Thank you to the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
I know we’re only a mThank you to the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
I know we’re only a month in, but I have no trouble calling it – this is one of the best books of 2015.
Imagine your soul could be traced and you could find out who had it before you did. What would you do with that information, the information that you were once better or worse than you are now? Would you let it haunt you, take over your life? Alina Chase had no choice in the matter. Her soul belonged to a criminal considered so dangerous that when she died, all babies born were tested to see which one had her soul and the results were made public. For her own protection, Alina was contained on an island, always living in the shadow of the person she might turn out to be. When she manages to escape from her prison, her past self sets her on a path to uncover secrets to her past life which will change her own future.
From the very start, from chapter one, I absolutely loved it. It is exciting from the very beginning – it had my heart pumping and I don’t think it stopped until after I turned the last page. There are parts where it may seem a little slow but it doesn’t settle down (I think this is an important distinction) from the moment the escape starts to develop, as we learn what put Alina in her prison and how her life was not her own, how she was now paying for someone else’s crimes. We learn the motives of her co-conspirators and what they’re hoping to gain from her escape. I was invested the whole way through. Alina is determined and brave, and I couldn’t help but admire her and how she reacted in her rapidly changing situation.
The characters are extraordinarily well developed and complex. There were few of them that we really see, which meant there was enough time to really get to know each one. Soulprint is a standalone (rare in the YA trend of sometimes crazy long series!) so you don’t have multiple books to develop a multitude of characters. I loved the slow burn of the romance, another rare thing in YA, and it seemed as if I could really feel it developing, I could understand it. And the budding romance between Alina and Cameron, one of her rescuers, isn’t the only interesting relationship dynamic because you also have Cameron’s sister, Casey, a talented hacker. The familial relationship between her and Cameron is beautifully done and I loved the suspicion she had of Alina – is that a weird thing to say? Casey is very protective of her brother and this is portrayed in a fantastic way. The wary friendship she forms with Alina is shaken by Alina’s feelings for Cameron, which happens despite Casey’s protests and insistence that now is not the time. It felt realistic. And me? I love realistic, alongside all the secrets and tantalizing mystery.
And you know what else is great? The author has a degree in Biology! That really stands out for me as you can tell the soulprint, while less is known about it, is based on DNA and its written by someone who really knows what they’re talking about.
I could have easily read more books about this futuristic world, about the struggle that comes with knowing who you used to be, about the characters and where they went next. But I guess I’m okay with this being a standalone too – a story I can come back to again and again, which I anticipate I will do in the future. ...more
Thank you to the publisher who provided this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
It is 1880s London, anThank you to the publisher who provided this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
It is 1880s London, and the Jarmyn family are coming out of deep mourning for the youngest member of their household, nine-year-old Sofia, after a terrible accident. Each member of the family is struggling – head of the family Lucas, his wife Aurora, eldest son Bill at Oxford, newly eighteen year old Dinah, younger sons Gus and Jack who were left out of it all – and it seems only their housekeeper Mrs. Logan is able to keep them all together. Six months later, another nine-year-old girl has died and it’s on the railway that Lucas owns. Her father Thomas travels to London for explanation and justice and the future of the two families collides.
I have had a lot of trouble trying to write this review – it was one of those that I just couldn’t work out where to start because by the time I got to the end I had mixed feelings. I was really enjoying it for the most part – while the story was moving slow, the history was fascinating and you can tell this book has been meticulously researched. It was just so interesting that I didn’t mind the pace of the story development. Though the death of Sofia, and Alice too, were grisly and the detail of ‘how to mourn correctly’ was heavy and you can tell these people are full of grief and guilt, this book still managed to be infused with humour relief, particularly from the household staff who were fantastic characters.
I enjoyed the slow burn and the development of both the story of Thomas Brinklow and the Jarmyn family following the train accident, and the story surrounding Sofia’s death and how this affected the other members of the household – particularly Dinah, who has turned eighteen and become a woman and no one has realised. All of this is happening in the midst of the Boer War, with the Jarmyns’ cousin Roger off to serve the Queen and young Jack wishing he could do the same. These stories were all intricately woven and well executed but I was left unsatisfied with the ending. It made perfect sense but it still seemed to fall flat, I’m not really sure why. I was really enjoying the story but maybe the ending was too quiet, with not enough of a bang? But then the novel wasn’t a bang of a novel, if that makes sense, so maybe a bang of an ending wouldn’t have worked and I’d be just as unsatisfied? You can see why I’m a bit confused about how I feel!
