This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
Let the record show – I have notThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
Let the record show – I have not read book one, Take Back The Skies. But while set in the same world, The Almost King seems to have no connection to the story before it –or little enough that you can understand one without reading the other. So I don’t think the fact that I hadn’t read the first one is the reason I didn’t like this one.
This was a painful read. Aleks Vasin has just run away? Left home? I don’t know exactly but he’s Making A Statement. Going to See The World. Refuses to work in his father’s shop to support his brothers and their wives who all live under the same roof but nobody works, or something? And in these first few chapters we jump between Before and Now with little subheadings like The Beginning and The Decision, sometimes multiple times in the same chapter. This style was jolty and all over the place and did not give a good first impression. If you wanted a before, make it all in your prologue or your first chapter. Especially as we don’t even jump that far in future and we even get an in between – it was unnecessary. Anyway, so 17-year-old Aleks leaves home on his Adventure. He’s going to Join The Army, except after being there for a day he decides he cannot handle something designed for criminals and he’s going to escape, right after he uncovers a sinister plot and steals a secret diary. Oh jeebus. What have I got myself into?
Aleks is an incredibly wooden character. The book read like it was just going through the motions and I spent far more time thinking to myself “really? REALLY?” I didn’t believe him and I didn’t believe in the story, and not because it was set in an alternate universe with advanced technology but ships that fly. I feel like I could have believed that, had I believed the characters. The world building is not particularly bad and it is an interesting world. But unfortunately, if I was a DNF-er, I would have DNFed before I hit the 100 page mark. Because when I got there and saw how much I still had left it made me very upset!
So the story continues, Aleks goes north instead, where there are much nicer people who are going to give him a place to stay and a job and he just falls into everything he does, even a relationship (despite this relationship having no substance whatsoever) – he even manages to end up as captain as a skyship despite having very little previous experience. There is so much in this book that did not make sense. The character interactions, the things they said, the way events transpired – nothing felt like it flowed or that it could be real. The girl, Saria? I have no idea why he loves her. None whatsoever. I didn’t even think they had gotten to that point in their relationship – I swear they had had only a handful of dates! I don’t get it. I didn’t think it was serious at all and at best she felt like a side character.
Aleks annoyed me because he was such a gung-ho character – until he did something. Then he wimped out and was like ‘no, I don’t like this, take me home.’ No guts! And mush for brains. A very poorly developed character, who could not stop complaining despite the fact he had fallen on his feet, that I could not like and I do not know why everyone who met him loved him and would do anything for him. I am at a loss.
After this terrible bore of a book, it is safe to say I will not be reading another Take Back The Skies book. Unimpressed. ...more
I’m going to be honest – even all this time after Allegiant, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to re-enter the world of Divergent. I loved it, but that lasI’m going to be honest – even all this time after Allegiant, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to re-enter the world of Divergent. I loved it, but that last book was painful. But I was curious, and somewhat masochistic when it comes to painful books.
Four is a collection of – you guessed it – four short stories. There is nothing new to add to what we already know about the Divergent universe to be gained from these stories, rather they are Four’s perspective on things we know from him telling Tris later on in the trilogy, and one story we have already seen from Tris and now we get from Four. They present the picture of Four that became evident in his chapters in Allegiant – he is not as tough as he seems. He is vulnerable and scared, and this was a challenging view of Four to receive in Allegiant, when we all thought we knew him so well. These origin stories do give a greater understanding of who Four was and what made him that way. The most interesting and compelling parts was seeing him navigate being a Dauntless transfer and his friendship with Zeke and Shauna, which I adored.
As enjoyable as the venture back into the Divergent world was, I’m not sure they were really necessary. I can see how it’s useful to a writer, for completeness, to put down where your other protag has come from and things that are important to the story, but was this really worth the twelve or fifteen dollars I paid for it? Did I gain much from it? Nah. I probably would have preferred to read about Uriah or Zeke or Christina, someone who I didn’t know quite as well, that didn’t feel like a rehash. But I’ve bought other books that weren’t worth my money before, and at least this makes me collection complete. Not sure that it warranted two pages of acknowledgements though. Come on Veronica, wrap it up.
