When I saw the title for Victoria Aveyard’s debut, the first thing that popped into my mind was Alice in Wonderland. I mean, of course I would think that because, hello, the RED QUEEN aka Queen of Hearts? A little disappointed that it wasn’t a retelling from her point of view, but nonetheless the gorgeous and eerie cover and the premise caught my attention. When I was contacted to be a part of the blog tour and to read an advanced copy of the book, I immediately agreed to it. I knew I had to read this book, and that I had to read it soon.
Oh my gosh: WOW. Red Queen was amazing! I seriously couldn’t tear my eyes away from this book. It was like X-Men meets The Selection meets Shadow and Bone. It was such a fantastic blend of the supernatural, fantasy, and dystopia – brilliantly executed. It was a long read (especially since I read it in one sitting) but SO WORTH IT. The world building was phenomenal; I really felt like I understood the world that the story took place in. The writing was absolutely wonderful and there never seemed to be a dull moment.
The characters were amazing. I loved learning about this world through Mare’s world. Of course, she reminds me of so many dystopian and fantasy heroines, so that sort of originality was somewhat lacking, but the familiarity of the character type definitely made this an engaging read. And oh gods above, the LOVE TRIANGLE. Or square? I seriously don’t know at this point. Two princes and a friend (not featured very much though) made sure that there was plenty of romance in the story. If you know me, you know that I can’t resist a good romance. However, I just felt that there was a lack of actual chemistry...no sizzle at all. While I’m torn because I my stomach flip-flops at scenes of romance in a book, I thought it was really interesting that the book didn’t actually focus on the developing feelings between characters and was more about the actual events. Feeling a bit half-and-half on this one, but more towards the fact that I’m FOR the somewhat underplayed passion in this novel.
Holy moly the amount of twists in this book. I had to cover up the ends of chapters just to make my eyes stop wandering and accidentally spoiling things for me. SO MUCH SHIZZ HAPPENS AND IT’S WORTHY OF DROPPED JAWS. The end was a stab to the stomach, because no way in a million years did I see that coming. I predicted an earlier twist but I never actually thought that the book would end the way it did. I’m seriously sad that I’m going to have to a while until the next book comes out because 2015 practically just started and the sequel comes out in 20-frickin-16.
An exceptional debut, Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen is gripping from the first page to the last. Absolutely spellbinding, this story of blood, magic, and revolution will have readers begging for more. The start of a terrific trilogy, I’m looking forward to what’s coming next. Can’t wait!
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Megan at HarperCollins International and Tiffany at MPH for sending a copy for review and for having me on the blog tour! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
When I received an offer to review Seed, I was immediately drawn to the eerie cover and the tagline and knew that I HAD to read and review this one. However, the problem with me is that I don’t tend to read blurbs very well and base most of my reading (sadly) on the cover. I seriously didn’t realise this was about a cult. When I found out, my brain started flashing warning signs. Why, you ask? I’d previously started reading a book about a cult and didn’t end up enjoying it so I stopped reading it. To be completely honest, I get a little freaked out when it comes to reading about cults. From what I’ve learned about them to seeing them portrayed in media, I get a little weirded out and tend to stay away from things that depict cults, etc. By the way, this is totally not meant to offend anyone. I personally don’t know much about cults in general, except that there have been some that are pretty extreme and stuff, so basically that’s what my “judgement” (if I could even call it that) is based on.
Anyway, back to Seed. This one was fantastic. It’s filled with absolutely gorgeous descriptions, and now I’m wondering whether this is based on an actual cult because the “world-building” – despite it not being a fantasy/dystopian/etc. – is phenomenal. It really didn’t feel like our world, and I didn’t even think that this was based in a real place until the outsiders arrive at Seed. That’s the thing: the novel really felt kind of timeless because the cult is so isolated from the outside, so you don’t in fact realise that it actually has a modern setting.
I really enjoyed Pearl’s character. She felt real and I think I would have done most of the actions she does in the book if I was in the position. It must have been a bit of a challenge for the author to have written the book from the perspective of someone who has such a strange and bad view of the world, not completely getting the grasp of the good that there is. The other characters really add to her character development and it was really great reading about them as well.
