed at very young audiences, but with so much description, I'm sure children would have a hard time getting through this one as well.

I wasn't DNF'ing books at the time that I read this, otherwise I probably would not have finished it. When I saw the author had written a similar retelling of the Beast from "Beauty and the Beast" (my favorite Disney movie) I was tempted to purchase it because of the beautiful cover on that one as well. After I looked at the first page, I could tell that it would be another similarly disappointing book and decided not to pick it up.