3.5 stars. I still love Four, can’t help it. ...more
Thank you to Simon and Schuster for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is it. This is the amazing book that I have been waitingThank you to Simon and Schuster for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is it. This is the amazing book that I have been waiting to end up in my hands, I just didn’t know until I started reading, Since I had my reading slump, I have been hoping each book I read was going to be my next five star, knock me over, gushingly wonderful read. Up until now, none had fit the bill.
Enter: Extraordinary Means.
Lane’s in the middle of everything important in his life – high school, SATs, college applications, a girlfriend – when he is sent to Latham House, a boarding school for teenagers who have developed TDR-TB: total drug resistant tuberculosis. With no treatment and no cure, he can’t fathom that his life might be over. Then he meets Sadie and her friends – they are the cool kids, the troublemakes, who always look like they’re sharing a private joke – and he realises there is more to Latham House and its inhabitants than their sickness, and he doesn’t need to let it define him.
I loved this. I feel like I loved this from the moment I started reading, even though I’m sure I was at least a few pages in by the time I realised. It is a dual POV from Lane and Sadie, and their voices are both unique and just fascinating to read. They are very different: Lane is driven, studious and has never really had time for a social life while Sadie has been at Latham House so long that she actually feels like she belongs there – she’s the trouble-maker, wise-cracker, the one who can get things. Having met each other once before at a summer camp in their early teens, after a rocky start based on a misunderstanding, the two become fast friends, a friendship that slowly smoulders and develops into something more.
The characters of Lane and Sadie, and her friends Marina, Nick and Charlie, are all so well constructed and they develop – especially Lane. The focus on friendship runs so strong in this book – it’s about other things too, but I loved the focus on friendship and growth. I adored the writing as well – there’s some pretty dark humour but overall it is wonderfully uplifting.
The problem? I knew things were too good to last. No spoilers but I feel like this is a book that falls in the Five Star Horrible category (thank you Kristy @ Book Nerd Reviews for that term!). It is worth it though, I promise. ...more
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
I am not sure I have ever read sThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
I am not sure I have ever read such a tedious 600 + pages. This book is told entirely in lists. LISTS! And it is more than 600 pages. I am not sure why anyone ever thought this was a good idea. There is a story here – but what is it? Darren is fifteen and going through some major life changes as his parents reveal the real reason for their divorce, the girl of his dreams disappears from his life without a trace, and his brother has left him for college. You could call this a coming-of-age novel. I normally love those. Not this time.
The concept of the entire book told in lists seems interesting and novel to start with. You’re excited, this is new and different. I got through about fifty pages of this (because to start with, it’s super easy to read) and then I realised – I have to read another six hundred pages of this to get through. Suddenly it became a chore. Because some of the lists are completely useless and add nothing to the story at all. For example:
“7 Days Since Saturday, April 26, That Darren Hasn’t Thought about Zoey within the First Four Minutes of Waking Up, Not That He Understands What Was So Special about Those Days, When He Was Definitely Thinking About Her Before Breakfast Was Over Anyway 1. Thursday, May 22 2. Tuesday, June 17 3. Thursday, July 3 4. Monday, July 21 5. Sunday, July 27 6. Friday, August 8 7. Monday, August 25”
A completely unnecessary list, taking up a whole page, and what did it add to the story? Absolutely nothing! What a waste of paper. Waste of a tree! There were many more pages like this so, yeah I’ll admit, I started skimming.
Writing style aside, I felt even the story was bland. I didn’t even like or dislike any of the characters – all I felt was indifference. This story could not stir up any emotion for me – which is rare for me! But I couldn’t get invested, didn’t feel involved the way I do in a good story. For a coming-of-age story, I didn’t notice any change in Darren over the course of the novel. I did not understand his obsession with Zoey, with whom he had hardly exchanged any words with before she randomly follows his to … where did his brother live again? I can’t even remember. That is the impression this book left on me and if it had been written in regular prose as opposed to lists I don’t think I would remember it at all.
