Trust in Me is Wait for You told from Cam’s point of view... which sounds more exciting than it actually is.
I did enjoy this book, but certainly not...moreTrust in Me is Wait for You told from Cam’s point of view... which sounds more exciting than it actually is.
I did enjoy this book, but certainly not as much as I thought I would. Wait for You, despite its predictability and lack of originality, was pure entertainment for me, whereas Trust in Me, essentially the same story retold, had much more work to do. This time around, I wasn’t turning the pages for the story (I knew it all already), and so felt there was little to hold onto at first. It takes a while for Cam’s voice to catch up with the personality formed in Wait for You, and with the repetitiveness of the plot, this book does carry a bit of a pointless feel at times.
It isn’t long-lived, however, and Cam does eventually manage to turn the entertainment-factor up a notch. While I can’t say that I was ever fully engrossed or impressed, there is a certain sweetness to the romance that makes it enjoyable to experience again. It’s interesting to see things from Cam’s point of view, despite that removing some of the mystery, but I imagine that this would have worked even better had there been a larger portion of new scenes (i.e those that we haven’t already experienced in Wait for You through Avery’s point of view).
Ultimately though, I don’t feel like I’ve gained a great deal from reading this. It’s a quick and fairly satisfying book, but not much more. (less)
“We need the powerful ones... Because it’s coming. It’s coming and they can stop it.”
Creativity abounds in Laure Eve’s Fearsome Dreamer. It’...more3.5 stars
“We need the powerful ones... Because it’s coming. It’s coming and they can stop it.”
Creativity abounds in Laure Eve’s Fearsome Dreamer. It’s an unquestionably ambitious and imaginative debut novel, full of interesting ideas and comfortably touching on a blend of different genres. The series potential is clear from the start, and the cinematic potential clear soon after. It’s the sort of read that I imagine escapists will cherish, and the sort of book that I imagine could be perfect with just a little more work. I certainly had a lot of fun reading it, in immersing myself in such an original world, but I do think there is definite room for improvement.
The high points lie in interweaving of the diverse range of concepts. We have a little of everything – magic, politics, dreamwalking, domed cities, virtual reality realms, romance, and more! The story unravels in a world where an alternate history has led to England becoming Angle Tar, a fiercely independent and isolated island. This is where main character and apprentice hedgewitch Vela Rue lives with her dreams and daydreams of sprites and freshwater mermaids. The rest is World, an alliance of countries and the once war-enemy of Angle Tar. In World, where travel and transport is unheard of, the only place for fantasy is in Life, a virtual reality realm reached via implant. This is where we meet White, a Jumper and one of the Talented, while he is arrested for allegedly conspiring with the Technophobes. Connecting them together is a man named Frith, a recruiter of Talented, and an Angle Tarain agent for the mysterious Castle.
It’s a complicated creation that Laure Eve has churned together here, but definitely an exciting and absorbing one. Much of our time is spent in Angle Tar, in a Capital university with a department for the training and development of Talent. It’s here that Rue and White meet, both being one of the rare Talented who can Jump and transport themselves in the blink of an eye. We follow the story from both points of view – and also from Frith’s perspective, too – and get a glimpse into their tense relationship from all sides. With Rue being quite petulant at times (or ignorant and wistful as others have called it), and White being a mostly hard-bitten and careful character, their personalities are almost opposites and create one of my favourite setups for a romance. Although the characters here are not outstandingly easy to connect with at first, I do like them all, and think that Eve has put the third person narrative to use rather well.
The story does get off to a slow start. Not a great deal takes place plot-wise until the very end of the journey, but even then the progression feels disappointingly slight (particularly for such a grand idea of a book). The climactic point isn’t as pronounced as might be expected, and instead, we’re left with what essentially feels more like an introductory novel to the next book – rather than a strong first instalment. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the stakes have been laid and are on the verge of playing a more important role in the sequel. (Hopefully we’ll see a little more forward momentum with the last-minute fuel added on the final page.) Something else that I think could do with some polishing here is the handling and indication of the passage of time. There is a slight lack of fluidity and structure to the tale on occasion, which perhaps goes hand in hand with the poor plot movement. I also noticed some issues with tense – for example, during recounts, and the transitions in and out of these.
