I was very excited to read Elusion. Apart from a beautiful cover it sounded a bit like a YA version of Tad William’s Otherland series and I simply lovI was very excited to read Elusion. Apart from a beautiful cover it sounded a bit like a YA version of Tad William’s Otherland series and I simply love this idea of entering into Virtual Reality that is so advanced you feel like you are quite literally in another world. Other than it’s unique and exciting concept, Elusion just didn’t really work for me.
The story centres around our protagonist Reagan who is very much in mourning after the death of her father – the creator of Elusion. Her best friend Patrick is the lead designer after her father dies on the Elusion project and the book starts with the media announcement that Elusion is being rolled out as a product across the country after a successful 3 state trial launch. From then on Regan starts trying to solve the mystery of Elusion which has some loud opponents questioning it’s very safety, and the mystery of her father’s death. With the help of a new guy at school Josh, Regan is determined to get behind the firewall and get the answers she’s desperate for.
I’m not really sure where to begin with my problems with this book so I’m just going to vent it all out. Firstly Regan, gah!!! She really annoyed me! At the beginning of this book you got a lot of inner dialogue about how close she is with her best friend Patrick. Patrick basically grew up with her and was like a son to her dad who mentored him and brought him into the Elusion project. For basically no reason at all, she goes from being devoted and loyal to him to getting more and more suspicious, yet in the same breath decides she should trust a total stranger with a questionable past with all of her secrets. This aspect of the book probably got to me the most, poor Patrick was so vilified and yet he never really did anything to deserve it in my humble opinion and to make matters worse he even stayed loyal to Regan through all of it.
Regan also starts distrusting her mother who is seriously not coping with the death of her father, yet her dad who clearly had a lot of secrets and was keeping things from her she never once seemed to question. I was completely dumfounded by the relationships in this book it just seemed totally wrong.
Josh was a very useless two dimensional character and I couldn’t really see the point in his being in the story at all other than to provide a love triangle and it wasn’t even a good love triangle :( The whole romance aspect of this book just didn’t click with me either. It was quite clichéd and I didn’t feel any chemistry between Regan and Josh or Regan and Patrick for that matter.
The world was interesting and bleak though there was lots of references to oxygen masks, something called florapetro and acid rain though no background was given to how the world got that way or what this florapetro actually is? I’m assuming that pollution got so bad that this is it for the world of the future hence the need for Elusion which provides everyone with Escapes back to how the world once was. They also had super long work days 12 hours on, 12 hours off and school kids are doing that too which I totally don’t understand either considering since many young kids can barely handle the 9-3 school day let alone double that!
The last part of the novel that I just couldn’t suspend belief over was that Regan’s dad built a firewall into the Elusion system. Now a firewall is a fairly common thing in internet security terms, what got to me is that this firewall is actually a real, physical wall in the Elusion escapes and apparently if you can find the wall you can get past it with absolutely no technical skills whatsoever. Now I never studied IT but I did work for Internet Service Providers and web hosting companies for over a decade and I quite simply found this concept completely ridiculous. If I’m honest I found the idea childish and it was a real disappointment for a number of reasons which I wont mention here as I don’t want to provide any spoilers.
I’m giving this book 2.5 stars as I loved the concept and it was a fast read. I also really enjoyed reading about the Virtual Reality and the Elusion escapes if only the rest of the story was actually plausible. It also ended on a cliff-hanger and I probably will pick up the next book simply because I want to know what happens next so I guess even with all the problems I did get suckered in! ...more
It's just a mini review today as I promised Angelya we would do a proper review/discussionFind this review and others on my blog Tea in the Treetops!
It's just a mini review today as I promised Angelya we would do a proper review/discussion of this one in our podcast next week as she's still reading it.
Anyone who listens to our podcast will most likely know that ever since attending PTA Live Brisbane earlier in the year I have been intrigued by this book, it ticked a lot of boxes for me. I had given up on having a shot at a review copy originally as I didn't see it appear on Netgalley but then to my delight about a week ago it appeared, I was approved and I started reading it pretty much straight away!
