In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine lIn this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.
I'm dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can't even shine a light on it. I feel like I'm mostly made of mysteriesI'm dark matter. The universe inside of me is full of something, and science can't even shine a light on it. I feel like I'm mostly made of mysteries.
Oh my... Magonia is one hell of a rare novel.
Not only does it offer an intriguing blend of reality-infused science fiction and highly-imaginative fantasy, but it is also unlike anything I have ever read before.
I've always said that - for me - originality is one of the best and rarest compliments a writer can get. Not "this is the next Hunger Games or Harry Potter" but "this is completely different to everything else I've read". How unusual it is to read a novel and be taken to places so new, fresh and wonderfully magical.
One of my favourite things has always been when authors manage to weave fact and fiction together in order to create a fantasy story with added realism. Especially when they introduce me to parts of history I'd never heard about before. Did you know that in France in 815, sailors claimed to have come from a secret realm in the clouds they called Magonia? This was one of the first recorded instances of UFO-related occurrences and it was completely new to me.
Many times I have wondered why YA authors insist on using the same old recycled mythology when there's a whole universe of weird and wonderful shit out there just begging to be turned into a story. Here we have a fine example. This book opens up an entire new world full of detailed and exciting mythology. I was like a kid in a toy store, staring wide-eyed at all the colourful weirdness and longing for more as the pages flew by.
The author uses language that deserves the comparisons to Neil Gaiman - a rich, atmospheric style of fairytale storytelling. And with this, she creates a cast of wonderful characters who I can only hope will reappear in sequels.
The main character in Magonia is Aza Ray and she is dying. The doctors are unable to discover what is wrong with her and have failed at all attempts to cure her of the mysterious disease that is causing her to essentially drown in the Earth's atmosphere. Then one day, circumstances see Aza awakening in a whole new world where she is no longer weak and sickly, but a powerful creature at the centre of a longstanding feud that will take her to places she never could have dreamed existed.
Suddenly, she discovers the truth about her life, her past and who she is; maybe this new world can offer her a place to live the kind of life she's always wanted? Or maybe nothing is as it seems. Stir in plenty of action, romance, and well-developed family dynamics and you have something pretty damn amazing. I should also point out that the love triangle I had feared might occur never went in that direction.
Looking for a genre-defying blend of magic, love, flying and family?
Part emotional contemporary, part survival story; part deeply sad, but part a story of hope against the odds. In short: this is one strong YA debut.
I'Part emotional contemporary, part survival story; part deeply sad, but part a story of hope against the odds. In short: this is one strong YA debut.
I've been turned off by many of the contemporary YA novels due to be released in 2015, all of which seem to promise some combination of Rainbow Rowell meets John Green meets Matthew Quick. I've enjoyed books by all those authors but now I'm looking for something fresh that can also pack an emotional punch.
Well, I found it.
This book does something rather different. We first receive a painful introduction to our protagonist - Hallelujah (Hallie) - who is the victim of vicious and constant bullying. We are told that things weren't always that way; that everything changed the night of the incident with Luke. It will be a while before we discover what that incident is, but this doesn't make the treatment of Hallie any less horrifying and infuriating. Literally. As soon as I felt myself becoming furious on the very first page, I knew I was hooked.
But that's only the background to this story. The actual story begins in the present when Hallie, new girl Rachel, and her ex-best friend - Jonah - get lost in the woods while on a youth group trip. As the days go by and the three teens begin to lose hope of a rescue, they must all rely on each other to survive and avoid injuries, poison ivy, starvation and the wild animals who live in the woods.
I felt a constant emotional pull throughout this book, which is the main reason it works so well. It took less than a page for the author to make me care about Hallie, only a couple of chapters for me to also care about the other two. These characters mattered to me. And isn't that the main ingredient for an excellent book? They are all well-drawn, confused, funny and deserving of sympathy.
It's a powerful tale about survival on all levels. The very literal survival of the "lost in the woods" scenario, but also learning to survive deeper wounds of the emotional kind. The dynamic between Hallie, Jonah and Rachel works really well; you get a real sense of the developing friendship between them and their banter is both heartwarming and hilarious.
The ending is all kinds of wonderful. I was torn between crying, cheering and swooning. Perhaps I did a bit of all three. I'm looking forward to what Ms Holmes writes next.
“This life is not always what we think it will be,” Cain says. “You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and de“This life is not always what we think it will be,” Cain says. “You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”
I think a lot of people will understand me when I say that the best kind of books are those that provoke strong emotions in you. My favourites are made up of books that filled me with happy excitement or, alternatively, books that ripped my heart out and made me cry. An Ember in the Ashes, however, made me angry. No, not angry - furious. I raged. I panicked. I hated. And damn, it was amazing.