I think I will settle on 3.5 stars, which is kind of safe. But the writing and the storytelling was brilliant and I did enjoy it and I do recommend it for that, I only wish I hadn’t been so iffy about the ending! ...more
Thank you to Simon & Schuster AU for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
A Sudden LiThank you to Simon & Schuster AU for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
A Sudden Light is a story about love, loss, regret and a ghost that spans over generations of the Riddell family. The Riddell House, where fourteen-year-old Trevor’s grandfather and aunt live – who he has never met before the summer of 1990 – has been in the family since the early 1900s when it was built by Trevor’s great-great-grandfather and is full of mystery, deception and family secrets. Feeling the weight of his parents’ ‘trial separation’ after they become bankrupt, Trevor sets out to put the story together and uncover the hidden truths of his family. As he does, he realises that they are not alone in Riddell House.
A Sudden Light is told in the reflective voice of Trevor, now in his thirties, as he tells the story of that summer to his children. I loved how the naivety and innocence of young Trevor, with his plan to get his parents back together and repair his family, is melded with the wiser tones of the older Trevor and how he remembers what happened that summer. I really enjoyed this style of writing and could easily identify when the older Trevor was kind of narrating and the younger one was living it, so to speak. The older Trevor describes things and emotions and thoughts that the younger Trevor, though a gifted writer, may not have understood or had the capacity to explain at the time. He did keep a journal which would have helped the recall of the older Trevor along, I’m sure.
We have a very interesting cast of characters in the Riddell House – both living and dead. Trevor, the only child, and his dad have returned to the family house where Aunt Serena and Grandpa Samuel have lived since Trevor’s dad, Jones, was a child. Aunt Serena is a powerful character who has something to wield over the other members of the family and an ideal she won’t let go of. Grandpa Samuel is slowly losing his mind to Alzheimer’s – or is he? He claims he can hear his late wife Isobel dancing in the night and he writes out Post-It notes that nobody understands. Jones and Serena join forces to convince their father its time to sell the house to developers and Trevor is enlisted to help. But as Trevor learns more about the house and its previous inhabitants, he starts to wonder if that is really a good idea. He’s stuck between a rock and a hard place: once they have money from the sale, he believes his parents will get back together. As he delves further and further into the mystery of the house and meets its ghostly inhabitant, who won’t leave until the house and the estate is turned back to nature, Trevor doesn’t know what to do. Add to that the double motives of Aunt Serena and the possibility that Grandpa Samuel might not actually be crazy – the Riddell House is so much more than it seems and its no wonder that Trevor is torn.
There was a lot involved in this novel: the history of the Riddell House and its inhabitants, the reason Jones left the family house and never went back, the current trial separation, the plot to sell the house to developers and put Grandpa Samuel in a nursing home as well as environmental consciousness and related issues to logging and life in the 1900s. But I liked it. It was full of life and complexity because life is full of complexity. I never felt like there was too much going on in this book, I just went along for the ride and enjoyed all of it. I loved Trevor’s snarky fourteen-year-old attitude and his cleverness, and the fact that he knew he was clever and yet wasn’t a pain. I enjoyed his inquisitiveness and watching him develop a conscious about things he hadn’t yet considered in his young life. I loved Grandpa Samuel, and I detested Serena, and I felt sorry for Jones – it was just a winning combination. Everything just flowed so perfectly and as the story raced towards its conclusion, my heart was in my mouth and by the time the epilogue rolled around I had tears streaking down my face.
I really enjoy multi-generational stories that feel epic due to the span of time they cross and the intricacies of the characters and I love family secrets! And the other thing is I just can’t find anything wrong with this book. And I try to, you guys know that. BUT ITS BRILLIANT. Solid five stars and I’m off to find The Art of Racing in the Rain. ...more
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
So me aThank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
So me and this book had a few troubles. After being approved on Netgalley (which took so long it was already out by the time I was) I realised from reading other reviews that though it is a companion novel, The Cinderella Moment should be read before The Rapunzel Dilemma. Considering I’d been planning on reading it anyway I thought I would track it down, shouldn’t be too hard, right? Except Dymocks didn’t have it in so I had to wait a week for it to come in. So then I got it, finally, read it in a day. All good. I start The Rapunzel Dilemma that night only to get thirty pages in to my galley and encounter a blank page in the middle of a chapter and the next couple of pages seemingly out of order. Close Adobe Editions, open it again, restart laptop – nothing worked. And I couldn’t re-download it from Netgalley because I’d taken so long to get around to it that it had been archived. Great. However, I refused to be beaten and the next time I was in the city (Thursday) I bought myself a paperback copy (as well as some other goodies, because I can). I finished the book I’d moved on to and FINALLY I was on my way.
