"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
Parallel lives/universes seem to be an “it” thing in 2013 with at least 3 YA releases coming to mind and I for one am not the least bit disappointed because I LOVE the concept of alternative realities and fringe sciences.
Parallel definitely didn’t disappoint either I absolutely loved it and read it over a weekend, it was a really enjoyable book. Just imagine how confused and freaked out you would be if one day you were disappointed with the way life was turning out stuck in Hollywood shooting a movie, then the next day you woke up in a Yale dorm room with absolutely no idea how you could have possibly got there. This is just the start of the slippery slope for Abby our main character who soon discovers that just the simplest of decisions can have major repercussions in the future.
As the concept of the parallel universes and Abby remembering them is fairly complex there is a lot of science and theoretical conversations in this book between Abby, her best friend Caitlin and her academically gifted but kooky and discredited high school science teacher, and I believe these were really well handled. While at times you had to read a couple of pages carefully to fully grasp the concept, overall it was done slowly over the course of the book meaning that you weren’t overwhelmed and you really got a good chance to understand why everything was happening especially as you were being given live examples continuously too!
The characters themselves were fun Abby made some stupid decisions at times but these were all decisions I could imagine anyone possibly making in those situations and the great thing about this book is that you get to see how some poor choices can really alter your future. Abby overall was quite likeable and I enjoyed seeing her in different situations, my only complaint is that she seemed a little too perfect. For a girl who thinks she is nothing special she managed to act in Hollywood, be a brilliant marathon runner, get into an Ivy League school without really wanting to go and also row competitively that’s a lot of very varied talents. Her 2 besties Caitlin and Tyler were great as well and I really enjoyed the dynamics and blossoming love between them. Caitlin was just a great character - I loved her and was devastated at one point when a major rift grows between Abby and Caitlin I actually think I got a bit teary!
Sadly what was perhaps lacking in this novel was the relationships. Both Abby’s have a love interest and both were a little ho hum and though Josh definitely grew on me by the end as his story developed. Michael unfortunately just felt flat and I think possibly needed some more air time to make the reader connect with him. I’m going to leave it at that as it’s really hard to go into the relationships at all without spoiling some of the wonderful OMG moments at the end and trust me there are some great moments especially at the culmination where Abby has an epiphany which makes her realise it doesn’t matter what choices she makes some things are destiny.
“Do you believe in soulmates?” “Ask me tomorrow,” he says.
The last part that I think is really worth mentioning is how beautiful the descriptions of Yale are. I’m not from the US and I don’t really get this whole Ivy League college experience or anything but the descriptions and small tit bits of information given about Yale and North Haven gave me a definite yearning to visit, it truly sounds beautiful, homely - like putting on a nice pair of comfy socks on a cold winters day.
Overall I found this to simply be a great book and providing your willing to read some heavier information dense parts on time travel and parallel universes I believe readers will enjoy it thoroughly!
Thank you Edelweiss and HarperTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Parallel is released on the 14th May 2013. ...more
"She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor oThis review was originally published at Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales
"She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing."
"Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well."
Wow, what a commanding start to a novel. That opening sentence hooked me in, it set the bar high and boy does Laini Taylor deliver! Daughter of Smoke and Bone tears down the common formula for paranormal romance and sets a new standard. Based in Prague you meet Karou the azure haired girl an aloof art student by day and mysterious errand girl for the chimaera named Brimstone by night. While she is human, Karou was raised by Brimstone and some of his colleagues in his workshop hidden “elsewhere” accessible only through portals disguised as doorways. Brimstone tells her nothing, everything is a secret and Karou is raised a lonely girl who feels separate from humanity and with no clue as to how she ended up under Brimstone’s care. All this changes when by complete chance she encounters Akiva on one of her mysterious errands and her world starts to come apart.
The world building in this book is phenomenal. I’ve never been to Prague but I desperately want to go after reading countless descriptions of city scenery this being one such example:
"The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century—or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Motzart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet."
Along with the beautiful descriptions of Earth, Taylor introduces Eretz a world filled with Angels and Demons and torn viciously apart by war. You can visualise this alien land so well through the story and even though the book is laden with descriptions and explanations it at no point takes away from character development.
I loved the character of Karou. She was smart, clever, witty with just a hint of sorrow. You got a real sense of her inner strength even though she is fairly reserved – definitely not a flashy heroine! I was a bit worried by Akiva initally - I thought he was going to be a little too heartless and cold to me. There is nothing I like less than a girl who fawns herself over a complete asshole. Thankfully he wasn’t like this at all and as the story progresses you really appreciate how he is actually flexible and willing to grow.
The relationship that develops between Akiva and Karou could have so easily crossed the line into creepy and unrealistic but instead its authentic and innocent. You find yourself wanting it to work out for them against all the odds. Taylor shifts this story between both their perspectives and it really helps strengthen the realism in their growing love for one another. It’s hard to go into their relationship without giving too much of the story away but you do believe that these two are destined to be together and to do great things for the fate of 2 races and 2 worlds.
I also loved the fact that there is no clear cut good and evil in this book and that war isn’t anything to be glamorized instead its something that literally consumes both sides and everyone loses out:
"Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?
While this sounds like a standard Young Adult romance it truly isn’t. The story changes about half way through when Karou learns the answers to just a few of Brimstone’s secrets and it almost feels like you are reading a different novel. This is not a story of happily ever afters even if it started with a fairytale beginning. This is a story that sends you on a whirlwind of all sorts of emotions, from grief, love, shock, betrayal and tragedy. It leaves you out of breath at the end and in complete awe. I was unable to contemplate starting another book for a good week, it took me that long to digest it.