You know those rare books that just make your heart pound? Those that take you so far out of the real world that you have to remind yourself afterwards that it's all fiction, or else you won't be sleeping? For me, this was one of those books. Everything about it was gripping, from the godawful but mesmerizing setting to those two bloody love triangles (love square?).
Yes, that's right. I don't even care that there were love triangles. That seems like too simplistic a term for this complex web of relationships, anyway. It isn't about choosing between hot dude #1 and hot dude #2, there's far bigger things at stake here and every character is so well-developed that you genuinely wonder and care what their fate will be.
This fast-paced story is told from two perspectives. Laia is one of the Scholars - now ruled over by the Martial Empire - many of whom are poor, illiterate and even enslaved. When her brother is arrested and presumably tortured by the Masks (masked soldiers), she seeks out the Resistance for help. However, they will not help her for free and demand that in return she must enter Blackcliff Military Academy as a slave in order to spy on the Commandant. Elias - the son of the Commandant - makes up the other perspective in this book.
Initially, I drew some comparisons between this and Legend, but though I liked the latter, I still don't think it's anywhere near as compelling, interesting, fast-paced or evil as this book. And despite the similar premise, this book branches off in many very different and exciting directions, including the arrival of creatures believed to only exist in myth.
I mentioned my fury before and I'm going to elaborate a bit. This book is nasty. This world is nasty. The Commandant is an evil hellbitch and complete sociopath. There's torture, child abuse and the threat of rape (none of it is really graphic but it's effective just the same). But it works. The stakes are higher; it made me actually afraid for Laia when she was sneaking about and spying on the Commandant. It's hard to not grind your teeth at the unfairness and simultaneously feel powerless to stop it. It's been a while since I've read such an evocative novel.
So, I enjoyed pretty much everything about this book. I liked the varied cast of characters and that Laia wasn't a typical badass heroine but a scared girl going against her every instinct to save her brother. I loved the use of prophecies and the way Elias has to try and understand what they mean in order to do the right thing. I loved the Augurs - a bunch of hooded holy men who claim to deliver prophecies. Such a great read and I can see people eating it up and being desperate for more.
The book is rounded off well and is supposed to be a standalone, but there's room for more here and I'd love to see the author revisit this story and these characters. ***
"Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after."
The best books, they don't talk about things you never thought about before. They talk about things you'd always thought about, but that you didn't tThe best books, they don't talk about things you never thought about before. They talk about things you'd always thought about, but that you didn't think anyone else had thought about. You read them, and suddenly you're a little bit less alone in the world.
I didn't realise I was expecting this book to not be very good until it surprised me. And it surprised me a lot.
The cover is lovely and I think that might have something to do with why I was so drawn to this book, despite the description that seemed to be indirectly promising the equivalent of a bad high school drama meets cheesy action movie, complete with possible Armageddon-style asteroid collision. It does have a lot of high school politics, and it is about the coming apocalypse... and yet this book is so much more than the sum of its parts.
Firstly, the characters are fantastic. Wallach takes the traditional high school cliques and stereotypes and breathes humanity into them. In the author's hands, the jock, the slut, the slacker and the aloof nerd become three-dimensional human beings, each with aspirations, desires and insecurities of their own. As the opening quote suggests, the strength of these characters is that it's easy to find little bits of ourselves in all of them - or so I believe.
All the world was a cage.
I think there's something to be said about an author who can take some of the oldest, cliche ideas and create something new out of them. This book dabbles constantly in philosophical thinking and asks us to consider the meaning of things (or lack of), religion, living for today, and the importance of pursuing what you love. It could have been so preachy, so cheesy, so contrived and yet it contains such a subtle and powerful honesty and rawness to it that these concepts are never overdone or forced down our throats.
This book feels like more of an exploration and character study than the relaying of a message. I liked how the characters were complex, sometimes unlikable and often misunderstood in each other's eyes. We get to experience the coming "end of the world" through the eyes of both the religious and the non-believers, through the eyes of a virgin, and through the eyes of someone who sleeps around (and is proud of it), those with loving parents and those without. I guess the ultimate message - if one could be said to exist - is of existentialism and creating your own meaning, and it works well.
I also thought the writing was beautiful and captured all the pain, want and uncertainty of being a teenager:
And as Anita watched Andy skip across the room, she finally felt it, rumbling like a bone-deep hunger she’d been ignoring for weeks. A sensation somehow totally new and totally familiar at once. It was the glistening green blossom of jealousy, and deeper down, beyond the place where the stem met the dirt, the parched and greedy roots: love.
