This novel is set in historical, 19th century America and delves into the fine lines between what is normal versus what makes one insane. Set in a timThis novel is set in historical, 19th century America and delves into the fine lines between what is normal versus what makes one insane. Set in a time where it takes very little to judge one mad, this book provides an enjoyable "whodunit" premise while making a subtler argument that social construct and empathy can sometimes be the only thing standing between an individual and a verdict of insanity.
Our main character Grace starts off in a very dark place. Imprisoned in an asylum in Boston, pregnant and mute due to the traumatic stress of actions that have occurred in her life, this novel makes one very glad to be living in the 21st century. Due to mishandling and rape triggers at the hands of the asylum director, things manage to get even worse for Grace when she finds herself “thrown away” into the cellars of the madhouse. This is where patients are sent away and forgotten about – the ones that dry up funding and need radical lobotomising in order to become suitable for the upstairs wards.
Things soon look up for Grace when she is befriended by Falsteed, a Dr in his own right who was locked up for reasons the reader will discover are most definitely bad, though is completely sane on all other levels and the sole reason Grace lives through the horrors of her first nights underground. Falsteed enlists the help of a visiting surgeon – Thornhollow who agrees to help rescue her in exchange for her services as his apprentice.
Thornhollow and Grace move into a new style “ethical” asylum where the staff treat the patients humanely and as the people they are. Here Grace is befriended by two girls and for the first time in her life starts to know happiness. As Thornhollow’s apprentice she is quickly embroiled in the study of criminology and the two of them become involved in a serial killer case.
This was a neat little historical thriller and while it suffered a bit with plot pacing problems, I overall really enjoyed the writing and our protagonist – Grace. My problem with this novel is that it had the potential to really get into the dark side of mental illness and social conformity however it seemed to just lightly skim the surface of these fascinating and explorative topics. I also felt the ended was taken possibly too far with the court case and could have very simply ended before it, things all seemed just a little too spelled out for my taste.
Overall this is a fun little murder mystery that I did enjoy and providing you aren't looking for something deep and thought provoking I think this one is worth picking up....more
When I first saw the cover of Dollhouse on Netgalley I was instantly attracted to it - it wFind this review and others on my blog Tea in the Treetops!
When I first saw the cover of Dollhouse on Netgalley I was instantly attracted to it - it was so different to many YA covers out there. I then realised that the book was by an Australian author and my mind was made up I wanted to read this book! I started reading this book with no expectations, I knew nothing about the story though I had gathered it was going to have a gothic horror vibe to it. I wasn't disappointed, while the book had some issues it definitely carried off the mysterious spooky vibe brilliantly.
The story centres around main character Cassie who along some of her classmates get caught up in the mystery of the Australian bush where many girls have disappeared over time. Cassie's best friend Aisha goes missing right under their noses while hiking and taking photo's for a school project. Aisha's boyfriend (and Cassie's crush), Ethan gets blamed for her disappearance, so Cassie, Ethan along with Lacey decide to investigate a creepy mansion they discovered near where she disappeared. Things start to go downhill for them when they discover a hidden entrance filled with carousels and end up caught in a mysterious web of disturbing secrets when they find what lies beneath the mansion.
It's really hard to write this review without giving away too much of the story. As I mentioned before the author pulls off the gothic horror theme beautifully, unfortunately though the actual plot was at times overly complicated and pacing a bit all over the place. This coupled with some poor character development is why I've chosen to only give the book 2.5 star rating.
The pacing of the book was what I had the biggest issue with. It started out well and I couldn't put it down, then there was a large part in the middle of the book that just really dragged and I found a lot of the story to be a bit repetitive and mundane. I also felt that there were some very large climatic things that were just brushed over towards the end in a rush while other parts that weren't particularly interesting or important seemed to get a lot more attention.
The characters weren't particularly likeable and also quite two dimensional - they all annoyed me at times though Cassie particularly did things often that just irritated me beyond belief. There is no real romance in this book, while Cassie and Ethan clearly like each other she falls for him before the story starts and the chemistry isn't particularly great though it probably doesn't help that Ethan is dating someone else for the majority of the book.
A lot of very interesting lore is dished out towards the end of the story and I really enjoyed this and want to find out more, the author also ended the book on a major cliffhanger so I think I will be picking up the remainder of the series just to get answers for all the questions marks I now have. I have high hopes that this book was setting the stage for some great things. ...more
This was my first foray into reading Anne Carey, I never read the Eve trilogy and this synoFind this review and others on my blog Tea in the Treetops!
