In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received a review copy of this title through NetGalley. The opin...more(From my blog: Quill Café)
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received a review copy of this title through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher.
It's unusual for Alek's Armenian family – with their culinary expertise – to dine out. So when the Khederians have dinner at a restaurant of his choosing, Alek is apprehensive. His suspicions prove correct when his parents surprise him with the news that he will be forgoing their family holiday and tennis camp to attend summer school and boost his GPA.
Alek is sure he is in for a tedious summer, until he meets Ethan, a spirited skater boy who whisks him away to the wonders of New York City. Soon Alek and Ethan's relationship is blossoming into something more than friendship, and Alek is re-evaluating his priorities…but at what expense?
Are Rufus Wainwright concerts and first kisses more important than good grades and honesty? Alek will have to figure out how to handle the new developments in his life, before he causes a permanent rift between his friends and family.
'One Man Guy' is a captivating read, written in close third person perspective. From the start, Alek is an empathetic teenager, aggravated by his parents' meticulous nature. Yet, despite the somewhat tedious parts of his family's customs, he is endearingly devoted to his Armenian heritage, and just as appreciative of it as he is critical.
I liked that while Alek's sexuality wasn't something that had been pre-defined at the beginning of the novel 'One Man Guy' was not defined as a coming out story. Instead it dealt with the realities of relationships, without subverting to tropes. Not only in Alek's relationship with Ethan, but also his friendship with Becky, and his dynamic with his family.
Ethan is an interesting character, quite charming and magnetic. He is definitely rough around the edges and could also be crude and dismissive at times. I loved how in-the-know he was about New York City, and the adventures he took Alek on. Being a current resident of Manhattan, I was familiar with many of the tips and tricks Ethan imparted, and I loved experiencing the city through Alek's fresh perspective.
'One Man Guy' swept me away, and left its impression on me. I loved learning about the Armenian history and culture, and I thought all of the characters were wonderfully engaging. I can definitely see myself rereading it in the future and would be quick to recommend.(less)
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I purchased this book. The opinions expressed are mine and no mone...more(From my blog: Quill Café)
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I purchased this book. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher.
All Carson Phillips wants is to attend Northwestern University. It's his first step to becoming a renowned journalist and one-day editor of the New Yorker. First he has to be accepted, graduate high school, and leave the mind-numbing small town of Clover behind forever.
When his acceptance to Northwestern doesn't look like a sure thing, Carson must boost his chances by constructing a literary magazine. Yet when the prospect of submissions looks bleak, he resorts to extreme measures to solidify his future: blackmail.
Carson has never held much love for his peers or the social constructs of high school, but is he willing to step on everyone around him to get what he wants?
'Struck By Lightning' is an excellent novel, which was originally written as a screenplay. I had already seen the film – starring Colfer himself – and was blown away. Despite being written solely from Carson's perspective, the novel expands on the narrative and delivers an even more humorous and heartfelt execution.
What drives 'Struck By Lightning' is Carson's character and narrative voice. The novel is written in first person, in the style of a journal. Carson has the unfiltered thoughts that resonate with any reader who has lived through the frustrations of high school. His snide attitude and wonderfully cynical humour is refreshing.
Carson's often cruel attitude might have set him up to be an unlikeable character, but his situation makes him sympathetic. He has one friend, a dejected mother, an absent father, and a treasured grandmother with Alzheimer's. Carson makes the reader mindful of the way we view and treat others, and boosts the importance of having a sense of conviction in your ambitions.
It was interesting the way in which Colfer used the stereotypical high school cliques to represent the student body at Clover High. Not only was it a clever commentary on the tropes, but Carson's perception also highlighted how we each have our own pigeon-holed prejudices. I liked that, while the insight into secondary characters was restricted, there was enough of a glimpse past the assumptions and clichéd façades, particularly in their contributions to the literary magazine.
'Struck By Lightning' is an excellent novel, which encourages readers to contemplate our attitudes to ourselves and the people around us. It is earnest and witty. I cannot recommend it highly enough, and I look forward to reading more of Colfer's work in future.(less)
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received a review copy of this title through NetGalley. The opin...more(From my blog: Quill Café)
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received a review copy of this title through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher.
After her parents are killed by sorcerers, Alex flees with her brother Marcel, disguising herself as a boy to escape Antion's brutal treatment of orphaned girls. The two are then initiated into Antion's royal guard, where they must fight to protect the heir to the throne in the war against Blevon.
When assassins threaten to infiltrate Antion, Alex must fight to stay alive and uphold her duty to protect the prince. With her alliances unclear and continuously tested, Alex must decide where her alliance and her heart lie.
The novel begins taught with tension. The visuals of fire and magic were effective, without being overdone. Larson is adept at describing things in a way that allowed me to connect with the protagonist and grasp each moment, almost as though I were there. The novel is written in a tight way. It emphasised the action packed moments and allowed the story to move at a rapid pace, which made it a quicker read.
Defy doesn't dodge the disturbing treatment of women. Alex doesn't pose as a boy to fulfil a dream of being a warrior, she does it to survive, and the herding of orphaned girls as "breeders" was something that the author addressed in all its stark horror.
Nothing was easy for Alex. Caught in a predicament of survival, she had to hold in her anger at the treatment of girls and young women like her in order to survive. It didn't make for a glorified heroine but it did make for a complex and realistic one.
The stakes for Alex were imminent throughout the novel and nothing was clean cut. Her years of being a guard gave her a sense of duty and alliance, but she is sheathed in fear from both sides of the war, those responsible for killing her parents and those who would enslave her if they discovered her secret. It made for a complex inner conflict.
Another source of Alex's emotional struggles was the muffled itch of romantic entanglements, which then proved harder to restrain as the story progressed. The romantic feelings aroused in Alex not only complicated her predicament but added to the already bubbling cauldron of conflict.
The romance in Defy was definitely dominant but the ripple of intrigue throughout the plot and the fast paced narrative balanced it fairly well. While I appreciated the heightened conflict the romantic aspect of the novel induced, I was more drawn in by Larson's tight writing style and well handled use of tension.
The novel stands well on its own but I believe it leads to further installments. I am curious to see how the character dynamics will continue to develop and to read more of Larson's craft.
I would recommend Defy to readers looking for a fast paced and adventurous novel, with a prominent element of romance.
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received a review copy of this title through Edelweiss. The opin...more(From my blog: Quill Café)
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received a review copy of this title through Edelweiss. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher.
When Emily and Charlotte Brontë return home from Roe Head School, they are swept up in a world of intrigue. A stranger walks the moors, a burglar is rife, and one man's sudden death breeds whispers.
Wild with curiosity, Emily seeks out adventure, cloaked in the mysteries and romanticisms she relishes in her writing. Her sister, Charlotte, perturbed by their brother's peculiar actions, and startled by the hushed up history of their neighbour, does some investigating of her own.
The two sisters have always been so different, but they must come together to solve the mystery that plagues Haworth...before someone else meets a swift death.
An insight into two young women who broke the gender barrier and wrote timeless classics was a captivating enough premise, but entwined in mystery I was hooked. 'Always Emily' transports the reader, not only to the home and school where the two women were raised, but also into their vast imaginations.
The novel is written in third person, with alternating perspectives between Charlotte and Emily. From the start, I was shrouded in the setting of Haworth. The writing is so palpable, and I was intrigued by the history of the Brontë family, which I knew nothing of. MacColl manages to thread information about the characters throughout the story, without resorting to numerous amounts of backstory or info dumps.
The Brontë sisters are strikingly different, but equally compelling. Emily is vivacious, independent and strong-willed. Charlotte is insightful and reserved. Where Charlotte is flustered, Emily is unperturbed. Charlotte can be stoic and severe, and Emily can be reckless and rude. They are both such well-rounded characters, and while they have their differences – which provide wonderful conflict between them – they are both driven by their passion for writing. Emily and Charlotte cannot help but compare the circumstances they face to the stories they write, or imagine how they would translate something onto the page. It is a sensation that any writer can relate to, and really defined their shared nature.