I find myself recommending this book to everyone I know. While the story resolves itself and leaves the reader feeling complete, the ending is still a cliffhanger and I can’t wait for 2nd novel – Days of Blood and Starlight to be released in late 2012. I read this book in January 2012 and I won’t be surprised if in December this year I still list this as one of the best books I read in 2012. This book deserved its 5/5 stars and then some....more
"In approved places, every story serves a purpose. But forbiddThis review was originally published at Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on 11 June 2012.
"In approved places, every story serves a purpose. But forbidden books are so much more. Some of them are webs; you can feel your way along their threads, but just barely, into strange and dark corners. Some of them are balloons bobbing up through the sky: totally self-contained, and unreachable, but beautiful to watch.
And some of them- the best ones- are doors." What a wonderful follow up novel to Lauren Oliver’s dystopian, Delirium. Where many sequels flounder or just fall flat, Pandemonium delivers and grows on its predecessor. The novel is split into alternating chapters of “then” and “now”. The “then” chapters complete the tale of what happens to Lena after Delirium finishes and she is fighting to escape and survive in the Wilds without Alex. The “now” chapters show Lena back in society as a Resistance agent.
Delirium left you on such a cliffhanger, I needed to know what happened next. Oliver managed to deliver a sequel where she strung you out the entire book before giving that information. Normally this is something that would have left me twitchy and irritated, however the book is just that good I never once felt exasperated at all. What you get is a book that isn’t shy of being harsh and painful. It makes you think twice about about how we behave as individuals and shows the strength and resiliance of humanity regardless of what is thrown at them. Where Delirium explores Lena’s growth and love, Pandemonium is about the darker emotions like hate and revenge all of which are still considered part of “the” disease, amor deliria nervosa.
"If he were less well trained, and less careful, he would say hate. But he can’t say it; it is too close to passion, and passion is too close to love, and love is amor deliria nervosa, the deadliest of all deadly things: It is the reason for the games of pretend, for the secret selves, for the spasms in the throat."
There were many scenes in this novel that deeply impacted me, often by what Oliver leaves unsaid, once scene in particular with Raven, Blue and Lena left me in tears it was so harsh and beautiful. The writing is just superb, I can’t fault it. Where Crossed so desperately tries to be poetic, deep and meaningful and falls short at the mark, Pandemonium delivers in spades. The story and writing is fluid, soulful you really empathise with the characters and can feel the hopelessness and uphill battle of trying to change their society.
Lena really grows in this novel, she states that the old Lena is dead and in some ways this definitely feels true. The new Lena is much tougher after surviving the wilds and joining the resistance. She at times seems numb and dead due to the shock of losing Alex and her entire way of life. There are a few new secondary characters introduced who are well done and really enhance Lena’s journey through the Wilds and I can’t not mention Julian, her new love interest. I wanted to dislike him, I really did but I just couldn’t. Julian, like Lena is all about discovery, growth and acceptance that they are different to the rest of their society. He is sweet, he is genuine and I really felt for him and could see the love blossoming between them even if Lena resisted and battled it.
I can’t sing this series enough praises. If you haven’t read Delirium yet, please go pick it up and get as hooked on it as I am. Pandemonium is a wonderful sequel and I am on tenterhooks just waiting to see how everything comes together in the final book!...more
You will always be a monster - there is no turning back from it. But what kind of monster you become is entirely up to you.
I loved The Immortal Rules and am excited to say that The Eternity Cure is a fantastic, solid sequel. You pick up from where book 1 leaves off with Allie on her way to rescue Kanin, instead of being led to Kanin she comes across Jackal her blood brother who offers her a proposition she can't refuse. Together they look for a cure for the original Red Lung disease before continuing the search for Kanin their sire who may or may not have been driven mad by the insane vampire Sarren who has taken him hostage.
This book starts off a little slow and while I liked getting thoroughly re-established into the story as it had been a year since I read The Immortal Rules, it was perhaps a bit too slow for my liking. Once I got through about 20% however the story really picked up and it was just brilliant.
I loved that it continued its dark gritty themes of morality and ethics and this is further delved into by reintroducing Jackal as a main character in this book. Jackal, along with showing an alternative way of life for a vampire to what you are used to with Allie and Kanin, also provides some great comic relief with his fantastic wit and sarcasm. I also really loved that you are taken back full circle to New Covington in this story and Allie has to deal with people from her past she never expected to see again.
While in New Covington you get further insight into vampire politics and I think this was a great way of adding further embellishment into the world building that was done so well in book 1. You also see first hand what the original red lung disease does to a human population and find out more about the mole men who live in the tunnels (ewwwww!).
Allie once again is a fantastic heroine who shows she can be completely unscrupulous when needed but with a constant battling inner monologue of her trying to do the best she can to stay someone she can live with. She is introduced again part way through the story to Zeke her romantic interest from book 1. Zeke has grown up since we saw him last and like book 1 this romance is a slow smouldering one. I will admit that I found the romance a little awkward between these two at first however Zeke once again grew on me and I loved some of the agonising, torturous moments and situations that came up for these guys in this book... seriously there is one part that I was so devastated for Allie I was not in anyway expecting how things turned out but again it was a great twist!
The story wraps up with some serious OMG moments and really set up the scene for the third book. I am devastated that I have to wait another 12 months to find out what happens next because I think this next book is going to be brilliant! If you haven't read this series I urge you to pick it up now it's definitely worth it - I only take half a teacup of this rating for the slowish start.
Read my review of Book 1: The Immortal Rules here.
Thank you Netgalley and HarlequinTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Eternity Cure is being released on the 30th April 2013....more
I was really surprised to discover that Across the Universe had a sequel at first because that book was wrapped up so very well. I was really excited to read the sequel though I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as this book was going to need a completely new direction after book 1. Beth Revis did however manage to come up with a whole host of issues for Amy and Elder to deal with in this book and I loved every minute of it!