I'm happy to say that this one gets a big thumbs up from me, I really enjoyed it though I am hoping there is the possibility of a sequel as I had so many questions at the end that I want to know the answers to! So without going into too much detail I will give a quick rundown on what I really loved.
The Characters - I loved that this was told from a multitude of perspectives and they all wove together really well. Veronica was my favourite storyline but I also quite enjoyed the storyline of Bastian too though I wasn't sure at the end if he was a bit empty headed and selfish or had the potential of a noble alpha male type.
The Setting - I knew virtually nothing about Carnevale or historical Venice though it was very clear to me that this book had been thoroughly researched - there were lots of little details given that gave the story a richness of culture which I loved.
Book Layout - I loved that this book almost felt like a Shakespeare comedy. At about 60% through there is a scene where Bastion has this grand idea that is just so complex and ridiculous yet also highly inventive and entertaining that I could almost imagine it being on a stage.
What drove me mad? Argh the questions! I firstly can't tell if this has been set up to possibly have a sequel or not, it finishes like a stand alone novel but there were so many unanswered storylines. I must know what happens between Veronica and Luca! The story of Orelia's parents - I want more details I felt we only just skimmed the surface of the mystery. Angelique... does she eventually find true love? and the aftermath of Claudia and her brother Marco, I want to know more. I really hope there is a sequel to come I lost a lot of much needed sleep in the wee hours of the morning wondering about these things!
Anyone looking for something a little bit different to your standard love triangle YA book should definitely give this one a go and make sure you listen in to our podcast next week for a further discussion! ...more
I really had fun with this one! I’m not sure if it was because it reminded me so much of the TV show Charmed and I had fond nostalgia throughout my reI really had fun with this one! I’m not sure if it was because it reminded me so much of the TV show Charmed and I had fond nostalgia throughout my reading experience, or if it was just the right mix of action, wit and mystery – either way I was hooked and read the entire thing over a couple of days.
The story centres around Josephine Hemlock a 17 year old girl who is also a witch. She lives with her grandmother in a small town hiding from the curse that has killed her mother and so many other witches in a particularly gruesome and horrible manner. After a strange man arrives at Josephine’s doorstep looking for her mother one day, Josephine soon gets swept up in the mystery surrounding her mothers murder and with the help of her 2 bff’s she’s determined to get to the bottom of things and protect herself and her nan from the curse forever.
I’m going to start by saying that there is nothing really unique or new about this story. Everything has been done before and perhaps at times it was a little cliché of the genre. While this will no doubt annoy some, I found it warm and comforting and the familiarity allowed me to just enjoy the characters and the dialogue. The characters were all fun and there was a lot of witty conversations between them all. I enjoyed Josephine she was a spunky sweet heroine and while Winn was a bit flat as a love interest they still had a good spark between them. The extra layer included between Josephine and her father was also a great side story that helped round out the central plot and mystery.
The heart of this story was the relationship between the main characters they really showed a strength of loyalty and commitment to family. You really got the message that they stick by one another and not just those related by blood but in this story the saying that friends are the family you choose for yourself definitely rings true.
I think this book makes a great summer read especially as its as stand alone so there is no commitment here with sequels and years of waiting for the remainder of the story. Providing you don’t expect intricate story lines and plot twists I think you’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of it. ...more
I find after getting involved with reviewing and Goodreads, inundated with books I’m dThis review also features on my review site Tea in the Treetops
I find after getting involved with reviewing and Goodreads, inundated with books I’m desperate to read, fantastic books for the most part as I’ve gotten better at reading between the lines of book blurbs and other reviews at sifting out books I will generally like. What all these wonderful books and large to read piles mean its hat I have very little patience for books that I’m not enjoying. Unfortunately Side Effects May Vary is one of those books and after wasting a week procrastinating on and off reading this one and only getting to the half way mark, I’ve decided not to finish reading it.
My big issue with this book was how remarkably negative the entire reading experience was. The topic was negative, the characters were all negative, nothing good seemed to happen, even Alice going into remission managed to be an unfulfilling downer of an experience. This brings me to the character of Alice she was a horrible person, even for a “mean girl” she blew me away with how knowingly manipulative she was, how she willing to use people and then cast them aside, it was incredibly painful to read and I seriously did not care what happened to her in the end at the point when I decided to stop.
