Saturday, March 30, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: in which I show my face with the Princess

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to showcase all the books we got in the past week. Those can be bought, won, gifted, for review, borrowed, print or ebooks... no matter, just share what you got :)

Well, this week was both slow and at the same time awesome for me! Because of this:

Please excuse my unkemptness! I spent Good Friday in my PJs, aka ratty band shirt and oversized hoodie, haha ^^' But I FINALLY got my copy of Clockwork Princess on Thursday afternoon! Not that I preordered it months ago but amazong was being an ass or anything -__-'' And now that I finished Cat Winters' wonderful In the Shadow of Blackbirds, I can read it :D I'm a little scared though... it's going to break my heart either way :/

The only other book I got is Hamlet, and I actually bought it last week but forgot to put it into my haul. I need it for one of my classes, and it will be my first time reading it. Which is sort of embarrassing considering that I'm a postgrad student of English Literature. But I actively avoided the play this far - Shakespeare's tragedies are too good; they tear me up inside. Just think of Othello and Macbeth! That's why I read more of his comedies. Anyway, I got myself the Arden edition because I like their notes and introductions.


I know what the play is about of course but I'm fuzzy on the details so I'm actually looking forward to reading it now! I'll get to it some time next week.

I haven't been very active post wise and the main reason for that is that I was sick from Monday afternoon to Friday morning. I found it hard to focus with the fever I had and couldn't stare at a screen or book too long because my eyes started to hurt.

But I posted a new review Friday night. It's for Florence by Ciye Cho, a mermaid book that I enjoyed a lot.

So... thoughts on my haul? My silly face? The books (no spoilers please)? Also, happy Easter to all!! May the chocolate bunnies be with you ^^ And please share links to you own haul!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: Florence, by Ciye Cho

Released: July 1, 2012
Ebook, 336 pages

Goodreads description:
Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.

Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand--and find out where she belongs--Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart... and her very soul.

The following review is based on a copy I was given by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

This was my first mermaid book, and after enjoying it as much as I did I’m now resolved to read more in the genre! The world Ciye Cho created was captivating and renewed my interest in what lies beneath the ocean. After a somewhat bumpy start, Florence and I got on well and I found myself rooting for her throughout the novel!

Florence is a very shy 17-year-old girl who had a somewhat unusual, lonely upbringing and thus finds it hard to connect to people. Everyone at her school still thinks of her as the new girl, even though it’s been four years now. Florence prefers hiding behind her camera to experience the world and tries not to stand out. On a school excursion to the beach, Florence dives too deep and is captured by a merman to be a present for Prince Kiren at his coronation ceremony. She is the only human in Niemela, a mer kingdom so deep down in the sea that it has not been detected by humans. Florence can breathe by means of a polyp that attached itself to her on her neck and must now try to navigate a culture she knows nothing about and where she stands out simply because she is human, and no humans should ever be brought to Niemela.

Beneath the harmonious surface of Niemela, where everyone seems to have their place, lies a web of political intrigue and envy as well as the ever-present threat of the creatures lurking in the Darkness that surrounds the Niemelan realm. If she wants to survive and maybe return to the surface, Florence has to grow into her full potential, stand up for herself, and make a choice: she can support Kiren, who has shown an interest in her but has questionable motives, or she can back his older brother Rolan, who has declined to rule and is a loner she nevertheless feels a connection to. Either choice will have great repercussions for both herself and the whole kingdom.

As I’ve already mentioned, I didn’t immediately like Florence or connect to her. Back in her own world, she was so awkward that I sometimes found it hard to believe and was a little frustrated. However, as soon as she arrives in Niemela, she begins to actually grow a spine and becomes a much more confident and courageous person. In this respect, I have to mention the short prologue of the book, which was a bit of a double-edged sword. It offers the reader a glimpse of the confident person Florence will become and thus motivated me to keep reading because I knew Florence would eventually change. However, it also shows her with Rolan, which immediately caused me to prefer him over Kiren when they were introduced and made me suspicious of him despite his seemingly perfect exterior. The prologue-situation is vague enough not to give away any of Florence’s reasons or the actual problem though, so I didn’t mind.