The Rapunzel Dilemma picks up a few weeks after the happy ending of The Cinderella Moment. Lily has convinced her father that he should let her attend the London Drama Academy, an idea he was not too keen on to begin with. But he has made her a deal: he will allow her three years at the Academy and then she will have to step into her role in the family business. She begrudgingly agrees, for now, and receives a rare audition for the Academy. Instantly, her new classmates believe that it is Lily’s money and connections that have got her there and as you can imagine they are livid. I would be too and I don’t blame them at all. So for the first time ever life is not easy for Lily de Tourney and she finds that at the Academy her status and privilege mean nothing other than being able to purchase an expensive bedspread to rub her roommates’ noses in (not literally!) which really is not going to make them like you any more than before. The classes are difficult, too, and Lily is also learning that even though she loves acting, she might not actually be as good as she thinks she is.
As well as handling all the drama of being the rich kid nobody likes, someone is also trying to sabotage Lily’s new friendships and things start to go missing, get ruined and trashed and all fingers point to Lily, even though she’s getting menacing letters in her locker. Oh wait, don’t forget the love interest! Cue entry of mysterious, angsty, good looking boy from the other side of the tracks.
The Rapunzel parallels are in Lily’s long blonde locks and the Tower in which she seeks refuge from the students who dislike her, the sabotage and from her teachers’ harsh (but in my opinion deserved) criticism. Basically, there’s a reason no one likes Lily. She is spoiled and privileged and has no idea about the real world and what goes on in it. Even when she recognises this she doesn’t change her attitude so it is hard to like her. She is incredibly naïve and I couldn’t believe that she didn’t realise that obviously she had help getting her audition at the Academy. I could still feel the fairytale element in this story but not quite as well, although overall I enjoyed it more than I did The Cinderella Moment. There were few parallels in the flow of the two stories, particularly in misunderstandings with the respective love interests and another rushed conclusion where everything is tied up with a neat bow in the last thirty pages or so.
So what did I like? Because I did like it, even though I didn’t like Lily, didn’t really like the romance and didn’t like how rushed the conclusion was. Wait….did I like this? Well, I did. I liked the boarding school setting and I liked the friendships, especially Angel and Lily’s friendship and how Lily had to more or less learn how to make friends with people who didn’t like her. I thought the blossoming friendships with her roommates were sweet but I didn’t particularly care for Max much at all, despite the fact that he was the first one to befriend her. Hands down my favourite character is still Grandmama, who has a more subtle role in this story but makes an appearance nonetheless. I completely understand Grandmama even when Lily doesn’t – imagine finding your 16-year-old granddaughter at a hotel in the English countryside and meet her male companion wearing nothing but a towel! Even if he had been the most upperclass young man ever she still would have thrown a fit (you would hope, in the name of good grandparenting) despite it all being a case of misunderstanding. Surely Lily and Ronan would realise that? But it’s a fairytale! There needs to be conflict for a nice resolution.
And look it was a nice, if somewhat unrealistic, resolution. It was a fairly enjoyable read and the ending was nice, but on further thought I have dropped my rating from 4 stars to 3.5. It wasn’t spectacular but it was a nice and light, fluffy read. ...more
This book blew me away in a quiet sort of way. There is something about historical fiction with characters whose names we recognise that makes you wonThis book blew me away in a quiet sort of way. There is something about historical fiction with characters whose names we recognise that makes you wonder "could it be true?" And that is what makes great fiction, that wondering left with the reader, where the author can almost convince them that their story happened. And it may have! Very little is documented about Elizabeth's childhood. Makes you wonder.