The actual writing of this book was well done and it flowed well, I actually liked the alternating chapters between Alice and Harvey as well as the then and now aspect which gave the book a patchwork narration style that added to the build up. It is a pity that the actual content just didn’t do it for me as I think Julie Murphy definitely has some talent and I will be interested in reading future books of hers which hopefully have a story that is less of a Debbie downer.
I’m sure this book will appeal to many people but for me I just think life is too short and there are just too many good books to waste time on something that I’m not enjoying! ...more
Hmmmm I don’t quite know where to start with this review. There were parts durinThis review can also be found on my review blog - Tea in the Treetops.
Hmmmm I don’t quite know where to start with this review. There were parts during this book that I was eye rolling in disbelief and then there were parts where I couldn’t put the book down. My rating for this one changed continuously while reading it and even now I keep hovering over what to rate the book.
The book starts by introducing you to a small Alaskan community who are a group of survivors from WWIII. This group lives in harmony with the land and can connect to Yara which allows them access to limited magic-like abilities. Things aren’t actually what they appear to be and Juneau, the main character ends up on a mission to find her clan after they vanish while she is hunting one day with the unlikely help of Miles a self absorbed rich kid. Juneau has to come to terms with the fact that there was no WWIII and everything she has known was a lie while she and Miles are hunted across the US searching for her family.
The book is narrated in alternating chapters between Juneau and Miles and this works quite well however I found Miles to be an incredibly annoying character which made those chapters a little bit difficult to get through at times. Miles…. I just didn’t get him. I couldn’t work out his motivation and while the plot gave him one it didn’t ring very true. For someone who seemed very lazy he made a huge effort to randomly go looking for a girl he only had a vague description of simply because of some overheard conversations at his dad’s office door?? Hmmm…. He also thought she was crazy for the majority of the book yet this didn’t fit with his actions for the majority of the story.
Juneau thankfully was interesting and very resourceful which I enjoyed reading about and while at times she seemed to pick up skills a little too easily (um driving a car after just from watching someone… hello?) I could let that go to the wayside as it still fit with her personality. I also really enjoyed her growth through the book as she adapted to her new surroundings and learnt more about her innate magical ability.
The relationship chemistry between these two was just plain bad and except for when the author actually wrote about the tingles they got from one another you would be forgiven for completely missing that Miles is Juneau’s love interest, in fact I actually thought that this book was going to be devoid of any romantic relationship for either character until about 70% into the plot.
Now there were a lot of big question marks for me that kept jarring me out of this novel and into reality. I am someone who is fairly relaxed about plot holes and the like if the story is good so this isn’t an experience I’m very used to and I didn’t like it one bit. I think the first thing I struggled with is that the likelihood that they weren’t close enough to a commercial plane traffic path seems unrealistic surely they noticed things in the sky especially seeing they had encyclopaedia’s and she knew what a helicopter was. I just really find it hard to believe that anyone who was only 3 days away on foot from a city could actually have lived for their entire life without noticing anything at all.
Most of the book is spent with Juneau avoiding Whit, her mentor who is also apart from their group and appears to be one of the baddy in this story. Considering she realises fairly quickly that all the adults have been deceiving them and Whit appears to be the lead instigator I just can’t imagine why she wouldn’t have a million questions for him and continued to run from him when she could have sent messages to him for an explanation or arranged a meeting. She is so determined to find her clan yet so willing to throw him to the wolves I just don’t get that.
I loved the part of the story where she is learning about her connection with the Yara and the backstory about her clan and why they separated was interesting though I had a fairly good guess at what at least part of the reasoning was right from the beginning. To be fair, perhaps I cottoned on quickly because I’ve read some other YA dystopia’s recently which had very similar back stories. The plot pace was fast especially for the last 30% of the book and I was really enjoying things and getting caught up in the read, when bam the book ended without any real wrap up and a huge cliff hanger. If there is one thing I despise it’s books that don’t tie up properly and finish as a book should, this whole finishing a chapter and deciding that’s the end of book 1 is just pure laziness on the authors part as far as I’m concerned!