The end was MIND BLOWING and I was left with my jaw dropped. The book’s pace up till that point was basically pretty normal; kind of slow at the start but started picking up when Pearl begins to question the Seed. Holy crap though, the end was just absolutely heart-pounding and ended with a shocking climax. I’m seriously looking forward to the second book, but now I have to wait a whole YEAR for it to come out... *bursts into tears*.
Seed was intriguing and fascinating – Lisa Heathfield’s debut is stunning and has left me aching for more. Do yourself a favour and do NOT pass this one up. Spellbinding and filled with mystery and deception, this is a novel that demands to be read.
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha from Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
I knew I had to get my hands on this one after reading Amy Reed’s fantastic novel Clean. The cover on the ARC I received was different – it featured a guy, and so I was a little sad that it got replaced with the image of the girl because not too many guys are the main subject of the cover when it comes to YA fiction. Anyway, I really enjoyed this one. Amy Reed’s writing is compelling and while harsh, it’s got a lyrical quality to it. She’s clearly not afraid of being brutally honest when it comes to telling a story and gets right into the nitty-gritty, deep-down stuff that we tend to hide or what characters don’t show in many books. That’s what I particularly enjoyed about Damaged and overall it was a great read.
I really loved Clean, so I knew that this one was going to get a similar reaction from me. I didn’t like it as much as Clean, but it was really different from it as well, so I don’t think I can compare the two in terms of subject matter. Sure, this does deal with addiction – not getting past the death of a friend, alcoholism, and such. HOWEVER, unlike the rehab setting that was in Clean, the two characters Kinsey and Hunter take a road trip. I don’t have anything against road trips, but honestly, it’s such a cliché in YA nowadays that it does get annoying. I mean the same thing happens again and again and again. Boy and girl take a road trip, starting with nothing but the need to get away from it all. The relationship at this point is pretty platonic and they often have a character who is missing/dead/etc. who is the reason why they need to get away from where they currently are. Make a few side-stops, showing the touristy-side of a road trip at some not-so-well-known landmarks. They start to fall in love. Something happens, they separate, angry at each other. In the end... who knows, they either stick together or separate it’s a toss-up. I’m not saying that all road trip books are like this, but they tend to have a similar pattern. Damaged followed some of this (I’m not gonna say what) and so yes, the story’s frame was a little cliché, but the other parts were better than I’d expected.
When it came down to Kinsey and Hunter, I seriously couldn’t connect to them. Normally this would annoy me with a book, but I honestly thought that it worked this time. Taking more of an observing role rather than getting into the characters and their emotions made more sense for this one because of the experiences the both of them have had. But I did feel time to time annoyed with the characters because of their actions and their tendency to quickly get mad at each other and shut down completely. The Camille “ghost” parts of the story were the best. I seriously thought that these were the moments when we could possibly connect to Kinsey’s character because she’s more vulnerable and we can see past the mask she wears most of the time.
Both a smooth and rocky road, Damaged was an interesting blend of ghost story meets contemporary road trip. Dark and haunting, Reed scores again with her latest novel. Can’t wait to read more from her!
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Kelsey at Simon & Schuster for sending a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
I was a little wary of getting into All the Bright Places because the blurb claimed it to be “The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor & Park.” I didn’t really want to set my standards too high because the story easily could have fallen into the familiar story arc of so many other YA contemporary novels: either boy or girl in trouble, meets the other, they save each other. We’ve all seen this a million times. However, what I didn’t expect was to fall head over heels in love with this book and have my heart crushed into a million pieces.
The story is told in the alternating perspectives of our two main characters: Finch and Violet. I will admit that while I was completely taken with Finch from the start, Violet took a little time to warm up to. After that though, WOW. I was so enamoured by both characters, that by the end it was so hard to let them go. Both have their own demons and it’s interesting to see how it plays out with their narratives, interactions and relationship. It definitely leaves a lasting mark by the end (no spoilers!), and the build-up is a rickety, heart-pounding climb that follows with the sharp whoosh! of the fall. I just wish though that there had been more of an explanation for Finch’s problem, because it comes up several times during the book and it seemed quite random but actually has a large significance in the novel. Maybe I missed it, but I just felt that there could have been more information given pertaining to his “condition.”
