This series is really a lot of fun and the third installment of the Lorien Legacies is filled with action and character development. In The Rise of Nine the book is written from the perspectives of Four, Six and Seven giving you a really well rounded view of the Garde and their journey to meet up with one another. By the end of this book we’ve met everyone except for Number 5 and these guys are ready to kick some Mogadorian butt and get back to the planet Lorien. The plot doesn’t really move forward in this novel it’s more a rallying book with the story centering around the Garde centralising ready to take on the Mogadorian leader who has now landed on earth. Six, Seven and Ten are on a mission to find Number Eight while Number Four and Nine have just escaped from the Mogadorian base and are recovering trying to work out how to rescue Sam and meet up with Number Six.
Like the first two novels in this series the writing is really nothing spectacular, it’s very generic first person filled with a lot of action. This isn’t a book you read for the prose it’s definitely more a fast easy read that takes you on an exciting adventure. The character of Four is less frustrating in this novel, he’s still moping about Sarah and Sam but I think being around the gung ho Number Nine makes him less whingey and definitely makes his story more entertaining then it was in book 2.
Six is her usual kick ass rash self coming to everyones rescue, she’s definitely shaping into the leader of this group which is interesting because they keep making hints and references to Number Four being the reincarnation of Pittacus Lore who was head elder on planet Lorien.
Number Seven really grew in this story taking charge of her legacies and coming to terms with the world outside the convent she’s lived in her entire life until this point. She has some truly brave and selfless moments where she manages to save the lives of her fellow garde at different moments of this book really proving her strenth and core role in this group.
Number Eight is introduced and hes an interesting character, a bit egocentric for my liking but he did mellow as the book went on and I’ll be interested in seeing more of him in subsequent novels.
There is hints of romance throughout this book though nothing really definite comes about. The whole Sarah, Six and Four triangle is referenced a few times and there is some definite flirting between number Seven and Eight leading me to believe that this relationship is definitely on the cards. Sarah makes a reappearance later on in this book and you do get more information about her major betrayal at the end of book 2 so it’s good to see how this plot furthers the story and her relationship with Number Four.
I felt that the major showdown at the end of this novel was a little sudden. I really didn’t expect this to happen until the last book of the series and obviously while everything didn’t wrap up in book 3 I really did feel like it was a bit rushed. What happened to the Garde meeting up and training together before taking on the Mogadorians and their leader? The whole encounter just made me feel like this was a rash bunch of teenagers and really I’m surprised that no one died.
While there are some plot holes and the writing is a little basic, this is a fast fun read that I think anyone who likes a bit of Sci-Fi action can enjoy. I read the book in a few hours and even though it’s definitely not one of the best reads I’ve had this year, I will definitely be continuing on with the series.
Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Rise of Nine is released today, the 22nd August 2012.(less)
I have to admit I was incredibly interested by this book the moment I read the synopsis. When I started the book I did so with some trepidation, I was really excited to read this it sounded like a book made specifically for me in terms of the genres and premise and like anything you build up often you find that you finally get to it and are severely let down. Hurray! Stitch was not one of these dissapointments I can safely say that especially about 60% through I was seriously going "OMG WTF I so did not expect that!"
Stitch starts out like a nice light fluffly paranormal - a young college girl haunted by the loss of her parents encounters a ghost and thinks she is falling in love. Sounds sweet and in all honesty I would have still probably enjoyed the story if it had stayed on that vein of thought. Somewhere shortly after the middle of this book however there are a number of bombshells that seemingly come out of nowhere and no longer are you in the middle of a paranormal romance, you are instead transported into a sinister post apocalyptic dystopian. This world of college classes and sorority friends? Not quite what they seem and I started to question where on earth is this book taking me next.
The story centers around our protagonist Alessa who picks herself up a year after her parents died in a car crash and goes to college. While at college she meets her best friend Jamie a fellow sorority sister and starts encountering the ghost of a young man. With Jamie's help she is on a mission to discover what happened to this man and find out why he is haunting her. Alessa is a very sweet young girl who has a real streak of inner strength which shows throughout the story by the way she handles the obstacles thrown at her. I really related to the way she coped with things, especially some of the big curveballs thrown in the middle of the book, I can't stand it when a heroine seems to barely bat an eyelid at a major gamechanger. There is strength and then there is the unrealistic, Alessa came across as strong, relatable and real and I really liked her.
Isaac was a lovely male lead and I can't wait to find out more about him in the next installment of this trilogy. He was smart but not an alpha male and there was no insta-love between himself and Alessa which was nice. As much as I was glad that this was a relationship that built slowly I did feel that the whole sparks flying/electricity and chemistry aspect of love was perhaps missing or maybe lacking is a better way of putting it. I'm hoping that we get more of that in book 2 as the scene is definitely set at the end of this book for a lot more alone time between this couple.