At the end of book 1 the ship Godspeed is off the calming drugs pumped into the water supply and now there is a whole lot of angry and upset people aboard the ship. With no planet in sight for what could be countless generations there is a whole host of issues to contend with including mutiny, violence and work strikes. Elder has his hands full learning how to be an effective leader and Amy is busy uncovering the truth left to her in clues by Orion.
This book is really about change and growth and showing how the characters handle these new and stressful situations. Both Amy and Elder are beautifully handled by Revis and I found this book incredibly difficult to put down. Their blossoming romance was done well also, it isn’t just smooth sailing but they both question each other at different points throughout in a incredibly believable manner.
While I had a pretty good idea how things were going to end up before I got up to the climactic ending wow I still found it an exciting read and the cliffhanger was fantastic. I truly love this series and if you like a good science fiction then you wont be dissapointed by this trilogy thus far!...more
I originally passed over this book after reading the blurb as I believed this story to be predominantly science fiction with a large cyborg element, a topic that doesn’t interest me in the slightest. Somehow I completely missed the fact that this was a modern fairytale retelling of Cinderella much to my dismay and was very excited to see it in the library during a visit one week. Once I started this book I found it incredibly difficult to put down it was so good, this is a debut novel that should not be overlooked!
Set in New Beijing sometime in the future after World War IV, the world is terrified by a very real and terrible plague called Letumosis which is highly contagious and completely deadly. Medical technology is much more advanced and humans who once would have died in accidents can now become cyborgs and live, but as second class citizens looked down upon by society. Cinder is a young mechanic who works to fund the social lives of her stepmother and two step sisters. After one of her step sisters contracts Letmosis, her stepmother sends Cinder off to be a cyborg volunteer at the research centre trying to find a cure for this deadly plague. From here Cinder’s whole world goes into a huge spin as she discovers things about herself and her past that she would never have dreamed.
Cinder is a wonderful character, definitely much more defiant and independent then the original Cinderella and I really enjoyed her point of view and telling of this story. The entire Cinderella retelling was just wonderful, there was enough elements of the original fairytale in the book that gave it a comforting familiar touch but it still managed to be so very unique. I especially loved the twist on the dramatic ball scene with Cinder’s grand entrance and reveal to the handsome prince!
The romance between Prince Kai and Cinderella was nicely done, not too thick or unrealistic and definitely not overally dramatic which I really enjoyed. Prince Kai was just a lovely male love interest in general and I think is a wonderful ruler – a great mix of empathy and inner strength! At the end when Kai discovers Cinder’s secret it was just heart breaking and so beautifully done, I just felt so sorry for the both and wished they could have their happily ever after.
The added plot twists with the Lunar civilisation was fascinating and really sets this book apart from the average Cinderella retelling. I found the Lunar people fascinating and loved the tension and anxiousness when the Lunar Queen descends onto Earth. I can’t wait to find out more about this in the future books of the Lunar Chronicles!
This has really been one of the best books I’ve read so far this year and I am incredibly impressed considering Cinder is written by a debut author. I think that this is a story that will suit anyone – don’t let the science fiction elements put you off as this really isn’t the heart of this novel. Cinder is a mystery, science fiction, love story and paranormal all in one and boy does it really work!...more
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. ...more
Wow this was a fantastic book! I am not surprised to discover thThis review was originally posted on Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on 7th July 2012.
Wow this was a fantastic book! I am not surprised to discover that this was originally written years ago on fictionpress and has only more recently been edited and published by a professional publishing house – it’s beautifully written and really packs a punch! This is one of those Young Adult novels that really gets it right, the world building is simply brilliant, I loved this war torn land and can’t wait to find out more about the magical elements that have been driven underground. The characters and character development is handled well and the writing is filled with witty banter. Even though the book is 400 odd pages it’s a fast read – highly entertaining.
This is the story of Celaena a teenage girl who also happens to be the most feared assassin of Ardalan. At some point prior to this book taking place, Celaena is betrayed and caught and the book starts with her imprisoned in the salt mines of Endovier where prisoners are sent to work to the death. Where most prisoners die within mere months, Celaena has managed to last a year so far without breaking her spirit. Enter the handsome prince Dorian who gives Celaena a chance at freedom if she will compete as his contender to become the King’s champion against other criminals all desperate for pardons and a fabulous salary. Things start getting scary when something starts killing off competitors one by one and Celaena is determined to find out and stop whatever it is before it comes after her.
What I loved most about this story was the character of Celaena, I just found her so relatable. She was strong, intelligent and confident and not in the least bit ashamed to admit it. She was also scarred and vulnerable with a traumatic past that is continuously alluded to in the story – it just made me want to give her a great big hug. There are elements of a love triangle in this novel but it’s a weak one – romance is definitely not a major part of this story it just enhances your understanding of the characters and gives you an insight into their personalities. The crown prince Dorian is well done, given his background as a pampered ladies man he could have been so unlikeable but he is witty and the flaws just give him room for growth and he definitely grows during this novel. The other love interest is captain of the royal guard and Dorian’s best friend Chaol, who is the strong silent type. Now this is a man I think many women would get behind, behind that tough battle strong exterior is a vulnerable man just waiting for the right woman to love him and make things all better. I will be very surprised if this isn’t who Celaena ends up with in the end though I’m sure many would disagree with me!
The world of Ardalan is beautifully depicted and I really need to go and read all the prequels that Maas released to see if you get further information into the wars and loss of the magic in the world. I’m also interested to find out more about the assassins’ guild that is mentioned numerous times when hearing about Celaena’s past.
There is simply so many hints and references given in this beautifully told story that I just can’t wait to see where things head in the future sequels. This was a wonderful fantasy story I enjoyed it immensely and Celaena is a fantastic heroine and role model for a Young Adult crowd.
Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury UK & ANZ for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Throne of Glass is released on 2nd August 2012 and I most definitely recommend you pre-ordering your copy!...more
I don't know where to begin with this review. I don't often rThis review was originally posted at Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on 28th August 2012.