This is different from the Scarecrow and Jack West, Jr. books I've read by Reilly. He mentioned in an interview that he has written historical/murder mystery fiction before, but I hadn't read them. I will now. I've always been fascinated by historical fiction and Reilly is so easy to read, The Tournament really drew me in. His development of the character of the then Princess Elizabeth was fantastic, but the character I thought was really fantastic was her schoolteacher, Mr. Roger Ascham. Insightful, very intelligent, warm and protective of his young charge, he was a wonderful mentor who gave Elizabeth a different point of view, another way to see things.
Elizabeth and Ascham were well developed characters who I instantly fell for, but the rest of the cast of characters were just as researched and fleshed out. The story was fast paced and addictive; I couldn't put it down. One of the best books published in 2013....more
I knew, before reading this book, that Lady Chatterley's Lover had a scandalous history, so I figured it must get pretty hot and heavy. But I didn't eI knew, before reading this book, that Lady Chatterley's Lover had a scandalous history, so I figured it must get pretty hot and heavy. But I didn't expect the eloquent, elegant authorship of this book, even including those scandalous sex scenes that caused so much trouble for Lawrence.
I was a little bit in awe of Lawrence's writing, but not as much by the story as I wanted to be. Because yes, there is a story around the sex. Lady Chatterley's husband Sir Clifford is a war cripple and the couple have no children. The utter boringness and 'self-importance' of Sir Clifford drives Connie into the arms of other men, which he doesn't really seem to mind as long as its tasteful and he gets an heir which he will then raise as his own. BUT this does not apply to the gamekeeper Oliver Mellors, who Connie inexplicably falls in love with after a couple of stilted conversations and a few sexual encounters she doesn't really get much out of (at least to start with). I didn't really see the attraction, but, y'know, each to their own.
It seemed like there should have been more to this story and especially to the end, but after the building to the climax (pun not intended) it just sort of petered away into a half-hearted ending. By that point, I was expecting more from it. Still wasn't too bad of a read to see what caused all the fuss....more
I know that I, being as far behind as I was, read the entire Artemis Fowl series in a month and haven't been pursuing the saga over the 11 years I knoI know that I, being as far behind as I was, read the entire Artemis Fowl series in a month and haven't been pursuing the saga over the 11 years I know most other readers have. But I was still very attached to this unlikely band of heroes and it was quite upsetting for the series to end. Still, as always, the book was wonderfully written, with Colfer's trademark wit and skill. His own genius did leave me questioning a few things (how can Opal kill her younger self?) and I truly did not expect Artemis to sacrifice himself like that, despite all his character development. All in all, a great book, a good end to the series, and a fantastic series overall. Will be getting my own copies to give to my kids in that far off future!...more
It's been a few days since I finished Far From The Madding Crowd but life has been crazy so I haven't had the time to write this review, which is unliIt's been a few days since I finished Far From The Madding Crowd but life has been crazy so I haven't had the time to write this review, which is unlike me because I usually make time. Oh well, here we go anyway...
My first experience with Hardy came from Tess of the d'Urbervilles, which completely surprised me. I loved it. But it had been a while since then so I opened this one without a great deal of expectation despite the 'classic' status. After finding the first couple of chapters a little slow, general setting the scene type chapters, by the time we met Bathsheba again on her own farm I was really enjoying it.
Bathsheba Everdene is spirited and independent and fiercely determined to be able to run her uncle's farm after firing the stealing bailiff (manager). This was the part of her I most admired. She cared about the farm and her employees, she was resourceful and clever - I hadn't realised that female characters like her popped up in literature from the 1800s. What let me down was her stupidity when it came to men (although I realise without this there may have been no story!)
Gabriel Oak is our other main character in this story, and in him I can find few faults. His loyalty to Bathsheba may be considered a bit extreme but at least he wasn't crazy like Farmer Boldwood. No matter Gabriel's feelings, he put them aside to do his work and to build a friendship with Bathsheba that is perhaps one of my favourite literary friendships. He was the only one who would be completely honest with her and she respected his opinion even if she didn't always like it. What progressed seemed very natural, unlike her romances with Sergeant Troy and poor infatuated Farmer Boldwood, who I felt sorry for but really needed to just let go. He wanted her because he felt he deserved her, he loved her but without taking into account her feelings on the matter. There was no foundation for either of these romances like there was between her and Gabriel.