The premise of the world Durante has built was very interesting and while it incorporated many aspects that have shown in other post-apocalyptic novels none have woven so many different threads and ideas into one story in such a unique way. While you do get an insight into the new world order in Stitch, you are really left at the end of the book with more questions and desperate for more pages to magically appear. I'll venture a guess that the next book will fit much more squarely into the Dystopian genre as we uncover more behind the safe haven of Paragon and the process of Stitching.
Overall this was an easy book to like and read, and my biggest critique of the story would be that there was at times too much telling and not enough showing. That being said, this book has a lot of heart and I was really impressed with the overall editing and proofing quality especially as this is a self published novel. This really was a wonderful strong debut novel and I can't wait to read the next installment!(less)
This is the story of Ana who lives in the not to distant future where scientists and governments test for mental illnesses from birth and then segragates society into the "pures" who live in idyllic gated communities and the "crazies" everyone else who has predictors for mental illness, ranging from mild illnesses to the big three - depression, schizophrenia and anxiety. As you can quite safely assume the majority of the population is viewed as unpure and so are left to their own devices in major cities with the worst citizens locked up in various mental institutions that have opened up to "assist" these individuals.
Ana is born a pure with her father being the scientist who created the test to establish what mental illnesses a person has from birth. During her teenage years it is discovered that Ana's tests were done incorrectly and she does infact test positive for the big 3 meaning that she is outcast within her society and the government continually tests her to make sure that her mental health is stable. Providing she marries Jasper her childhood crush before her 18th birthday she is allowed to stay in the Pure community otherwise she has to go to the city to live. Shortly before her birthday Jasper dissapears leading her to investigate and uncover some very hard truths about the world which she has grown up in.
Let me just start off by staying what a fantastic and completely scary dystopian novel! I had read a few negative reviews about this book prior to requesting it via Netgalley - many were very offended about the authors take and description of mental illness. This outcry made me curious and I can safely say that while I have had experience with major depression (not personally, my mum suffered from it for most of my life) I didn't take offense at any point during the novel and infact I thought that it was a smart way to bring up real life issues to teens and young adults. I think what I love about the Dystopia genre so much is the ability to see where different avenues life, governments and politics can take you and explore safely how this could affect humanity - by safe I mean it's fairly clear to the reader that this isn't going to happen in their lifetime so it's a purely theoretical exercise of the imagination.
Ana's story starts off a bit slowly and I have to admit that I didn't really get into either her or the actual plot of the book until I was about a quarter of the way through. Once I got over that speed bump though boy was this a thrilling ride. The plots are actually quite complex yet really well managed for a book that isn't that long clocking in at just 432 pages. Aside from the standard dystopian ideas of controlling governments and conspiracies there is the extra thought provoking topics of mental illness and spirituality added in for the reader to mull over. I really enjoyed the actual theory of "the glimpse" as well and will be interested to see if there are more of these in the final book.
The characters are fairly stock standard however in saying that they are well rounded and I still enjoyed reading about them. By the end of the novel Ana really shows some backbone and I really enjoyed the layers and complexity of the relationship she has with her father in this novel. Jasper was probably the weakest link and I felt that some of his backstory was probably cut and edited out as not relevant which is a pity because I really felt that there was more to him than what the book gives him credit for. Cole was a fantastic character and love interest, I loved him he was so patient and kind even though he had been through such a hellish life.
There are some really confronting scenarios placed in this novel including suicidal toddlers and criminal abuse and negligence of mental patients. I found this very chilling and sometimes a little full on though it completely worked and added substance to this novel and was in context with the world building beautifully crafted by Merle. I think that this is a wonderful read for anyone who is willing to see this purely as a work of fiction or a theoretical exercise into the "what ifs" of a potential future. Perhaps give this one a miss if mental illness is a button pusher for you!
Thank you Netgalley and Faber and Faber for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. (less)
This was a guest review I wrote for Angelya from The Oaken Bookcase. It is part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature, running all July on The Oa...moreThis was a guest review I wrote for Angelya from The Oaken Bookcase. It is part of the Discover Australian Fantasy feature, running all July on The Oaken Bookcase. Please visit the Aussie Fantasy page to see the other reviews and articles and also to enter the giveaway – you could win a copy of Embrace!
"Did you ever think we would be anything other than unbelievable?"
I have had both good and bad experience with YA angel novels in the past. Firstly there is the Uneartly series by Cynthia Hand with I absolutely loved, then there are books like Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick which I would quite happily burn, and Fallen which I put down as DNF after struggling to get through the first 100 pages! I had first chosen to read Embrace at the beginning of the year when choosing books for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren. Much to my surprise I discovered that Jessica Shirvington is in fact a fellow Aussie and this book has been out Down Under for quite awhile now! I was so keen to read it I broke my ebook only rule and actually purchased the physical book (sadly the ebook is NOT available in Australia along with many other wonderful YA books I’m desperate to purchase!).
