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.
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 expe...moreFeminist 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.(less)
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 t...moreI 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 coup...more
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 on...moreI'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...more"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.
"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 8...more"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, 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"]>(less)
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...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 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.
"That's what makes you angry. What makes you hate. You don't want to believe that sometimes bad things happen just because they do."
I liked this so mu...more"That's what makes you angry. What makes you hate. You don't want to believe that sometimes bad things happen just because they do."
I liked this so much more than I thought I would. The reviews so far have been barely better than average and for someone like me who is ridiculously picky when it comes to romance-y type books (I am full of the technical book terms today), it was natural for me to be wary. But there is so much pain and anger and selfishness floating around in Heartbeat that it was hard to think of it as a YA romance novel at all. The romance is there, undoubtedly, but it felt secondary to the story of Emma's grieving.
How many YA novels have I read about grief in my life? Looking back, it feels like I've spent more hours reading YA sob stories than I have sleeping. Overall, I'm not the biggest fan. There's typically something so contrived about them... it almost always ends up being another The Fault in Our Stars scenario (IMO, don't kill me, nerdfighters!) where it feels like the author tried too hard. You can feel them trying to manipulate your emotions with the words and it stops being a story and starts being just pages with emotionally manipulative words written on them. But there was something refreshingly earnest about Heartbeat. Maybe it was the exceptionally unlikable main character or the fact that Scott didn't try to turn death into some kind of deep life lesson. Either way, it worked for me.
A quick glance at some of the more negative reviews tells me that a lot of people were put off by Emma and her anger, bitterness and selfishness. It's true, she isn't particularly likable. She lashes out at everyone and blames her stepfather for things that aren't his fault, and she resents him for grieving in his own way. Her emotions are not clean-cut or reasonable. Well, maybe this is a character flaw in myself, but I felt like I understood her. I can understand anger as an emotion. I am one of those annoying people who tends to channel certain negative emotions - like sadness or anxiety - into anger. It's easier to be angry, it doesn't feel good but it feels better. Anger is an emotion that makes you feel like you have some level of control, it is an emotion that YOU (the subject) are inflicting on someone or something else (the object). Unlike sadness which is something that happens to you, that is inflicted upon you. Anger makes you feel less helpless. Which is why I think I get it.
The story is about Emma and her mum who is dead... mostly. She is being kept alive by a life support machine in order to protect the baby living inside her - a decision made by Dan, Emma's stepfather. But Emma is angry at Dan. She's angry that he got to make the decision. She's angry that her mother's dead body is being used as an incubator. She's angry that Dan doesn't seem to understand her or care what her mother would have wanted. But mostly, behind it all, she's just sad. And I think, of all the books I've read about parental loss, this is one of the ones that touched me most. Especially when Emma visits her mum in the hospital and talks to her about her life - some of those bits kind of destroyed me.
Then there's the whole Caleb part of this book. I read the description which said "Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma" and I cringed inside. Oh no, not another, was pretty much all I could think. But Caleb isn't what I expected. I actually liked him a lot. And I also liked the understanding that grew between him and Emma.
I thought my love for Ms Scott was never going to extend past her dark and disturbing novella - Living Dead Girl - but I am so glad I was wrong.
A group of people must compete against one another in a game of survival, an epic race across jungle, d...moreThere's something familiar about this story...
A group of people must compete against one another in a game of survival, an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean and mountain. They face the danger of their fellow competitors, as well as the various threats of nature. There can be only one winner.
Where have I heard this before?
During this competition, some of the competitors choose to form teams in order to increase their chances of survival out in the wilderness. There's flirtations between the MC and the hot, mysterious dude. And why is she doing all this again? To save her brother.
Hang on a minute, I've definitely seen this before...
'The woman pauses dramatically. "I’d like to officially welcome you to the Brimstone Bleed. May the bravest Contender win."'
Yep. This is another book about a competition/game where there can be only one winner and the protagonist - this time called Tella Holloway - is doing it all for the sake of her sibling. There's just very little need to read this if you've already read The Hunger Games. And if you haven't read The Hunger Games, then go read that instead. Or Battle Royale. But probably not this.