What made this book really stand out to me is the amazing world building! Even though Niemela is very foreign, I could imagine it very well thanks to the beautifully written descriptions of this extraordinary place! I can’t compare it to other mer-books because as I said I don’t know any but it was very imaginative to me and all the details formed a coherent whole of a functioning (though not perfect) society. Cho made me long to see this luminous, colorful place for myself! There were also explanations for how the Niemelans survive, how the dolphins and whales can breathe underwater despite being mammals (they also have polyps) and how the society is organized, as well as its history. All of this was managed without being info-dumpy because the reader learns alongside Florence.

The characters are well fleshed out, not just Florence but also the other main characters like Kiren and Rolan as well as their sister Yolee, as well as most of the more minor figures. I really enjoyed the close friendship developing between Yolee and Florence! It was good for both of them. The reader also gets some flashbacks when Florence thinks of her childhood and that way we learn about her parents and how she came to live with an employee of her mother’s whom she calls her uncle. There are still some open questions for me about these glimpses, and I hope they will be addressed in the sequel. Florence adapts well to Niemela, but she doesn’t fully belong and is unable to do many things that are normal to Niemelans. Then again, she never fit in that well on the surface either. One of the main conflicts in the book is thus whether or not Florence will fight to return to the surface and how much she is prepared to do for that in return when it is offered to her under certain conditions.

I can’t really say more about the plot here because it would be very spoilery. Let’s just say that there were some things that I figured out before the characters do, but also a lot of twists and surprises I didn’t see coming at all, among them the ending itself! The romantic elements are there but they do not take overhand. The story starts out a bit slow but once Niemela blossoms to life I found myself captivated and eager to keep reading, especially when the actual showdown happens.

I think this novel will appeal to readers who are new to books about mer creatures as well as those who already know and love them. It is a well-crafted coming of age story set in a place of both wondrous beauty and dangerous hidden motives. I am very curious to see what will happen with Florence after the ending and definitely want to read Luminaire, the next book in the series.

What do you think? Could this novel be something for you? Do you read many mermaid books, and if so can you tell if/where this differs from the genre? Share your thoughts in the comments :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Falconer, by Elizabeth May

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine to spotlight upcoming book releases that we're excited for.

My pick this week:

Release date: September 19, 2013
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Format: Hardcover, 288 pages

Goodreads description:
Lady Aileana Kameron can sing, paint prettily, and murder the fae as easily as dancing a waltz. But how far is she prepared to go for vengeance?Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

18-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined to a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery kills her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season. Between a seeming endless number of parties, Aileana slaughters faeries in secret. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, every night she sheds her aristocratic facade and goes hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But she never even considered that she might become attracted to one. To the magnetic Kiaran MacKay, the faery who trained her to kill his own kind. Nor is she at all prepared for the revelation he’s going to bring. Because Midwinter is approaching, and with it an eclipse that has the ability to unlock a Fae prison and begin the Wild Hunt.

A battle looms, and Aileana is going to have to decide how much she’s willing to lose – and just how far she’ll go to avenge her mother’s murder.

Hell to the yes. Scottland, high-society, and a lady that kills faeries in revenge. I also love tales of the Wild Hunt, and well... the heroine apparently falling for the faery who's teaching her? God I hope there is banter...
What do you guys think of my pick? And what did you choose this Wednesday?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: books I recommend the most

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week the participants post their top ten to a specific topic.

This week's topic asks the impossibility of me to choose the top ten books I recommend the most

Like seriously how should I choose?! I think sometimes I'll have to resort to just giving you authors. I'll also try to focus on books that maybe not everyone has already read and aren't that well-known. However, I'm currently lying propped up in bed with a fever so I might not be fully coherent...

  1. Nevermore, by Kelly Creagh
    Yup, because her writing is just that beautiful. And Varen is my favorite book boyfriend. The way Creagh weaves Poe into her story is magnificent! You can check out my review here. It's the first one I ever wrote though so beware...