Embrace is the story of Violet who has never particularly enjoyed her birthdays as her mother died shortly after giving birth to her. On her 17th birthday her mother had left her a gift including a strange letter hinting about faith and otherwordly concepts leaving her feeling quite confused. Shortly after turning 17 Violet discovers she is part angel and has to decide whether to forgo her angel heritage or “embrace” this side of her fully.
I really liked Violet as a character for the most part of this book. She starts off strong, self sufficient and completely relatable. It’s actually a nice change to have a girl who is fit and sporty as a central character for no reason other than she wants to be, I can’t really think of another main heroine who is like that. Through the book she gets quite ragey and spiteful which is out of character and at first I was puzzled by it then caught on that there were paranormal influences at work and this just worked for the story. Like any good heroine Violet isn’t perfect, she makes mistakes, learns a lot and really grows into her new world as the story progresses while still managing to stay grounded in her normal day to day life.
Like so many Young Adult books there are 2 guys and I found both of them to be completely HOT, there is the quiet, reserved “good” guy Lincoln and then the dark mysterious “bad” boy Phoenix who both get quite a bit of air time. Now I’m sure there will be quite a few Phoenix fans out there but I must be drawn to the strong silent type or something because I swear if she ends up with Phoenix at the end of this quartet I will have to smack her over the head for her stupidity! For a bit of fresh air in a YA book there is actually some sex which is so rare these days I actually reread the scene because I was like “did she just do that… like really did she?!!!” Both of the guys really are more than they seem, their characters are definitely much deeper then just good and bad and this is what really made this story a great read. I personally can’t wait to find out more about Phoenix’s backstory in the future books.
I really enjoyed the angel mythology and premise of this world as well and can’t wait to find out more, the whole “Embrace” trials to accept your Grigori powers was really interesting and I will be interested to find out even more about the myhology in the remaining books of the series. I really liked how the whole Angel and Grigori lore was new to Violet as well and the information was given out in a way that didn’t make it too overwhelming – you just went on the learning journey with her as the story progressed.
Overall I found this to be a fantastic debut novel by a great Aussie author and think anyone with an interest in Angel or paranormal stories will appreciate this story!(less)
I don't know where to begin with this review. I don't often read contemporary novels they just aren't my cup of tea but on a whim after reading the synopsis on Netgalley I decided to request this one. Wow I am so glad that I did this book was spectacular - I couldn't put it down and instead of getting things done when my daughter was in daycare one day, I read this book from beginning to end in bed at many points crying as some parts were just heartbreaking. This is not your typical good girl/bad boy love affair, this is gritty and real with both the main characters beautifully flawed and complex.
Echo Emerson had it all until one day something horrific happened which she has blocked out completely. She woke up in hospital covered in injuries and lucky to be alive. Noah was on the straight and narrow until his parents tragically died in a house fire one night leaving him and his 2 younger brothers at the mercy of the foster care system. Both these two students have so much potential that with the help of a new school therapist they try to work through their issues before finishing their senior year.
Echo was a beautiful leading lady I couldn't help but feel for her considering everything that had happened in her life. Beyond her blocked memories, she had also lost her brother in Afghanistan and her father was now married and expecting another child with her former baby sitter. Her relationships with her mother, father, best friends in high school plus both her ex boyfriend and Noah are all wonderfully handled really giving you a good insight into a strong young woman who has had too much to cope with for such a young age.
Noah and everything to do with his character is about his younger brothers and how to eventually rescue them from the foster care system that failed him miserably. At the beginning he comes across arrogant and insufferable but you quickly realise that this is purely a defence mechanism he's used to cope with the unfair hand he's been dealt in life. As he studies with Echo and slowly spends more time reevaluating his future he turns into the most kind hearted and wise teenage boy I think you could ever meet!
The chemistry between these two is just hot hot hot! The book is filled with witty banter and sparks are seriously flying off the page every time these two come into contact. Aside from the sexual tension which is just rife in this novel, these two without meaning too provide each other an outlet for healing, probably more so then any therapy could provide. Like so many things in this book this could have been handled poorly coming across unrealistic or awkward but it simply works and it's an experience to go on the journey with these brave individuals.
