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)
Michael Glass didn't scream. Instead, he made a terrible keening noise in the back of his throat, arched his back, and began to flail violently inside his zipped-up sleeping bag. Fabric shredded under vampire strength, and insulation bulged out of the tears as he fought his way free, but even once it was off him he just kept… flailing."
Not even 5 pages in, and my heart was already hinting at the intense beating my emotions were going to get while reading Black Dawn. In the world of Morganville, Texas, Black Dawn is the twelfth book in Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series.
I am a relatively new fan of Rachel Caine, having only powered through the entire Morganville Vampire series in the first week of June 2011 (and then eagerly anticipating the release of the then soon-to-be-released Bite Club!) New fan or not, the universe Rachel Caine has created continues to make the reader invest in the wellbeing of its characters.
Black Dawn does not begin quietly. In fact there are very few moments in the story where you are not fearing for one or more of the characters lives.
Claire Danvers describes the situation in Morganville best in the opening chapter:
"There were things out there in the world, things that vampires feared, and now those things were here. She was only seconds out of a very light, fitful sleep, but she knew that the nightmares had followed her effortlessly right into the real world. The draug. They weren't vampires; they were something else, something that moved through water, formed out of it, dragged vampires down to a slow and awful death."
Last Breath left us with the draug having infiltrated Morganville, feeding off the vampires and bringing a new fear to the towns inhabitants. Black Dawn continues right where Last Breath left us; in the middle of the pain and confusion that yes, the vampires in the Morganville Vampires universe do have a reason to fear for their continued existence. Claire, Shane Collins, Michael Glass and Eve Rosser are once again uncomfortably allied with Oliver, Myrnin and the other vampires to destroy the draug and try to save Amelie's life.
I could not choose just one hero from this book - Claire, Eve, Michael, Shane and a few surprise characters all brought their best baddassness to the fight. The dialogue between characters, particularly Shane and Michael, and of course Myrnin, had me laughing aloud (which may have gotten me a few looks on the train). It felt familiar to read their comfortable banter, and it was an enjoyable respite from the more intense situations dominating the storyline. While the main premise of Black Dawn follows the fight to survive the draug infestation, Rachel Caine absolutely delivers on the relationships between Eve and Michael, and Shane and Claire - and the complications that Myrnin presents.
As with Last Breath, we not only follow the story through the eyes of Claire, but other central characters Shane, Michael and Eve take us through their story fighting the draug, the political unbalance and the betrayals that will leave you on the last page anticipating the next adventure in Bitter Blood (Book 13 of Morganville Vampires)!
Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Black Dawn is released tomorrow, the 1st May 2012.(less)