  2. Anything by Holly Black really, but why not start with White Cat, the first book in the Curseworkers series? There you've got a type of Urban Fantasy I haven't ever seen anywhere like this. It's part noir, part fantasy, part gangster thing, and features lots of cons and twists and amazing characters and reader-heartbreak! I'd link you to my review, but I've only done book 3 so there'd be spoilers...

  3. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
    I know, I said no super well-known books. But seriously just pick this one up. It's magic enclosed in paper.

  4. The Replacement, by Breanna Yovanoff
    It was so great I still haven't found the right words to review it. It tore out my heart and I lost count of how many times I cried at the beauty and the sadness and how often my chest ached for Mackie.

  5. Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series
    To this day my favorite fairy series ever. I read the last of the spin-off mangas today and was reminded of just how amazing her characters and world-building are!

  6. The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
    Another book that will put you through the emotional wringer, but it's sooo good! It's also theoretically New Adult, even though back then it wasn't marketed as such. It's about an ex-foster-home-girl trying to make a living in San Francisco.

  7. Anything by Ralf Isau, especially his Kreis der Dämmerung (Circle of the Dawn) books. I'm not sure if you can find them in English though, but he's a fairly well-known German YA, MG and adult author. I know his work's been translated into other languages... Many of his stories and characters are still with me and helped me through rough patches in my teens.

  8. Generation X, by Douglas Coupland
    Simply an amazing book! What he writes about the 90s generation is still fairly applicable today, IMO.

  9. Kate Griffin's Matthew Swift books, starting with A Madness of Angels (not god-like angels, they're the remnants of our voices in the telephone wires). Seriously THE best Urban Fantasy/Urban Magic series I have read. EVER.

  10. Finally, I feel like I should list a classic. Hm. Maybe Virginia Woolf's Orlando? Wilkie Collins' Woman in White?
I could have listed so many more books you guys!! Neil Gaiman. Gayle Forman. The Infernal Devices. Kim Harrison. Sarah Rees Brennan's Demon's Lexicon trilogy. Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Ugh >.<
Have you read any of them? And what can you recommend? Link me up in the comments :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

About Bloglovin' and the whole Google Reader thingy

Hey guys!

I think by now most of you have heard about Google Reader shutting down on July 1, 2013.
While I'm still not quite clear about what this means for feedburner and GFC, it's definitely going to be minor chaos and a big incovenience for both bloggers and their readers/followers!

I originally wanted to wait a while for this to blow over and to see what other people are doing about this issue. Many seem to be switching to Bloglovin' as an alternative. You can easily import all your blogs from Google Reader. I'm not as happy with the layout and stuff of Bloglovin' as I am with the blog roll on my Blogger dash, but if it does collapse in July I guess I can make do. My problem is that I just find it hard to differentiate with all these feeds and how Google Reader shutting down affects certain things on my blog because even though I added them, I don't fully understand some of them to be honest. For instance, if you've subscribed via email, I think this works via feedburner. And how long Google will keep that is anyone's guess...

So I want to give you guys alternatives. You can already use Feedcat to subscribe to this blog, and what I like about it is that it gives you many options to share content, subscribe via various readers and also by email. You can find that button right above the GFC widget.

What's new is the Bloglovin' button you guys can now also use to subscribe if you've switched to their service, as I know quite a lot of bloggers have. It's right below GFC.

And of course I'm keeping the Networked Blogs widget, as well! It can deliver links to my new posts right into your Facebook timeline.

So yes... I just wanted to keep you as updated as I can! I hope you will stick with me through this transition, even in the case that GFC will be eliminated too (let's hope not!!). I want to make following as convenient for you as I can, so here's a question to you:
Are there other following methods you would like me to add? Linky, for instance? Let me know in the comments, and give me your suggestions there. What are you going to use once Google Reader is down?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Know Me Better: kindness, high school, names, and adrenaline junkies

Know me Better is a meme hosted by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. Every week she posts 5 questions from her author interview list that the participating bloggers then answer and link to.