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!...more
Summary: An enjoyable story development book. We didn’t enjoy it as much as the first two, but felt it was an important book for character development for all characters involved, and especially Celaena. A little slow through a lot of the story but with a brilliant ending. Bring on book four!
"Envy hurt exponentially more than heartbreak because your souThis review was originally posted at Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on 4th August 2012.
"Envy hurt exponentially more than heartbreak because your soul was torn in two, half soaring with happiness for another person, half mired in a well of self pity and pain."
I chose to read this novel back in January for the Dystopian Challenge and all I remembered upon opening the Kindle document was that it was post apocalyptic. Within a few chapters I started to get a real sense of familiarity to the story and characters and when I discovered that it was a Jane Austen retelling this made a whole lot of sense, there is a real Austen feel about this novel while still managing to spin a completely new and novel story.
The story is about 2 children – 1 rich, Elliot and 1 a slave, Kai. These two are born on the same day and form a strong friendship that overtime blossoms into love. 4 years prior to this book taking place, Kai leaves to try and make a better life for himself while Elliot stays behind, bound by duty to try to protect and look after the other people on the estate before her father’s disinterest drives it to the brink of ruin. Fast forward to today and Kai comes back, as the dashing and incredibly successful Captain Wentworth still hurt and angry about Elliot’s choice to leave him and ready to show her what a poor choice she made.
Elliot is a wonderful strong female lead, one who is self sacrificing, independant and who clearly cares deeply for others overcoming many societal predjudices. As one of the luddite nobitlity she takes her role as caretaker to the reduced (generations of people on which genetic experimentation went incredibly wrong) seriously unlike many of her society counterparts. The best part about her carefully constructed charactered is how layered she is. She chooses honor over love and underneath her tough exterior is pain, regret and a tinge of hopelessness. Mixed in with these many emotions are deep seated religious beliefs and fears about innovation, science and change making her a delightfully complex heroine.
Kai/Wentworth is a very typical Austen male love interest and while the arrogance has been toned down for a more modern audience I can still imagine many of his reactions wouldn’t sit well with teens today. His blind hatred to Elliot at the beginning of the story does seem to dissolve fairly quickly with very little reason, though many reasons why he should love Elliot are still shown to the reader. His character is given depth through the ethical dilemmas he faces while apart from Elliot with relation to science and innovation. The decisions and rational behind his choices definitely round him out making him more appealing and also add a extra layer of complicaton between himself and Elliot.
The many issues dealt with in this book make it such a very interesting read and I could easily imagine reading this story for a second or third time and taking very different messages away from it. From family drama, slavery, genetic experimentation, religious persecution and pitfalls of scientific innovation, there are many important questions to ponder as a reader and this book did a great job of painting everything a delicious shade of grey and never tried to sway your point of view one way or the other.
This is such an engrossing book, I finished it within a day and it’s probably one of the best written novels I’ve read since Daughter of Smoke and Bone. If your looking for a book that makes you want to think yet still keeps you entertained then I can’t recommend this enough!...more
This is my first book by Patrick Ness and it was seriously so good I have to prioritise reading some of his other works now! Its a hard book to classiThis is my first book by Patrick Ness and it was seriously so good I have to prioritise reading some of his other works now! Its a hard book to classify as its really a contemporary novel but has a definite vein of paranormal running through it with much talk of “the chosen one” and other paranormal scenarios.
The book centres around a group of totally normal teenagers who are hanging out for graduation. The protagonist Mikey worries a lot, and is from a family with a lot of societal issues including a sister who previously suffered from anorexia and his dad is still suffering from a large problem with alcoholism. While Mike has his own battle with OCD and anxiety to contend with, things aren’t looking too badly for him as he has a solid best friend, is in love with the figurative girl next door, Henna who he’s never had enough guts to ask out and also has two totally awesome sisters whom is he very close to.
While this group of kids are trying to get through the final remaining weeks of school and graduation, there is a second story that is fleshed out at the beginning of each chapter and alluded to within the main story. This is the story of the “indie” kids. Its the story that would normally be the story arc of your YA book while characters like Mikey get a bare mention or are edited out entirely as irrelevant to the plot. This story is about immortals taking over their little USA town and contains death, betrayal, great love, and major paranormal battles. In this novel however its confined to probably a few pages at most and only really gets a mention when it affects our main characters who constantly wonder if they are going to get to graduate before the school is blown up again, or which indie kid is going to go missing next.
In all honesty not much actually happens in this book, but I don’t really see that as a bad thing, its heavy in all the right ways on the dialogue meaning you get great character insight to this coming of age story. The main thing the book does focus on are family and friendship.
There is a lot of family drama for Mikey to sort out and his family are all central characters to the book. Mel is his older sister who nearly died from an eating disorder a couple of years prior meaning she now is finishing school in the same year as Mikey. These two are incredibly close and there is an undercurrent of worry and sadness that they are both off to colleges on other sides of the country after they graduate. His younger sister Meredith is upheld by the family as the only one not to be a total screw up and is a bit of a child prodigy. All 3 siblings are very close with both Mel and Mikey being very protective over her and taking her out for dinner and to her millions of additional afterschool activities. Their parents are definitely considered disappointments to them. Their mother is running for senate and is seen as very tough and uninterested in anything that isn’t in her best interests and their father is an alcoholic who can barely keep it together for important events and photo ops.
Friendships are also important and a large element of this novel. Mikey’s best friend Jared could have been an indie kid but is so desperate to be normal he does everything he can to keep away from it all. Jared is so grounding to Mikey and is a large help with his anxiety and OCD. This friendship has been through a lot and always held together though Mikey has constant anxiety over how much he needs Jared while not feeling like Jared gets anything from him in this relationship. Continuing on the great levels of diversity in this novel, Jared is also gay and this is central to the story though these two are not in a relationship. Mikey is also totally in love with his friend Henna and spends large portions of the book trying to get up the courage to take things to the next level. Its complicated and messy and this romance is really real and sweet.