Most of all, I love the fluidity of the novel as it moved from one perspective to the next. I'm not a big fan of multiple POVs and especially not more than two, but somehow the four here work really well together. Most books with multiple POVs seem to stop and start as we jump from one person's story to the next, but this feels like one continuous tale with all of these very different people's lives bleeding into one another. They all entwine perfectly.
The thing about Holly Black is that she writes in very different styles. Before I read White Cat, I trieOh book, you make it so difficult to rate you.
The thing about Holly Black is that she writes in very different styles. Before I read White Cat, I tried the first of her Faerie books - Tithe - (really didn't get into it), and her Spiderwick Chronicles (cute kids books but not really my thing). Then I discovered the Curse Workers trilogy and holy shit awesomeness: it was great! I liked the characters, the plot, and the twists... so much good.
The Darkest Part of the Forest feels closer to her earlier works. There's something about her writing here that doesn't agree with me; that takes a premise that I was desperate to fall in love with... and makes it so very not compelling. I'm going to try and explain what it is the best I can, because when you strip this book down to what it plainly is, it should totally be my thing. It just isn't.
What is this book? It's a dark, creepy fairy tale. I know what you're thinking: YEEESSSSS! I was too. It's about people who make deals with Fae folk and have to pay the price; it's about beautiful Fae princes who awaken after hundreds of years and wreak havoc; it's about the secrets that hide in the darkest part of the woods.
Oh god... aren't you just desperate to get a load of that? If someone said those words to me about a book, I would be preordering it within an instant. But this book had a couple of intriguing first chapters with an interesting protagonist and promises of creepy, dark goodness, and then it became so difficult to read on. It felt like an effort to make myself pick the book back up.
I'm not even sure if it is the writing itself that makes the plot so not compelling. Or if the plot sounds good but fails in the execution. All I know is that I never came to care what was going to happen. We were told that the situation was dire, but I never got a sense of that. The setting and language was creepy and atmospheric, but the main story wasn't. In fact, it seemed pretty juvenile.
I would almost describe this as a Spiderwick Chronicles for older teens. A brother and sister must tackle the world of the Fae folk - a world that constantly introduces us to an assortment of creatures that I cannot even recall right now. Occasionally, we got really cool passages like this:
“He couldn’t have understood what it felt like to dance until the force of his steps seemed to crack open the earth itself, to be among creatures who had never been human and could never be human, to be one of them. And Ben couldn’t have known the shame that Jack felt after, when, sweat cooling on his skin, he promised himself that when they came for him the next time, he wouldn’t go. A promise that he’d never keep.”
But the story just wasn't doing it for me. Plus, it was peppered with flashbacks that distracted me from the main issue at hand and didn't really add anything (most of them, anyway).
This was one of my most highly anticipated releases - so disappointing.
It's only in hindsight that we can point, as easily as finding a town on a map, to the moments that shaped us - the moments when choices between yese
It's only in hindsight that we can point, as easily as finding a town on a map, to the moments that shaped us - the moments when choices between yeses and nos determined the people we became.
I have no illusions. Even knowing everything, I would have chosen the same.
This is very Gatsby-ish. I think this is also exactly what I wanted from Breakfast Served Anytime - a book that recently disappointed me. Because this book is all wistfulness and nostalgia. It's about growing up and changing, and those times in your life that you remember with a combination of warmth and sadness. I'm not sure if this book will appeal to the masses because there's a certain... meaninglessness to the main story. It's about a time in the protagonist's life that is over now, that came and went and left an impression on her for maybe reasons she can't really explain. It's about not regretting having something at a certain time, even if you knew you were going to lose it eventually.
I love well-executed past tense. I think it can be used in such a way to create a kind of sad inevitability to the story's events. You might think that it would drain some of the tension out, but there's something pulse-poundingly engaging about witnessing the inevitable happen in a story. There's nothing you can do about it, it's set in stone and completely unchangeable, and that fact elicits a powerful emotional response from me. If you liked the past tense storytelling of books like Unteachable, you might just love this one too.
"I don't belong here, Sebastian. I'm just a visitor who stayed too long."
The Gatsby element works wonderfully. Charlotte is a normal girl with a scholarship, playing in the strange twinkly world of the rich. One night, she helps out one of the wealthy, popular girls at her boarding school - Julia Buchanan - and she finds herself dragged into an entirely different life. She sees how the other half lives. She gets roped into the complex family drama and history of the Buchanans... it's an intoxicating whirlwind for both Charlotte and the reader. It has all the feverish intensity of misspent youth... lust, love, anxiety, yearning and uncertainty.
I liked how all the characters are just a little complicated, fucked up and *almost* unlikable. As Charlotte notes:
I was becoming that girl. The one who drops all her old friends when a new, exciting one comes around. I knew what I was doing and I couldn't help myself. I didn't want to.