This week's questions:

What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
What is most memorable about your high school years?
Have you ever gotten up early for a "black Friday sale"?
Were you named after anyone?
Would you bungee jump, skydive or something similar?

What is the kindest thing anyone has done for you?
I've been racking my brain for something that stands out for a while now... many people have done kind things for me - my parents, my sister, friends... but I'm looking for this really small, seemingly-unimportant thing that came just at the right time and meant so, so much in that particular situation. I'm sure such things happened, but I can't remember right now.
But one thing that changed my life was finding people on Myspace who were from my country and listened to the same type of music! When I met them in real life they were so, so kind to me, inviting me along to shows, letting me crash at their homes, and asking things like 'hey, I'm organizing this show for a couple local bands at the Dynamo next week. Wanna help out at the  entry register for an hour or so or help with catering? You can come in and listen to the bands for free afterwards. And don't worry about catching the last train home, we're all camping out at my apartment and having breakfast together in the morning.' They just accepted me into their midst, and that year-and-a-half when I was 17/18 and met so many amazing people and bands and dared to actually DO things is still among my most treasured memories. They didn't have to do any of these things for me, but they did them anyway and I would be a completely different person if I hadn't met them.
What is most memorable about your high school years?

High school is sort of split up differently here. At 12, after 5 years of primary school, all students are assessed and put into one of 3 different schools according to their grades, for 4 more years. At 16, most enter an apprenticeship. Only those in the 'smartest' school-type who manage an average of at least 4.7 (6 is the best grade) can opt to go to school for another 4 years, and only if they pass the finals there can they enter university (no application necessary, just pay 700 bucks for the first semester and you're in).
So, high school... the first 4 years (age 11-15 for me) were awful. Awkwardness, bullying, and lots of fear. After that when I could start over in the new school that would prepare me for university, things got a lot better. Many people in my new class (you're with the same people for all your subjects in Switzerland, and you have at least 12 of them) had been through similar things. So it was a lot better. I made friends I'm still close to, got into writing, got a better grip of who I was. I think that's what I'm mostly taking away from it. Finally having the space to actually grow and be myself, not trying to hide in fear all the time anymore. The first few weeks I had sore muscles in my cheeks because I was laughing so much more than before!
Have you ever gotten up early for a "black Friday sale"?

There's no such thing in Switzerland, so nope. I probably wouldn't do it to myself anyway - from what I've heard it's full of grabby, buy-crazy people crammed into too little space. Horror.

Were you named after anyone?

No. My parents weren't fully aware of the meaning of my name, either. My mum always told me it means 'the woman from the mountain of Carmel', who apparently was a wise/cunning woman (some sort of witch). Imagine my surprise when I was cramming my Latin vocab and stumbled across my own name! It means 'song' or 'poem'. From then on I liked my name a lot more :)

Would you bungee jump, skydive or something similar?

Hell no! I'm sort of afraid of heights and not at all an adrenaline junkie. I never go on rollercoasters either. Skydiving is the one I could imagine I'd be most likely to do if forced though because it must be like flying...

That's it... some very long answers again. I wanted to put a picture in originally (of some of my friends mentioned above) but then decided against it. Anyhow... comments on my answers? And please link me up to your own :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: androids, nightmares, and quiet places on the freedom road to alaska

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to showcase all the books we got in the past week. Those can be bought, won, gifted, for review, borrowed, print or ebooks... no matter, just share what you got :)

This week ended up being quite a lot more busy for me that I had originally thought! The reason for that is mainly the big (for me) amount of books I suddenly got approved for on NetGalley. I requested Mila 2.0 in early February and by this point expected the big D for Denied because it's Harper Collins UK. So being approved was a big surprise! It's probably because that version of the book was only open for requests by European bloggers. I just started it and I'm liking it fine so far :)


Pretty Dark Nothing, by Heather L. Reid
Some Quiet Place, by Kelsey Sutton
Mila 2.0, by Debra Driza
The Sweetest Dark, by Shana Abé

But I mean seriously, isn't this also some real cover porn? o.O I've featured both Some Quiet Place and Pretty Dark Nothing as WoWs before, so I'm very excited about them! Pretty Dark Nothing is currently available as a 'read now' book on NetGalley.