Another thing that takes some getting used to is the prose and dialogue, particularly when we’re with Rue. Eve’s play on language comes across somewhat stiff and awkward at first – with the ‘hit and miss grammar’ as White helpfully calls it – but it does fit the characters and the tone of the story quite nicely after a while. There are still brief moments when the overuse of ‘well’ and ‘so’ make little sense at all, and moments when a misplaced comma results in an awkward sentence construction, but I imagine that the more flexible of readers will be able to ignore this easily enough. The only one other area that I think could be slightly better is the world-building. The overarching concepts and ideas are fantastic, but the actual execution, and the nitty-gritty details that make it count, could be just a little more enhanced. The descriptions are lacking a precision or detail necessary for painting a vivid mental picture. I still don’t feel like I quite know what the different parts of Angle Tar look like.
Those things aside – and they are quite a few things, admittedly! – I do think Fearsome Dreamer is a perfectly solid and decent read. It might not have been perfect (and I hope that the next book will be stronger), but for a first attempt, it’s not bad at all. What was lacking here was just about made up for with Laure Eve’s exciting and fresh imagination. I’m sure that I’ll be following the rest of the series.
This was fantastic! Such a masterfully told and wonderfully written story, and quite unlike anything that I've read in a...more4.5 stars for the second half.
This was fantastic! Such a masterfully told and wonderfully written story, and quite unlike anything that I've read in a while too.
Brilliant attention to detail, from the historical setting to the Icelandic culture and names (though I must confess that I butchered much of the pronunciation to begin with).
The only slight issue I had is that it took me a handful of chapters to fully invest in the story. Other than that, I really couldn't be more impressed. Burial Rites is a remarkable debut novel from a brilliantly talented author. I sure hope it will get the attention that it undoubtedly deserves. (less)
This was fantastic! Although a lot of the fanfiction snippets eventually ended up boring me ever so slightly (I resorted to skimming, I must confess),...moreThis was fantastic! Although a lot of the fanfiction snippets eventually ended up boring me ever so slightly (I resorted to skimming, I must confess), I thought the main story was wonderfully engaging and well-written.
And THE CHARACTERS. I don't think Rainbow Rowell could have done any more of a better job here. Cath was scarily and beautifully relatable, the secondary roles were strong and relevant, and Levi (who kind of reminded me a little of Etienne St. Clair at times) just about made me fall in love with receding hairlines.
“The natural world is so adaptable... So adaptable you wonder what's natural.”
Feed, to put it simply, is disturbing. This book gives us an almost apa...more“The natural world is so adaptable... So adaptable you wonder what's natural.”
Feed, to put it simply, is disturbing. This book gives us an almost apathetic look into an entirely conceivable future – a future where technology is everything and corporations own as much as the schools and clouds. Though, first and foremost, this is a book about a teenager. This is a book about Titus, a boy linked to the Feed, and his group of friends as they travel to the moon to have fun. But the moon turned out to completely suck...
This is not a conventional sci-fi read. In fact, this not a conventional read, period. Titus is a bizarre, cold character, whose emotions can hardly be labelled as such. Whether his distance is just Titus being Titus, or a result of the Feed running through his thoughts, and the consequent barrage of advertisements, is difficult to say. What’s obvious is that Titus, like his friends, is used to the Feed’s presence. In this futuristic world, the computer and internet are as much a part of our living bodies as our hearts and lungs, and, in some ways, nearly as vital as our organs. Imagine having Google in your head. As scary as some of the implications may be, it’s a thrilling possibility that promises ease and practicality. Am I the only one who still reads with a dictionary on hand? I know I could do with Dictionary.com in my head. There are other aspects here that make perfect sense, such as mental chatting. We went from letters to emails. From emails to instant messaging. Are technology-aided mental conversations really too difficult to imagine?