❝The rules of geocaching say ‘take something, leave something.’ The way I figure it,we stand to get something out of each place, so why not give something back? Also, it’s a way to prove we’ve been there, and a way to leave a part of us behind.❞ –p. 44, ARC* *text is subject to change in the final version
I seriously love the road-trip-feel of the novel without the actual road trip. Both need to escape, but instead of the cliché idea of taking off on a road trip, they actually explore their surroundings but always come back home. I really enjoyed these parts of the book because it was where the romance started to grow as well as where most of the humour was. With the amount of family problems Finch has and how Violet has to cope with the loss of a sibling – and just in general all the sad parts of the book – you seriously need an ice-breaker now and then. Yeesh, this is not a fluffy book. AT ALL.
Be prepared to laugh, smile, and cry, because Jennifer Niven’s bittersweet novel has it all. All the Bright Places was a beautiful story that had me at a golden high and a heartbreaking low, truly the epitome of an emotional roller coaster. Seriously, go read this book right now. I dare you. Keep a box of tissues at hand though, because you are definitely going to need it.
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Anna at Random House Children’s Books for sending me a copy for review and having me on the blog tour! ▪ ▪ ▪ ...more
When I heard that Michaela MacColl was going to write a novel featuring the Brontë sisters, I was overjoyed. I loved her last novel, Nobody’s Secret, and while I haven’t read Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is one of the best classics I’ve ever read– the recent movie adaption was amazing too! So you can imagine my utter glee upon finding out about the premise and getting the chance to review this book. Trust me, it did not disappoint.
What I enjoy the most about Michaela MacColl’s books is how she manages to weave fact and fiction seamlessly to write her novels. I always love reading the end note from the author after finishing the book because she always explains which parts of the book were real and which were reimagined from fact or created from her own imagination. I also really love seeing how bits and pieces of the plot can be found in Jane Eyre and (from what I’ve heard) Wuthering Heights. It really creates a more believable story and even though Always Emily is fiction, it’s much “closer” to the truth.
While I did like both characters, to me, while I would definitely align more with Charlotte, I found myself liking Emily’s story more. It might be because Emily does take on more of an active role during the action in the story, but also the romance does tend to revolve around her, which is something I usually look forward to in a story. I liked how the perspectives alternated as it built up more suspense and really created the thrilling narrative that can be similarly found in the Brontë sisters’ books. I like the other characters’ involvement, as some of them are real and some not so real, but they all helped to detail a richer story.
MacColl has done her research very well and it all pays off with this fantastic novel about the lives of two women who’ve written stories more than a hundred years ago that remain popular today. Always Emily was a fast-paced contemporary-classic that I’m sure fans of gothic literature and YA alike will love....more
I was super lucky when I got my hands on an ARC of this one– it’s been on my TBR pile for a while and I jumped at the chance to review it. I started this one ages ago, but unfortunately something came up and I had to put it away. I totally regret waiting this long to read Pawn because it was AH. MAY. ZING. I mean seriously, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a dystopian this much in ages. It was like a crossover between Meg Cabot’s Airhead and Kiera Cass’ The Selection– I loved it.
I seriously loved the Hart family. Doesn’t matter if they’re evil– I loved to HATE them. My eyes were glued to the pages as I wondered which family member would turn on which, and who would be the last to survive. Kitty’s character was (of course) amazing. I like how she still had her head on straight and would make the decisions a normal person would make. Carter has crafted such a real character, and that’s a relief considering how so many main characters immediately act first and think later. There is also a bit of a love triangle but it’s more one-sided towards Benjy. Unfortunately, I was more team Knox on this one! It’s just that Benjy doesn’t make much of an appearance throughout the book and Knox is constantly there. Hopefully things change a little bit more in the next book, Captive!
The world building is truly impressive. I thought it was a lot like the world of The Selection with “royalty” ruling the country and a system that defines the population, as well as job allocations depending on your number. What was interesting though was that the I’s get placed in Elsewhere, which apparently makes more of an appearance in the sequel. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding that so I’m glad as readers we get to explore it further.
I couldn’t put this one down, and now I’m left wanting MORE. Non-stop action and thrills, cute boys and a deadly plot, Pawn is a win. Aimée Carter has caught my attention and now I’m super excited to read the rest of the series!