We Were Liars was one of the most talked about books of 2014 – and I managed to avoid it completely! So much hype, so many reviews and I did not readWe Were Liars was one of the most talked about books of 2014 – and I managed to avoid it completely! So much hype, so many reviews and I did not read a single thing about it. I knew the whole ‘if anyone asks you about the ending, just lie’ thing but other than that I knew nothing. Was I surprised? Yes. Did I love it? Ehhh….
Look, it was better than my previous read ‘Cherry Blossom Dreams’, that’s for sure. Easily. And it sucked me in bad. I read it overnight and was totally intrigued. I will keep my summary short: it’s about four friends, Sinclair cousins Cadence, Mirren and Johnny, and their friend Gat, who all summer together on the Sinclair family’s private island. But something has happened, an accident, and Cadence only has hazy memories of ‘summer fifteen’. She returns to the island hoping to find answers, but the rest of her family refuse to discuss what happened and she has to piece together the events of that summer by herself. But what will she find?
You know a book is going to be full on when it has a map and a family tree in the front of it. Before the book even begins you know you’re in for something big. And it took me a little bit to get all the people and their relations straight. But the readability was super easy. I flew through it, absolutely intrigued by the concept. What made it hard to like was the characters – the poor little rich kids for whom life is so tough but really have no idea about the real world and real problems. They were extremely hard to sympathise with and their attitudes really pissed me off at times. Their biggest problems are the inheritance they’re going to receive from the controlling patriarch of the family, their grandfather. While hard to like, it’s still super interesting and I am just entranced by their weird little rich kid world.
It’s a quick read, fast paced, and jumps between past and present, leaving you guessing each time. If you’re clever enough to put it together before that devastating ending, bravo. But I didn’t think that far ahead, although looking back of course I can see all the clues that I kind of just ignored. And then I gasped and marvelled and sent a ranting text message to my boyfriend who had no idea what I was talking about.
This was a fairly enjoyable story, but I feel it didn’t quite live up to the hype. Possibly if there wasn’t so much fanfare around it, I could have liked it more. But you can only enjoy a book about such unlikeable characters you feel removed from so much. It was never going to be a huge favourite, but it wasn’t bad.
I had been in a bit of a reading and reviewing funk so when this turned up in the mail I couldn’t believe it. Publishers still wanted to send me booksI had been in a bit of a reading and reviewing funk so when this turned up in the mail I couldn’t believe it. Publishers still wanted to send me books to review? Even when I hadn’t posted anything in ages? I wondered if Bloomsbury had made a mistake, but as I was at the end of Brisingr (by Christopher Paolini – yeah I’m still going with my Inheritance Cycle Series Binge Read) I put this one at the top of my pile. And then I read it in a weekend. So proud of myself! And here is the expected review…
As you can see it wasn’t the wonderful book ideal for getting me back into reading that I wanted. But I was determined to get through it so I did. Cherry Blossom Dreams tells the story of Sasha, who, at almost thirteen, is learning how life gets more difficult the older that you get. She has two best friends that don’t get along with each other, a crush on her friend Lily’s older brother, her mum is dating her teacher and she can’t tell anyone, and then there is Blossom House – a secret Sasha and her twin brother have been keeping as their own secret hideaway.
I wonder if part of the reason I didn’t connect with this novel is because at 21 I’m pretty far out of the target age. But I was that age once and I can still appreciate good children’s lit. But I didn’t really enjoy this. There was a lot of explaining and telling and long tangents that felt unnecessary – the whole way through the novel I felt like a twelve year old was rambling straight into my brain without pause and it was not a pleasant experience. She just didn’t stop talking and I found it very difficult to even care about her longwinded family history or her friendship dilemma (which was one of those super obvious ones) or her silly crush on her friend’s brother. The only thing that seemed interesting was the house itself, but the supposed magic about it went out of it when the secret was revealed – only it seemed to go straight over the heads of both Sasha and Sean who had no idea of the gravity of what was uncovered and couldn’t work out why it had made the adults in their lives so upset. And yet we were supposed to believe that Sasha was so mature for her age because their mother had been emotionally distant? I didn’t buy it.