When I first finished this book I gave it a 2. After sleeping on it I revised it to a 2.5 because as much as that ending annoyed me if I’m completely honest with myself I’ll be desperately waiting for the next instalment to find out what happened so I’ve added an extra half star for keeping me hooked for book 2. Well played Ms Plum indeed....more
The Murder Complex is set in the future like most dystopians and boy is this oneThis review can also be found on my review blog - Tea in the Treetops.
The Murder Complex is set in the future like most dystopians and boy is this one creepy screwed up world! In fact I don’t think a world has disturbed me quite so much since reading Neal Shusterman’s Unwind and that is saying something. This story is centred around 2 characters – Meadow and Zephyr and each chapter is told from alternate points of view.
Meadow lives with her family on a house boat and has been trained from a young age to survive and to kill. The story starts on the eve of her 16th birthday. In this society your 16th birthday is your chance to catch a train to a testing centre for initiation and if you come out of the centre alive you leave with a job. Meadows older brother Koi made it home but didn’t get a job, with him mysteriously saying he just “couldn’t go through with it”. From this point on things just get more and more gruesome, I found it a depressing world to read about with dead bodies everywhere, dark hours where people are slaughtered and no one seems to do anything about it. The very idea that 16 year olds have to kill in order to have a job and these kids don’t seem to flinch about it I found quite depressing.
The other main character Zephyr is a ward of the state, meaning his parents are dead and he’s effectively an orphan. These guys are considered pretty much the lowest on the society totem pole and it’s their job to clean up dead bodies all day. Yes that’s right, children have the role in this world to clean up the dead…. Zephyr has dreams about a silver haired girl (surprise surprise it’s Meadow) and fate has them come together shortly after Meadow starts working in the rations department. After a series of events including Meadow discovering Zephyr is considered ultra important by the government, Zephyr trying to kill Meadow without any recollection of the event, and Meadows family disappearing, the 2 of them get together to try and solve the mystery of what is going on.
I think one of my biggest problems with this book is that I can’t imagine the sequence of events that lead up to this type of world actually happening. Or perhaps I should say I can’t imagine enough people in power allowing it to get this way. I also really struggled immensely with the storyline of Meadow’s mother. Her whole character simply doesn’t add up in my book and after the big reveals towards the end instead of me getting really involved in the climax I was just thinking “are you for real??!”.
Meadows father I would also summarise as just a tad bit on the crazy side, and my guess is that Ms Cummings does not have children because I can’t imagine anyone other than sociopaths really being that involved and at the same time that cold to their children.
The last thing I took issue with is that I guessed where things were going well before the end and it seemed so similar to a whole slate of YA novels, which was a bit disappointing to me. The world while original had a “very same, old same old” climax and I think anyone that reads a fair bit of dystopia will be in the same boat where you can see how things are going to wrap up a mile off. The blood and gore in this book was also just a little too overdone leaving me pretty certain I won’t be picking up book two. ...more
I have never read a Scott Westerfeld novel before and with trepidation I began AfterworldsFind this review and others on my blog Tea in the Treetops!
I have never read a Scott Westerfeld novel before and with trepidation I began Afterworlds after reading a number of disappointing reviews from his legion of fans. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a Westerfeld virgin or if the subject matter of this book was just more to my taste, but either way I simply loved this novel!
The book is actually 2 stories combined in one with chapters alternating between 2 protagonists. The first story line is that of 18 year old Darcy who has just finished high school and scored a 2 book publishing deal after a month of frenzied writing during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Darcy decides to postpone college and try her hand at being a fulltime novelist including relocating to New York and she shortly finds herself immersed into “YA Heaven” which includes meeting and becoming friends with well known YA authors and her sister debut authors.
The second storyline which alternates with Darcy’s is that of her novel’s protagonist Lizzie. Darcy’s novel is called Afterworlds and is a paranormal romance about psychopomps and death gods from Indian scripture. Lizzy’s story starts off with her experiencing the horror of living through a terrorist attack and being the sole survivor. This touch with death has allowed her to tap into the Afterworlds where the dead go and with the help of a fellow psychopomp and a ghost that’s been haunting her mother her entire life she learns to harness her newfound powers.