I was absorbed by the plot of ‘Always Emily.’ MacColl established the mood of the story, as though the mystery were a cloak of fog on the moors, and managed the tension with such finesse. She had a very tactful execution of cliff-hangers, often implemented at the end of chapters, and constantly upped the stakes, thrusting the heroines into increasingly challenging situations.
Being unfamiliar with the Brontë family, I was fascinated to learn more about their history. Anne is absent for the novel, but there is still some insight from her in the letter she writes to Emily. I had no idea that there had been two older sisters who had died at a young age from tuberculosis, which they both contracted from a boarding school. The novel begins with the funeral of the second child, Elizabeth, and Emily's fearless state is only amplified by the fact that she views death as but a chance to be reunited with her sisters.
Branwell, the sole son of Rev. Brontë, was far more vital to the plot of the novel. He is somewhat of an infuriating character, and a troubled soul. It was interesting to see how he was spoiled for allowance by his father, and given much more freedom than his sisters, despite being an established wreck. It was a stark commentary on the way women were automatically devalued because of their sex, regardless of their social standing.
'Always Emily' is a riveting read, which I would recommend to anyone who loves to be swept up in a tale of adventure and intrigue. I will admit that I am utterly unfamiliar with the works of the Brontë sisters, but reading MacColl's fictional – though marvellously rooted in realism – tale of the siblings has encouraged me to seek out their work. I look forward to it, and to reading more of MacColl's writing in future.(less)
Viola and her parents have been chosen to be the landing party for the new world, the first people of the convoy to set foot on a planet.
What once see...moreViola and her parents have been chosen to be the landing party for the new world, the first people of the convoy to set foot on a planet.
What once seemed like an amazing opportunity becomes a horrifying reality at the prospect of leaving everyone and everything she has ever known behind.
Only the descent into the new world doesn’t go as planned, and none of Viola's hopes and fears can prepare her.
I had heard nothing but good things about Patrick Ness’ books in passing, though I had no real clue what any of them were about. When I discovered that there was a free prequel to The Chaos Walking trilogy, I snatched it up.
The story followed the moment Viola first discovers her family has been selected, through to her arrival in the new world. However, it is not narrated in chronological order. Back story can be a tricky thing but the small fragments of the present and the past were spliced together in such a way that the story was fast-paced and constantly held my attention.
Viola is a compelling protagonist and narrator. She is full of fear and wonder and her voice enveloped me and drew me into her journey, as though I were adrift in the universe heading for the unknown. It was a fascinating feeling and made for a riveting narrative.
In such a short period of time Ness made me attached to Viola and her journey. However, the little I know of the first novel in the trilogy – ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go’ – is that it has a male protagonist. I know little of what to expect, other than more of Ness’ captivating writing style.
I listened to ‘The New World’ on audio, beautifully narrated by Angela Dawe. She voiced Viola’s insecurities and emotions perfectly and had such a brilliant hold on the tension of the story. I will definitely be checking to see what other titles she has narrated.
I would recommend ‘The New World’ to anyone who is curious about Patrick Ness’ writing, particularly his Chaos Walking trilogy. Whether you choose to read or listen to it – I was able to acquire both for free on Kindle and Audible – you won’t be disappointed.
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I purchased this book. The opinions expressed are mine and no mone...more(From my blog: Quill Café)
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I purchased this book. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher.
Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three sisters and is set for a dull life once she inherits her family's hat shop.
After losing her temper and insulting a rude customer, Sophie is turned into an old woman. Unable to tell anyone of the spell, Sophie sets out to find an answer and comes face-to-face with a fire demon and Wizard Howl, who is said to eat the hearts of young girls.
Sophie strikes a bargain that will lead her on a journey back to youth and discover what an adventure it is to truly live.
The characters and intricate weaving of the plot are what makes Howl's Moving Castle a favourite of mine.
Sophie is a driven character, with sewing talents and temper flaws. She grows into a daring woman in the progress of the story and goes through experiences - aching bones and riddlesome spells - that strengthen her and give her the courage to seek out her dreams.
Howl is a charismatic drama queen. Full of quirks and cowardice, he is the stealer of hearts and the most-wanted wizard in the land of Ingary.
I read this book for the first time years ago when I learned of the then-to-be-released film adaptation. Once I realised that the book was written by Diana Wynne Jones, whose Chrestomanci books (Charmed Life and sequels) I adored, I purchased a copy and devoured it.
From the first chapter I was hooked by the lyrical prose. I was intrigued and captivated by the constant turn of events and the developing complexity of the story.
This has since become one of my favourite books and Howl one of my favourite fictional characters. I never tire of the cleverness of the story and how it shows the way in which the characters' perspectives change for the better.
I know that plenty of people have seen Hayao Miyazaki's animated film adaptation and loved it. I know I did but I implore you to read the novel as the film is only based on the book, which reveal marvelous aspects of the story that you never knew existed.
Howl's Moving Castle is a favourite of mine that will remain on my shelf and in my imagination. I recommend it to anyone who is looking to be swept up in a world of magic and a journey of self.(less)
The Danger Society - a group of Eton boys who get their thrills sneaking out after dark and sharing a cigarette. When James Bond joins a holiday trip...moreThe Danger Society - a group of Eton boys who get their thrills sneaking out after dark and sharing a cigarette. When James Bond joins a holiday trip to Sardinia, he gets far more danger than he anticipated.
James and his friends aren't the only ones at Eton part of a secret society. There is a sinister link between the school and a mysterious organisation in Sarsinia. Thievery and kidnapping soon lead to murder, with James caught in the midst of it all.
Can he survive the wrathful ampitions of men...or will he be claimed by the world's deadliest animal?
After SilverFin, I was hooked on Higson's narrative of Young Bond. Blood Fever proved to be a worthy follow-up.
James Bond is a compelling character. It would be easy for me to be drawn to the series if I was already a Bond buff but I haven't read any of Fleming's novels (I know, shame shame) and I've only seen two Bond films, neither of which I remember very well. Bond's appeal as a protagonist rested solely on the way Higson had written him.
There is quite a juxtoposition to the older Bond. James isn't sexual, to the point of dodging girl's kisses. He's more focussed on thrill and adventure but also has a strong moral sense.
Coming bacck to sexual implicatioms in the novel, being for a younger audience (though I would classify it as YA, not KidLit) it's hardly even implied. Even when unsavoury men and young women/girls collide, the potential for sexual assault wasn't even touched on. It was as though it was too vulgar for the characters to imply past the subbtlest of subtext.
Once again, Higson introduces strong, young female characters. From the start, Amy was feisty but Vendetta was my favourite of the two. I loved how oposite they were. Not because of their upbringing or cultural backgrounds but because one could forgive and the other could not.
Just like 'SilverFin' I listened to the book, read by Nathaniel Parker. Brilliant as always but where Charmian has a Scottish accent n the first book, she now had an English one.
The best writing of the novel is that of James' encounter with the world's deadliest animal. Higson knows how to write things in a way that affects the reader, even after the book ends. Just thinking about it now...
I look forward to the next Young Bond book, 'Double or Die', the last to be narrated by Parker.
Moving to Oregon due to her asthma, Melody Carver isn't expecting to be emerged in a town where monsters are not only feared but viewed as matter-of-f...moreMoving to Oregon due to her asthma, Melody Carver isn't expecting to be emerged in a town where monsters are not only feared but viewed as matter-of-fact. Or that she might end up interested in the cute-nerdy boy next door, whose mood is as unpredictable as the weather.
Created only fifteen days ago, Frankie Stein is excited to make friends, meet boys, and have fun - but her parents warn her against the "normies" and force her to repress her true voltage self.
When the lives of these two new students collide at Merston High, nothing will be the same.
Monster High was far more compelling than I anticipated. It had the potential to be a nice but dismissible read but Harrison's writing style was catching from the start. It was crisp and energetic and never felt forced.
