Archive for the ‘You Review’ Category

You Review: Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Reviewed by Michael Minneboo

I read Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Seconds in one session. I couldn’t stop reading this wonderful, feel-good science fiction story by the Canadian cartoonist/musician who is famous for creating Scott Pilgrim.

The main character of the 300-plus graphic novel is Katie, a talented young chef who runs a successful restaurant called Seconds. She’s respected by her peers and in the process of opening a second restaurant that will be her own. Life looks good, but then it doesn’t anymore: her ex-boyfriend pops up, her fling with another chef goes bad, and then her best waitress Hazel gets badly burned during work. Katie needs to change things, but we can’t change the past, or can we?

When a mysterious girl appears in the middle of the night, it seems Katie gets a chance to change one of her mistakes and turn her life around for the better. She only has to write down what she did wrong, ingest a magic mushroom and go to sleep. And when she wakes up, she has indeed changed the past. But for Katie, life still doesn’t seem perfect, so she goes against the rules and changes the past a second time. And a third, and a fourth, etc. But she soon discovers that going against the rules has dire consequences.

With Seconds, O’Malley taps into a desire most of us have, since we’ve all made mistakes we’d like to change or erase from our past. Obviously Katie will abuse the gift she got to change more and more details about her life, going further back into the past to fix things until she understands the valuable life lesson that we all have to accept our mistakes, learn from them and live with them. Although the plot is somewhat predictable, I really enjoyed its execution. Especially when the fairytale-like elements turn dark and the story becomes rather nightmarish.

Just like his famous comic series about Scott Pilgrim, O’Malley draws most of his characters in a cartoony, manga-esque style. So be ready for girls with big hair, large eyes and expressive faces. Manga-style artwork is an acquired taste; I guess it’s either your thing or it isn’t.

Art-wise O’Malley had assistance from Jason Fischer, a cartoonist from LA. Unfortunately the credits list doesn’t state in what way Fischer assisted, whether he inked the drawings or was responsible for the decors, for instance. What I really liked about the art of this comic are some of the big panels in which the artists treat the reader to a wonderfully detailed drawing of the scenery, like these two:

Also, Nathan Fairbairn did a wonderful job coloring the book. I will definitely read Seconds a second time.

Michael Minneboo is a journalist specialised in comic books and visual culture. Read more of his work on his excellent website,

You Review: Kaleidoscope

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Reviewed by Sophie Knapen

Kaleidoscope was written by several authors and includes 20 Young Adult science fiction and fantasy stories. It’s wonderfully written and you can get attached to the characters even though you only get about twenty pages to do so. You get to read about superheroes, time traveling and loads of other amazing science fiction stories.

For me this was a great book, I could easily just read one story without feeling distracted or bored. It’s like the idea of fairy tales for children, but then with stories that were written for young adults. For example, the first story, “Cookie Cutter Superhero”, is about a girl in high school. She’s been chosen to become America’s most famous superhero, even though half of her arm is gone. It’s not just about science fiction or fantasy, it actually brings a message along with the story.

The second story, called “Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon”, is a beautiful love story about a girl falling in love with a girl, mixed with a fantasy/historical story about a couple falling in love but being separated. 
It goes on like that and you’d think there would be stories similar to the other ones in the book but there’s no story the same, which keeps it interesting and fun. Overall this is a really beautiful book about love, future and history.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

You Review: The Walled City – Ryan Graudin

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Reviewed by Sophie Knapen

The Walled City has three rules: Run fast, trust no one and always carry a knife. But what happens when you decide to break the second rule. When Jin’s family sells Jin’s sister Mei Yee, Jin decides to go after her, into the Walled City. A city without laws and run by the Brotherhood and street gangs. Teens have to run drugs or work in brothels to make their money, or they hide, like Jin does. But when Dai comes along and gives her a chance to find her sister, she decides to break her second rule. She trusts Dai and begins an exciting race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.

The Walled City was real in Hong Kong.  It is gone now but human trafficking is not. This book shines a light on human trafficking but lets you enjoy the story at the same time.

At first everything was a bit confusing. I wasn’t sure where they were and what the characters were thinking about, but after reading a few chapters things became more and more clear. I didn’t fully understand everything until the end. I did like the characters because you could read from 3 perspectives: Jin, Dai and Mei Yee.