Bought / borrowed:

Girl of Nightmares, by Kendare Blake
Looking for Alaska, by John Green

I'm so glad Girl of Nightmares is finally here! I've waited like 9 months for the paperback to match my Anna Dressed In Blood edition >.< Now I can't read it because of my review books :P
I borrowed Looking For Alaska from my sister - it will be my first John Green book. The sticky notes mark some of her favorite passages.


Freedom Road, by T.M. Souders
The Truth About Letting Go, by Leigh Talbert Moore
Fateful, by Cheri Schmidt
El gran teatro del mundo / Das grosse Welttheater, by Pedro Calderon de la Barca

All of them were either free or very cheap when I bought them on Amazon. The first two had been on my wishlist for a while, Fateful I got because it was free and I thought the idea of a guy who is normal/mortal by day and a vampire by night sounded somewhat new. We'll see how I like it...
El gran teatro del mundo is a play I have to read for one of my classes. It's a world literature classic and I've actually seen a very impressive production of it back in 2007 or so. I don't know any Spanish so I'm reading the German version, but you can also have it in English for free.

While you guys are here, please check out my new review & giveaway of Rapture by Phillip W. Simpson. I've also got a post for the Kick-Butt Characters Giveaway Hop, which is open internationally, and  a discussion about how important the romantic plot is to your enjoyment of a book.

Alrighty, enough about me. Leave your comments about what you think of my haul below (have you read any of the books already?) and link me up to your own new book pretties :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Kick Butt Characters Giveaway Hop! (INT)

Hey guys and welcome to my stop on the 2nd Annualt Kick-Butt Characters giveaway hop, co-hosted by Good Choice Reading and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. There are almost 150 blogs participating, so make sure to hop along in the linky at the bottom of this post!

As the title says, this giveaway is all about the characters who can kick some butt! And I definitely love them :) It was hard to make up my mind, but I'm offering you a choice of ONE of the books below. If you already own that particular book, you can also choose another one of the same series. The books will be ordered via The Book Depository, but please check the full rules below!! If there's another YA book with a kick-butt character that you really really want but isn't on my list, that can be arranged too ;)

So here's what I've picked out for you, my dears... click the covers for the goodreads description! 

  • Open INTERNATIONALLY provided The Book Depository ships to you. Just fill out the rafflecopter, and please don't leave your email in the comments!
  • One entry per person/household. Cheaters will be disqualified. I check  every single entry before picking a winner. Some cheating attempts I've come across are appalling.
  • I will order the cheapest edition available from my location on TBD, so covers may vary. If you prefer ebooks, you can also choose that instead of a paperback, provided it doesn't cost more and that I can gift it to you on Amazon.
  • You must be at least 13 or have permission from your parent to enter (blah).
  • The winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond, then I'll pick a new one.
  • Once I've ordered the book, I'm no longer responsible for what happens with it.
That's it! If you have questions, put them in the comments or tag me on Twitter (@Butterfly_Ghost)  

Good luck, and keep kicking those butts as you hop along and check out the other blogs! ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Discussion: You Want Romance? (Or: what do you read for in books?)

Sorry, I'll get to the point of this post in a sec, I just couldn't resist the lure of this exact wording for my title because there's a song by one of my favorite bands with that name. You can check out the video below, it's part two of a video trilogy (Bullet Theory - You Want Romance? - Juneau). All the videos are beautifully done in my opinion!

Anyway, you aren't here for my opinions on music.
While I have no official discussion feature on my blog at this point, I'd like to start up some conversations or collections of opinions every once in a while on various topics about books, publishing, blogging, reviewing, or whatever other book-related stuff I can come up with.