There is not a great deal more to say about this book, but someone else closer to the target age range might enjoy this more than I did. It does have mystery and secrets and friendship issues and other things that may be relevant to kids that age, even possibly myself ten years ago. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this much. ...more
I won Are You Seeing Me? in a giveaway last year but it’s taken me until now to get around to it. And granted, I read it over a couple of weeks as myI won Are You Seeing Me? in a giveaway last year but it’s taken me until now to get around to it. And granted, I read it over a couple of weeks as my break from Brisingr, the enormous Inheritance Cycle volume that was too big to carry around all the time so it didn’t get my full attention. Which is a shame because this book is one I would normally have devoured had I given it the time. In the sporadic bursts that I did read it I really enjoyed it.
This is the story of 19 year old Australian twins, Justine and Perry, who have just lost their father and are about to embark on the trip of their lives to Canada. They are no ordinary twins – Justine is the primary carer for her brother, who has a ‘brain condition that can cause him to feel anxious or upset in different places and circumstances’. Perry’s behaviour can change drastically in moments and it’s up to Justine to deal with the fall out – from getting through airport security to just getting through the every day. But after their trip is over, Perry will be going to live in an assisted care facility – Fair Go – and Justine will be free to live her life as she pleases, as their father planned before he died. So they are hoping to create a perfect memory before they go their separate ways.
Are You Seeing Me? felt real. So much more real than many of the novels I’ve been reading lately – and not just because it was a contemporary. It could have something to do with the fact that our main characters are Australians – I have been wading through way too much American YA and honestly I was getting sick of it. But I can relate to Justine, maybe not in the way of her being a carer, but because she is Australian. It’s like when you go overseas and you meet Australians. It’s like a homecoming even though you’ve never met those people before, you feel like you’re reuniting with old friends. It must be the accent. When reading, it’s the mannerisms, the slang, what they talk about. And it’s amazing and it reminds me that I do not read enough homegrown authors who write about homegrown characters.
I love the way Groth treats his characters – like real young adults. They are nineteen and about to embark on their lives as (young) adults. For once I feel like the label is appropriate to the age of the characters. Justine is mature – she has had to be – but can also be snide and funny and she can get angry too. She is juggling the responsibility of caring for her brother with the possibility of a future with her boyfriend Marc as well as the grief of losing her brother and the insecurity of a mother who wants to reconnect. It’s safe to say she has a lot on her plate! And while she’s not always calm and under control, she is never a brat, never cries ‘why me?’, she just handles her lot in life and that is so commendable. Marc, while we don’t see much of him, is caring and protective but it’s too much – so Justine tells him that. And guess what – not a love triangle in sight!
The story is told in alternating POVs with the very distinct and different voices of Justine and Perry, with each twin’s section of the book being a considerable size so we weren’t constantly switching from one to the other, which I appreciated. Perry, despite his condition, is fairly functioning and capable, as Justine says to their mother, and he understands how his condition affects his sister. It was heartwarming but also a bit heartbreaking to read how he wanted his sister to have her own life without worrying about him. Being in his POV also allowed me to understand more about him and how he saw the world, as opposed to just being told by Justine. Scenarios in Perry’s world often take a more fictional route, and it is up to the reader to work out what is real and what is in Perry’s head.
As much as I enjoyed the journey of Are You Seeing Me? it all kind of boiled down to a typical ending. Things wrapped up nicely, as I suppose they sometimes do in real life, and I do love a happy ending, but it was probably the least interesting thing about this book. Is that awful?