It's one of those wonderful books where every chapter you think you have a handle and opinion on each of the characters, only to have even more information revealed and it gives you a completely different take on their actions. You slowly peel away all the different layers and get behind the untruths and emotional blocks to finally see the whole story clearly and man what a great story it was. This is one of the best books I've read this year, I just loved it and can't recommend it highly enough even if contemporary books aren't normally your thing I urge you to give it a go!(less)
I’ve read a lot of Dystopians but Eden’s Root has to be one of the hardest I’ve read to date purely because of how very gritty and real this book is. Unlike many Dystopians where you get a vague idea that at some point in the past something went horribly wrong leading to a completely different way of life and governing body, in Eden’s Root you are there from the beginning experiencing with the characters in a breaking and changing world. The main character Fi by the tender age of 14 has already experienced some traumatizing life events including the death of her brother and father to cancers and also the knowledge that her mother is soon to join them. The rise of cancers is attributed to all the modifications science has done over the decades to our food sources leading to the eventual loss of all new planatation in 2033 when Fi must help her family find the Eden complex in order to survive. I have personally seen both my own mother and my father in law sucumb to cancer way before there time and this book hits frightenly close to home.
The actual world building was very well done, you really felt you were there and part of the chaos after the government involved the military and started to ration the food. The only problem I had was that the actual story was just too long and could have done with some editing, especially in the early parts with Fi’s preparation and training. This is a long book and it took me quite a while to get through the first third of the novel and I think this is one of the story’s biggest faults.
The characters are beautifully done. Fi is a great heroine even if she is only 13 at the start of the novel. While at first I found it a bit hard to believe that she was incharge of her “family” including the adults after awhile I really did accept it, at the end of the day some people really are born leaders and Fi is one of these. Now she really grows in this story partly because of her training and partly because of the changing world around her forcing her to tackle some real moral issues. While I could imagine that some people would be irritated with her thoughts and reactions to events I thought that they rang quite true because at the end of the day regardless of how the world changes having to be involved in death, rape, pillage and all those other awful chaos activities would not be easy.
Sean irritated me a little bit, he was a bit too passive agressive for my tastes but I really liked the character of Asher. Some reviews I’ve read has put both these guys in a love triangle with Fi but I never really saw any romantic connection between her and Sean. But then Asher carries a sword around and is totally awesome so perhaps I was a little judgemental :) The family itself was nicely done if a little bit too lucky when it came to adding new members that just magically had skills the group could use. I also wonder if it was realistic how well their rules and meetings would actually work in this situation – I think I would find it very hard to always take direction from a teenager personally and I’m not entirely sure if there wouldn’t be more tension in reality.
Overall even though it took me awhile to get into this story I really loved it and I think that anyone who enjoys Dystopians/Post Apocalyptic stories should add this to their to-read list – it’s a fascinating read!(less)
I signed up for the book tour shortly after reading the phenomenal Young Adult novel, Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar which had a similar premise and I was really in the mood for supernatural thrillers. After getting the excerpt and tour information I started to worry, how on earth was I going to be able to give this book a chance without continually comparing the 2? Thankfully it became pretty clear within a couple of chapters that while the 2 sounded alike, where one was full of symbolism and quite disturbing, Firefly Beach on the otherhand was more lighthearted and fun not really alike at all.
Firefly beach is about the emotional journey Beth LaMonte, our heroine takes after going through personal loss and a relationship breakdown. Determined to rediscover herself and start living life again, she moves to a small coastal community to fulfill her youthful dream of becoming an artist and immediately on arrival is rewarded with some artistic success and inspiration. Along with her professional successes, Beth, with the help of a supernatural ball of light ie. the “firefly”, discovers a diary of a young woman who disappeared some 30 odd years ago. Caught up in the story of this young girl, she sets out to uncover what happened to her and discovers there is much more than originally meets the eye.
The first half of this book is fairly slow paced, filled with a lot of character development and introducing you to the coastal community. I found myself quite impatient at times and felt that the writing could be a little clunky – there was simply too much commentary about what Beth was doing at that particular point of time. I am a big believer that sometimes its the things that are left unsaid that makes a big impact, and hearing about her eating lunch, having a shower, making the bed whatever mundane activity it happened to be just really could have been edited out.
The character of Beth was quite frustrating to me as well. I understand that she endured quite a few emotional hardships but her reaction to things such as the firefly and some of the events that occur just didn’t sit well to me. In fact I think this poor girl could have done with some serious therapy, would have done her a world of good. She does grow throughout the novel and by the end of the book while I still couldn’t really relate to her, I did feel she was a stronger person and definitely more likeable to read about. I quite enjoyed the secondary characters of Rod and Kenny both of whom also conquer their own personal demons in the story and I really empathised with both of them. I was hoping there would be perhaps more backstory into Kenny and his relationship with his mother but can understand that it wasn’t really of value to the plot, just something that interested me.
The second half of this novel really picked up pace and from about 60% through the ebook on I found it very difficult to put down. Infact towards the end I turned to the clock and realised it was 1am, then found myself unable to sleep as I couldn’t stop thinking about some of the developments and plot twists that had come to light! Some of the plot twists relating to Katherine, the diary’s owner, I found quite heartbreaking most likely due to being a mother myself. I think also the fact that there were so many forks in Katherine’s road that if each decision had just gone a little bit differently things could have worked out so much better. I found this so sad and just wished that things could have worked out differently for her!