Something that's been going through my mind for a while is what other people read for in books. And quite often the answer to that seems to be romance. I see many reviews where the plot and pace and all that is mentioned, but the bulk of the review focuses on the love interest and how hot and amazing he is, while the actual heroine seems to recede into the background.

Now, I don't think there's anything wrong with focusing on the romance. Everyone gets what they need out of a book, and there are no wrong or right ways to read. But sometimes it does worry me a bit that the heroine, whom the story is supposedly about, seems to become more of a ploy to introduce the dude? And it's actually more his story than hers, even if it's told from her POV? Personally, I think it's unhealthy when the only/most important thing in a girl/woman's life is her love interest/boyfriend (same for guys being obsessed with a girl). Or think about all those heroines whose life would basically end if he broke up with her because she defines herself over him. Thankfully, I haven't read all that many books like that because I tend to avoid them in advance by reading reviews/descriptions (I can usually tell).

So what my question to you guys eventually comes down to is: do you read for the romance? Would a lack of romance diminish your interest in a book? Is it what you focus on, or are other aspects of a book more/equally important to you? If so, which ones?

As you've probably guessed by now, I'm critical of too much romance. Part of that is, admittedly, because I don't think I've ever really been in love. I just can't imagine having such strong feelings about another person. Maybe I'm a little bitter :P

But more importantly, I tend to find books whose storyline / plot is mostly or only romance boring. Also, repetitive. The names and character properties may vary a little, but very often it all comes down to a relatively small number of possible plots. Sometimes the romance and that super amazing hot dude just seem like a marketing device to sell more books.
I like romance! I like steamy scenes! But please give me a little more. Give me friendship, or family, or a paranormal element or some other kind of conflict that is not focused on the romance! I like the romance in the backdrop, I don't want it to hijack the actual story. It's just often so sappy. Or the guys are too good to be true. Also, a lot of the love interests in YA / NA are starting to sound rather similar to me. And I don't like HEA endings, I want a realistic ending. I want the ending that is best for the story, even if it's bittersweet or hurts me.

What I do read for is often the world building (you might have noticed if you've been following me for a while ^^'). That's why I love fantasy / paranormal books so much. Contemporaries also have world building, but it's less developed because it basically imitates a reality we all know. I just love figuring out the rules and system of a new world, and how it is different from ours, and all the imaginative wonderful details authors put into those world and how they make them seem real to us readers!
But what really makes or breaks a book for me apart from that is characters. I have to be interested and invested in the characters. I actually like them to be different from me - I have to understand them, not necessarily like them or find them 'universally relatable' (whatever that means). I want to feel with them, root for them, ache for them. If I care for the characters, I also like what romance there is a lot better, though I still hope there is more to the story. For instance, Rachel Vincent's books all have romance, and I love them! I also love the romance - because it's done very well, because her characters are wonderful, and because her books abound in elements and plots that are not directly related to the romantic storyline.

I could go on about this for a while longer, but I have to stop my rambling now. Bottom line: I have conflicted feelings about romance, and it's not the main element I read for in books. But what about you guys? Any reactions to my remarks? I think I might have been a little harsh at times, but I just needed to get this out there.
I really want to here about what you think! (Why) do you read for romance? Why not? Would you read a book without a romantic element? What ultimately makes/breaks a book for you?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Blog Tour: review & giveaway of Rapture, by Phillip W. Simpson

Welcome to the book tour for Phillip W. Simpson's YA dystopian Rapture, the first in a trilogy! The tour is brought to you by Reading Addiction Book Tours. Check out the other stops for interviews and guest posts! And don't forget to enter the rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom ;) There's also an excerpt of a fight scene if you want some demon action and a taste of what to expect in the book.


Release date: October 21, 2011
Publisher: Pear Jam Books
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 300 pages

Goodreads description:
The Rapture has occurred, just as the Bible predicted. The faithful have risen up to Heaven. Those left behind are in a living hell.