The novel is narrated in third person from the perspective of both protagonists in alternating chapters. There is a wonderful contrast between them: Beverly Hills Melody who cares nothing for exteriors and Frankie the small town fashionista who wants to rock through life. Melody's family is "perfect" looking, thanks to DNA coupled with plastic surgery, which was a nice parallel to the Steins, a family that is literally moulded and stitched together.
It was interesting to have an insight into both the normies and the RADs (Regular Attribute Dodgers - the politically correct term for monsters) as well as the two different friend groups. It allowed for a wider perspective on characters. For instance, while Melody got the mean girl impression of Cleo, Frankie was privy to her loyal side.
There are a lot of boy crushes floating around in Monster High but there were plenty of complications and characters making bad decisions and nothing is smooth going. I liked that Melody's relationship with Jackson was primarily a friendship, rather than him just being potential boyfriend material. Anything less and she might not have stuck by him, with all that he put her through.
The only thing that threw me about Monster High was that it had no resolution. The novel ends at the climactic point of the story. While this does make me more eager to move straight onto the sequel, I'm far less likely to read any of Harrison's other works, unless they are established stand-alones or have readily available sequels.
One thing that really cemented the novel's attraction for me was that I listened to it on audio, narrated by Rebecca Soler. Soler's Aussie accent for Blue was a little lacking but she carried the narrative to greater heights and amplified my enjoyment of the story. I was disappointed to see that she didn't narrate the remaining books in the series.
I will note that the audio book is a narration of the original edition of the novel. Chapter Thirteen is dubbed the 'Lost Chapter' which seems to have been published separately and then included in a second edition of the novel. This explains why I could not remember its contents when discussing it with my friend, Emma, who read the novel.
I was fascinated to discover that my assumptions were incorrect that the Monster High book series had inspired the doll line and the animated series. Rather, Mattel created the concept to fill the age gap in their marketing, which included the book series. I'm impressed at the execution of a clever concept.
I have bought the sequel, The Ghoul Next Door, in text rather than audio and I look forward to reading it.
When Enola Holmes' mother disappears, she is frantic to finder her - but her two older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock disapprove. Convinced that their...moreWhen Enola Holmes' mother disappears, she is frantic to finder her - but her two older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock disapprove. Convinced that their mother has run away, Enola's brothers are determined to send her off to boarding school...but she is having none of that.
Setting off to find her mother, Enola stumbles across the case of a missing boy and finds herself in more trouble than she had ever conceived. London is not the sparkling place she had imagined and there are horrid figures that crawl the streets.
Katherine Kellgren is quick becoming my favourite audio book narrator, so after reading the above review I was ecstatic to discover that she narrated the Enola Holmes Mysteries.
Enola is a compelling character, sympathetic without being petty, head-strong and intelligent. Reiterated through the story are her mother's words, "Enola, you will do very well on your own." Boy, is it true! Even Enola's name spelled backwards is "alone." She is a driven character and I was drawn to her.
I will admit that I am not overly-familiar with the original novels by Conan Doyle. I listened to A Study in Scarlet and then gave up on the second installment. Springer does make references to A Study in Scarlet (in the sense of it being a non-fiction account by Watson) but I have nothing to really compare or criticise the borrowed characters in the book. Speaking of references, I did like the one Springer made to The Importance of Being Earnest with Lane and the cucumber sandwiches.
While I am not familiar enough with the Holmes brothers to know if they were portrayed well, I can say that they appear to me to be right arses. They belittle Enola less because she is young and more-so because she is female. Sexism to the max. This is what made me like the book all the more. It hones in on the issues of sexism but also shows Enola's cleverness and gives a right "stuff you" to the notion of her inferiority.
The descriptions Springer gives of East London and even the steel corsets young women are made to wear to refine their body shape was horrific. Almost as horrid as Mycroft's attitude. (If you nap so often, you'll get diabetes, Mycroft.) There was a wonderful grit to the novel and it was riddled with plenty of dangers, mostly "unmentionable" things which made the subtext all the stronger.
I wouldn't say that the case of the missing boy was the most interesting thing in the plot but rather Enola's own journey and how she thought outside the box - even outfoxing the great Sherlock Holmes who she honestly made look a bit of a ninny. I've already purchased the second novel, 'The Case of the Left-Handed Lady' and look forward to starting it...now.
The star quarterback of his high school, Bobby Framingham would appear to have his future set. Except Bobby has a secret - he's gay.
Excluding retirees...moreThe star quarterback of his high school, Bobby Framingham would appear to have his future set. Except Bobby has a secret - he's gay.
Excluding retirees, there are no openly gay athletes in popular sports. Knowing this, can Bobby hope to have a successful career as a gay footballer?
The solution would seem to be to keep his mouth shut and play on...but omitting the truth feels like a lie and it's throwing Bobby off his game. Can Bobby step up to the play when he's forced out of the pocket?
I read this book in one stretch, turning the final page at 3am.
What makes 'Out of the Pocket' such a good read is the characters. Coming out stories are important but mishandled they can be tedious to read. Konigsberg didn't disappoint.
Bobby isn't ashamed of his sexuality but he is awkward and has his insecurities. He has a tendency to over-think things, making him relatable and sympathetic.
The characters in the book are not clean-cut in their actions or - just as importantly - their reactions. I liked that I never knew what people were going to say or how they might behave. It was true to life and the unexpectancy was refreshing.
If I had to pick a favourite character in the book - though they were all wonderfully developed - it's Carrie. She is such a hoot. I loved the dynamic between her and Bobby. She had an excellent sense of humour and the dialogue between them flowed nicely without lacking interest.
I won't lie and say that I pretend to understand American football or that this opened my eyes to the splendor of the game. From what I observe, the players run around in helmets and heavy padding, with the ball in their hands the whole time. Still, I liked the way Bobby processed his thoughts in ways that were parallel to the way he'd approach a game play. It was far more realistic and interesting to see a teenage boy hone his feelings through something he was so passionate about.
'Out of the Pocket' went from laugh-out-loud to chest tightening moments, without seeming disjointed or forced. A beautifully crafted novel.
James Bond is meant to be spending his holidays spending time with his aunt and ailing uncle - but his school days at Eton aren'...more'Don't ever be a spy.'
James Bond is meant to be spending his holidays spending time with his aunt and ailing uncle - but his school days at Eton aren't easy to leave him. School bully George Hellebore lives nearby, along with his father, Lord Randolph Hellebore.
When a young boy disappears after fishing on Hellebore's land, James teams up with the honourable English bloke, Red. The two of them set out to discover what happened to the boy and what secrets Hellebore is operating.
Can James and Red uncover the truth? Something sinister is afoot.
I listened to this on audio and the only reason I did was because it was narrated by Nathaniel Parker. That being said, it was a bloody good book.
I was caught by the writing from the start. Like a fish hook caught in the skin, it is an uncomfortable ride. Plenty of action and suspense kept me riveted throughout, along with some excellent characterisation.
There are so many moments in 'SilverFin' where Higson could have taken the smooth and easy route (copped out) but this was some stunning plot work. He really knew how to grate the reader (or in my case, listener) and push the limits, always twisting things in ways I didn't expect.
I'll admit to being unfamiliar with the character of James Bond. I haven't read any of the books and I've scarcely seen any of the film adaptations. He's such a quintessential figure and thus in need of being well handled. While I can't compare (I shall have to look into reading some authentic Bond) Higson's skill is apparent.
Regardless of whether he is a true portrayal of the man Fleming wrote, Higson's Young Bond is a magnetic character. He's intuitive and brave, without being obnoxious or a ray of perfection. You'd think it would be hard to connect with this kid because it's obvious Higson couldn't off him. In spite of that, I still felt on edge with the suspense of the situations he was getting himself into.
George was a far more layered character than I anticipated. He had depth and a sympathetic nature without any of that "Oh, I'm a good boy sugar plum fairy in disguise" schtick. I always appreciate authors who don't screw you over with that front.