Overall I really did enjoy this book, and I think that anyone looking for a fast summer read with a mystery element will thoroughly enjoy this book!(less)
About once a year I hear about a book and for some reason I decide I most desperately have to read it and I build it up into the most awesomest book ever. Then I read the book and am thoroughly and incredibly dissapointed with it. Last year it was The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. This year it’s Skylark, I didn’t mind it, but boy did it fall way short of my expectations. The premise seemed so original and unique – part dystopian, part fantasy and part steampunk but the story was just way to uninteresting and the characters fell too flat for this book to be rated any higher than “average”.
Lark is well and truly over waiting for her harvesting. In this society older children and teens are “harvested” for their magical energy which keeps the protective dome energised around their city and ensures that their mechanical devices continue to work. Once children have been harvested they are allocated to their adult role in society and they start their careers immediately.
The first third of this novel sets the scene for how this city runs and explains how magical energy can only be harvested once out of youngsters. When Lark is finally harvested you discover that she isn’t ordinary – she is renewable meaning that after her first harvesting, her magical energy reforms so that she can be harvested over and over again providing a now renewable energy source to her people. She quickly discovers that the process of harvesting is actually incredibly cruel and that those in charge mean to keep her as a human battery, forcing her to flee for a fabled city of renewables outside the dome.
The middle of this novel is about Lark’s journey in the wilderness where is meets a strange boy Owen who helps her on numerous occassions from death. You discover the creepy zombie like people who are burnt out on magic and the strange magical hot spots that can take you to different places and different times. Unfortunately the majority of Lark’s journey is really quite boring and you just get a straight running commentary about what is happening to her at every moment. As there aren’t really any other central characters other than Lark for the majority of this section I found that it just dragged on for way too long.
Things started to really pick up in the last 3rd of this book though to be honest it was a case of too little too late for me. Some interesting things really do happen that I wont spoil for you but again it was so obvious who the bad guys were and who the good guys were – there was no complexity or layering of the supporting characters and I really found that lacklustre.
I found Lark to be quite a frustrating main character she just seeemed to continuously make poor choices, trusting the wrong people then totally not trusting clearly good individuals. Yes she was young alone and completely out of her element but I really found it hard to feel any sympathy for the girl. Oren was the real gem in this book, I’m not sure if I just like the silent savage type character who so needs a wonderful romance to open him up to a different way of life but he was complicated and interesting. I couldn’t say that there was any real romance between the two – in fact this book is really quite devoid on romance which isn’t a bad thing though I’m sure that this will be picked up in subsequent books in the series.
Overall I found that I procrastinated reading this book too much and felt at times I had to force myself to continue reading it. I’m not decided at this stage whether I will be continuing with the series – the premise and worldbuilding did hold some promise so I am hoping that book 2 might be vastly improved.
Thank you Netgalley and Lerner Publishing for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Skylark was released on the 1st August 2012.(less)
Kyle took a deep breath, like he had picked up on the question I hadn't asked. That was one of the differences between him and Jason: Kyle always gave just as much weight and consideration to the things I didn't say as to the things I did.
When I first saw Hemlock on the list of 2012 Debut Authors I instantly fell in love with the cover. I then saw it was about werewolves and hesitated as this isn’t really a topic that greatly interests me. The cover love won out and I selected it as one of the 12 debut author novels I would read for the 2012 challenge, and how glad am I!
Set in the small town of Hemlock just 5 months after the death of her best friend, Mackenzie is still grieving and feeling haunted by Amy’s vicious death by a white werewolf. When the Trackers – an extreme anti werewolf task force come to town by police invitation Mac soon gets caught up in a web of intimidation, lies and politics. Between working out who Amy’s killer is, trying to keep Amy’s boyfriend and her friend Jason from self destruction and struggling with her feelings for Kyle her best friend, this book is jam packed with action, suspense and relationships.
This was a wonderful mystery/thriller that had a dose of paranormal mixed in to create a fantastic book concoction! The whole premise that the government had to admit that werewolves existed as the spread of LS (Lupine Syndrome) was just too much to keep under wraps, and the idea that anyone infected is sent away to special camps felt realistic and I wanted to find out more. Add in the Trackers a group of fanatical werewolf haters who are well known to go outside the boundaries of the law to destroy those hiding their infection and you have a world fraught with change and fear. The town of Hemlock gave the appearance of a small sleepy American town which was given the spotlight after a rash of werewolf attacks, the last of which happened to Amy, Mackenzie’s best friend.
I really loved the main character Mackenzie. She had so much heart, even after having such a rough start in life. You find out that Mackenzie has witnessed and experienced some pretty gruesome things in her past, especially relating to the Trackers and I love that this book doesn’t shy away from the brutal reality of things. She has a great sense of loyalty to her friends and to Tess her guardian which is displayed through virtually all her actions within this book.