I should hate a character like Charlotte. But it was so easy to get caught up in the atmosphere of the novel, to be seduced by Julia Buchanan and the exciting world she promised. Even if I didn't agree with what Charlotte did, I could understand. Maybe when I was younger and stupid even I would have done the same. The tragic inevitability of this story is like that of Gatsby's. And this book's musical pairing has to be The Moth by Aimee Mann: "The Moth don't care when he sees the flame, he might get burned but he's in the game." Charlotte knew her days with the Buchanans were numbered and that she never really belonged in their world. We are told it didn't work out from the start. I already knew that it was going to come to an end. But for me, like for Charlotte, that didn't matter; I fell in love anyway.
This book is one crazy, intoxicating whirlwind of sadness. I loved it.
Her dreams were a tangled mess of blood and shuddering trees.
This book is damn near perfect.
I just don't know how to review this wonderful, creepy,Her dreams were a tangled mess of blood and shuddering trees.
This book is damn near perfect.
I just don't know how to review this wonderful, creepy, gory, clever, twisty fairy tale and be able to do it justice. How do you sell a book to people when it does so many different things and does them all marvelously? I just cannot wait for Cruel Beauty fans to read this.
Crimson Bound is a story full of villains who are allowed to love and heroines who are allowed to murder and be selfish. Rosamund Hodge does not do simple characters - they are all tangled up in a bizarre web of friendship, fear, love, hate, desire and loyalty. You can never quite be sure which characters are trustworthy - if, indeed, any of them are.
If you like fairy tale retellings to stay close to the originals, then Hodge's imaginative new worlds and mythology may not be for you. I, however, love it. This tale is woven with nods towards the Red Riding Hood story we all know but it wanders far from it into brand new, extremely creepy territory. There are no wolves in this story, at least not in the literal sense, but there are things far far worse.
In the darkest shadows of the wood stands a house. The walls are caulked with blood. The roof is thatched with bones. Within that bloody house lived Old Mother Hunger, the first and eldest of all forestborn.
As with Cruel Beauty, this book is marketed as YA but I would stress that it is probably for the older end of that age group or adults. There are plenty of gruesome battles, sexy scenes and things younger teens might find disturbing.
Now for the story; but I cannot tell you too much because you deserve to discover everything in this book on your own. Anyway, the story is about Rachelle who carelessly strays from the forest path and meets a forestborn who marks her. The rules are thus: a marked human has three days to kill someone and become a slave to the forest's power or else die. Rachelle makes her choice and will spend the rest of her life paying the price.
Every day for the last three years, she had thought she deserved to die. She still didn’t want to. She wanted to live with every filthy desperate scrap of her heart.
Now older, Rachelle is haunted by her guilt and propelled by the dark power of the forest and the evil Devourer that hides at its centre. Feeling like she has nothing left to lose, she will do anything to stop the Devourer from seizing control of the human world with his darkness. Little does she know that there is always something left to lose.
It's just wonderful. She's just wonderful. And complex and selfish at times, but always badass:
“Speechless?” asked Erec. “Don’t be ashamed. I bring all ladies to that state sooner or later.” “Too bad for you,” she said, “I’m not a lady."
The book twists about all over the place, never letting you guess how it's going to end. The tension never leaves and the author is just evil enough to convince you that any and every character you love might die.
I swear my heart was literally racing for the last quarter... so much awesome, so many perfect quotes that I won't put in this review because they should be discovered at exactly that point in the story. It feels like I've been waiting forever for this book and it was oh so worth it.
I was surprised by how much I liked this book. To be honest, I was seduced by that cover and the fabulous title and didn't really expeFeminist poetry!
I was surprised by how much I liked this book. To be honest, I was seduced by that cover and the fabulous title and didn't really expect it to hold that much substance. But, after a slightly shaky start, I found myself wanting these poems to go on and on.
Heppermann retells traditional fairy tales, legends and even biblical myths in her poems, incorporating metaphors for all the issues teen girls face - insecurities, sex, misogyny, eating disorders, etc. The poems were dark and extremely compelling. I especially liked the idea behind "The First Anorexic" - a poem about Eve's first taste of forbidden fruit and the many women after her who would be obsessed with what they ate. I also thought "The Brief History of Feminism" and its clever use of the phrase "Simon Says" worked really well.
It's also darkly comic at times:
The dress code says we must cover ourselves in ample pants, skirts that reach well below our lascivious knees, polos buttoned over the rim of the canyon, a glimpse of which can send a boy plunging to such depths he may never climb back up to algebra.
We say that if a hiker strays off the path, trips, and winds up crippled, is it really the canyon's fault?