Hardy writes a great story although some of his description can get a bit tedious, I guess he just liked to set his scene. I really enjoyed the supporting characters in this novel as well as Bathsheba and Gabriel and I think it is a great addition to anyone's library....more
I have always been a voracious reader. But I have not always been a critical one. I used to read books, love them while I was reading them, then moreI have always been a voracious reader. But I have not always been a critical one. I used to read books, love them while I was reading them, then more or less discard them - give them back to their owner or put them back on the shelf, never to be thought of again unless they REALLY made an impression on me. Fallen was a book I read five years ago at age fifteen. At the time I gave it four stars. Unfortunately I did not include a review, which may have enlightened present day me to why I seemed to enjoy it so much. I can hazard a guess - forbidden love story off the back of Twilight, paranormal elements, yadda yadda yadda.
My choice of Fallen for my blog's first Series Binge Read came from the fact I never actually finished this series. Goodreads said I read books two and three, but I can't remember them at all. Given the high rating my 15 year old self gave the books, I thought, what could go wrong?
A lot, it seems.
I was only a couple of pages in when I knew that I wasn't going to enjoy this. The writing was a bit all over the place, clumsy phrases, sentences I had to say out loud to see if they actually made sense. And the introduction of our judgmental heroine, who on her first day of reform school is making comments to herself and making passing judgments on other students she hasn't even spoken to, despite the fact that she herself must look an absolute treat with her hair half burned off and cut raggedly. I knew then that my reread of Fallen was not going to go well.
To keep track of my thoughts I made numerous status updates and tweeted as I was reading, something I'd never really done before but unfortunately this measures could not keep in check the frustration I felt at having to read such poorly written rubbish about an uninteresting and plain stupid heroine, a dude who gives her all the signs to piss off and her creepy stalker-like obsession with him for absolute no reason except that she's 'drawn to him'. And he's meant to be the good guy!
Need some context? Lucinda, or Luce, Price is sent to reform school Sword & Cross after a tragic accident involving a classmate from the prep school she used to attend. No evidence, no tangible proof, but she was there so she must be involved, so the solution is obviously to send her to reform school though nobody actually knows what she did. Who needs logic, right? In her first hour she meets the almost kind of wonderful Arianne, who needed more presence in this book, and spots Daniel, a gorgeous guy who gives her the finger. She doesn't even know him but yet, suddenly, she is obsessed. He flips her off and fifteen minutes later she's wondering where he is. To most people this sort of behaviour would shout "JACKASS" but not to Luce, who proceeds over the next week to stalk him obsessively, with the help of poor Penn who did nothing but just want to make a friend and instead got stuck with Luce.
Despite Daniel's repeated warnings that he wants nothing to do with her, Luce refuses to get the hint. She does stupid and dangerous things like get into cars with people she doesn't know to see a (different) boy she says she doesn't like but also thinks about when not obsessing over Daniel, and is just a pain to read about. There is also nothing significant that happens over the course of the book, except the drawn out revelation that Daniel is a fallen angel (not even going to bother writing SPOILER because honestly you should have worked that out already. You're not Luce) and then some angel fighting and stuff.
Daniel is an absolute idiot. He is the cause of all of this and he could stop it. Take himself far away to the ends of the Earth where his love won't cause Luce to die and reincarnate every seventeen years and he could stay the hell away from her and maybe not kiss her? But nope. It's like he doesn't even try. Surely if you loved her that much - for reasons unknown - maybe you would want to keep her alive by staying away! That's the other thing - we do not know why they're so in love, except for the fact that they were in love in Luce's previous lives. Both are obsessed with how good looking the other is and we are never given any tangible reason why their love should last, why it's better than anything else. But it's okay - he's hot.
What frustrates me most is that at times, Luce realises she is crazy and a stalker and stupid. But this does not cause her to change her behaviour in any way. She notices that he is 'aggressively rude and uninterested' in her so why does she pursue it? And it also becomes alright and forgotten about once the revelation that they're so in love. But it's not okay! She is crazy and needs to go to a real reform school. Why the hell are angels in reform school anyway, don't they have better things to do?
Like a lot of other readers who have given this book a low star rating, I too would have liked to see Luce killed by the villain because every word she spoke was 100% true. I don't know why the angels care about an insignificant human and to be honest, I don't care. I am really regretting this choice for my Series Binge Read but I will soldier on, like I did with Hush, Hush. Although my rating for Hush, Hush was higher even though I disliked both Patch and Nora, at least they had a cool fallen angel storyline. This book, so far, has nothing.