I want to end this review on a good note and I realise I haven’t mentioned the excerpts of the beautiful diary that Justine’s father kept for her throughout her life. I loved that and they often moved me to tears. ...more
This is another read from my roadtrip last month, and wow, this was a haunting one. I wasn’t expecting this – I had no idea what I was in for. I feltThis is another read from my roadtrip last month, and wow, this was a haunting one. I wasn’t expecting this – I had no idea what I was in for. I felt haunted as I read, haunted when I reluctantly had to put it down in the middle (like when it was my turn to drive), and haunted when I finished. It is a stunning read that I really, really loved.
It does take a stretch of the imagination and an acceptance of the unrealistic, though, to really get into and enjoy and immerse yourself into. But I felt it wasn’t too much of a stretch for me. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender recounts the history of the Roux/Lavender family, their sad and tragic accounts of how love goes wrong but life goes on. The storytelling spans from title character Ava’s grandmother and her family’s migration to the US, and it all comes down to Ava Lavender and her twin, Henry, both a little different from the expected norm in their little Seattle town of the 50s – Henry with what I suspect is a form of autism, and Ava with her wings. That’s right, a child born with wings which should grant her freedom but in her mother’s fear only constrains her.
I find that generational stories can go either way – and this one definitely went the right way. The story moved slowly and at times you might wonder to what purpose, but it does have a purpose. I was so caught up in the lyrical writing the time passed quickly and I found the story was over long before I was ready to leave it behind. It follows particularly the love stories through the generations, those who they loved and lost and how it shaped the rest of their lives, and the lives of their children that follow. Love for the Roux and Lavender families has been cruel and tragic and has made them all ‘such fools’ and in this book they long for it, hold on to it and leave it. I loved the observations of the illogical nature of love and they also broke my heart. I was smiling one second, crying the next and I always wanted to read more.
It is a regular Saturday morning when Julia, her family and the rest of the world wake up to the news that the rotation of the Earth is slowing. AlreaIt is a regular Saturday morning when Julia, her family and the rest of the world wake up to the news that the rotation of the Earth is slowing. Already dealing with everything life throws at you when you are eleven years old, the world suddenly becomes a different place. Days get longer, birds fall out of the sky and then there is the sickness. People start to leave their everyday lives, head out on the run – but there is nowhere to go.
I read this in a day. I was just entranced by Julia and Seth and the very way that this story was told. I love that it wasn’t typical YA heroes – instead our two protagonists are only eleven years old, facing a disaster of the most epic scale while dealing with the disasters of the everyday as well. Their characters and their friendship were beautifully portrayed in the face of the impending possible end of the world.
The writing was in this amazing, reflective voice from Julia’s perspective that had the wisdom of her elder self as well as the innocence of her younger self. I never felt her voice was unrealistic – rather it felt kind of magical, as if I was floating on it throughout the novel. The imagery crafted by Walker’s storytelling is vivid and creates the perfect atmosphere, dripping with tension. Although a slow moving story, I found I couldn’t put it down and had to finish it the day I started it, and then I had to talk about it with my non-reading friends. It lead to interesting end of the world discussions and the inevitable question: what would you do?
The Age of Miracles is full of rich characters, from Julia’s parents to her friends and neighbours, and we see how the changing world affects them all through her eyes, as well as experiencing those awkward, challenging and sometimes difficult moments of adolescence. It is a classic coming of age novel set in an uncertain time, which makes growing up just that bit harder but of course, still inevitable. I enjoyed every moment even when it made me sad, depressed or angry. I loved it for the way it remained with me long after I had finished and moved on to the next book on my TBR. I was haunted by it and I feel like I still am. Unforgettable is not a word I throw around lightly but it applies here. And I think part of what makes it that way is how easily the unexplainable could wipe away or completely change or challenge the existence we enjoy as we know it, as it has in this book. The reactions of the characters and the slow burning uncertainty of the end of the world is captured so brilliantly and realistically that it rings true to me. It makes me think of that T.S. Eliot poem ‘The Hollow Men’:
This is the way the world ends/not with a bang but with a whimper. ...more
A Court of Thorns and Roses vs. Beauty and the Beast: A Comparison
This was book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This dA Court of Thorns and Roses vs. Beauty and the Beast: A Comparison
This was book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.