So first things first, I had to google the word “psychopomp” until I saw that it was indeed a real word a small part of me believed that Mr Westerfeld had made a bet with a friend that he couldn’t find a publisher to publish a book with a ludicrous made up word in it. The whole word is even a long running joke within the novel as Lizzie attempts to find a better name to call her gift by. Thanks to Wikipedia I discovered that indeed psychopomp is actually a word and I could put my mind to rest. No real surprises I guess as to why there isn’t a slew of YA books around based on psychopomps hehehe.
I really enjoyed both sides to this story. I loved Darcy’s journey from high school student to published author. I loved hearing about all the ins and outs of getting a YA novel published and even though I never plan on writing a book I think this storyline should go down well with fellow YA bloggers, many of whom aspire to one day be published authors themselves! A lot of lingo is used that may be a little off putting for readers that are not classified as heavy user/fanatical bibliophiles. There are mentions of tumblr, social media, ARCs and BEA among others and no real explanation to go along with them. This still works as Darcy is also new to it all however I’m not sure if all readers will appreciate it.
Throughout Darcy’s storyline there are numerous mentions about her “killer” opening chapter and I completely concur. The first chapter of Lizzie’s story about the terrorist attack and her crossing over into the Afterworld is just brilliant. I was totally captivated and at first didn’t want to cross back to Darcy I just needed to know more. Part of me wonders if this was originally going to be a book in itself and then the idea of it changed somewhere along the way. Either way it was a stellar opening chapter to any novel!
The book is just so completely enjoyable and filled with little literary nuances and odes, my favourite being a nod to Jane Austen with Darcy and Lizzie as the 2 protagonists. I also found it very unique and utterly different to any other YA book I’ve read, it manages to be completely unprejudiced and unassuming. I found the discussions and thought processes about using religious concepts in a novel fascinating and not one I have previously considered myself. I also enjoyed the way the authors seemed to leech ideas from everyday life in the most unexpected way. Considering this was over 600 pages I thought it would be a hard slog to get through but I devoured it and was left wanting even more. A fantastic novel that I will start to push on every YA reader I know! ...more
"She thought all you needed to do – all any of them needed – was to get out. But maybeThis review also appears on my review blog Tea in the Treetops.
"She thought all you needed to do – all any of them needed – was to get out. But maybe you carried your demons with you everywhere, the way you carried your shadow."
This was such an enjoyable and engrossing contemporary novel. I absolutely loved the Delirium series and while Panic is a completely different setting, the writing is fantastic and Lauren Oliver fans should expect to get hooked in.
Set in the small town of Carp the story centres around graduated high school students who each year can participate in an underground game called Panic. Panic is dangerous, the stakes are high but the pay off for the person who wins is huge – approximately $65 000. The town of Carp is poor, filled with low income earners, ignorance and poverty, each year the winner of Panic has a chance to end the cycle of dysfunction and start afresh which is why even though its illegal and people have actually died playing, the lure of the game continues for the next group of school leavers.
The 2 main characters are Heather and Dodge who both desperately want to win. Heather needs the money and Dodge wants revenge. The story is told from both viewpoints with alternating chapters told from each characters perspective adding elements to the story and weaving in motives and backstories effortlessly. The 2 secondary characters are also equally engaging and while you don’t get the story from their perspective you still feel you know them and their roles in the over arching story.
For all that this is a fantastical made up situation I felt that the premise really rang true. I could imagine this happening in a middle of nowhere deadbeat town and ending up on the news one day after a tragedy occurred. The issues dealt with in the story are real and some are incredibly confronting including one of the challenges which involved playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun. While it seems extreme, Oliver manages to make this very plausible and relevant to today’s teens.
This was a wonderful stand alone contemporary novel and I enjoyed how by the end of the story you didn’t know who you wanted to actually win Panic. It was a nail biting, read in one sitting book for me and I loved every minute of it! ...more