I'm disappointed to see that Parker only narrated the first three Young Bond novels, though he stuck around longer than with the Alex Rider books. On that note, those who have read and liked Horowitz's 'Stormbreaker' will certainly not want to miss out on 'SilverFin.'
Look forward to listening to the sequel, 'Blood Fever.'
Hazel is a teen with cancer, biding her time on a miracle drug, embracing life through a novel...but inevitably smothered by the reality that is her l...moreHazel is a teen with cancer, biding her time on a miracle drug, embracing life through a novel...but inevitably smothered by the reality that is her life. Then she meets Augustus Waters, a boy from support group, who is in remission from his own cancer. The two connect in ways Hazel could never have believed for herself and they both set off on a journey of self-discovery, paved with humour, tragedy and romance.
This was an emotional book. Not because of cancer and sickness but rather the attachment I gained to the characters. So many young adult novels force "love" onto the reader and it irks me. In 'The Fault in Our Stars,' I connected with the love between characters, not because I was told to but because I experienced that sensation for myself.
Hazel and Augustus are two teenagers that could have been alienating. Not because they have cancer but because they phrase words and ideas in ways I could never fathom, let alone on whim. Yet, they did not come across as preachy or pretentious. There is such depth to their words and feelings without it feeling like you are being pulled under and drowned by emotion. There are some books I find hard to pick back up mid-read, regardless of whether they are amazing. I think, Is this too much? Yet, it was never a challenge for me to be enveloped by 'The Fault in Our Stars.'
I listened to the book on audio. At first, I wondered if I might have made a mistake, if perhaps this was a book that needed to be read. It wasn't. Kate Rudd brought this book to life in ways I could not have imagined for myself. There are some female narrators who go overboard to get that "guy" voice, particularly in teen fiction but Rudd was perfect in that and every other aspect of the narration.
John Green is 100% my litrary idol for his brilliance in creating the experience which is 'The Fault in Our Stars.' I can't go much further without delving into zombie creepiness, such as expressing a desire to crawl inside his skin or harvest his brain. Oops, too late.
I finished this book just before midnight on the 5th of June 2012. It is by far my favourite of the year so far and I know it is a book I will return to. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to be swept up by a story that is about life and love, rather than a book that parades in the mask of one. A lot of people have expressed reluctance of the audio book. I cannot repeat enough that there should be none.
Warning: There is a near certain chance this book will make you cry. I cried and I do not cry at books without selfish reason. If I am emotionally impacted by something to that extent it is because I am funneling a personal emotion through it. This was purely my attachment to the story.
What if all you needed to forget was a single pill? When Nora witnesses a terrorist attack, her mother takes her to the TCF – Therapeutic Forgetting C...moreWhat if all you needed to forget was a single pill? When Nora witnesses a terrorist attack, her mother takes her to the TCF – Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic. When terrorism is a dime a dozen, everyone makes frequent trips to the TCF and then goes about their lives as if nothing happened.
A chance run in with Micah, a boy from her school and the revelation of the memories her mother is desperate to forget, cause Nora to spit out her pill and choose to remember. Teaming up with Micah and his friend, Winter, Nora sets out to produce a comic, illustrating all the things the TFC wants them to forget.
There’s something strange about the TFC. Is there really a mass terrorism group called the Coalition? Or could there be something far more sinister behind it all?
I learned about this book at Book Expo America last year, where I happened upon the author doing signings at one of the booths. That same week, I attended a mass author signing in a store and listened to her read an excerpt from ‘Memento Nora.’
I’m not sure why it took me so long to read this book. It’s short but addictive and I can’t stop thinking about it. Fear is a powerful weapon and the novel makes you wonder about whether forgetting is really a cure or if it is even more of a danger.
I’ve been on anxiety medication for more than two years, popping a couple of pills a day. Yet, in the past I’d always been set against taking medication unless I felt I seriously needed to. Reading ‘Memento Nora’ made me ponder just what limits would have to be breached for me to voluntarily take a pill to forget a memory…and how I would feel if I had memories robbed from me.
Angie Smibert is an excellent writer. The subject of the novel wasn’t overstated but written in a way that intrigued me and left me in constant suspense. It is written in first person narrative, by Nora, Micah and Winter, although Nora is the prime narrator of the book. Each of the three protagonists was sympathetic but I was drawn in by the strength that they each had as individuals.
I loved how dreams were used throughout the novel. Dreams are vague and difficult to remember...but they are powerful. The dreams of the characters really helped to reflect the struggle of each individual, trying to keep a hold of who they are.
‘Memento Nora’ is a fascinating concept that triumphs in execution. It reads perfectly as a stand-alone novel but I was pleased to discover that there is something of a sequel/companion novel with ‘The Forgetting Curve.’ I look forward to reading it.
If you could take a pill to forget something painful or traumatic, would you?
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received this book from Marshall Cavendish at Book Expo America. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher.(less)
Peter Vincent doesn't believe in the stories of the 0.4 that the Strakerites preach. His father is one of the most powerful men in the world - the cre...morePeter Vincent doesn't believe in the stories of the 0.4 that the Strakerites preach. His father is one of the most powerful men in the world - the creator of artificial bees which saved the planet - and insists that their strange theories, which claim to debunk human evolution, is nonsense.
All Peter wants to do is escape into the Link, a system which connects the minds of single every person on the planet. With information, music, virtual holidays, and games available in the literal blink of an eye, Peter should have no problem escaping reality.
Except there is a rumour of something sinister, hushed up. People are disappearing, and with everyone connected through the Link nothing is private. The world is being altered and Peter is no longer sure what is real or who he can trust.
Set one thousand years after '0.4,' this book proved to be just as eerie as its predecessor. The defining qualities of humanity are once again called into question and Lancaster extinguishes the gap in our ever-progressing need to connect with each other and technology.
This was one of my most anticipated books of the year - ever since I learnt of its existence - and it did not disappoint. Even though I had ordered the book online, it was so slow to arrive that I purchased it on ebook. That is how impatient I was to read it.
Whereas I read '0.4' in paperback, reading '1.4' electronically seemed somehow more appropriate. The distinction between humanity and technology is blurred in Peter Vincent's world, but he is still a character readers can relate to. He goes to school, keeps secrets from his father, and likes to imagine himself as a hero in the fantasy games he plays.
There are several nods to current social/gaming/pop culture with "MyBook," "FaceSpace," "Linkepedia" and "LinkPad" as well as "Last Quest." Peter's obsession with making lists is something I can relate to and his interests cover literature, music, apps and games. '1.4' may be set in a futuristic - and somewhat alien - setting but it isn't too much so as to estrange the reader.
I found this book to be as unputdownable as the first. Lancaster has a way of keeping the reader questioning, not only the events of the novel but also about the ethics of humanity's attachment to technology. Even now, we live in a time where we are always looking for the fast, easy and accessible way, and where there are a couple of large corporations which we rely on, no questions asked.
I suppose you could read '1.4' as a stand-alone novel but I wouldn't recommend it. There are too many references that will go over your head. Some of them reiterated my need to re-read '0.4' or perhaps listen to it on audio.
'1.4' will be published in hardback by Egmont USA in November 2012 under the title, 'The Future We Left Behind.'
I'm not sure what to expect from Lancaster's future novels but I do know that I am eager to read them.
Katniss has been the Capitol's pawn in the Games. Now she has been claimed by the rebels and District 13 to be their face for the revolution - the Mockingjay. What is she willing to risk?
'Mockingjay' is the stunning conclusion to The Hunger Games trilogy. I was nervous up until the last moment as to whether I would find the ending satisfactory but I did. It just proves the extent to which I connected with the story and character that I was concerned it would prove to be underwhelming. While I do not think the trilogy is perfect, I am impressed by how the emotional tension is sustained throughout and the stakes continue to escalate until the very end.