Earth burns, hell-like in its oppressive heat. Every volcano in the world has erupted, and tsunamis and earthquakes continue to devastate the planet. Clouds continually rain ash onto the scorched landscape, sparking fires all around. Plants and animals are dying. Food is scarce. The night sky is devoid of stars, and the moon - when it can be seen - is the colour of blood.

The remnants of humanity fight for survival. Most have fled the cities and now hide in caves deep in the mountains. By night, demons stalk the Earth, capturing the remaining humans and killing them - if they're lucky. The less fortunate are converted to worship of the Devil, and ushered into endless hell.

Eighteen year old Sam is unable to rise up because he is half demon. Hikari, a Japanese sword master and demon expert and his beautiful daughter, Aimi, have been all the family Sam has ever known. Now they're gone, and Sam must set out on the mission Hikari charged him with long ago: to help all the humans left behind. Armed only with his beloved Japanese swords and his wits, Sam wanders the post-apocalyptic world alone, separated forever from everyone he loves. Cursed by his demonic heritage, he must now embark on a quest that will take him across the US to the City of Angels.

There he will confront his destiny. There he must fight to save a friend ... and the souls of the living.

 Buy it on:

The series continues in Tribulation, which you can check out and buy here.

I was interested in reading Rapture because it combines some elements I love: demons, a hero caught in an internal war with himself, and Japanese sword fighting.

As you can read in the description, the rapture prophesied in the bible has occurred and all the faithful have been taken to heaven. Left behind are those who don’t believe, be they innocents or sinners. What they’re in for is general chaos and seven years of hell on earth. Every night, demons appear and hunt the remaining humans to kill them or drag them to hell. Ash is raining from the sky, there is no more electricity, and with plants dying the animals are vanishing as well. Humans are as likely to kill each other for food as they are to group together to help one another during the nightly demon attacks.

The books is narrated in the third person and follows Sam as he leaves his small hometown in Utah for the first time ever to embark on a journey to Los Angeles to fulfill his destiny and help the innocent left behind on his way there. Sam is a half-demon and was raised by Hikari, a Japanese man of the church and sword master who knew Sam’s mother. He helps Sam cope with the downsides of his heritage and teaches him all that he knows about fighting, tactics, and Christian mythology to prepare him for the coming rapture that he knows about through visions shown to him and a few others by the angel Gabriel. The events from Sam’s childhood up to the rapture are told as flashbacks, alternating with chapters taking place in the present. That way, Sam’s past and the necessary knowledge to understand what’s going on in the fight of good vs. evil is gradually revealed to the reader.

I liked Sam. Despite being a half-demon, he’s a good guy and fights hard to keep his sometimes eruptive temper at bay. He trains relentlessly and has a great relationship to Hikari and his daughter Aimi, who he begins to develop feelings for. Sam knows that Hikari and Aimi will likely be taken during the rapture – and that he will be left behind because of his heritage. Naturally, this is something he struggles with (sometimes with quite a lot of ‘why me’), and it’s clear that he misses them a lot after the rapture. They were his whole world, because he could rarely go out in daylight and interact with other humans – the small horns on his head and his black eyes make a normal life impossible in such a small and devout community. I enjoyed watching Sam develop once he embarks on his journey, meets other people, and forms tentative friendships.

Something I admit that I struggled with is just how steeped this novel is in Christian belief. I expected some of that from the description, but I didn’t think it would be this extreme. With that I don’t mean that the book was preachy, but it’s just something that makes me uneasy personally. While Sam does think that it’s unfair that a lot of innocent people were left behind when the faithful rose to heaven simply because they didn’t believe, this whole concept also raised questions for me. Do all those who belief in any kind of god rise to heaven, or just the Christians? What about the many Jews, Muslims, Hindu, Buddhist, or whatever else people? That question is never delved into. Also, the focus on Christian myths made the book a bit too allegorical for me, something the characters’ names, the temptations scenes, and the depiction of Vegas and L.A. contributed to.
I liked the descriptions of the various demons though, and the fight scenes were very well-written! I could picture Sam’s movements wonderfully and also enjoyed seeing him during his training in the flashbacks. And of course I love his weapons of choice – the katana and the wakizashi. His are forged of iron, the only thing that works against demons.