It was such an easy read and even though not a lot happened to these totally average everyday kids I wanted to know more about them and was really sad when the story ended. I also loved how they did flow through and alter the course of the indie kid/immortal drama weaving the two stories together at the end. I simply loved this story, it was unique, diverse and beautifully written. Considering how dialogue focused it was I have high hopes its picked up and turned into a film – I would love to see it on screen.
A big two thumbs up and 5 stars from me – I’m off to find a copy of More Than This now!
Also last sidenote, make sure you read the acknowledgements I loved finding out about how some of the characters got named, and his friend’s business cards gave me a giggle! ...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
If you'd like to hear an interview with Paula Weston where we talk about the Rephaim series and other YA Angels series, check out Episode 28 of Tea inIf you'd like to hear an interview with Paula Weston where we talk about the Rephaim series and other YA Angels series, check out Episode 28 of Tea in the Treetops Podcast!
Review: This much-anticipated finale to the Rephaim series is an excellent conclusion, tying together all the ends and bringing the epic battle that I had hoped for. S
Since it has been a year since I read Shimmer, I re-read the whole series before starting Burn and I was so glad I did. The whole story only takes place over a period of ten days, so to read it all back-to-back is really the ideal way to experience it!
So what is it that makes this series one of my favourites of the last few years? Well it's not just the characters, although I do love them all to bits, especially Gaby and Rafa <3 It's also not the break-neck pacing or kick-arse fighting, although I have enjoyed that and it's kept me reading way past my bed time all over again.
I think the thing I love the most about the series is the Queensland setting and accessible characters. They talk like me, and they live in a place I recognise and know intimately, even if Pandanus Beach isn't a real place.
Long story short, if you're looking for a series with fast pacing, brilliant action and awesome relationships between all characters, look no further....more
While I’m not the biggest fan of the vampire genre I was iThis review was originally posted on Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on the 20th April 2012.
While I’m not the biggest fan of the vampire genre I was intrigued by the premise of The Immortal Rules. Vampires, Zombies all bundled in with a dystopian setting was enough to pique my interest and I’m so glad I read it – Julie Kagawa it turns out is a fantastic writer! Set approximately 60 years into the future, civilisation has collapsed, rabids (aka zombies) roam freely infecting and killing people while vampires now run the worlds cities taking blood donations from the city’s human dwellers in exchange for food and protection. In one of these vampire cities you meet Allison a human who detests vampires with a passion and would prefer to live near starvation, scavenging and stealing to survive rather then become a vampire “pet” or donate her blood. Through misfortune Allison ends up attacked and near death when offered a choice: die, become what she hates, a vampire.
What I love about this book is that you follow Allison on parallel journeys. The book is very much a traditional physical journey where she leaves the city she grows up in and meets up with human travellers who are looking for a fabled human city called Eden. Along with this physical journey the reader is also taken on an incredibly difficult emotional journey where Allison has to make some difficult choices and question the very essence of her beliefs. I love books that make you think, books with substance that really makes you ponder the characters handling of specific situations and this novel keeps you on the edge of your seat really blurring the line between good and evil.
The future Kagawa paints is bleak and incredibly well thought out. The first quarter of this novel sets the reader up with a solid understanding of how the world is now run; a group of vampire cities with human subjugates and rabids roaming free turning anyone in the wild into rabid fodder. You get a good insight into vampire politics, and while this isn’t particularly important for this novel I imagine this foundation will serve its purpose in future Blood of Eden books. Along with an understanding of the vampire cities you also get to spend time in “the wild”, life outside the city in a world fraught with danger and infectious creatures. Overall the world building is complex and vivid, it really enriches the readers experience as you follow Allison’s path.
The characters and their development also get a big tick from me. Allison is kick ass which isn’t too surprising considering the life she grew up with, survival of the fittest definitely rules the fringe of New Covington. She’s shows a lot of inner strength when faced with moral dilemmas and handles them incredibly well but not without subtlety showing you how much inner turmoil some of her choices has given her. Even though she is a monster you just can’t help rooting for her and her own moral code speaks for itself – vampire or not this girl has heart.
The romance between Zeke and Allison is built up at a steady pace and you really connect with them. There is no love at first sight rubbish in this book, instead it’s gradually built upon and by the time obstacles come between them you really want it to work out because the love seems so authentic and deserved. Zeke is a lovely character and a breath of fresh air from all the alpha male types that plague young adult novels. While I’m sure he won’t do it for everyone, his confidence and ability to trust and help everyone he meets in such a harsh environment just makes me want to give him a great big cuddle!
The end of the novel is fantastic and the entire story is wrapped up neatly leaving just enough openings to make the reader desperate to get their hands on the sequel. Overall this book really reminded me a lot of The Study series by Maria V Snyder. While it’s classified as Young Adult it in many ways seemed more like an adult novel and I think for this reason it will be a hit with both the YA and Sci-Fi/Fantasy crowd. If you swore never to pick up a vampire book again, this book is worth breaking that promise over. One of the best Young Adult books I’ve read for awhile and I think it’s worth being added to anyone’s to-read list!
Thank you Netgalley and HarlequinTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. The Immortal Rules is being released on the 24th April 2012....more
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....more
This book was released shortly after I started book bloggingThis review was originally posted on Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on the 3rd July 2012.
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!...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
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!...more
This was one of those books that I thought sounded interesting and then threw me for six when I realised was an enjoyable thrilling ride I was on. ItsThis was one of those books that I thought sounded interesting and then threw me for six when I realised was an enjoyable thrilling ride I was on. Its a quick 200 page eBook but due to the enjoyable nature and fluid writing I finished it fast – I started it while cooking dinner and didn’t put it down until I finished it at 1am in the morning.