For Titus and his friends, the Feed is as natural as their own stream of consciousness. They chat without needing to open their mouths, they tune into their favourite feedcast, Oh? Wow! Thing!, and let corporations map their consumer profiles perfectly. The language here is full of futuristic slang, with terms such as ‘spit’, ‘null’ and ‘brag’ complementing the simplistic run-on sentences full of likes and da da das:
“So one time I said to her that she should stop reading it, because it was just depressing, so she was like, But I want to know what’s going on, so I was like, Then you should do something about it. It’s a free country. You should do something. She was like, Nothing’s ever going to happen in a two-party system. She was like, da da da, nothing’s ever going to change, both parties are in the pocket of big business, da da da, all that? So I was like, You got to believe in the people, it’s a democracy, we can change things. She was like, It’s not a democracy.”
Believe it or not, the writing works remarkably well overall, giving Feed a fairly distinct satirical edge. It’s different, even if completely strange, and sure to be the reason why I remember this book in a few months’ time. Nevertheless, I can see people easily being discouraged here, but, then again, it’s clear that this book was not meant to appeal to all. It requires ample amounts of reading between the lines, of realising that the subtle glimpses into our own buried world are what matter the most here. M.T. Anderson has little interest in being explicit.
Feed is over ten years old (with a new edition out very soon), yet still a book that holds some level of relevance. Anderson discusses the progression made over the last decade in his author’s note, and it’s this, more than anything, that gave me chills in the end.
Since falling (quite madly) in love with Stolen: A Letter to My Captor last year, Lucy Christopher’s The Killing Woods could not have been any more desperately anticipated. Wonderfully, and much to my huge relief, this book is nothing short of fantastic. It’s clever, atmospheric and beautifully-written, perfectly paced and complete with a compelling cast of intriguing characters. Best of all, and unlike so many other titles in this genre thus far, it’s entirely unpredictable. THIS is how you write a good mystery.
The story is full of suspense, and centres around the murder of teenager Ashlee Parker. In The Killing Woods our main character is Emily Shepherd, the daughter of the confused ex-soldier that stumbled from the woods with Ashlee Parker’s body in his arms. Running in parallel to Emily’s determination to believe in her father’s innocence is Damon Hilary’s story, a very different look at the murder mystery from the perspective of Ashlee Parker’s boyfriend. A concoction of secrecy and uncertainty comes from the murky mind of the boy that happened to be with Ashlee the night that she died. An aching tale of desperation and loyalty comes from the girl that simply wishes to put her family back together. It’s not long before Emily’s and Damon’s stories intertwine, and not long before the mystery unravels in ways neither one of them suspects.
One of the strongest aspects of this book stems from Lucy Christopher’s ability to write. She has a magical way with words, one that is simultaneously subtle and powerful, and one that brings to life the most mundane and average of things. Ashlee’s murder takes place in Darkwood, a place that Lucy Christopher describes astonishingly well. Like in Stolen, where the Australian outback was a vivid and animated creation, Darkwood in The Killing Woods is almost a character in itself. The wet leaves, the wildlife, the mud and natural quiet; it’s all fantastically incorporated into the story and creates a vibrant and atmospheric setting. Along with that is Christopher’s effortlessly enthralling ability to keep a mystery alive. The plot is clever and carefully paced in all the right places, ensuring a consistent and discreet tension throughout.
“He’s in the woods, waiting for me. The forest is bright with moonlight, and I’m running fast down tiny pathways, following his trail. I stop and listen, but all I can hear are words in my head… singsong. If you go down to the woods today...”