Another thing I had some problems with was that the mode of the writing usually kept me at a distance to the story and characters. You can do third person point of view in a more experiencing mode, close to the character, or in a mode that is closer to the narrator. The latter was the case here, which made it a little hard for me to really connect with Sam. I was told about his feelings, but I didn’t really experience them most of the time. Also, the diction was a bit too formal at times, which again contributed to the impression of distance. I think that was also one of the reasons why some secondary characters felt a bit hollow to me.

The pace of the story is great though, so I never got bored and was always interested in what would happen next. The alternating timeline of the chapters also provided variation, and it’s always made clear what time period the reader is in at what moment. There was also a plot twist near the end that I enjoyed and didn’t see coming and world building details that were imaginative and well thought-out.

Overall, you will enjoy this book if you love an action-packed read set in a dystopian world during the final fight of good against evil. If you have a problem with the religious aspect or are looking for a romance-focused book, this one isn’t for you. Despite the problems I pointed out, I liked Rapture and am interested in reading its sequel, Tribulation.


As soon as this thought entered his mind, it was interrupted by a demonic presence to his left. A cluster of Lemure surged out of what had once been the local coffee house, screaming as they advanced. Sam sprinted around a wrecked SUV to give himself some breathing room, drawing both swords.
He swung around to his left, still at full stretch. Whether by good luck or by displaying a higher than usual level of intelligence, three of the Lemure hadn’t fallen for the ploy. They met him on the other side of the SUV, running as hard as he was. Sam didn’t even pause. He struck high then low and spun around to deliver a double blow to the third Lemure. All three turned to ash in his wake.
He kept sprinting, skirting around the wrecks in the middle of Main Street, heading east. It was opposite to the direction he wanted to head in but he would double back later in order to confuse his pursuers.
Sensing that the demons were falling behind, Sam slowed to a fast jog. He could keep this pace up for hours if he needed to. Before the Rapture, he had often run into the Rockies and back before the sun had even snuck up over the horizon. Night-time was when he always trained, away from prying eyes. He always felt stronger in the dark. Hikari had told him that his night vision was much better than any other humans, something he had suspected when he realized he could see almost perfectly in all but the most absolute darkness.
It was just as well because now the only light came from the moon, which was hardly a great source of illumination. Normally, street lights, the frontages of residential homes, the odd shop open for a late night and the occasional car would provide ample light for the average resident. It was odd running through the small town like this, guided only by the malevolent red glow from above.
Disturbingly, despite his injuries, Sam felt even stronger right at that moment, almost as if the moon was energizing him. He looked up, hoping to catch a glimpse of a star in the now cloudless sky. There were none. Had been none since the Rapture. The stars, once beautiful and sparkling in the clear country air, had all fallen. Where they had landed, Sam had no idea. He just knew that they weren’t in the sky anymore.
Suddenly a shadow fell across the moon, a strong wind buffeting him from above. He’d sensed the presence of the Astaroth but he was far, far too late. Too late and too slow. Cursing himself for his lack of concentration, Sam attempted to roll but felt something lift him off his feet with a powerful jolt. It was the Astaroth alright. Clearly, those wings weren’t for show, he thought wryly as the Astaroth slowly gained height. Luck had been on his side though. Instead of those mighty talons piercing his skin, they had merely jagged his backpack.
Then Sam remembered what were in his hands. What had been in his hands all the way down Main Street. His swords. He swept both up at the same time, each aiming for a different leg, and felt a savage surge of satisfaction as the iron weapons both connected and bit deeply. The Astaroth roared so loudly that, if Sam had been able to, he would’ve covered his ears.
Instead, he found himself falling. Surprisingly quickly. He thought, rather belatedly, that he hadn’t actually planned this out very carefully.
The ground rushed up to meet him.

Sooo... what do you guys think of the book, my review, or the excerpt? Is this something you think you'd enjoy? Let me know in the comments :) 

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