Friday, October 24, 2014

We Were Liars

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Age: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars

We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken.”

Juliet Thinks: Simply put, We Were Liars will leave you reeling. Once you reach the last page and close the book, you will be breathless for a moment. It is that kind of book. I had been anticipating this book for quite some time--all the big authors in YA (John Green, Sarah Dessen, etc) had been raving about their ARCs. Released in May 2014, it did not disappoint at all.

The book opens with a map of a private island and a family tree of the Sinclairs. The island is Beechwood Island, the one in which Cadence Sinclair sojourns every summer with the other Sinclairs. Though they are seemingly flawless, their values are questionable. Cadence, as the eldest grandchild, has an immense amount of pressure resting upon her shoulders. Johnny, Mirren, and Gat are her fellow ‘Liars’. They are inseparable. Cadence also struggles with amnesia and migraines, having suffered from a horrific accident.  The storyline revolves upon her desperate attempts to piece together what she cannot remember.

As you read, you will sense that something is off. It doesn’t strike you as peppy. It carries a sense of underlying tragedy. Something is deeply wrong. If you’ve read any of Lockhart’s previous books, you will note that this deviates from her usual. Her books typically center on spunky female protagonists in a high school setting. Speckled with dark twists on fairy tales, We Were Liars’ chapters build spectacularly to the aura of unease surrounding Cadence. Lockhart’s prose is jarring. Class and race issues are also significant underlying themes.

If none of this praise has drawn you to reading the book yet, perhaps it’d be interesting to know that its film rights were sold within two weeks of its release. We Were Liars will haunt you long after you read it in the best possible way.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The No-Kids Club

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Adult
Category: Romance
Rating: 4 stars

Helen Thinks: Claire Donoghue is nearly forty and is childless but there's no need for the 'aw' moment because she loves it. It's a life decision but when once again a relationship ends because her boyfriend is not on the same page as her and she realises that none of her friends are around to talk to any more due to play dates etc. When her pregnant friend, Ellie, suggests starting a 'No-Kids Club' for adults in the same situation she laughs it off until she decides that maybe it is a good idea after all? Enter Anna and Polly. Anna is looking for a way to entice her husband into making an effort and save their marriage from going completely stale whereas Polly is struggling through rounds of IVF because she's desperate to get pregnant but is 'failing'.

Each woman had her individual storyline and you could imagine how they felt. You could understand Claire's emotions as she battled against women that believe their sole existence in life is to create children. You could feel Polly's devastation as yet another IVF treatment failed and her husband suggested adoption while she struggles as a primary school teacher helping her pupil's create Mother's Day cards and gifts while knowing that she'll never receive her own. You feel Anna's struggle as she tries to bring the spark back into her marriage with Michael while he would rather sit in front of the television playing his video games. Roland has showed the reader that outside the fairytale endings, there are more realistic lifestyles and obstacles that a couple must contend with to finally achieve their happy ever after.

Now I will be completely honest with you and admit that I bought this book when it cropped up in my inbox as an Amazon recommendation simply because it spoke to me from Claire's point of view. Yes, I may not be forty years old but I have – for now at least – made the life decision that I am happy without children and I was simply over the moon to see this book sitting there. It was completely different from the usual chick lit novels that would show a woman reaching forty and hearing the biological clock so thinking that she needed to find love so that she could have a child as soon as possible. However, I have to admit that Roland let me down a little bit because by the end of the book Claire was pregnant and her opinions shifted majorly but that did not stop me from reading on.

Despite feeling slightly let down by Claire's pregnancy, I was still addicted to this novel and could not put it down. I found myself reading it all in one go as I was desperate to find out what happened to our three protagonists in their own individual lives. If you're looking for a quick easy read with a unique plot then this is the novel for you.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Once Upon a Nightmare

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
Once Upon a Nightmare by Mickey John
Nightmares and Dreams are actual creatures who invade human minds as embodied fears and joys. Violet doesn't use the new BlissMax pill designed to give good dreams (or any modern niceties, thanks Dad), and one night, a Nightmare—the fear of hell—enters her enticingly un-medicated mind and gets trapped.
Banner Credit: Arden

Melissa Thinks: Violet Darcey is desperate for an escape. Whether it's through books (gothic literature is her one true love) or through her dreams, she wholeheartedly throws herself into imagining a different reality for herself. Unfortunately, this means she's slowly losing her interest in real life in the process. Then one night everything changes. There's something in her mind - actually inside of her subconscious - and his name is Alexander. Of course, Alexander is not a typical boy, but in fact, a Nightmare. "Once Upon a Nightmare" is a novel in which Dreams and Nightmares are living beings. They have their own world, their own magic system, their own monarchy. Suddenly Violet is sucked into Alexander's strange world. He tells her that not only is he stuck inside of her, but not being able to feed off of her now fearless dreams is slowly killing him. Soon they both learn that setting Alexander free may come at a price.

Anyone in the mood for a good supernatural romance has definitely come to the right place. I remember reading this back before the author revamped the entire thing and I am absolutely thrilled to have been able to reread and review this for ADoR. One of my favorite things about "Once Upon a Nightmare" is the amazing characterization. Immediately the reader is drawn to Violet; her strange passion for reading, her fiery attitude, her indifference towards school, the fact that she wants to spend all her time sleeping - she's someone we can all see ourselves being friends with. Then there's Alexander, who's the perfect balance of an asshole and a nice guy. You can't help but love him, even though some of his actions are pretty questionable.