Fire & Flood is more of a spectacularly average book than it is a bad one, and still might offer some entertainment to those who aren't familiar with THG or don't mind reading similar versions of the same story. I found Tella to be an uninspiring, bland main character whose narration cannot compete with either the bold, interesting Katniss or the charismatic narrator of the author's other books - Dante Walker. Ms Scott has a quirky style to her writing that can work very well at times but never really felt suited to Tella and her acute blandness. The cast of secondary characters also increases as the book moves along but none of them are particularly interesting - not even mr sexy with his impressive muscles.
Plus, I immediately started to dislike Tella after reading this:
The last girl I see, I want to strangle. Like the woman, she has long hair. But instead of dark, it's blond - no, honey gold - and shines like that of a Broadway starlet. I can't see her eyes from here, but I'm sure they're some kind of stunning shade of blue. She has cream-colored skin and a body that belongs in a magazine - the kind for guys, not girls. I hate her with everything I have as she laughs her perfect laugh and tosses her perfect hair and crosses her to-die-for legs... We could be friends, I realize, if I weren't so overwhelmed with the urge to end her.
*sigh* Will this never end in YA?
As for the positive, there was one thing I really liked. In this story, each of the competitors starts off with an egg that hatches into an animal that may or may not have special powers - these animals are called Pandoras and team up with their human companion to help them win. And Tella's Pandora is a little black fox called Madox who is more than he first seems. He likes to trot around her feet and lie on his back waving his legs in the air... he is effin' adorable. I swear he is the only reason this book got two stars. Let's finish with a picture of him:
Chills gripped my chest with an iron fist the moment Isaac turned his head and stared down at me. Half of his face was gone, his ey...moreSo there's some...
Chills gripped my chest with an iron fist the moment Isaac turned his head and stared down at me. Half of his face was gone, his eyeball blasted into his face leaving a dark red and black hole of bone, brain and blood.
and a bit of...
We were a tribe of two but a tribe all the same. Two broken people looking for their place in the world and finding each other.
Woah. That was one hell of a sexy, creepy rollercoaster. If Karina Halle set out to have us sleeping with the lights on with this latest addition to her impressive works, then she can consider it mission accomplished as far as I'm concerned. I hope you're not too hung up on the concept of genre because Ms Halle gives traditional genre boundaries the middle finger with this... historical zombie horror western romance. Somehow, she manages to bring sexy cowboys and flesh-eating monsters to the table at the same time and make it work. I don't know how she does it, but I couldn't put this book down.
There was a loud, solid thunk on the porch, followed by another. The house shook slightly. I kept my eyes trained on the outside but couldn't see anything. But I could smell it. It was blood and sweat and hay and horse and something unfathomable. A severe chill threaded down my back.
The dark, creepy, foreboding tone of this novel is set from the very start and it only gets scarier as the story wears on. It's an historical horror re-imagining of the true story about the Donner Party - a group of American pioneers who in 1846-7 became snowbound in the Sierra Nevada and had to resort to cannibalism to survive. I love love love it when a fictional story weaves in elements of truth - it makes the paranormal/fantasy aspects seem even more real and believable. And the author certainly knows how to use language to create a sense of impending tragedy: Autumn was at our doorstep and winter was lurking in the darkness behind it.
Then there's that whole steamy romance that is happening alongside the horror.
He's a broody cowboy and she's half-native american. He's seen the world and she's spent her entire life in a small town, working for her uncle. An expedition into the mountains forces the unlikely pair together and they soon find out just how much their survival depends on each other. What I really love about Halle's characters is how they're all often just a tiny bit nasty at times. They're all flawed, all troublemakers and rebels. No Mary Sues or whatever you want to call them. They're fleshed out and make mistakes and say the wrong things sometimes... but they're still likable. I think it's really great when an author can do that. When they can take people who you maybe shouldn't like and convince you to be on their side. It's one of the main reasons I loved Sins & Needles, it's one of the main reasons I loved this, and it's also the main reason I will continue to be excited every time I see Halle has an upcoming book release.
One final haunting piece of truth:
Men are the real monsters here. They often are.