This book is about parallel worlds – or a multiverse as there are actually 12 in total and the story centres around the character of Estele and the corridor that opened between Earth and Second Earth. There are evil conspiracies, genetic modifications and a romance thrown into the mix making this one highly addictive read.
The story starts 17 years after the corridor opened between Earth and Second Earth. The result of the corridor opening was absolutely devastating to Second Earth leaving it and its people in abject poverty and relying on Earth for supplies and assistance. Our protagonist Estele is the only daughter of the man in charge of the Corridor facility – an acclaimed scientist and politician responsible for the communication and scientific experimentation relating to the corridor portal. The story opens with Estele pondering her bright future while looking at the corridor when a random strange pulse happens causing much chaos. This pulse causes Estele to discover she has the unique ability to create her own corridors to other parallel worlds.
Fast forward 12 months and her father has stepped down and is now the laughing stock of the scientific community on Earth and Stel is keeping her portal making ability a secret, knowing it could cause her a multitude of problems. With the unlikely help of an escapee “mod” (a human with genetic modifications making them superior to normal humans), Estele has to uncover more about what happened with the pulse and what dark and destructive plots the new leader of Earths corridor is planning that could result in the destruction of Earth.
The main part of this story is really an adventure with Stel learning what she can about the corridor and the different parallel Earths. Along the way she meets a boy called Cohl who she develops a love hate friendship turn romance with and with his help they get to the bottom of some seriously sinister plans as well as learn more about her unique abilities. The romance between Cohl and Stel is definitely there simmering away but it takes the back seat in this book with the investigation into the worlds and government plots taking centre stage.
The great thing about this book is that it doesn’t get too caught up in the technical aspects of parallel worlds or the multiverse. While some of the explanations are perhaps stretching the imagination a bit, it isn’t enough to detract from the story meaning you don’t feel any disconnection from the journey Stel takes. There are also a couple of major plot reveals that totally change your perception on things towards the end which are fantastic and I think will be developed even further in the second instalment of this series.
While this book wasn’t perfect there was so much fun and enthusiasm in this story that I really feel anyone who is slightly interested in science fiction or parallel worlds will get a lot of enjoyment out of it. I certainly loved it and looking forward to book 2! ...more
"And I'm falling in love with you," he whispers. "But I wouldThis review was originally posted on Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on the 3rd May 2012.
"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!...more
I will admit about 20% through this book I nearly put it down as a DNF, even though it had a beautiful cover and the synopsis had me intrigued I was fI will admit about 20% through this book I nearly put it down as a DNF, even though it had a beautiful cover and the synopsis had me intrigued I was finding it very difficult to get into. Thankfully I kept going because I then finished the remaining 80% in one sitting and this ended up being a very nifty gothic middle grade novel that I’m sure I would have lapped up in my primary school years.
Set in the past on the mysterious and technologically advanced Biltmore Estate you are introduced to protagonist, Serafina – a half wild child who is up most of the night catching rats, living undetected in the boiler room of the great house with her father, a servant of the family.
One night while hunting down some pesky rats, Serafina gets more than she bargains for when she witnesses a most chilling scene involving a gentrified man complete with top hat and gloves stealing the very soul and life force of one the young girls visiting the estate with her parents. After nearly being caught herself, Serafina is soon mixed up in the mystery and hunt to find the mysterious man and his cloak before anyone else is harmed.
This is a pretty dark book and I am incredibly glad that I didn’t read this one to my four year old – it had me pretty spooked in parts and I don’t think I was quite ready to introduce my young child to the horror genre just yet! I think the reason I found this a little difficult to get into at first is the horrible conditions and background of young Serafina. While it does fit with the era and the story, it is still somewhat hard to read about a young child living in virtual poverty and being kept from all human contact except for her father. There is back story given as to why the father does it – Serafina isn’t quite all human (not a spoiler I promise!) and while through the protagonists eyes you understand she can’t quite see what’s different about her , she knows, and so you the reader knows that you can tell by simply looking at her that something is just not quite right about her.
The story picked up for me as she tentatively befriends the young master of the house, Braeden, nephew to the Lord and Lady of Biltmore Estate. Braeden like Serafina isn’t quite like most people and their blossoming friendship in amongst the action and thrills is a sweet and innocent chord of the story, and for me perhaps the shining light of this tale. The story is also very much a coming of age book with Serafina leaving the confines of the estate basement and trying to uncover her past and her heritage. Like all great coming of age novels there is a lot of emphasis on the understanding of good and evil and that what you see on the outside in no way determines the real moral fibre of a person:
She was beginning to see how difficult it was to determine who was good and who was bad, who she could trust and who she had to watch out for. Every person was a hero in his own mind, fighting for what he thought was right, or just fighting to survive another day, but no one thought they were evil.
The actual plot has 2 mysteries for the reader to uncover – one of which I found was fairly easy to guess and the other took me much by surprise. The main mystery of who the man with the black cloak is and how to stop him is quite a terrifying read and it very cleverly intertwines with the other more subtle mystery of who Serafina’s parents are and how she is different. Both stories weave together quite cleverly at the end and the reader is left most satisfied with a neat tie up and lots of good warm fuzzy feelings.
If your looking for a great novel for your primary age children with good levels of terror and thrills I think this one is a sure winner – I’m definitely glad I stuck with it! ...more
"You couldn't hide from bad things and pretend they didn'tThis review was originally posted on Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on the 5th April 2012.
"You couldn't hide from bad things and pretend they didn't exist–that left you with a dream world, and dream worlds eventually crumbled. You had to face the truth. And then decide what you wanted."