But the author sums up best what this little book of poetry is all about in the author's note at the end:
If you find the dividing line between fairy tales and reality, let me know. In my mind, the two run together, even though the intersections aren't always obvious. The girl sitting quietly in class or waiting for the bus or roaming the mall doesn't want anyone to know, or doesn't know how to tell anyone, that she is locked in a tower. Maybe she's a prisoner of a story she's heard all her life - that fairest means best, or that bruises prove she is worthy of love.
But here's a great thing about stories: they can be retold.
I LOVE this cover. Sadly, though, that's where my love affair with this book ends.
You know when you discover a book that just calls to you? With the tI LOVE this cover. Sadly, though, that's where my love affair with this book ends.
You know when you discover a book that just calls to you? With the title and the description and the total lack of hype. No expectations or demands... just the possibility of finding a little hidden gem with an extremely pretty cover. That was this book for me. I knew nothing except the sweet little promises it made:
A coming-of-age debut evokes the bittersweet joys and pangs of finding independence in one unforgettable summer.
Ooh la la, sign me up.
Now would be the absolute perfect time for me to drown myself in some bittersweet tales of growing up, gaining independence and leaving a little something behind. I'm weeks away from finishing my final exams, just two months away from graduation. The British sun is fighting its way out from behind the rain clouds. The friends I've lived with for the past three years are all going off in different directions. I am sad and happy and I can even do my own laundry (go me!). This book didn't even need to try that hard to please me...
But, instead I got an unrealistic, melodramatic and immature portrayal of teenagers away at summer camp. Teenagers who speak in that way which is how the elderly think teenagers speak:
"I know, right? She is literally right down the hall from me and I am not kidding he just dropped her off and he kissed her on the mouth in front of like fifty people oh my God."
Like, oh my god, that is literally, like, an actual quote.
Then there is the main character - Gloria - who is so high and mighty I want to strangle her. Immediately labelling her roommate a "Barbie" and mentally texting her friend back home about her disdain for a guy who wears a funny hat:
He looked right up at me, grinned, and, twirling his hat toward the ground, gave a deep and infuriating bow. I spun away from the window and had to actually sit down because that’s exactly the extent to which I felt like the air had been stolen from my lungs. Suffice it to say that, officially and irrevocably, I hated the Mad Hatter.
You... hated him? Because he twirled his hat and bowed at you? Is the author even trying to get me to care about you? The book is sadly full of this kind of melodramatic, immature bullshit. I find it difficult to believe anyone actually behaves like this.
And before anyone tells me I didn't get it... I DID. I get that the author was probably trying to show how we can have incorrect impressions about people. Maybe there is a message in this book about learning not to judge people. But it gets lost in the completely cliche and caricatured characters and the fact that I couldn't find a single reason to like the protagonist. I think perhaps everything was exaggerated and the characters were portrayed as caricatures to more effectively make a point... but it fell flat for me.
Oh, little crazy book, you were one HUGE unexpected surprise. I mean, surely the chances of enjoying two New Adult books in the space of just a cou
Oh, little crazy book, you were one HUGE unexpected surprise. I mean, surely the chances of enjoying two New Adult books in the space of just a couple of days is about 10 million to one? Two New Adult books that are insanely different, themes and worlds apart from one another, and yet both good? Impossible, one might think! But I was utterly mesmerised by this book that was part love story and part - and this is the bit that fascinated me - psychological thriller. Just before I get onto the good stuff, I feel like I should warn everyone straight away that there is a particularly graphic and disturbing rape scene that some of you may want to avoid. But if you can stomach the horrors, read onward.
At the beginning of this book, we immediately meet our protagonist, Naomi Carradine, who is in a mental institution. Naomi is adamant that she knows the truth: she is in love with Max - the man who haunts her every thought and whom she misses dearly. But no one else will believe her story. The doctors seem to think that Max isn't real, that he only exists inside Naomi's mind. Telling a story that alternates between her present life in the mental hospital and the past as she retells it to her psychiatrist, Naomi weaves a picture of her life. Who is Max? Is he real, as Naomi claims him to be? Will the doctors ever believe her story? And, even more importantly, will you?
I won't claim to be the most astute reader, but I don't think I'm bad at working things out, and this book kept me guessing right up until the end. I had several theories as to what was going on and I didn't come near to the truth until the ending was just around the corner. I love psychological stories that explore the dark aspects of the human mind and keep the reader wondering where the line between fiction and reality is drawn.
There's some sexy bits in this novel, as seems to be a requirement in New Adult, which was all well and good. I have to admit that any romancing and sexy times got side-swept for me by the far more interesting psychological side to the story. While the book is quite heavy on the romance/sex, at its heart it's really about something else entirely. Which is perhaps what makes it stand out. But both Max and Lachlan were sexy, sweet and completely free of douchebagitis so I liked the hot lovin' parts of the book well enough.