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Lisa Wray from Harlequin for sending a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more
It was only when I’d finished reading this book and started writing this review that I found out that Alex Mallory is Saundra Mitchell. I really loved The Vespertine! It was one of the first books that I’d reviewed on the blog, but I unfortunately didn’t manage to continue with the series. I’m glad to say though that Wild was an amazing book. I’ve never heard of a Tarzan retelling in YA, and despite the lack of excellent musical numbers, this one was stellar. I haven’t actually read the original Tarzan of the Apes, so I only have the Disney version of the movie to base the story on. I was thrilled that I got an advanced copy to read, and was even more so when I got the chance to be a part of the blog tour.
I really loved both characters. While the book was presented in third person, it alternated between Cade’s and Dara’s perspectives. I enjoyed the parallel to Tarzan and Jane respectively, and especially liked the interaction between the both of them. Several other characters, such as Sofia and Josh, also have a large role in the book and I liked their characters’ contributions to the plot. The unraveling of the mystery as the characters explore further into Cade’s past was very intriguing and was well-written in terms of incorporating character development into the plot’s progression.
I loved the setting for this – the forest was beautifully described both through Cade and Dara’s eyes, but also the time period was fitting for the retelling. While I’m sure it wouldn’t have been set during the time that Tarzan was, it was cool to see how someone who hasn’t really interacted with today’s world see the world and it’s development with new eyes. I also felt that Mallory (Mitchell) managed to capture the portrayal of media. Especially since Wild depicted how pushy the media can be and the boundaries it’s willing to break, no matter the consequences. It’s a horrifying picture that the author paints, but it’s definitely a realistic one. The ending was great: I felt that it gave the book closure without making everything conveniently fall into place. While it would have been cool to see this book work as a series, I was glad that it was a standalone so that there was no need to drag it out. It concluded well, leaving room for imagination but still leaving things in place.
While the 440 pages would have first put me off, Wild was a marvelous read, one I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) put down. Mallory’s spellbinding retelling is a powerful story of love, destruction and what makes us human....more
After finishing this one, there is truly only one word that sums it up: WOW. Just...WOW. Oh my gosh. I can’t believe I put this one off so long. It took me four attempts to start it – not because it was bad, but because things kept coming up. The fourth and final time I read this book, which was around a year after the previous attempt, I FINALLY finished it.
What a strange and wonderful book! Honestly, I find it so difficult to tell people what this book is about. If I were to describe it, it would come off as being weird and something many people wouldn’t enjoy. Something along the lines of – this is a story about love and history... AND it has gigantic praying mantises. People would think I was crazy or something. Nope, so I’m gonna have Austin’s character describe it to you from the beginning of the story:
❝This is my history. There are things in here: babies with two heads, insects and big as refrigerators, God, the devil, limbless warriors, rocket ships, sex, diving bells, theft, wards, monsters, internal combustion engines, love, cigarettes, joy, bomb shelters, pizza, and cruelty. Just like it’s always been.❞ –p. 8, ARC* *text is subject to change in the final version
See? Much better than how I would have put it.
I remember starting this one (the first attempt to read this book) around the time I finished reading Slaughterhouse-Five for class. The writing style is similar in the sense that it jumps around a bit – not as crazily as SH5 – but like Vonnegut, Smith has a method to his madness. You only truly understand why it’s important to include the small details, or the larger ideas of what’s happening elsewhere because it all CONNECTS. In the end, you come to realise that, holy crap: it all makes sense now.
The literature student in me so desperately wants to just sit down with this book for a month and analyze the hell out of this book. There’s so much to look at because this book is so rich in detail and has such a unique structure. Just looking at the history this book incorporates, it’s influences and the allusions it makes would be such an interesting study... now I’m seriously tempted to do this! *inner-geek flails*
I feel like I’ve gone through a life-changing experience after reading this book. I cannot express how mind-blowingly excellent Grasshopper Jungle is, how stunning Andrew Smith’s prose is, and how I’m absolutely looking forward to reading more of his novels. This is by far the best book I’ve read in a long time, definitely the best book published in 2014 for me, and it’s going to be difficult finding another that will top this one. Truly a masterpiece of a book, filled with such a unique premise and unforgettable characters, this is a fantastic story that no one should miss out on.
▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha from Pansing for sending a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪...more