The actual revelation is not a startlingly jaw-dropping moment, but rather a slow build to an ingenious and tense scene. The Killing Woods is the sort of book that keeps you constantly guessing and unsure of who to trust. When a twisted and shadowy Game is brought into the picture, the characters become all the more dark and inscrutable, particularly Damon Hilary. His and Emily’s relationship is just as compelling and difficult to encode as the rest of the book. The alternating perspectives allow us to get close to both of them, to wish that both can reach the conclusion that gives them the most chance of a happy ending. Christopher brilliantly works both characters’ situations into your heart, even though they are ultimately on opposite sides. The psychological aspect of this sinister whodunit is really quite flawless.
I can’t say that I was as emotionally affected by this book as I was with Stolen, but even so, it’s a pretty stunning read. It’s gripping and thoroughly engaging, in exactly the way that I expect all good thrillers and mysteries to be. The ending particularly blew me away (with its simplicity and perfect closure), and it makes me hope that Lucy Christopher will never stop writing books.
“Hope is the most treacherous thing in the world. It lifts you and lets you plummet.”
In the past, there have been many books that have left me feelin...more“Hope is the most treacherous thing in the world. It lifts you and lets you plummet.”
In the past, there have been many books that have left me feeling completely shattered, and several more that have pushed me to the edge of intense grief and sorrow, but very few have managed to truly make me cry hard and long. My tears are reserved for rare occasions, but I’ll happily shed them all for Elizabeth Wein. Where Code Name Verity impressed me with its clever storytelling, sharp characters and stunningly-researched historical setting, Rose Under Fire proved it could do all of those things and just a little more. Maddie and Julie’s story remains unquestionably inspirational and extraordinary, but Rose Justice’s tale speaks to me on a delicately more personal level. I was an emotional mess while reading this. Heartbroken and utterly exhausted, but completely and beautifully moved.
This war-period book is split into a handful of sections, with the large majority of it focusing on a young Air Transport Auxiliary pilot’s horrific stay in enemy territory. Written in journal format, it tells the story of Rose Justice, a transporter of aircraft for the RAF, who is caught at the wrong place at the wrong time and then forced to face the brutal consequences. It’s a harsh and painfully convincing ride from start to finish, but the outcome of Rose Justice’s journey is made clear to us fairly early on (before it truly begins, in fact). In some ways, this diminishes the level of suspense (and perhaps makes Rose Under Fire a fraction less tightly-plotted than Code Name Verity), but there is quite honestly little need for it. The events we read about are hard-hitting enough – from the ache and emptiness following the happenings of the war, to the tough reality of day-to-day survival at Ravensbrück, the women's concentration camp.
“…we moved hundreds of corpses this winter. We lifted them out of the bunks and undressed them. We stacked them in rows on the floor of the mortuary. We carried them out to our handcarts and hauled then to the crematorium and unloaded them again. But I don’t remember the first time I did it.”
What completely sets this book apart is Wein’s depiction of the prisoners and workers at the camp. The gradual bond between Rose and the other women is, as simply as can be put, extremely uplifting and heartfelt. There are a lot of disturbing and gut-wrenchingly awful aspects to life at Ravensbrück – beatings, shearing, fleabites, typhoid, starvation, experimental surgery, strafstehen, punishment standing – but the fierce love and loyalty that this group of strangers have for one another is almost unbearably affecting. They share their beds and their socks. They sing songs together, daydream together, and recite stories and poems over soup. They fashion Christmas presents for each other out of string, paper and other precious scraps… And it’s horrible. It’s really completely horrible knowing that death is an inevitable part of a story like this.
Rose is a brilliantly solid character to stick with throughout it all. She is not unrealistically brave – she cries and sobs and collapses from exhaustion as any other person would, given the circumstances – but the compassion, endurance and basic humanity that follows her through to the end makes investing in her entirely effortless. It’s incredible and shattering watching her develop and grow. It’s heart-breaking to see her comparing and contrasting her imprisonment to her old life in Pennsylvania, where she had two younger brothers, and used to swim and cook and play basketball. More than anything, she is real. She is as believable and tangible as any character can be.