"I can dream. I can imagine and hope, but it will never change a thing. And the most terrifying thing is that I know, I know there’s more to the story. There’s another train coming straight at me, at full speed. Yet I can’t see it. I can only hear the ground slightly tremble. The tracks rattling beneath my feet. I can hear the sound of a whistle blaring. But I can’t move. All I can do is hope that when it does hit, I die in seconds."
My first feeling as I put this book (well, my kindle) down was that I wanted to start again from the beginning and see how everything looked from the perspective of someone who knows the truth. I love books that can do that. That surprise you. I only hope the rest of you find this as engrossing as I did.
“I’m not crazy,” I repeat. “I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy…” - do you believe her?
I'm sorry but I could not finish this boring-ass book.
I feel like I should have seen this coming - I mean, the cover designers put green eye shadow onI'm sorry but I could not finish this boring-ass book.
I feel like I should have seen this coming - I mean, the cover designers put green eye shadow on a dead body. That should have been a warning sign, right? Like when those dystopian "heroines" appear on the front cover in long, flowing ballgowns and try to convince me with their pouts that this is a serious book about real, life-threatening things, and definitely NOT all about that hot dude and his smoochable lips. If it's the end of the world - why are you wearing that totally impractical dress? And if you're dead in the woods, when did you have time to MAC it up? o_O
This book was none of the things I was hoping for: clever, creepy, full of suspense... in fact, it seemed to me like one of those amateur detective stories written for little kids. You know, the ones where completely unskilled, untrained kids set out to solve the crimes that the real detectives are incapable of solving. Very Secret Seven. Very awesome when you were about ten years old. So, bearing that in mind, maybe this book does have an audience, but it would have to be a younger audience or someone who can suspend a lot of disbelief.
I just didn't buy into any of it. This would usually be the point where I complain about there being too many POV switches, but I recently read a book that had more POVs than this one - The Truth About Alice - and managed to hold my attention from start to finish whilst also making me care about every single character. The Body in the Woods had three main characters and they were so uninteresting that I couldn't care about them. I was initially intrigued by the author's decision to include an MC with Asperger's Syndrome, but Ruby's Asperger's felt like a bat we were constantly being hit over the head with. Like the author felt the need to remind us of it every time Ruby entered the room. She wasn't an interesting character who happened to have Asperger's, she was THE TOKEN ASPERGER'S SYNDROME CHARACTER. It was just offensive after a while.
The story is about three teenagers who have signed up to be part of a local Search & Rescue team. One day, they are called out to look for an autistic man who has ran away into the woods. However, they instead find the dead body of a girl. Each of them reacts to it differently, which I liked, but in the end they all decide to team up and find the killer - because this is totally the right and sensible thing to do. For the first half at least, this is not so much a creepy murder mystery, as it is a character study of three boring and unrealistic amateur detectives.
It is possible that the book gets significantly better in the latter half but there is no part of me that wants to stick around to find out. I would like to know from other readers if we actually get any answers at the end of this book, or is it all saved for the sequel?
"I do not tell these stories to delight or entice. Rather, I tell these stories to entreat you - stay away from our swamp, but do not ignore it. Read"I do not tell these stories to delight or entice. Rather, I tell these stories to entreat you - stay away from our swamp, but do not ignore it. Read these stories, my loves, and remember. Secrets are never so dangerous as when they've been forgotten."
There were many things I liked about Beware the Wild, but I still didn't like it as much as I expected to. The thing is, it should have ticked every box I have: creepy atmospheric setting, tough but realistic protagonist who puts her sibling first, paranormal mystery with a fairy tale-esque feel to it... but I was able to grow bored at times.
I will be the first person to point out if a romance overtakes what should be the main plot, and I don't think that was done here, but the book does become increasingly romantic as the story moves along. While I can usually take that, I could see absolutely zero chemistry between the main character - Sterling - and Heath Durham. The bits of the book that got taken up with their dates and flirtations actually prompted me to skim read. But there is much to like here too.
The central storyline is about Sterling and her brother - Phin - who runs away one night out into the town swamp. Everyone knows the stories of the swamp - its dangers and its magic - most people don't really believe the tales, of course, but they stay away just in case. And this one night, when Phin disappears, a girl called Lenora May returns in his place. But, even stranger, everyone in Sterling's family and in their small town seems to have forgotten Phin, their memories replaced with Lenora May. As if Phin never existed.
Did Phin ever exist? Is Sterling going crazy? Or is there something far more sinister going on here? Sterling may be the only one who can find out the answers.