Thank you to the guys at Rock Star PR for the ARC! Please note that all quotes are taken from the advance review copy I received and may differ from the final version.(less)
That's it. No more YA dystopias for Emily. I think I've said this before so I might be lying again, but I am so ready to get away from this exhausted...moreThat's it. No more YA dystopias for Emily. I think I've said this before so I might be lying again, but I am so ready to get away from this exhausted and overcrowded genre.
Finding some level of originality is a fundamental problem for those authors who decide to jump on the bandwagon and tackle the world of YA dystopian fiction. If you can possibly make a dystopia out of it, then you can bet it's already been written in the past few years since The Hunger Games took centre stage. Every form of tyrannical government has been introduced and overthrown, every possible nightmare world has been explored, every little thing that people love has been outlawed and rediscovered - one of the latest even going so far as to get rid of food!
Therefore, new authors to the genre almost always produce one of two things: 1) a book that is a carbon copy of all the others before it, or 2) a book that has been deliberately over-complicated in a bid to make it seem original. The Murder Complex falls somewhere between those two.
On the one hand, this book seems like nothing we haven't read a million times before. World in the shitter, young lovers from two very different worlds, oppressive government... like a less compelling version of Marie Lu's Legend trilogy, which I do recommend if you haven't checked it out (the first book isn't the best one, though). But in this case, Cummings has also developed a dense plot that left me feeling confused, rather than wowed. One could attribute this to some fault in intelligence on my part, but I feel something less deliberately convoluted would have made the story better. I actually had to go back and read the blurb at times to remind myself of the basic premise.
The narration is split between our two main characters - Meadow and Zephyr. Meadow is a standard YA female MC who is defined by her badassery and willingness to kill if necessary; while I am pleased that seeing women as heroes and fighters is no longer an oddity in fiction, it is hard to care about them when they are so lacking in any real personality and development. Zephyr, on the other hand, is an orphaned Ward whose job it is to clean up the corpses of murder victims. He is also prone to mysterious blackouts and dreams about a silver-haired girl (guess who?). The real problem where the narration is concerned is that the two voices never become particularly distinct - a necessity if multiple POVs is to work.
Plot twists mount up, new discoveries that unmoved me are made, and instalove reigns supreme. I did not hate this book, there were a few scenes that I thought were particularly well-written and engaging. But there was no real spark in this story and, despite the bloody and dramatic plot, I finished it with no interest in what the sequel holds.
I would only recommend this to hardcore dystopian romance fans who want more of the same.
“I have dreamt read in my life, dreams books that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wi...more“I have dreamt read in my life, dreams books that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.” - Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
These days, I live some thirty minutes outside of central London and I love the city. I love the hustle and bustle. I love the history and modernity. And I love how everything you could possibly want is practically on your doorstep. But I grew up in a very different kind of setting. In a place that has had a huge impact on who I am and that I continue to think of with love and nostalgia. If you haven't already but someday get a chance to visit the UK, you should visit London and see all the traditional sights it has to offer: Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the British Museum, Hyde Park, Harrods, the Tate Modern, Big Ben, Westminster and St Paul's. You should see all of those. But if you get the time, take a trip a few hours North of London and see the place where I grew up. See the cobbled side streets of York and the windy Yorkshire moors. And see if you can't understand why a place like that might inspire the daughters of a pastor to break free from the constraints placed upon them by society, time and their gender, and write some of the most influential and powerful novels ever written.
Welcome to Yorkshire.
Always Emily was a very pleasant surprise. I have a serious problem when it comes to the Brontes - I can't resist them. No matter how cringy that retelling sounds or how dodgy that movie trailer looks, I have to read/see/consume it. I just can't help myself. I didn't really expect this to be any good. But it's actually a well-researched piece of historical fiction that imagines life within the Bronte household back in the early days when the girls were experimenting with writing their own fairy tales. It focuses mainly on the relationship between Charlotte and Emily - one which I've always personally been fascinated by - and throws an interesting mystery into their lives which will influence their future work more than they can possibly know.
MacColl has evidently done a lot of background reading and, in my opinion, she gets the girls' personalities just right. She portrays Charlotte as the more conservative, more grounded but ultimately more romantic sister that she was, trying to keep the peace in a household full of vibrant personalities. Then there's the wild and reckless Emily who would rather have midnight adventures on the moors than play by the rules laid out for her. The two young women are realistically balanced between sounding convincingly like girls who were raised in the nineteenth century and sounding like the rebels they would eventually become, defying the society they lived in by writing and publishing books.