It is difficult to ignore the fact that so much of Rose Under Fire is based on our own historical reality. That is the challenging part – reading this book and thinking about what people are, and have been, capable of. It’s certainly emotionally draining, but an undoubtedly spectacular read that deserves all the recognition and more. I truly loved it.
A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings? It sounds a great deal more interesting than it actually is.
Tumble & Fall is a strang...moreA novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings? It sounds a great deal more interesting than it actually is.
Tumble & Fall is a strange book, and not for many positive reasons. It’s far less about the asteroid and the end of the world, and far more about the everyday lives of three (largely) unrelated characters. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I have to say. I firmly believe that there is nothing wrong with simple, understated plots, but I do think it depends on the storytelling and I do think it depends on the characters. When it comes to family issues, having dinner, reacquainting with old friends, and all the other mundane and ordinary aspects of existence, I need to be completely invested in lives of these fictional characters. If it isn’t about how to save the world or how to prevent an inevitable global catastrophe, I need it to be about something else. I need that something else to be compelling enough to read. Unfortunately, for me, this is where Tumble & Fall completely fails.
We are given lingering glimpses into the last few days of the lives of three different teenagers. Sienna is the first character that we meet, a recovering rehab patient who moves back in with her family and discovers that her dad is planning to remarry. The next is Zan, who has nothing whatsoever to do with Sienna, and who is mourning the death of her boyfriend and dealing with a newfound grief when she inadvertently learns that he might have been cheating on her. Our final main character is Caden, a boy with an alcoholic for a mother, and a boy who finds himself kidnapped by the father who walked away from him years previously.
The changing, third person narrative makes connecting with each of these characters incredibly challenging, which in turn makes each of their stories mind-numbingly dull, particularly as they do not connect at all. Boring is a frustratingly accurate word for this book. Sienna, Zan and Caden all lack the level of depth and likeability that is necessary for a story like this. Instead, we have forgettable personalities and stiff, unbelievable relationships. The romantic plots, although mostly slight, do very little to make their stories any more convincing or absorbing. Caden’s situation is the most difficult of all to appreciate, and his character even more so. I can’t say that I grew to like any of them entirely, but I was very nearly tempted to skip Caden’s sections altogether.
The writing is not particularly bad – it isn’t bad at all, in fact – but there is a difference between someone who can correctly put sentences together and someone who is a good storyteller. For me, Alexandra Coutts just simply does not fall into the second category. With the simplicity of the plot, her prose should have been one of the main driving forces, but it ultimately turns out to be little more than empty, lifeless words. The one part that I did like, however, comes in the very final pages of the story. There is a slight atmospheric touch to the writing at the end, making it a fraction more stirring than rest of book. It isn’t quite enough to be redeeming though, unfortunately.
I guess my biggest issue with this book is that I just don’t get it. I don’t get why an asteroid would have to feature in a story like this at all. I don’t get why the author didn’t choose to write a straightforward contemporary book, without the complications of an impending disaster that doesn’t particularly propel the plot in any way. It could simply be a case of me being the wrong reader (and I do wonder if it is), which is why I’ll leave a link to Danielle’s lovely review, for those who want to get a different perspective. Personally, though, I think my first book by Alexandra Coutts will have to be my last.
The Boys of Summer is, in a sense, exactly what I’ve been craving at the moment, despite not realising it. This is the perfect sit-back-and-r...more3.5 stars
The Boys of Summer is, in a sense, exactly what I’ve been craving at the moment, despite not realising it. This is the perfect sit-back-and-relax read that, even with its flaws, is sure to draw an easy smile to the face.
Set in an Australian town in the 1990s, C.J. Duggan’s novel focuses on three teenage friends, Adam, Ellie and Tess, and their summer together before the start of Year Twelve. Tess, our main character, is hardly thrilled at the prospect of a summertime job at the local pub, but is quickly roped into the idea by her two best friends. It’s while waitressing at the Onslow Hotel that she meets her long-time crush, 22-year-old Toby Morrison, and his small group of friends, who soon become known as the Onslow Boys. With this, we have a summer read that ticks all the boxes: laughter, friendship, sun and warmth. The Boys of Summer is quick and fun, and exactly as one might expect a book with such a premise to turn out.