Atmosphere. Hell, I loved it. Despite some of the things I didn't like about the romance, this book may just be worth reading for that wonderful atmosphere that hovered somewhere between small town claustrophobia, sticky summer humidity, and eerie supernatural swampness. I swear I could hear the ghostly sounds coming from the swamp as I was reading. It really does have that whole fairy tale feel - timeless, beautiful and steeped in magic.
The official description of Beware the Wild declares: "This debut novel is full of atmosphere, twists and turns, and a swoon-worthy romance." It's almost true. And, as Meat Loaf sang, I guess two out of three ain't bad. Also, I just thought I'd say, the cover and title are awesome, IMO.
**spoiler alert** "I realized, looking around for the first time, that we weren’t in Dusty Acres anymore."
Disappointment #1: This book was extremely**spoiler alert** "I realized, looking around for the first time, that we weren’t in Dusty Acres anymore."
Disappointment #1: This book was extremely boring for about 80% of the 432 pages. I was tempted to call it slow at first because it certainly felt like it, but I guess stuff was constantly happening - I just didn't care about any of it. Occasionally I would perk up because I read an interesting page and then I would go back to forcing myself to absorb the words properly. It was a lengthy and difficult slog, despite the exciting premise.
Disappointment #2: The quirky Tim Burton-esque Oz didn't work for me. The strong beginning made me wonder if this was actually a contemporary novel with The Wizard of Oz parallels and metaphors woven into it - well, I think that would have been a better book. The story is about Amy Gumm who has grown up in a trailer park with a mother who is slipping further into a drug-induced oblivion. She has been called "trash" her whole life by other kids at school and the teachers never believe her side of the story because they know all too well who her mother is.
Amy is exactly the kind of character I enjoy reading about. The kind who is realistically flawed, complex, well-rounded and interesting. She's had it rough enough that you feel sympathy towards her, but she's no sappy pushover either. I was instantly intrigued - captivated even - by her life, by her relationship with her mother, by the sad loneliness she obviously felt... then she got tornadoed out of Dusty Acres and into Oz and that's when everything went downhill.
"This wasn’t the Oz that I had read about or seen in the movie. It was as if someone had drained out some of the Technicolor and introduced some serious darkness."
I lost all connection with Amy and her story when she landed in Oz and began moving from one group of people I didn't care about to another. In this version of the story, Dorothy returned to Oz from Kansas because she found our world lackluster in comparison. Caught up in a world of magic where she was deemed a hero, Dorothy was soon appointed Princess of Oz and became obsessed with the power awarded to her. Dorothy proves the saying that power corrupts and begins slowly terrorizing the land and people. And it is up to Amy Gumm to stop her. Honestly? I think an interesting character like Amy Gumm is wasted on a quirky fantasy filled with odd laws (reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland) and Permasmile lipstick.
It was almost like it tried so hard to be quirky and weird, that I could see right through the charade. And the reality was dull.
Disappointment #3: Instalove or instaromance or instaangst. Who cares, anyway? People and talking animals are being tortured, the world is in peril, your life is in danger... d'ya think you could control your bloody hormones for a sec? Or at the very least stop getting unreasonably jealous at really inappropriate times. I swear some potentially excellent scenes are ruined by petty jealousies and romantic angst. I want magic and nastiness and darkness and twists! Not young lovin'.
Disappointment #4:Dorothy doesn't even fucking die. It's all lies! You better be prepared for that sequel! Or two. Or three. Maybe it'll never end. I'll be walking around with a zimmer frame* and that bitch Dorothy will still be alive. I wish you luck if you're continuing on this journey, but it's time for me to bow out. I'm glad it's over.
................................................................................. *Apparently it's called a walker! Jeez, bloody Americans. Thanks Khanh! :D
This book is pure entertainment. Silly, hilarioGirls night in! And by that, I mean me, this book and the cat, but shh... (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)]
This book is pure entertainment. Silly, hilarious fun. I've suddenly realised how hard it is to review a book like this because I cannot lay out the details of some amazingly complex plot... or tell you about the deep philosophical journey you will be taken on... or talk about a rich new fantasy world. This book has none of those things. And yet, it is easily one of the most enjoyable books I've picked up in a long while.
Rebel Belle is a kind of paranormal, chick-lit comedy thingymabob. I suppose humour is one of the most subjective things, but I'm fairly sure most readers will eat this up like strawberry flavoured ice cream covered in rainbow sprinkles. It reminds me of a young adult, sillier version of the Sookie Stackhouse books (back when they were actually good). But, despite all of that, it really isn't formulaic at all. In fact, this book does quite a lot of new things with the characters, the friendships and the romance, which set it apart from many other YA books and made sure I would have to get my hands on the sequel as soon as possible.
I felt like I had stepped into a nightmare. Five minutes ago my main concern had been whether Salmon Fantasy would clash with my pink dress. Now I was cradling a dying man on the bathroom floor while some crazy person pounded on the door.