This novel allows readers to further see the dynamic between Katniss and Gale. There is something of a splice of the relationship they once had and the events that have torn them in different directions. Gale has never been more prominent than in 'Mockingjay.' While it was interestiong to see more of him, it was too little too late for me to develop any attachment to his character.
Peeta is my favourite character in the trilogy, alongside Katniss.* The stakes escalated for his character - both emotionally and physically - and my hands were shaking in anticipation and nervousness of what was to be his fate.
Johanna and Finnick were hinted in 'Catching Fire' to be more than they originally appeared. There was further insight into their characters in 'Mockingjay.' I particularly felt drawn to Finnick, whose first appearance in the series made him seem egotistic and shallow. He is quite contrary to that original depiction.
We get to see more of Katniss' sister, Prim, in this book. While there is still much of the young girl we have known, there is also the juxtaposition of a new maturity she has. Things have taken their toll on her and she has found strength in her fragility, a strength she can bring out when even her sister looks like she might crumble.
One thing that didn't really hit home for me until 'Mockingjay' was the twisted look at reality television. Strange, since the Games are all about prompting children to kill each other and broadcasting it live but I found the way in which media was used for propaganda by District 13 to be quite startling. Katniss is dolled up and dolled down and given scripts and scenarios to act out - something she isn't cut out for. However, even through all this forced reality, it is only when Katniss speaks her mind and is herself that there is a power behind what she does.
I'm not a sucker for happily ever afters, I prefer satisfying endings. What that means will always differ but I personally found the end of The Hunger Games trilogy to be satisfactory. I can now readily recommend the series as a whole and look forward to reading Suzanne Collins' 'Gregor the Overlander' series.
The Leviathan has set its course for Russia but it is not the enemy they seek. Nicola Tesla is no ordinary man and he claims he has a weapon that coul...moreThe Leviathan has set its course for Russia but it is not the enemy they seek. Nicola Tesla is no ordinary man and he claims he has a weapon that could stop the war - Goliath.
Alek is fascinated by Tesla and wants him for an ally. Deryn, however, isn't so sure.
When circumstances threaten to reveal Deryn's identity, will she and Alek be pulled apart forever?
The stakes escalate in 'Goliath.' There is now a weapon that boasts nuclear-esque proportions. Alek must choose his priorities for the future. Deryn must decide if she is willing to risk losing Alek or her place on the Leviathan.
All in all, I was riveted. The dynamic between Alek and Deryn is riddled with delicious tension. I was squirming up until the very end, both eager for and dreadful of the trilogy's resolution.
Like the first two installments, I listened to it on audio, narrated by Alan Cumming. He is too good. So good he continued to keep me from Keith Thompson's brilliant illustrations. I sheepishly admit that I was eager to see some of the scenes from the story visually and there were a few moments that, alas, were not illustrated in the printed text. However, the brilliance of the moustache picture trumps all!
I was not disappointed by 'Goliath' and found the conclusion to be utmost satisfactory. I look forward to revisiting the Leviathan trilogy and seeking out more of Westerfeld's novels.
Finley Jayne is unlike other young women. With her good heart, she has a temper and an unnatural strength. When her most recent actions leave her unem...moreFinley Jayne is unlike other young women. With her good heart, she has a temper and an unnatural strength. When her most recent actions leave her unemployed, Finley is surprised to be approached soon after by Lady Morton and hired to be a companion for her daughter, Phoebe.
Phoebe is to soon be married but there is something eerie about the engagement. Something sinister is afoot and it is up to Finley’s good heart and abnormal talents to find out what.
Can Finley save Phoebe from her sealed fate?
I snatched up this free novella on Kindle, unaware that it was the prequel to ‘The Girl in The Steel Corset’, which I not only had a copy of but had been signed by the author, who had complemented my eyes. Yes, I have a slight weakness to compliments. Curse my wavering vanity!
‘The Strange Case of Finley Jayne’ was a compelling read. It took me until the midpoint of the novel to understand the eerie mystery of the plot but while it was fascinating to read, the real reason I enjoyed this book was the insight into the protagonist.
Finley is unsuited to the upper class world that Phoebe and her mother live in. She is a free spirit who knows that she has a dark and dangerous side but sometimes knows she must give into it – and wants to – so that she can do what is right and help those she cares for.
There is plenty of humour in Finley, which makes her such a wonderful character to read about. This may be a good read in itself but it works an effective gateway into The Steampunk Chronicles as it connects the reader to the protagonist. After all, without a likeable main character, a series can fall flat.
The novel is set in London and the vernacular is impeccable, spoiled only a little by the American spelling of words like "neighbor" and "pajamas." It really felt like I was encompassed by Victorian England.
I can’t wait to start reading ‘The Girl in the Steel Corset’* since I just spent ages looking through my shelf thinking I had lost it. Thankfully it had just been alphabetised too early under “C.”
What was once Chicago is now divided into five factions: Amity - the peaceful, Dauntless - the brave, Candor - the truthful, Erudite - the intelligent...moreWhat was once Chicago is now divided into five factions: Amity - the peaceful, Dauntless - the brave, Candor - the truthful, Erudite - the intelligent and Abnegation - the selfless.
Every individual of the age of sixteen must take an aptitude test, which will show to which faction they most belong...but the choice lies with them. Beatrice has to choose whether she will stay with her family or leave them forever.
Before Beatrice can officially join her chosen faction, she and her peers must earn their place. Some will stay. Others will be outcast to become what most dread above death - factionless. Can Beatrice prove herself worthy?
Above all the tests and choices is something Beatrice must hide: a truth that isn't appointed or chosen. The very utterance of the word could have her killed. She is, above all else, Divergent.
With all the hype around the upcoming release of the sequel, ‘Insurgent,’ I felt compelled to read 'Divergent', especially since I owned a copy of the book. It’s quite a solid hard-back book and I’m known for my reluctance to commit to obese novels. Slow reader that I may be, I was third of the way through the book on my first day reading it.
I was fascinated by the idea of the factions. Each of them embraces certain qualities and priorities and once you choose one, those things define who you are. You are enveloped by them and live by their laws. All five are very interesting but each seems to constricting to have to live in.
There is Abnegation, whose selflessness can be viewed as admirable to the point of being masochistic. Candor’s honesty is commendable but crude. Amity seems fun and creative but also a little too mellow. Dauntless breeds heroes and bullies. Erudite values reading and knowledge but is chained down by an air of constant study and a smug cloud of self-righteousness.
When I was reading about the process of choosing a faction, I contemplated which I would be best suited to. Would I be Divergent…or factionless?
There was actually an aptitude test you can take on facebook, just like in the book. However, just like the book, it is ultimately up to you which faction you choose. My test’s result was Candor…but I didn’t think it suited me at all. I chose Amity.
Remember when I said I made it a third of the way through the book on the first day? That was because in my copy of the book, pages 187-218 were bound upside-down. I would have to turn the book upside-down, search for page 187, read until I was back at page 186, turn the book the right-side up and then flip forward to page 219. So, I stopped reading part-way through a chapter (which I prefer not to do) and left it for the day.
Despite that aggravating unfortunate snag, I picked up the book the next day, turned it upside down, read, turned it right side up, read and kept on reading. I was addicted. My hands were shaking by the end.
Beatrice or "Tris" is a spectacular protagonist. She is strong in herself because of the way she handles the situations around her and faces her weaknesses. She is also a very flawed character and does not always take the high ground, although she is self-aware.
I was wary about the prospect of her romantic love interest with Four, a mysterious older member who runs the initiation of her faction. I was more than pleasantly surprised. While Tris has her weaknesses, Four also has plenty of vulnerabilities. He isn't a typical wounded hero in a hard shell.
Tris was the true hero of the novel. Not because she never needed help but because of the way she overcame obstacles. There are other characters in the book who have their own bands of heroism, however. I particularly loved Tris' mother and how she was strong in ways that might not seem so obvious to others.