I've always loved fairytales. I remember in high school reading Beauty by Sheri S Tepper and absolutely loving the way it mixed traditional fairytales with a good dose of science fiction. As soon as I read the premise for Kill Me Softly I knew I had to get my hands on it and see if it could live up to my expectations and be the young adult version of its adult sibling. The story centres around Mirabelle a 15 year old orphan who has lived her entire life with 2 very loving but strict godparents. Shortly before her 16th birthday Mirabelle decides to defy their number 1 rule and return to the place of her birth to search for her parents graves in order to get some closure.
The town of Beau Rivage where Mira was born is not your ordinary town. This is a town that blends modern day diners and casinos with fairytale mansions and fates. Being born in Beau Rivage means you could end up being the handsome prince destined to rescue your very own princess, or you could end up cursed and a villain, perhaps abuse your beautiful stepsister, or eat a young girls grandmother. Happily ever afters in this town normally come at a price and Mira soon discovers that fate pulled her home for a reason just in time for her 16th birthday, an auspicious and often scary time for the teens of Beau Rivage.
While this book had some flaws overall I really enjoyed reading it. It's a fun read and you can't help but try and guess which character comes our of which fairytale. I really enjoyed that these weren't the disney versions of fairytales and insted err towards the Brothers Grimm versions being fairly morbid and nearly always gruesome. Happily ever after also has some fairly strange outcomes, like the prince who found his snow white princess yet upon waking her was no longer felt the attraction because she was too chirpy and bright. Being so in love with the handsome prince who rescued her, this version of snow white instead chose to drug herself so she walks through life in a almost catatonic state just so they can stay together.
The character of Mira was probably one of the weaker parts of this story, yes she's 15 so I understand that some level of self absorption is to be expected but seriously this girl could be downright dumb. She ignores all advice given to her for the most frivilous of reasons and does stupid things anyway. I found her whole infatuation with Felix completely unnatural and unrealistic. Yes I understand he is meant to draw and attract girls to him, but Blue has the same curse and she wasn't the least bit tempted by him. She also spent the middle of this novel being a world class bitch to people who had been nothing but nice to her as far as I could see. She didn't really do anything redeemable until the end of the novel and I still had a few issues with that, overall I just didn't connect with her and at times simply wanted to slap silly.
The love triangle, or is it a love square, was quite pitiful. I understand that it needed to be there to further the plot but considering she was deeply in love with Felix she seemed to forget about him a lot and would just turn up in the early hours of the morning ready to crash and only at that point remember to spend time with him. Blue who she apparently "hates" however she spends her entire days with and her relationship with Freddie is pretty awkward, I would have loved to have seen that fleshed out a bit more.
Now that I got those issues off my chest I can move on to what worked. The secondary characters were wonderful - I loved their little group, Rafe and his bad attitude, Viv and her complicated and creepy relationship with Henley, Layla and her gambling addict of a father I really could go on. Even though they didn't get much of a look in I was greatly entertained by the Knight brothers - Wills and Caspian provided such good comic relief. The scene where they go with Caspian to the beach so he can attempt to drown himself to find his mermaid was fantastic and hearing Wills talk about his hopes that his Cinderella can at least read and write gave me a giggle.
All the different storyline threads come together brilliantly and I couldn't put the book down I was dying to find out how it all ended. I can't say too much about the finale without spoiling it but I will be interested to see if this does stay a stand alone novel or if a sequel does eventuate. While Mirabelle's story wraps up fairly well, there were so many other entertaining characters that a spin off story centering around a different fairytale could easily work.
Overall I found this book very satisfying and think anyone with a penchant for fairytales would enjoy this. I can't wait for Channel 7 Australia to start airing Once Upon A Time now!
Thank you Netgalley and Edgemont USA for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Kill Me Softly is being released on the 10th April 2012....more
"I became the very air; I was full of stars. I was the soaThis review was originally published at Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on 10th August 2012.
"I became the very air; I was full of stars. I was the soaring spaces between the spires of the cathedral, the solemn breath of chimneys, a whispered prayer upon the winter wind. I was silence,and I was music, one clear transcendent chord rising toward Heaven. I believed, then, that I would have risen bodily into the sky but for the anchor of his hand in my hair and his round soft perfect mouth."
Seraphina is a young musician who lives wedged between two races who are in an uneasy alliance that could be destroyed at any moment. On one side there is the race of dragons – cold analytical beings that prior to the alliance saw humans the same way humans see ants, something to spare less than a passing glance. Then there are humans who fear and hate dragons wishing they would disappear completely their disgust and loathing of these creatures is so high. Her mother a dragon managed to break free of the standard unemotional detachment her race naturally has and fall in love with a human giving life to a baby. This child is Seraphina, a new hybrid – part human, part dragon and she guards this secret with her life for fear of violent persecution should she be discovered.
This book did so many things right. The world of Goredd is meticulously rich and complex giving you a really fundamental understanding of this world both from the human and dragon perspective. The writing was simply beautiful and this book is filled with little nuggets of simply beautiful prose:
"Sometimes the truth has difficulty breaching the city walls of our beliefs. A lie, dressed in the correct livery, passes through more easily."
What really impressed upon me the most was the undercurrent of fear that ran through the whole novel. Seraphina herself feels such fear about being found out and this is really driven home countless times over in small encounters with the general public and with her inner monologue. For all this fear, Seraphina is a wonderful character who would be enjoyed by a wide audience – she most definitely is not written to please a female market. Aside from one moment where she stupidly follows someone to a deserted place, she at no other point did anything that made me want to strangle her or roll my eyes in disbelief which was very refreshing.
The secondary characters were also well done really propping up the personality of Seraphina as well as coming into their own. Kiggs was a nice male lead though romance is very much on the backburner in this book and I’m very interested to see how things play out there. Seraphina’s uncle Orma was just a beautifully complicated character. A dragon who has feelings and is constantly struggling to reconcile these two sides of his personality he is simply wonderful to read about and I loved the interaction and clear devotion held between himself and Seraphina. The other interesting and very unique characters were Seraphina’s garden of Grotesques who all had their own distinct personality which comes to light as the novel progresses.