While reading A Court of Thorns and Roses, my first Sarah J. Maas book, I noticed a few similarities to my favourite childhood Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. I realised after hitting Twitter that this book was a loose retelling of the classic tale (I will admit also that I am not familiar with any of the original tales). The only problem was, I was not really enjoying A Court of Thorns and Roses. How could this be? I loved Beauty and the Beast! But there was a lot that was bothering me about A Court of Thorns and Roses and it made me wonder – as I have gotten older, has the beloved Disney movie lost its appeal? Would what was bothering me about A Court of Thorns and Roses bother me in Beauty and the Beast? It had been a long time since I last watched Beauty and the Beast so I found a copy (very difficult!), sat down and prepared to be disappointed.
It was a relief to find out that Beauty and the Beast had not lost its appeal for me. That means something is off with this particular interpretation of the fairytale. In A Court of Thorns and Roses, we have Feyre, a 19 year old huntress whose family lives in poverty since they lost their fortune, who provides for her horrible sisters (a la Cinderella) and her crippled father. When she kills a wolf who turned out to be a fae in disguise, Tamlin, our beast, knocks down her door and takes her to live in his castle in a court in the faerie lands – a life for a life. There’s a problem though – Tamlin isn’t really a beast. He’s like a shape shifter, between fae and beast, and he’s extraordinarily handsome and really not at all scary. He’s so incredibly good looking that this is pretty much all the heroine can think about, even though she hates him. Already I am unimpressed because where is the importance of inner beauty, who could ever love a beast? It doesn’t matter when he doesn’t even look like a beast! And his curse is that he and his entire court have to wear masks forever? What?
What I enjoyed about Beauty and the Beast is the slow burn, the gradual building of trust and friendship that blossoms into love. You can see it unfolding on the screen in front of you. In A Court of Thorns and Roses there was none of that. One moment Feyre’s repulsed by Tamlin, the next there’s some lusty behaviour and then they’re in love? (Even after some questionable scenes that were pretty distasteful if you ask me). I believe that Belle has fallen for her Beast, and he for her in return, and that he no longer has the beastly behaviour he exhibited at the start – he learns to curb his temper, he attempts to learn table manners and he is gentle and kind with not just her, but everyone – the library scene as well as the snowball scene are adorable and evident of what is developing between them. I couldn’t believe it with Feyre and Tamlin with whom there only appeared to be lust and pretty faerie things and pretty faces. And paintings – supposed to be like the library but I found it had a whole lot less heart.
I also think that, although the primary audience is children, there was a benefit from having the backstory explained in the film. When the curse was revealed in the novel, it was explained by a servant who was supposed to assume a Mrs. Potts role but did not have the presence in the novel to be an important character. And what we had was a whole lot of telling (I suppose the nice thing in the movies is you can be shown a lot easier) that was incredibly boring. Belle also didn’t need to be told to confess her love to break the curse. She loved him, as she had seen past his beastly exterior to his kind and gentle heart. Beauty and the Beast is the story of redemption, how people can change and how looks aren’t the most important thing, that it’s the heart inside the person or beast that counts. A Court of Thorns and Roses is the story of – I’m not even really sure. I feel like the description of one does not suit the other.
A Court of Thorns and Roses really got interesting for me in the last chapters about Feyre’s tasks, to prove her love for Tamlin, where it most deviated from the conventional tale. Then the action picked up and it definitely got more exciting. It felt like a little too late, though, and I’m not sure I’m invested enough to continue the series. While mildly entertaining, I was glad to be done with it all. I definitely don’t really care about the characters. I will stick to my Disney favourite from now because you know what, I liked the talking appliances/servants! A Court of Thorns and Roses could have learnt a thing or two – especially when to leave well enough alone.