This was my first foray into reading Anne Carey, I never read the Eve trilogy and this synopsis intrigued me with its mystery/thriller elements.
Blackbird is one of those stories which has you as confused as the main character for the entirety of the story and its a breath of fresh air. You never feel that Sunny, our protagonist is being stupid or making the wrong choice as if you were in her shoes, you would probably make the same choices or perhaps worse ones. I thoroughly enjoyed the venture into the unknown for the 250ish pages it was incredibly addicting.
The story starts with a girl waking up on train tracks with no memory of who she is or how she came to be there. She has a backpack with some essentials and information explicitly telling her not to involve the police, and she discovers very quickly that there are people intent on killing her. Sunny is not the type to be a sitting duck – I think if I was in her position I would have taken my chances and gone to the police station a gibbering mess. Sunny however has a strength about her and real survival instincts.
The story is told in 2nd person which I didn’t mind however it can give you the feeling that your characters are devoid of personality. It took me awhile to warm up to Sunny but I did really admire her and I was cheering her on more and more as the story went and the mystery started to unravel.
I did start to have a pretty good guess as to what was happening by about half way and I was correct though there were still many things that I wasn’t expecting and one massive cliff-hanger at the end that surprised me completely. This book is well written, fast paced and full of suspense. I can’t wait to read the sequel and get answers to all my questions, this was a great novel. ...more
"I don’t want romance and stolen kisses and sweetness andThis review was originally posted on Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on the 26th April 2012.
"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....more
“You’re crazy,” said her best friend, Angela, as the bell rang to signal five minutes before the first class on the first day back at school. “They said that about all the great visionaries.”. “You know who else they said it about?” Angela demanded. “All the actual crazy people.”
Every now and then you come across a book that completely blows you away and this is what Unspoken was for me. It was fun, witty and incredibly entertaining, it was a breath of fresh air in amongst a heap of super serious paranormal YA books. With a witty gothic vibe this world will just blow your mind with memorable banter between the characters and a super fun storyline that I challenge anyone to find boring!
The main character Kami is just brilliant - she is witty (I'm sorry in advance for how often I'll be using this word in my review), unstoppable and completely comfortable with being seen as a little bit crazy by the rest of the quaint small town Sorry-in-the-Vale. In fact all the characters in this book are wonderful, quirky and refreshing just making you want to find out more about them. Even the tiny characters have a real sense of completeness about them for example Kami's younger brothers the shy and serious ten year old called, Ten and the ADD manic lemonade addicted Tomo only a few sentences of air time yet you still feel a real sense of family and insight into their personalities. Her school paper project that has brought together a completely random group of personalities and created a sense of camaraderie is also wonderful and I especially love Angela the very gorgeous yet completely lazy side kick who is dragged along (never kicking and screaming as that would be too much effort) on all of Kami's escapades in exchange for cooked meals.
While it looks like there is going to be some major love triangle action happening in this book, romance isn't really that large a part of the premise and what romantic tension is included is well handled and uncliche'd. Jared is wonderful, complex and your never really sure if he is just a bad guy or a flawed softy hidden under a tough guy complex. I was erring on the side of a softy until he did something that left me a bit shocked at the end of this novel. There is some great chemistry between him and Kami which is further complicated by their mental link and I really really hope that these guys overcome all obstacles and manage to get together!
The other male lead Ash is your typical knight in shining armour hero type... or is he? Again this is another well multi layered character who doesn't stick to the standard YA cliche and I must say the date that Ash and Kami goes on had me giggling my head off - I just loved it! Jared you are a naughty naughty boy :)
Throughout the story you feel this ominous sense of evil with the Lynburns which is built from the get go and I wasn't dissapointed with how things ended up but boy what a cliffhanger! I really hope book 2 comes out soon because I'm dying to find out how things resolve. This is just a wonderful wonderful book and I think there are very few readers who wouldn't enjoy this one - the only reason it doesn't get a 5 star rating from me is that the ending is a little sudden, I like my books with a bit more wrap up then what we got in Unspoken.
Thank you Netgalley and Random House Children's Books for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Unspoken has just been released on the 11th September 2012 and can be purchased via the links below....more