While this book appears to tick all the right boxes unfortunately I had to mark it down for a couple of things. While I loved the world and the characters I really didn’t feel that I could connect with this novel completely, it just seemed a bit too distant and there wasn’t enough that made me feel that I could understand what the character was going through. I also felt that this book wasn’t paced as well as it could have been. The beginning was slow going and at times felt a bit too complicated with not enough reward. I’m very glad I persevered however as I did think this was a superb novel and the ending was fantastic.
I have read quite a few stunning Young Adult fantasy novels this year and Seraphina is definitely another one to add to the recommend list. I’m really looking forward to book 2 as I’m sure that Hartman will have worked out the pacing on her sophomore novel and I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Thank you Netgalley and Random House Children’s Books for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Seraphina is out now and can be purchased via the links below....more
This series has to be one of the most underrated YA trilogies I can think of. I picked up AFind this review and others on my blog Tea in the Treetops!
This series has to be one of the most underrated YA trilogies I can think of. I picked up Awaken on a whim when going through my dystopian phase back in 2011 and simply adored it. I felt that it was such a believable scenario considering how humanity is with its addiction to screen time and the fear mongering seen in all avenues of media. I simply loved Awaken and I also loved it’s sequel – Middle Ground. I loved it so much in fact, that 17 week pregnant me decided to name my then unborn daughter Madeleine as the name really grew on me while I was reading it.
Fast forward 2 years and I find myself with a 15 month old Maddie of my own and a copy of the final book in this series, Still Point. It had been so long I wasn’t sure how to really get started on it, I barely remembered what had happened at the end of book 2 and I was both excited and worried about how I would connect with the last instalment of this story. Reflecting back now that I’ve finished reading it, I think going in with a break was probably a good thing and I quite enjoyed the ending, though I imagine there will be many who will come away from this book feeling deflated or unimpressed with how things wrap up.
The final book takes place with Maddie back at home trying to reconnect with her father and assist Justin and the Digital School Drop Outs from the inside. Not a lot actually happens action wise throughout this story it predominantly focuses on character development and plot conclusion. Maddie is defiant and strong as ever and romance takes a definite back stage to her emotional journey and relationship with her family. Justin is thought about a lot however isn’t around for much of the story and we are introduced to a new character, Jax who agrees to assist Maddie with her plans to publicise the harmful side effects of Digital School.
Being the final book in a trilogy its very hard to write a review without giving away too much of the story so my apologies if this review doesn’t cover things in too much detail, there is so much I want to say but you will have to read it yourself to find out what happens at the end. I will say that there are a lot of revelations for Maddie and much of what you thought is turned on its head in terms of character motives. The ending with the voting of whether Digital School should remain the only choice available to students, was well done and I was hooked on this book from beginning to end.
This book is just such a great story for today’s western civilisation. The questions surrounding quality of life when digital use is constantly on the increase, addiction to screens and its susceptibility with young children are just a couple that would make this series a great platform for classroom and family discussions. A great novel and series in general – it should definitely be added to every ones to read list immediately! ...more
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....more
I was so excited to start reading Dreamless, I loved StarcrossedThis review was originally posted on Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales on 27 June 2012.
I was so excited to start reading Dreamless, I loved Starcrossed when I read it last year and thought it was very unique the way it revamped Helen, the Trojan Wars and the face that launched 1000 ships. Starcrossed was very much about the romance between Lucas and Helen and explaining the world that Angelini created. Dreamless is a very different book, it’s about Helen finding her inner strength and very much delving into the characters and fleshing them out to provide a much richer reading experience.
In this novel Helen is struggling with her quest to free the Scions from the Furies. Much of the book is about her journeying into the Underworld trying to work out how to find the Furies and reunite the Houses. Helen and Lucas have also discovered their relationship as cousins and this has driven a large wedge between them which is further strained by the introduction of a new character – Orion who can journey and assist Helen with her mission.
This book started out a little slowly for my tastes, I’m not sure if it was just because there was such a long time between me reading the first book and this sequel but it took me quite a while to get into things and remember what was happening. I would have appreciated a little bit more of a reintroduction to the overarching plot just to get me back into the swing of things. Once I started remembering the characters and getting involved in Helen’s quest I truly enjoyed this story it was fast, fun and action filled.
Helen was done brilliantly in this book – I had found her to be quite weak in Starcrossed and I loved the self exploration and growth that she goes through in this novel even though it nearly kills her. By the end of the book she is fast becoming the kick ass heroine that this series deserves and I can’t wait to see how she tackles the challenges set before her in book 3!
I used to hate love triangles but I have read quite a few really good ones this year that the whole love triangle thing is really doing it for me. The introduction of Orion really irritated me at first but he was such a likeable guy that I couldn’t help but really love him by the end of this book. Lucas on the other hand I wasn’t quite so impressed with. I thought his melodramatic and public break up with Helen was poorly handled and then lets be frank he stalked her invisibly throughout half the book. Not on man, not on! His handling of Orion however when they meet was very gentlemanly so he got a bit of reprieve from me there.
The plot wrap up in this novel is sensational – I wolfed the ending up in no time and am now desperate for book 3! It managed to provide some key plot resolution making you feel that you had actually finished the book but left enough shock and cliff hangers that you can’t wait to read the next installment. Very neatly handled by Angelini and a far cry better than many YA books out on the market! I think anyone who enjoys greek mythology should consider this series, it’s a very unique angle and a lot of fun.
Thank you Edelweiss and HarperTEEN for providing me with a copy of this novel for review. Dreamless was released on 29th May 2012....more