'Divergent' is not the world of clean-cut factions it would appear to be. Morals waver and characters take action and make choices that in a perfect world they wouldn't. Of course, who wants to read about a perfect world? That would be boring. Instead, the book is riddled with tension and adrenaline. It's not something for the faint of heart or those who need happily ever after endings. It is a book I would recommend to anyone looking for a good dystopian thriller with romantic elements.
I look forward to reading the sequel, ‘Insurgent,’ although I might make sure I flip through the book to see that all the pages are the right way up. In fact, I might be doing that with all books in future.
Deryn and Alek are aboard the Leviathan, heading for Constantinople. Alek and his men are set on making their escape...moreWarning: Spoilers for 'Leviathan.'
Deryn and Alek are aboard the Leviathan, heading for Constantinople. Alek and his men are set on making their escape there in neutral territory...but when they arrive, they discover that it might not be so neutral after all.
Deryn is torn between her duty to the Leviathan and her growing feelings for Alek. Can she bring herself to tell Alek she's a girl, despite knowing the consequences?
To top it all off, Dr. Barlow's secret eggs are hatching... What are they for and how can they help Deryn and Alek?
Less than a month after I finished 'Leviathan' I've moved onto the sequel and am already hungry for the final installment in the trilogy. Where the main excitement for me in the first book was Alek's secret, I found that Deryn's gender concealment was far more exhilarating in Behemoth. She does not have any cliché struggles with hiding her physical appearance as I see so much in other novels but instead grapples with her emotional dilemma, regarding her stance with Alek.
Behemoth is no more a romance novel than Leviathan was, however. While I do enjoy some inner conflict in the form of romantic tension, I like the fact that it is more of the importance of duty and alliances. Deryn is drawn to Alek and intent on helping him but she is also patriotic and wants to do right by her country and her fellow crewmen on the Leviathan.
Alek is becoming more of a leader in this book. He is making his own decisions - even when it means going against the direct wishes of his men - and using his wits and gut to guide him. There were plenty of new characters he meets in Constantinople (Istanbul) and I found myself drawn to two in particular - Malone, the reporter and Lilit, a revolutionary girl, whose character I liked a lot more than I thought I would.
Once again, I listened to the audio book narrated by Alan Cumming. It was magnificent as ever. There were only a couple of lines around chapter fourteen where I noticed that the accents of the dialogue didn't match up with who was speaking. Otherwise it was impeccable.
To hit home just what a nutter I am for not reading the book, I snuck a look at Keith Thompson's illustrations for the novel. His artwork not only reflects Deryn's passion of drawing through in its detailed sketch form but it also reels you right into the atmosphere of the story
There is another afterword from the author at the end of 'Behemoth' which gives an insight into what is accurate to our history and what is - to use a Darwinist word - fabricated. Alternate history is a new genre to me and I'm always fascinated to know exactly what the author has built upon to form the story. I didn't have a clear image of what the reporter, Malone, looked like and I loved seeing him on the page. His illustration of Bovril was spot-on. Quite cute and cat-like...or perhaps, meerkat-like?
Keen for 'Goliath' which I will of course be listening to on audio book.
The 74th Hunger Games have concluded but the dangers are far from over. The Capitol is angry in the face of d...moreWarning: Spoilers for 'The Hunger Games.'
The 74th Hunger Games have concluded but the dangers are far from over. The Capitol is angry in the face of defiance and they seek to calm the districts...but what was once a spark has now become a flame, spreading throughout Panem.
Katniss is being paraded throughout the districts in hopes that she will bring calm to the people once again. However, it may already be too late to extinguish the the rebellion she has inspired. With the Quarter Quell approaching, Katniss may be pulled back into the world of the Hunger Games as a mentor. Can she bring herself to face the horrors of the arena once more?
Her entire family and district is at risk. Will she choose to remain subdued or fight and risk everything she loves?
I'd heard from plenty of people that they weren't that impressed by Catching Fire but I loved it. While the book might seem to some like something of a lull in comparison to 'The Hunger Games' it is coursed with a powerful but subtle emotion that is not pushed onto the reader.
Before I started the sequel, I wondered if I would be pulled into the Team Peeta/Team Gale issue but I'm still Team Katniss. If I had to choose, I'll admit that I fail to see the appeal of Gale as a character, let alone a love interest. Peeta is clever and charismatic. Gale is something of a downer.
I was a bit underwhelmed by the title 'Catching Fire' when I first discovered it. All I could think of was someone trying to catch something intangible. I didn't give it much thought, I just found it a lot less striking than the other titles in the trilogy. I feel differently now. It captures the change in Panem so well - a glint of hope igniting into an unstoppable fire, symbolising the passionate movement of the people.
It might be easy to claim that 'The Hunger Games' used high death stakes as an easy out for tension and conflict to provoke a reaction from the reader but 'Catching Fire' is proof that if it weren't for the emotional stakes and the excellent character dynamics, it would have been a shallow failing of a novel.
My favourite moment in 'Catching Fire' is when Katniss visits District 11. I won't try to describe how well it was written or how it affected me as a reader. It is something you must read and experience for yourself.
One thing I can say for sure is that Suzanne Collins proves in 'Catching Fire' that she certainly knows how to work the midpoint of a novel. I've bought my copy of 'Mockingjay' and am intrigued to see how the trilogy ends.
Each year in Panem, children between the ages of twelve and eighteen are selected to fight in The Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death where t...moreEach year in Panem, children between the ages of twelve and eighteen are selected to fight in The Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death where there can only be one victor. Each of the twelve districts must draw the names of Tributes - a boy and girl - to fight in the games. When Katniss' younger sister is chosen, she steps forth to take her place.
Katniss knows how to hunt and survive but the Games will test her strength and stamina in ways far beyond what she knows. Can Katniss survive The Hunger Games, even if it means killing Rue, a girl the same age as her sister or Peeta, the boy Tribute from Katniss' district?
I've had a copy of this book since June '10. I read the first five chapters before it was packed up for NYC and after that it just remained on my book shelf. With the film release only a few days away, I decided to get stuck in from the beginning.
I was pessimistic about 'The Hunger Games' because of all the hype and the fact that the beginning was slow in pace and included plenty of back story. Regardless, it was undeniable from the start that Collins is a skilled wordsmith.
The novel progresses from compelling to riveting. I was engrossed in the concept of the Games and Katniss' endeavour to survive. The way in which the Games are presented is fascinating, with the Tributes flounced about like celebrities and sponsored and bet on like race horses...or more accurately, a dog fight.
The nail which Collins hit on the head was the development of Katniss' character and the dynamics between her and the fellow Tributes, particularly Peeta and Rue. These three characters are the strongest in the novel. Rue captured my heart, Peeta made me smile...but Katniss' strength was something I admired above all.
Katniss is not a perfect character. She is not without flaws or misgivings. She is strong in the way she faces the world and strives to survive, both before and during the Games. It is not easy to find a female protagonist who is sympathetic without being pathetic. It's a harsh fact but I find that it's true. Katniss deserves the title of "heroine" without being an archetypal hero.
Once I was finished reading 'The Hunger Games,' I set out to my local book store to pick up the sequel, 'Catching Fire.' It won't be long until I'm devoured by it, I'm sure.
I look forward to seeing the film adaptation of 'The Hunger Games,' curious as to what it will be like. I'm uncertain as to whether I should read the remainder of the trilogy before I do so.
My advice is not to be smothered by the hype of 'The Hunger Games' but to let curiosity get the best of you and read the book for yourself. You might find yourself just as enticed as I was.
Meg and Shar are just your everyday frenemies, until a fight over a guy and a pair of shoes sends them into the clutches of Hades, Lord of the Underwo...moreMeg and Shar are just your everyday frenemies, until a fight over a guy and a pair of shoes sends them into the clutches of Hades, Lord of the Underworld. To reclaim their freedom, they must set about becoming Hades’ sirens and lure a fashion mogul into Tartarus.