The strongest (well, certainly my favourite) aspect of this story is the relationship between Adam, Ellie and Tess. Almost immediately, it is clear that Duggan understands this age group perfectly. The three have distinct personalities that complement each other well. Ellie is confident, outgoing and comfortable with the opposite sex. Tess is almost her opposite, a little more reserved and timid, but not lacking social skills. Adam is the glue; the clown that knows exactly what to say and when, someone who is full of witty comments and jokes. Despite the differences between them, this is a genuine and heart-felt friendship. It is the sort that can be valued.
The Onslow Boys provide another interesting look at friendship. Despite being five years older than Tess and her friends, there is a natural sense of camaraderie between the two groups. Romance is quick to follow for Ellie, and slowly, eventually, it reaches Tess too. Believe it or not, the 20-something men here are nice guys, mature when they need to be, but essentially young and care-free otherwise. With the banter and candid warmth effortlessly drifting between them and the girls, it is not too difficult appreciating the Onslow Boys’ role in this story. It is Toby Morrison that we get to know a little more than the others. Tess and Toby’s relationship is a sweet thing. There is a little of everything – light-hearted teasing, flirting, tension and seriousness. The romance is a large part of this book and Duggan, for the most part, weaves it into the plot nicely.
The issues I had with this book are all minor things, but there are quite a few of them, nonetheless. Towards the latter half of the book, the storyline takes a far more dramatic turn. This isn’t necessarily a fault, but something to note, particularly for those who prefer teenage drama to be kept to a minimum. Another is the fact Tess is, quite typically, a love interest magnet. Although this book is essentially triangle-free, an unrealistic number of boys show a romantic interest in her. Best-friend Adam even kisses her at one point, which is a little perplexing…
But, as mentioned, these are insignificant blemishes. The Boys of Summer is still a wonderful and much-appreciated break from weightier books. The sequel, An Endless Summer, is due out later this year, and I will keep it on standby for a rainy day.
(view spoiler)[The ending felt a little rushed to me. (hide spoiler)]... But other than that, and a few moments of lapse during the middle, I really e...more(view spoiler)[The ending felt a little rushed to me. (hide spoiler)]... But other than that, and a few moments of lapse during the middle, I really enjoyed this! Definitely a fun and quick summer read. (less)
(view spoiler)[Ask me tomorrow and I’ll probably say it’s Michael. Tell me to read Spark again, and it will defi...moreNick Merrick is my favourite Merrick.
(view spoiler)[Ask me tomorrow and I’ll probably say it’s Michael. Tell me to read Spark again, and it will definitely be Gabriel. (hide spoiler)] I just love them all, okay?
The book description here is transparent, but not in an infuriating way. In a few dozen pages, Brigid Kemmerer makes me fall in love with Nick Merrick all over again, though in an entirely different manner. His relationship with Quinn is briefly explored and the result is an interesting one. Along the way, we uncover Nick’s buried feelings – or lack of – and watch as he battles through the confusion and emerges just as wonderful and layered as when we left him. Though, I have to admit, (view spoiler)[it saddens me a little that I can no longer have him… (hide spoiler)](view spoiler)[Not that I could have in the first place with Nick being fictional and all… but you know what I mean. (hide spoiler)]
I’m eager to see where Adam fits into the future instalments of the Elemental series. The slight taste we get of him here promises further swoon and romance, and we all know how Kemmerer excels in this area.
On the whole, a very quick and satisfying novella! I’m ready for more Merrick soon. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Heart-warming, beautifully written and wonderfully Australian. These are characters I will not be forgetting any time soon (view spoiler)[esp...more4.5 stars
Heart-warming, beautifully written and wonderfully Australian. These are characters I will not be forgetting any time soon (view spoiler)[especially Silence (hide spoiler)]. A very special story, indeed.