I really enjoyed the love triangle in this novel. Both the boys sound a bit boring at first glance – Jason, the bad boy and Kyle the perfect best friend. When you get below the surface both of them are wonderfully crafted, flawed but beautiful individuals. I especially loved the character of Jason, he’s so clearly messed up and just needs someone to help him make it all better. I love how he grows and develops through the story and the inner strength he shows towards the end when all his beliefs are turned upside down.
The actual plot in this story is also fantastic and I could barely put this book down I was really keen to find out what would happen next. I did have a pretty good idea where things would eventuate by about two thirds through but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story. I’m also looking forward to finding out more about the underground werewolf community in the sequel. I strongly urge you to consider picking this book up if you like a good paranormal mystery!
Thank you Edelweiss and Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Hemlock is released today the 8th May 2012.(less)
"I don’t want romance and stolen kisses and sweetness and hand holding. I want something so big it’s like two planets colliding, with an aftershock that I feel for the rest of my life."
Where to start with this book. This is not a run of the mill Young Adult novel and this is definitely not a stock standard paranormal. What this novel is, is hard to put down, it was eerie and suspenseful and showed the world from a completely different perspective.
The story centres around Abbie a lonely 17 year old who looks at everything from an artists view. She is romantically obsessed with he step cousin Kane who lives in the downstairs part of their house and until recently barely noticed her existence. When Kane arrives back from a surfing trip Abbie notices that while everything appears normal on the surface with Kane, something is just not right - there are shadows, there is blurred perceptions and a menancing feeling that just doesn't seem to go away.
I was worried going into this novel that this book would be wrought with Australian slang and cliches and was so relieved to instead discover a beachside town that could have been almost anywhere. While there was some references to Australian surf culture it in no way deterred from the story but instead enriched it showing a side to Australian life. I loved how connected this book was to the ocean and infact all the locations were well written and so very sensory I could almost feel I was there too.
Abbie was a fascinating character and her journey of self discovery was absolutely riveting. I loved the self portraits she took throughout the novel giving you clear glimpses of her personal growth and feelings it was such a different way of communicating with readers and I loved the impact it gave to the story. The back story of Abbie's family history was subtletly woven into the main storyline really letting you empathise for this young woman who just seemed so very isolated from the get go.
The horror element to the book was incredibly exciting and I spent 3/4 of the novel wondering if it was actually happening or if it was all in Abbie's head - all those internal musings and hints of otherworldliness just left you never really sure. The conversations Abbie has with her babysitting charge Joey and her imaginary friend Pinty were deliciously creepy and I'm still concerned for that poor 3 year old and what is clearly haunting her! Eagar also doesn't shy away from some truly violent horror scenes towards the end, I'm still reeling and horrified about the poor dog. I won't say more for fear of spoilers but I will say animal lovers beware some things in this novel are definitely what I would label as disturbing.
This novel definitely surprised me I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did and I can't wait to pick up Kirsty Eagar's other novels now.
Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Night Beach is released today, the 26th April 2012.(less)
"And I'm falling in love with you," he whispers. "But I would throw you in the water and watch crocodiles tear you to bits, if I thought that doing so would accomplish my goals. Do. Not. Trust. Anyone. Especially me."
The premise of this book really drew me in. It sounded like Moulin Rouge mixed into a scary dystopian world complete with a couple of sexy romantic interests - who couldn't be intrigued by that? After I first picked up this book I simply devoured it, it was so good if a little different to my original expectations. The story is based on an Edgar Allan Poe classic by the same title and while I haven't read it to see how it lives up to the original, the story definitely has a very dark gothic vibe which rings true of what Poe I have read. Araby, the central character of this novel starts of numb and disconnect buried in guilt and grief and this story really is about her discovering herself and opening her eyes to what is really happening in the world around her.
The world itself is both gorgeous and terrifying. You have the beautiful masks, aristocratic ladies with carriages and luxury apartment towers on one hand. You also have the corpses on the street, corpse collector’s, scary bats and crocodiles plus the plague infected on the other. Mixing these together is captivating and gives you a completely encompassing city background. There is an undercurrent of fear throughout the entire book - fear of disease, angry mobs, rebels, the evil prince it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor in this world, there is little happiness to hold onto for anyone.
Araby is a wonderful main character. She experienced so much in her past and this is conveyed really well throughout the novel so you connect and empathise with her as the story progresses. She starts off so numb and dead inside, choosing to forget the horrors in the world with sleeping potions, illicit drugs and roaming the debauchery club even though she doesn't actually partake in any real debauchery! Upon the disappearance of her best friend she meets the first of her 2 love interests, Will who works at the club and is just a downright lovely guy. She discovers Will is the sole provider of his 2 young siblings and will do absolutely anything to keep them safe.