You really have to want to understand this book because it’s not an easy read. But once you get it, it becomes really interesting and you want to know all the answers.

I am glad I read this book. You just really have to give the The Walled City by Ryan Graudin a chance because once you do it only gets better.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Ebook of The Walled City available here.  Ryan Graudin also wrote All That Glows (ebook here), with the sequel All That Burns expected in February 2015.

You Review: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Reviewed by Marianne van der Wel

Richard Walker has died. His ex-wife Caroline and their children, Minna and Trenton, have just arrived at his country house for their inheritance. But they are not the only ones in the house.

Long-dead former residents Alice and Sandra are there as well, watching while the Walkers try to sort through the detritus of Richard’s past.

All of them are haunted by secrets of their own, secrets that are trying to get free, because everything surfaces in the end.

Rooms by Lauren Oliver is set up like a house tour. You slowly go through it. In each new room memories resurface and the characters move towards the inevitable revelations of their secrets. All the characters reveal a bit of their stories at a time. At the start it feels a bit fractured, but once everyone has had their first say, you can start to see the bigger picture.

In the beginning of the story I did not like any of the characters. They all seemed petty and self-absorbed. But as it unfolded, my dislike of them became less. You get to know them and they become more human. Unfortunately, this made the beginning of the book a bit dull, and even irritating at times. I’m glad I kept reading, though. It’s a tragic story, with its own sort of happy ending. It’s the best the characters could have hoped for.

In the end I really liked this book. There isn’t much in the way of character development, but that is not what it’s about. You have to give the character a chance to tell their story. And this story is told in a very natural way. You can feel the slow build of nothing to suspenseful, and finally the satisfaction of knowing that everyone is where they should be. This is a very special kind of ghost story.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

There is no ebook of Rooms available yet, but there are ebooks of Lauren Oliver’s previous work: Before I Fall, Delirium (but not the rest of that series, sadly), Panic, Liesl & Po and Spindlers.

You Review: The Perfectionists – Sara Shepard

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Reviewed by Esmée de Heer

Welcome to Beacon High, hell on earth for underachievers. The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard, who you know from the hit series Pretty Little Liars, tells the story of five girls who get fed up with Nolan Hotchkiss, the richest kid in all of Beacon Heights. Nolan is the worst kind of rich kid, one who uses his money to humiliate others and to always get what he wants. No wonder they want to kill him. The girls come up with their devious plan during Film Studies, taught by their oh-so-hot, but oh-so-bad teacher Mr. Granger. But when they execute said plan during a party, things go horribly wrong. Nolan ends up actually dead and the girls are being set up by the murderer, whoever that may be.

The book is a solid mystery and definitely reminiscent of Pretty Little Liars. The high school drama is unescapable and the love triangles are aplenty. There is enough juicy gossip to make the book last and every girl has her own secret and reason to want to get revenge on Nolan.

While reading The Perfectionists you do have to ignore some of the obvious flaws. Of course it makes sense that the girls wouldn’t be able to go to the police, because the police is in on the conspiracy. Of course the girls also all have difficult home situations and not a single adult is to be trusted. And of course they all have at least one boy swooning over them! What would a mystery be without a litte (read: a lot of) romance? But at the same time the book is fun and suspenseful and all the characters are different and interesting enough to make it work.

The setting of Beacon High as a high school where excelling is equally and maybe even more important than just being pretty was refreshing, and the girls are not just empty headed vessels for pretty clothing. They deal with pretty big problems besides their every day teenage problems, and the author comes up with detailed back stories that still leave plenty of room for future mysteries. The Perfectionists is a great beach read and a definite must for anyone who loves previous work of Shepard. The mystery will definitely keep you turning pages and when you’re done, you will want even more.

Blogmistress’s note: The Perfectionists was supposed to be published in the summer of 2014, but, as you can see, has been significantly delayed.  In fact, the US edition shows both a publication date of this month AND May 2015.  Go figure.  The UK edition shown above can be ordered now, though, and delivered within the week (if we don’t have it in stock).

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Esmée, together with Charlotte, runs the Bored to Death Book Club. Head on over to see if you might like to join them!

There is no ebook available of The Perfectionists yet (…see my note on publication date confusion above), but there are ebooks available of her previous works: The Heiresses, Pretty Little Liars (and other books in that series) and The Lying Game (and other books in that series).