Gifted with enhanced feminine wiles, the job should be a breeze…if only the gods would stop interfering. From unwanted attention to serious consequences of using their siren charms, Shar and Meg have a lot of difficulties ahead of them.
Can they complete their mission and return to their normal lives or are they doomed to be Hades’ sirens for eternity?
This is a book I was quick to be interested in. Contemporary fiction incorporating Greek mythology in inventive ways grabs my attention.
The book is co-written, with Charlotte Bennardo narrating Shar and Natalie Zaman narrating Meg in alternating chapters. The two are polar opposites, Shar being more into fashion and Meg interested in music. This character dynamic set-up had the potential to be a disaster but in the hands of two skilled authors it was a brilliant success.
There is a wonderful wit to the novel and the way that Shar and Meg approach situations – albeit in different ways – was refreshing to read. Even when they were in conflict, it never leaned toward tedious bickering.
I related to Meg more at the beginning of the novel, despite the fact that I look horrible in black, am clueless about music and could never be swayed to the Vegetarian lifestyle. Shar’s interest in shoes and fashion could have been a huge turn-off for me and yet I found her to be the more sympathetic character in the novel. She definitely drew the short straw when it came to the disadvantages they faced in their siren pursuits.
Hades was an interesting antagonist. I liked that the depictions of the gods were very much true to the myths. They were power-mad and manipulative. It sometimes bordered on skin crawling. Brilliant!
I won a signed copy of ‘Sirenz’ from a twitter giveaway by @FluxBooks and was pretty chuffed by all the cute swag that came with it. It even included the two charms that Shar and Meg have in the book. Talk about fiction coming to life! ♥
‘Sirenz’ is a fabulous read and I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel, ‘Sirenz Back in Fashion.’
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received this book from the publisher through a Twitter giveaway. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher.(less)
Janie has the ability to enter people's dreams...or rather, she's sucked into them. She's exposed to the fears and desires of her friends and family,...moreJanie has the ability to enter people's dreams...or rather, she's sucked into them. She's exposed to the fears and desires of her friends and family, unable to do anything but wait for the dream to end.
With no one to talk to about her situation, Janie is enveloped by the twisted dreams of a young man which she can't seem to pull away from. Can Janie help him? Can she help herself?
'Wake' is a book I was interested to read after I read and enjoyed Lisa McMann's middle grade novel, 'The Unwanteds.' From the beginning of the book, there is no lolling around. We are brought straight into Janie's world, just as she is pulled into the dreams of others.
I was somewhat skeptical about the dream factor. If dreams play such a large part of the story, then how can there be real tension? Dreams can't hurt you, after all. What I discovered was something quite compelling. Dreams are something that we cannot control and lack of control is frightful. They envelop us and pull us into a situation that seems completely real while we are experiencing it. The idea of a dream being penetrated by another person, with all your insecurities displayed, is haunting.
This is a very unique concept for a story and in different hands it might have failed. The novel is written in third person, present tense and the sentence structure is quite short, quickening the pace of the plot. Not a style I am used to reading but the starkness was gripping and the story embedded itself under my skin. Most importantly, I remained inquisitive throughout.
A fascinating read with brilliant character dynamics. I foresee myself reading the sequel, 'Fade.'
Johnny repairs shoes all day in a fancy hotel in Florida. His dream to be a shoe designer flourishes when Princess Victoriana checks in. Johnny's best...moreJohnny repairs shoes all day in a fancy hotel in Florida. His dream to be a shoe designer flourishes when Princess Victoriana checks in. Johnny's best friend, Meg, convinces him to try and get the Princess to wear one of his shoe designs...but Princess Victoriana has her own proposition for Johnny. A quest.
Victoriana's older brother has was turned into a frog by a witch and has gone AWOL in Florida. In exchange for finding her brother, Victoriana offers Johnny something he never expected - her hand in marriage. With the aid of Victoriana's magic cloak Johnny sets out to find the frog prince, meeting plenty of other enchanted creatures along the way.
Can Johnny help Victoriana? Does he really want to marry her...or will his future take a different path? One thing is for certain - his life will never be the same.
After reconnecting with Alex Flinn's story telling in 'Lindy's Diary' (the companion novel to 'Beastly') I was keen to read more of her work. The author has a very clever way of taking fairy tales and weaving them into a modern day setting, so that it reads like something that could happen today but still has the magical feel of an authentic fairy tale.
'Cloaked' is unlike 'Beastly' in that it does not incorporate only one fairy tale into the plot. While I had heard of the story of The Frog Prince, there were six other stories weaved together which I was unfamiliar with. The way in which all these classic tales came together to make a new one was interesting, compelling and most of all, fun.
Despite knowing nothing about the fairy tales woven into the book, the modern day references to movies and Disney World made the experience even more tangible. There was even a nod to the chat room in 'Beastly.'
I was wrapped up in 'Cloaked' and I'm eager to read more books by Alex Flinn. Lucky for me, I have a copy of 'A Kiss in Time' on hand.
When the peacemaking Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife are killed, their son, Alek, escapes in the dead of night. With no claim as the...moreWhen the peacemaking Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife are killed, their son, Alek, escapes in the dead of night. With no claim as the heir of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he is still a threat to the Clankers who wish to wage war. Alek must pass as a commoner and hide his true identity if he is to survive.
It isn't long before Clankers meet Darwinists. Unlike the powers of Germany and Austro-Hungary, which revere their machinery, the Darwinists fabricate their ships and weapons - living, breathing war machines. On board the Darwin ship "Leviathan" is Deryn, a girl disguised as a boy. When her and Alek's paths cross, there is more at stake for both of them than ever before.
Will Deryn be revealed for the girl she is and thrown out of the Air Force? Will Alek reach safety before his title is discovered?
With at least three of my close friends having Scott Westerfeld as one of their favourite authors, I knew I was in for a decent read with one of his books. What resulted (while not a "read" on my part, as I listened to the book on audio) was far more spectactular.
Past meets prospective future in this alternate telling of the beginning of World War I. The Darwinists are able to manipulate DNA and fabricate new, extraordinary creatures. The Clankers machinery has risen up to new heights to challenge the designs of the Darwinists. Both sides have inventions which have only been touched upon today but somehow it seems plausible in the reality of 'Leviathan.'
There is never a dull moment in the novel. There is plenty of action throughout and the tension and intrigue is constant. I was gripped by Alek's struggles and fascinated by the Leviathan. It reminded me of something à la Doctor Who, only this creature is the machine. The men work inside of it and its fabricated biological structure is what powers it.
Throwing aside the obvious divide of the oppositions in WWI, I was struck by the moral notions of the Clankers and the Darwinists. Man's love affair with machine is nothing new - bigger, bolder, brazen machines for the Clankers - but the idea of fabricating creatures for the sole purpose of weapons or war ships is something new.
Forget the Germans and forget the British for a moment. Who would you be in a war, a Clanker or a Darwinist? I have to admit I found the Leviathan and the other beasties far more intriguing than the walkers but I'm the sort of person who gets miffed by people who use dogs and horses as tools for their own gain. Even so, I was fascinated by the concept and the contrast between Deryn and Alek's worlds.
The real reason I finally got into this book when it had been dangled in front of my eyes so many times was because I was reeled in by the audio book narration. Alan Cumming narrates 'Leviathan' brilliantly. Not only because of his excellence with the characters' accents but also because he nails Alek and Deryn's narrative voices, which are quite distinct despite the book being written in third person.
One thing the physical copy of the book has which the audio book doesn't is the illustrations by Keith Thompson. Thus, I popped into my local book store to take a gander. I was interested to see how certain characters were depicted by Thompson, particularly Count Volger, Dr. Barlow and Tazza.
The illustrations were stunning. With every image I knew which part of the story it was from, without checking the chapter. It clarified the depictions of some of the beasties, including the Leviathan. Seeing the characters walk inside it, with the ribs arching above them, was remarkable.
I am eager for the next installment, 'Behemoth', although there is no doubt of my forsaking Thompson's marvelous illustrations in favour of Cumming's narration.