Her other love interest Elliot is a very interesting character and you aren't ever 100% sure if he really is a nice guy or if he is going to turn out to be a bad egg after all. It turns out both of these guys do some shitty things and are deeply flawed yet the writing and character development is so well done that you really understand their actions and can't stop rooting for them anyway. Often in YA love triangles its really obvious which guy the girl is going to choose right from the get go but in this book your left with things not being clear cut. You simply don't really know by the end if Araby would choose Will or if she would choose Elliot. Perhaps she'll choose neither, I'm just not sure.
Araby's family is also quite important to the story. What's on the surface seems quite simple however through the story you are given titbits of information that when you piece things all together you can see that this family has gone through a lot of tragedy and there is actually a lot of love there even if it is covered by loss and grief of Araby's twin brother.
While this book is slow paced and there is a lot of subtext, you never feel bored while reading it. The book is wrapped up nicely though there are so many reveals and shocks towards the end that I simply can't wait to read the sequel which must be ages away argh! I can imagine that some people would not enjoy this, those that like a lot of speed and action would probably not like mulling over minute details and information that is interwoven into the story to provide the rich experience that is Masque of the Red Death. But if you’re looking for a story that really makes you think and one that doesn't shy away from death and betrayal I strongly recommend picking up this story ASAP!
Thank you Edelweiss and Harper Collins for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Masque of the Red Death was just recently released on the 24th April 2012 so go pick up a copy today!(less)
This book was released shortly after I started book blogging and I seemed to see rave reviews for it everywhere. I desperately wanted to read it and while it took me nearly 3 months to get onto it, it was worth the wait - the book really does live up to the hype!
The only real negative I have for this book was that the opening couple of chapters didn't really pull me in, I found the scenes with her father and arranged marriage a little confusing and at the time I started to already file the book into the "average" category. Thankfully these are very quick and short lived chapters with the majority of the story being about Ismae's journey after she discovers her life as a daughter of death and things become very interesting very quickly.
Ismae is a wonderful character, after coming from such a rough background of fear, ridicule and physical abuse she takes to her role as an assassain or "daughter of death" quite well. The introductory segment of her life in the convent isn't long but gives you the distinct impression of a kinder time in her life that cultivates her thirst for veageance and distrust of men.
During her time at the convent you meet her 2 friends - Sybella and Annith who I'm assuming we'll see more of in the remainder of the trilogy as they are given a fair bit of air time but don't seem that important to the plot of Grave Mercy.
The real heart and soul of this novel however is the time spent on the road and in court with Duval. This is where the sheltered Ismae really begins to understand the impact of death and the complexity of guilt, innoncence, right and wrong and it really makes this a stand out piece of literature.
The political intrigue and plot twists in this book are thoroughly enjoyable and while not at the level of complexity that some high fantasy series manage to excel at, still brilliantly executed considering the book's length.
The romance between Duval and Ismae is carefully drawn out and incredibly believable in the storytelling. There is no love at first sight though chemistry is definitely sparking off the pages early on. I really enjoy books that don't hurry the romance and instead let it come to life on its own throughout the story and this book delivers exactly that.
I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this book and can not wait until the sequel comes out. Anyone who enjoys traditional fantasy novels but wants something a little less intense and slightly more Young Adult should give this book a go.
Grave Mercy is my new go to book now when people ask me for book recommendations!(less)
I wasn’t expecting much from this book other than a gorgeous cover after all the argy bargy and drama between book bloggers, the author and the publicist. I decided to give it a go anyway and to be honest I’m really glad I did! While this isn’t the most deep and meaninful book it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it thoroughly in the same guilty fashion that I enjoy eating ice cream while watching The Biggest Loser. You know your not really meant to be liking it but you can’t help but secretly love every moment of it!
Set in Illea which replaced the USA after a large and brutal war in the not too distant future, this book is about a 16 year old girl called America. America is selected as one of 35 girls to compete for the love and marriage of Illea’s crown prince in a large marketing reality tv type affair to give the people of Illea some live entertainment and distraction not unlike the ancient Romans did with the Colleseum. While most girls are honoured to be selected from their region to compete, America isn’t. America is already in love with a boy called Aspen and is not remotely interested in marrying the prince however accepts her selection because her family needs the financial aid and publicity it affords them.
While this is a Dystopian it’s the lightest one I’ve read yet and I hope that the sequel gives a bit more background information into this world. You are introduced in this novel to the caste system of Illea – the royal family being of Caste 1 and lowly servants being caste 6. America is a singer and is of Caste 5 still considered incredibly low on the totem pole and her family while gifted in the arts find it very hard to make ends meet between work. There is also information woven into the story as to how Illea is formed after effectively World War 3, however not much information is given about the rebels that pop up throughout the story – I’m assuming to keep everything dangerous and mysterious.