If you're anything like me, this novel might be a nice dose of Bronte-shaped wish fulfillment. I've often wondered when reading their novels and when visiting the picturesque village of Haworth (pronounced "How-Earth") just what it was that inspired these young women to write such beautiful and, at times, horrifying novels. What crazy adventures could their youth have held to inspire a dark tale such as Wuthering Heights? What led Charlotte to create a mad woman in the attic? This clever little mystery will have fans of both Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre noticing some of their favourite scenes peeking through in the events that occur. I enjoyed it a lot.(less)
I don't know what I expected from After the End (though probably not much after reading the reviews of Die for Me) but I d...moreWell... colour me surprised.
I don't know what I expected from After the End (though probably not much after reading the reviews of Die for Me) but I definitely didn't expect a book that had me glued to the pages, awake most of the night reading, and laughing out loud on almost every page in the middle section. I had braced myself for "yet another dystopia" and got something more like an entertaining, fast-paced urban fantasy.
Survival. That’s all that’s important. My own survival, and that of my father and clan. I will do anything to guarantee it. And I will use whoever I need to achieve it.
This book starts in the Alaskan wilderness where Juneau has spent her entire life in a small, isolated community. World War III has completely destroyed the world we know and left only this small group of survivors who have managed to stay alive by being at one with nature. Or... that's what Juneau has always been told anyway.
But one day she returns from a hunt to discover that her clan has completely disappeared. Using the powers of nature that she has been taught, Juneau sets out to find them. However, she soon discovers that there is more to the world than what she's always been told. Finding out that the people she trusted the most have been lying to her is a hard pill to swallow, but Juneau has even bigger problems. The people who kidnapped her clan members are after her and she has no idea why. Chased down everywhere she goes, Juneau is forced to team up with an unlikely companion in order to find her family.
I have to be honest: I can see straight away why this book won't be to everyone's liking. Almost all of the exhilarating action occurs in the first and last quarters of the book - this is the heart-pounding, ohmigod-how-will-they-get-out-of-this portion of the book. Despite dystopias being forced down our throats left, right and centre, I found this story extremely compelling and I loved how different the two main characters were. But, yes, the biggest chunk of the book in the middle is about a road trip full of bickering, basic survival/camping skills and the development of the relationship between Juneau and Miles.
And I loved it.
I am so not a big romance person. Or at least not in books that are supposed to be action-packed science fiction. But I found the banter between Juneau and Miles truly hilarious. I had to cover my mouth to avoid waking the whole house up with my giggling. They're just such different people. She's a hardcore hunter who's grown up in the wilderness and knows all about survival and taking care of herself... and he's a guy who got kicked out of high school for cheating on an exam. She thinks he's stupid. He thinks she's crazy. Their conversations were a delight to read.
“The guys who are following you . . . are they dangerous?” Miles asks finally. “Well, normally I would say that Whit wouldn’t hurt a flea. But from what Poe here told me—” “Poe?” Miles interrupts. “The raven,” I say. “You named the bird?” Miles asks, his voice tinged with a note of hysteria. Yet another reason for him to think I’m crazy, I think, and wonder again if that’s not actually a good thing. “Back in Alaska, we named all our animals after literary figures. It was something our teacher Dennis started, so I was thinking that with Edgar Allan Poe’s poem about the raven—” “Yes, thank you . . . I got the reference!” he snaps. His face is flushed red, but he does this deep-breathing thing and calms down a little. “Okay, first of all, we’re not keeping the bird. So don’t name it. I am not driving you to wherever it is we’re going with a wild animal in my backseat.” “He’s not wild,” I protest. “Has it shit on my shirt yet?” Miles asks, his nose wrinkling like he doesn’t really want to know the answer.
I ship them so hard.
And more than this, I really liked the idea behind the story. No spoilers, of course, but I just thought I'd mention how pleasantly surprised I am to find that I can still fall in love with a dystopian book. For me, this book was incredibly addictive and the characters shone with a rare level of personality. My only real issue was with the ending, which seemed a little abrupt. But, oh well, who cares? I really enjoyed it.