The companion novel to 'Beastly,' written from the perspective of the "Beauty," Lindy.
I only came across this book by chance. It appears to have been...moreThe companion novel to 'Beastly,' written from the perspective of the "Beauty," Lindy.
I only came across this book by chance. It appears to have been released less than a month ago. I snatched it up on Kindle due to the low price and an interest in reading the story from Lindy's perspective.
Lindy may be the "Beauty" figure in the story but she is not stunningly beautiful. She isn't ugly but neither is she presented as a sex bomb disguised as a Plain Jane. She is someone the reader can relate to.
When it comes to the story of 'Beauty and the Beast' there is a huge focus on the role of the girl. She is the one who is taken away. She is the one whom the sympathies of the reader should lie with. So, after enjoying stepping into the modern-day retelling of the story in 'Beastly' I was interested to see what a modern day "kidnapped" girl would have to write in her diary.
An important part of 'Beastly' was that Kyle had to learn that beauty was about what was inside and not all about looks. What interested me was that Lindy had her own variation of this lesson to learn. She might not have been shallow like Kyle but she was still drawn to Kyle's physical appearance.
What I most wanted to see was Lindy's take on living with the "Beast." There were plenty of references made to other adaptations of the original story, like the Disney film and 'The Phantom of the Opera' and "Stockholm" was not a word that was ignored. Flinn manages to write Lindy's voice in such a way that whether or not we can identify with her thought process is irrelevant, we see her own rationality in it.
'Lindy's Diary' is not a book I would recommend unless you have already read 'Beastly.' If you have and enjoyed it, go for it. You won't be disappointed.
I look forward to reading more of Alex Flinn's novels, particularly 'Cloaked.'
Mary Faber is an orphan, struggling to survive on the streets of London. When the HMS Dolphin docks, she disguises herself and is taken on as a ship's...moreMary Faber is an orphan, struggling to survive on the streets of London. When the HMS Dolphin docks, she disguises herself and is taken on as a ship's boy named "Jack."
With no wars to fight, the men do what they must - seek out pirates. Mary "Jacky" Faber has never considered herself to be very brave but she must do what she can in the face of bullies, pirates and worse.
Could Jacky be on her way to riches and respect? Or will she be found out and set off at the nearest port? Worse, the noose may wait for her...
I learned about this novel when I was participating in Script Frenzy. A girl in my region (New Zealand) was adapting it into a screenplay and said it was a favourite of hers. I wrote down the name and was determined to read it. It was never available at the library when I wanted it and so I didn't get around to it.
Before I left NZ, I bought my own paperback copy. Despite that, when I discovered 'Bloody Jack' on audio book and sampled it, I was soon to snatch it up. It is narrated by Katherine Kellgren but I didn't get around to listening to it until soon after I had bought and listened to another audio book narrated by her, 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.'
This is my first novel experience you might say - since I didn't really "read" the book - of the year. It was an excellent start.
I think that Jacky is a strong and worthy protagonist. Not because she is super brave or perfect. She isn't. It is because from the moment the story starts - and it is written in first person - she is such a powerful presence. Not in a boisterous sense but in that she struck me as a character I could empathise with and want to carry on through a novel with and perhaps even further.
Jacky has such a grabbing narrative voice. She talks all unrefined like and what have you, I guess you could say. She isn't a pathetic creature but she has this quiver of sensitivity and strength within her. I like how human she is. She's not defined by being a girl or her guise as a boy. She just is what she is and she always surprises in the best of ways. There is a great humour and sadness to her.
I think that if the novel did not have such a main character as Jacky to anchor it, along with the magnificent skills of L.A. Meyer, it would have fallen flat. It just goes to show that in the hands of a good writer and a worthy protagonist, a premise can stir to life and affect a reader where it otherwise might fall flat.
While I think I would have enjoyed the novel even if I had read it from the page, I have to give some credit to my liking for it to Katherine Kellgren. I was most impressed by how she handled the more tense and panicking moments and how she gave melody to songs that would have been tuneless words on a page to me otherwise.
'Bloody Jack' is a wondrous novel and I suggest the audio book to any of those who are inclined to listen to such things. I think I shall soon be listening to the next novel in the series, 'Curse of the Blue Tattoo.'
Alex Rider's uncle is killed in a collision...but the circumstances don't add up. Ian Rider may have only been a banker but he wouldn't forget to wear...moreAlex Rider's uncle is killed in a collision...but the circumstances don't add up. Ian Rider may have only been a banker but he wouldn't forget to wear a seat belt.
When Alex sees a man with a gun at his uncle's funeral and suspicious men around his house, he does his own research into Ian's death.
To his discovery, Ian Rider was no banker. He was a spy on an undercover mission. One that Alex must now complete.
Can Alex figure out the mystery of the Stormbreaker or is he destined to end his days as Double O Nothing?
I knew of the Alex Rider series because I had been aware that there had been a film adaptation of Stormbreaker and I had seen subsequent books in the series in stores but I had never been compelled to pick one up. The sole reason I purchased this audio book is because it was narrated by Nathaniel Parker, who narrates the Artemis Fowl series. If it's unabridged and read by Parker, I'll snatch it up.
There are so many books that I come across which revolve around a relationship or emotional drama. Stormbreaker is driven by an ever-moving chain of events and the high stakes Alex faces.
Alex Rider is a talented and quick-thinking individual. Thrust into high-risk situations, there are plenty of times when he could give up but he is strong and determined. Things are never easy for Alex and he faces obstacles to which others would easily succumb.
I assume that the prime minister who is mentioned in the novel is purely fictitious but that didn't keep me from imagining that he would be the prime minister from the time when Stormbreaker was set/published. The prime minister is never named, which is clever as it makes him more of a figure than a name. Since there has been all male prime ministers in the UK with one exception* it made his role in the story appropriately vague.
I was disappointed to discover that Parker only narrates the first novel in the series but I'd be interested to see Alex learn even more about his uncle's past in the series in and see more development and dynamics between him and other characters.
*The muggle prime minister in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is 100% fictitious because he was in office in 1981 when the UK had its only female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.
Could Nelson be in love with his best friend, Kyle? All Kyle ever talks about is Jason, the basketball jock. When Jason shows up to their Rainbow Yout...moreCould Nelson be in love with his best friend, Kyle? All Kyle ever talks about is Jason, the basketball jock. When Jason shows up to their Rainbow Youth group, everything changes.
All three boys must face their fears, whether it’s being rejected by their family, taking a chance on love or standing up for who they are…once they figure all that out, of course…and none of it is easy.
Along with ‘Hero’, ‘Rainbow Boys’ was one of the first LGBTQIAP books I came across online. Regardless, it took me ages to finally pick up and purchase the book. I’d seen plenty of Alex Sanchez’s books in stores and libraries before but not remembering which of the Rainbow series books came first, all I could think was, Uhh…which one do I read first?
Love triangles have always tested my scepticism and the “in love with the best friend” and “in love with the high school jock” might have seemed a bit generic but once I opened the book and started reading, I was hooked. The chapters alternate between the perspectives of the three boys. It starts with Jason the jock, the character who could have been the least sympathetic but whom I found was the most sympathetic.
All three characters are very well portrayed. They aren’t just caricatures but real teenage boys. Sanchez takes a story that in the wrong hands could have been cliché and tedious and turns it into something real and powerful.
The characters (and not just the protagonists but their friends and families) had their own flaws and made mistakes but they are all so well written. I was pulled into the story of ‘Rainbow Boys’ and devoured it.
One thing that I must note – if you are going to read Rainbow Boys, you should have the sequel on hand. There are two sequels to the novel, ‘Rainbow High’ and ‘Rainbow Road’, neither of which I have. I look forward to getting my mitts on and reading them as soon as possible, along with more of Sanchez’s novels.
(Note: I discovered that this book was actually adapted into a film in Thailand, alternately titled ‘Right By Me’. That is so awesome. I must find and watch it.)