Harper Price is the very definition of a Southern belle. She's cheerleading captain, homecoming queen, president of this, that and everything, she has the hottest boyfriend and the most popular friends, and she never EVER says the F-word. That is... until the fateful evening when she finds herself in a strange battle for her life. A battle which ends with Harper acquiring some rather unusual abilities. After that, Harper's perfect little world starts to get very strange indeed. And I 'effin loved it!
I think Harper is the main reason this book was so good for me. I like characters like her because she wasn't born some gun-toting badass. She's very... girly. Whatever you want to take that to mean. It's possible that some of you won't like her - just as a lot of people didn't like Mac from the Fever series - but I find myself drawn to female characters that are like Harper, you could call them ditzy perhaps, but they show they are able to adapt when the circumstances call for it. They prove that even the blonde cheerleader with the fluffy pom poms can kick ass and save the day. That even the girls who go to parties with their friends, have crushes on boys, trip over their own feet now and then, and have big dreams and ambitions - even they can be superheroes when they find themselves in hot water.
“We’re not dead,” he said, almost like he was talking to himself. “How did we not get dead?” I smiled at him and squeezed his arm. “Because I’m awesome.”
And she is awesome. And hilarious. Both because of the witty things she says and thinks, and also because of some of the embarrassing predicaments she finds herself in. I laughed out loud so many times while reading this book, which is rare.
It might be light and fluffy but, make no mistake, Rebel Belle is an excellent girl power book. Friendship is extremely important to Harper and there's no casual slut-shaming of the best friend or hidden jealousies lying under the surface. Plus, the main plot line of the book is that Harper is supposed to protect the "Oracle" with her powers and the Oracle is a guy. Interesting and refreshing subversion of gender roles; I'm not going to say too much about their relationship but I really liked how that was handled too.
In the end, Rebel Belle is mainly a book about a young women who discovers that her life isn't headed down the perfect little path she'd laid out for herself. It's about growing up and adapting to new situations and making the best of what life throws your way. It's a compelling message decorated with pink icing and a lot of laughs. I don't think I can say much more to convince you, so I'll finish with a quote from a funny scene:
I picked up the nearest weapon I could lay my hands on: a stapler. I lifted it, going for “menacing.” I admit it lacked a certain elegance, but hey. It was worth a shot. David placed his hand on my arm and pushed it back down. “What?” “Just . . . that’s embarrassing for all of us,” he replied.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
What a pleasant surprise! I didn't realise I'd added Landry Park to my mental list entitled "just another dystopia" until it managed to completely pro
What a pleasant surprise! I didn't realise I'd added Landry Park to my mental list entitled "just another dystopia" until it managed to completely prove me wrong. My first thought after finishing this book is that it's probably more suited to fans of historical fiction than the typical dystopia. The style of writing, the plot, the characters and the setting all feel like something straight out of an historical novel. If you ask me, it worked very well.
The story starts as I might have expected. There's a female protagonist, it's set in a future United States (no longer so united), something has happened to change the social order, there's a hot guy, there's a bitchy girl... you know how this one goes, right? Because you've seen all this a million times, yes? Well, apparently not. As the story unravels, more questions arise and characters receive greater development. The world-building is spread over the novel but is refreshingly intricate and fascinating. The story is full of surprises, both in the main plot line and in the cast of characters. And sometimes who can resist a bit of the backstabbing, rivalry and family scandals found beneath the riches and pretty ballgowns of the upper classes?
This "dystopia" (or perhaps "utopia", depending on your point of view) is all about class. It's about wealth, knowledge, power and the relationship between the three. The setting is the beautiful Landry estate in a future United States which is ruled by the gentry. The main character - Madeline Landry - has lived in luxury her whole life and has long known her destiny to be the next ruler of the Landry estate. But Madeline has always been a bit feisty and rebellious. She isn't sure she's ready to walk down the path her family has laid out for her. As she begins to discover the truth behind the society in which she lives, she finds herself obligated to challenge the poor treatment of the Rootless (the lowest class in society). But her good intentions prove to be more dangerous than she could have imagined and she starts to unearth secrets that have been hidden for generations.
What I really liked most of all was the way each character was handled. Hagen introduces us to individuals who we think we know at first, we think we can slot them into neat categories of heroine, love interest and mean girl. But each one is more than that. I love it when YA authors don't neglect complex character development and remember that people are multilayered. Each character surprised me in Landry Park and I especially loved the friendship that grew between Madeline and Cara when it had first seemed as if they were typical teen girl rivals.
Beautifully written, occasionally dark and surprisingly addictive... I hate the term "an author to watch" but I know I'll be keeping an eye out for more books by Ms Hagen.