America is not a particularly easy character to like. She is pretty self centred and to be frank if I had been the prince I would have gotten rid of her at the very beginning - she is really quite mean to him and he just takes beating after beating by her. The prince is pretty wishy washy and really needs a bit more of a backbone. There were some glimmers of true leadership from him throughout the book and I sincerely hope we see more in the sequel otherwise this guy is going to end up being the most whipped King you could come across! The whole interaction between the different ladies competing was actually really well done even though there is the cliche mean girl who is kept in though absolutely no one likes her except apparently the prince. It really reminds me a bit of Gossip Girl meets The Bachelor and it doesn’t surprise me that this book has been picked up for a TV series.
Overall while the writing was a bit clunky at times and the main character was a bitch, this book was still pretty addictive and I enjoyed reading it immensely. If your looking for a light hearted read between episodes of Gossip Girl or Revenge I think this book would be for you!
Thank you Edelweiss and HarperTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Selection was released on 24th April 2012 so check out the links below to purchase it now!(less)
I had high hopes for this novel, it was Young Adult, it had time travel and Shakespeare all things that make up a “me” kind of book. Unfortunately my high hopes were dashed and fairly early on I might add - this book was unfortunately a very light read, without much substance and the actual plot I found very difficult to swallow.
Miranda is kidnapped from the present day by a time traveller called Stephen Langford so that she can travel back in time to the 1500s and seduce Shakespeare in order to keep him from becoming a priest, forever altering the world as we know it. Without more than a minute of protest she goes off in time and agrees to sleep with Shakespeare by posing as Stephens’s sister and before you know it she's a co-conspirator of this crazy plot. Miranda is chosen by Stephen for this task as she is well versed in Shakespeare’s works and for this reason will fit into life during the 16th century without any problems.
This entire summary really displays how weak the storyline of Kissing Shakespeare is, and in fact reading back over it has me rolling my eyes all over again. How or why anyone could be friendly with someone who had taken them against their will is beyond me, and I absolutely hate virginal female leads who are willing to "give it up" for the most ridiculous and flimsy reasons. Your either open to sex and sexual encounters or you’re not, one minute Miranda was all for it, the next she wasn't because she wasn't a "slut" that type of melodrama really gets on my nerves. I also felt that any modern day teenager would severely struggle with the etiquette and lifestyles of someone in the 1500s let alone be expected to impersonate someone.
The characters really let this story down in general. Stephen wasn't particularly likeable though he was clearly meant to be a wonderful considerate man. Miranda while sweet was a little stupid at times which I found quite irritating and Shakespeare himself was written as a bit of a womaniser and flirt. The entire time Miranda was trying to seduce him I couldn't quite work out why Stephen thought that this would be the best option. To me it was fairly clear that Shakespeare really needed some good friends who he could be honest with about his writing passion and thoughts about priesthood. I actually thought that this seemed a much more rational approach and could have easily turned into a romantic liaison if that’s what the author wanted and it would have seemed much more believable to the reader.
What this book did well was that it moved quickly and was well written making this very easy to read and overall enjoyable if you were willing to overlook the actual main plot. The descriptions of the English countryside and life of the 16th century was nicely handled, I really liked hearing about it without there being too much descriptiveness unnecessarily bulking out the story. I was a bit surprised by the ending - I really had thought things were going to be different and was surprised that Stephen didn't explain that he had seen Miranda as some brilliant Shakespearean actor in her future leading him to choose her. I will be interested to see if this stays as a stand alone or if the author decides to write sequels either with Mirander or Stephen as the main character.
While this book wasn't by any means a favourite of mine I still did enjoy the reading experience for the most part. I think that if you are after a fairly fast easy to read YA novel and you like time travel or historical romances this is worth picking up.
Thank you Netgalley and Random House Children's Books for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Kissing Shakespeare is released on 14th August 2012 and can be purchased via the links below.(less)
I absolutely loved the first book in this series and subsequently devoured both Deception and the sequel Betrayel in a weekend. Unfortunately it was a good 12+ months until I got onto this final installment and I found it much harder to get into. I’m not to sure if it was simply because I couldn’t remember so much of what had happened at the end of book 2 or if it was just a weaker novel I’m not really sure but I did finish this book feeling a bit deflated.
Set immediately after book 2, Emma is desperate and determined to finally destory Neos and save Bennett before his addiction completely destroys both him and their relationship. In order for Emma to do this she must locate the ashes of Neos which has been hidden somewhere on the grounds of Thatcher.
This finale is quite exciting and this book is wrapped up very nicely giving the majority of the characters a nice rounded happy ever after finish. By the time this book was coming to a close I did start to really remember how awesome some other secondary characters in this book was and I’m glad that things seemed to work out in a satisfying way for them all.
Now that the entire trilogy is out I do really think they are a great read especially if you have the time to read them all one after another! This is a fast paced and fun series that I think would suit anyone who likes a good ghost story!(less)