My favorite scene of the entire story was one in which Violet and Alexander are playing a giant game of Candyland and it's such an amazing and perfect moment it gave me chills. The entire novel was eerie yet light-hearted at the same time, which definitely made it one of my more memorable suggestions. I am smitten with this story; the characters, the setting, the plot, basically everything. I cannot wait to sink my teeth into the sequel.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1)

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan

Age: Adult
Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars

Rosie Thinks: Peter V Brett labeled this book as "the best debut I've read in ages", and I 100% agree. I did not expect to absolutely adore this book as much as I did - I'm not usually a fan of fantasy stories with gunpowder in them, but what McClellan does with it is incredible. I'd been beginning to lose my faith in finding anything else incredible in the fantasy genre, but this book has renewed my faith!

The story is set in a French Revolution-era world, with tyrannical kings, starving people, muskets and guillotines. The tagline on the front of the novel is "The Age of Kings is dead and I have killed it", already setting it apart from thousands of other fantasy novels. We are first introduced to Field Marshal Tamas, who is cleaning up after his successful coup over the corrupt nobility of Adro, and the Inspector he tasks with finding the traitor among his allies. Tamas is a brilliant tactician and war hero, loved by the people of his country even more when he overthrows the king. He is a brilliantly written character, incredibly strong yet driven by a bitter purpose. However, the character I truly fell in love with was his son, Taniel Two-Shot. I'd been a bit on the fence and wary about this book until the moment we were taken into Taniel's POV. His character really resonated with me - he's also a war hero, and had come home from years in a war-zone to find his fiancee in bed with another man. He's bitter towards his estranged father, Tamas, yet a brilliant soldier and compassionate character.

Within a few chapters, the storyline takes off in a million different directions and doesn't let up until the end. The climax seemed to start about halfway through the novel and kept going, making it incredibly hard to put down. I recommend starting this when you have a lot of free time ahead of you, because you're not going to want to stop once you start.

McClellan's writing blew me away - the detail, the way he could get inside a character's head, all of it was incredible. Every scene was beautifully described without becoming bogged down in useless words, which I absolutely can't stand. I could imagine each scene clearly and for such a huge cast, I rarely forgot who someone was. The storyline was very intricate and my summary of it doesn't do it justice, yet I never became lost or bored. The in-depth history of the world and the magic system was astounding. It was doubtlessly some of the best I've ever read. There were three main magic systems (Knacked, Marked/powder mages and the Privileged) but I felt the powder mages were where McClellan's creativity really took off. It reminded me slightly of Sanderson's Mistborn magic system, but only in the way that you ingest a substance then 'burn' it. The strict rules surrounding the magic system also made for some creative and enthralling scenes.

This book contained everything I look for in a fantasy book: it was dark and gritty, filled with intrigue and fast-paced action, with even a little romance thrown in! While the storyline was amazing, the characters truly brought this home for me.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Confessions of an Angry Girl

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 4:33 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Rating: 3 stars

“Bad things happen whether you're scared or not, so you might as well not bother being scared. It's a waste of time.”

Marta Thinks: The angry girl in question is Rose Zarelli. As the summary states, she’s angry for three reasons: (1) Her family is a mess after her father’s death: her mother is barely-there and her brother deserts them for university; (2) Regina, popular and gorgeous cheerleader, is out to get her blood. Why? Easy - Rose kissed her boyfriend (or semi-boyfriend. High school is confusing), Jamie; (3) She feels as though her best friend, Tracy, is a stranger. She has nothing to say to her. Oh yes, Rose Zarelli is feeling enraged.

Despite some features I didn’t exactly appreciate (Jamie’s whole ‘Not good enough for you’ speech and Rose’s falling in-and-out friendship with Tracy), this was actually an extremely fun read. I think it touched on important issues that are most commonly present during high school - dating, popularity, bullying, sex, drinking - and Rose’s personal growth in facing these topics was interesting to see. There was also a touch of humor here and there (courtesy of Angelo) which managed to stop the book from sinking into non-stop drama. Initially, there is some confusion as to whether Rose can be properly deemed an angry girl, and to be honest, at the beginning, she is not. She’s quiet, brutally honest and frustrated and there’s an increasing build-up, but anger is not her defining quality. Only at the end of the book we see a true demonstration of rage, but that’s something you’ll have to find out on your own.

In terms of secondary characters, it is questionable whether we are faced with stereotypes and caricatures, but it does appear like that at times. Despite this, I do think there is more to these characters than what is initially seen, though I do think part of that happens in the second book rather than the first. This may seem like a criticism more than anything - which may lead you to wonder why I’m even recommending this book - but I think the true strength of this novel lies in its ability to emotionally invested and engage its reader, clich├ęs and all.

The Announcement

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 12:48 AM 0 comments
As you can tell, A Drop of Romeo has undergone various changes! ADoR is expanding its horizons to not only review online fiction, but books as well. Online stories will be reviewed by the lovely Melissa, and the entire panel of judges, including myself, will be reviewing novels. The first book review will be posted tomorrow!

The FAQ has been updated to reflect any questions that may arise. The staff page has new banners. So many, many awesome things are happening right now.

EDIT (10/04/14 10:57am EST): We also have a Goodreads page, where the reviews will also be posted, so feel free to add us!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Something big is happening soon...

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:38 PM 0 comments
Something very special is happening on ADoR tomorrow night at midnight (EST).

Also, there are officially 2 months and a week left until the SC deadline! This is a reminder for those of you who haven't started writing yet.

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