This book captivated me from start to finish. You’d never know that this is a debut novel, as the writing is so compelling and flows beautifully. It...more This book captivated me from start to finish. You’d never know that this is a debut novel, as the writing is so compelling and flows beautifully. It’s sparse, but I feel that it really works with this story as it’s essentially a modern-day fairy tale and so the style doesn’t really lend itself to complexity. There’s so much packed into what is a relatively short novel, but none of it feels rushed – the plot moves along at a comfortable pace and there weren’t any slow parts for me. It did require a little suspension of belief as some of the things came together a little too easily, however this fits in with the general style of a fairy tale and so it really didn’t matter too much to me. The thing that makes this novel, though, is the characters. The main characters, Emily and Sam, are complete opposites, yet they are perfect for each other. It was really heart-wrenching to watch their relationship develop so quickly and then be torn apart. The main star of the show though, for me, was Riddle – Sam’s younger brother. I couldn’t help but feel protective towards the kid and he instilled in me a real emotional attachment to the story as a whole. After these three main characters came a host of other characters who had smaller, but still important, parts to play. The chapters in the book move around, telling the story from the perspectives of the different characters in the book and, where a new character is introduced, we find out how they came to be where they are before we find out how they fit into the story. I liked this, because it made for more believable characters and therefore a more believable story.
I loved this story and I took from it a message of hope and of faith in humanity. I will be on the lookout for future books from this author. (less)
I can see why people love it. The story just sucked me in and I devoured it in two sittings. I really liked Cassia and I cared about her right from th...moreI can see why people love it. The story just sucked me in and I devoured it in two sittings. I really liked Cassia and I cared about her right from the off. I think that the connection with her really pulled me through the book, because I was interested in the decisions she made and the ways in which those decisions affected her life – especially as this was in a society where decisions are often made for the inhabitants.
Dystopia is one of my favourite genres. I love the comparisons to our society and I like to speculate whether the society in the book is actually that fair removed from our own or is that far outside of the realm of possibility. I also like to wonder at the different aspects of the society and whether or not they would be beneficial to our own. Dystopic societies are generally spawned from an over-exaggerated attempt to create a Utopia and so there are usually at least a couple of elements that would be great to have as part of a society. In the case of this book, I do love that they have managed to pretty much eradicate diseases. As someone whose family has been touched a number of times by cancer and other diseases, this really appeals to me. Would I want to have a set date to die though? I’m not sure. I can see the benefits, but I don’t know if I’d ever be ready! I also kind of like the idea of being sorted into the job that suits your skills, although it would take away ambition and dreams. Still, it would be nice to just automatically fall into a job that you’re good at!
The relationships in the book fascinated me. I wanted to hate Cassia when she was falling in love with Ky, but I just couldn’t. I wanted to hate Ky, as I really liked Xander, but I couldn’t do that either. Damn these nice people!! Surely in love triangles someone is supposed to be the bad guy?! The thing is, with this particular triangle, it’s really hard to resist sympathising with both Cassia and Ky. As much as I liked Xander, I could see how it must have been hard for Cassia to come to terms with being matched with her best friend – even though at first glance it would seem like the perfect match, it must have been hard for her to consider him as anything but a friend.
The writing was good, better than many YA books I’ve read. The pace was steady, with some faster parts and some slower, but it flowed well. The construction of the Society was creative and thought-provoking and the relationships were believable. I can’t wait to read the second book!(less)
Sleeping Kings was a pleasant surprise for me. When I received the email pitch from the author, I wasn't sure if it would be for me, but I decided to...moreSleeping Kings was a pleasant surprise for me. When I received the email pitch from the author, I wasn't sure if it would be for me, but I decided to give it a go and I'm glad I did as I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a fantasy, adventure thriller aimed at a YA audience but I believe it can be enjoyed by anyone. It follows Nik, a teenage tomboy who ends up moving to the French Pyranees with her father when her mother decides to emigrate to America with her new boyfriend, whom Nik cannot stand. Whilst out on a mountain with school one day, she ends up meeting an ancient king who tells her that he needs her help to protect a secret that dates back 700 years from a group that are conspiring to uncover the secret and destroy the world. Pretty tough to take when you woke up in the morning thinking you'd just have a normal day at school, right? Nik enlists the help of her schoolmate and new friend, Daan, who knows the mountains and the countryside around them like the back of his hand and together they take on some pretty nasty people...
I liked this book because it combines fast paced adventure with historical information about the Cathar movement. I enjoy learning whilst I'm reading but some authors are unable to pull this off, making it boring to read despite their best efforts. This is certainly not the case with this book and I think that it will appeal to children, teens and adults alike. The characters of Nik and Daan are easy to relate to - Nik is an online-gaming addict who has a difficult relationship with her father and Daan is a friendly, caring boy who really cares about the environment around him (another great message delivered through this book without it feeling forced) and who loves an adventure.
My one issue with the book was the short chapters that were interspersed with the main chapters, telling a kind of side story about a place called 'Somewhere Else'. For me, they added nothing to the book and became more of an annoyance than anything else.
This is book one of a series and I think I will probably read the next book at some point. I would definitely recommend this to people looking for a fun read that is a little different to the books that seem to be dominating the market at the moment.(less)
When Kit splits up with her boyfriend, Billy, and he enrols in the army, she figures it’s time to leave Providence, Rhode Island to pursue her dream o...moreWhen Kit splits up with her boyfriend, Billy, and he enrols in the army, she figures it’s time to leave Providence, Rhode Island to pursue her dream of performing on Broadway. This story picks up in October 1950 in New York City, where Kit is performing in the chorus line of That Girl from Scranton! so – ok so it isn’t Broadway but she’s doing what she loves, right? Still, Kit is realising that life in New York isn’t quite all she expected and when Billy’s dad, Nate, turns up and offers her a helping hand in the form of a place to live and the possibility of a job she’s always dreamed of, it seems too good to be true. And it is. Nate wants Kit’s help in re-uniting him with his estranged son, and he’ll stop at nothing to make sure that it happens…
The cover of this book drew me to pick it up as soon as I saw it. The fact that it has a singer on the cover has a lot to do with that but I also loved that it immediately took me back in time. I have a lot of love for historical fiction and so when I found this book I was excited to read a historical YA novel. I wasn’t at all disappointed – I took this on holiday with me and it made the perfect beach read.
Blundell has clearly done her research with this book. I felt that she captured the essence of the time-period brilliantly in her book and every time I sat down with it I was transported to the showbiz world of 1950′s Broadway, with its gangsters and showgirls and the post-war atmosphere. It made me want to be there and experience the thrill and the glamour of it all. This was pure escapism and it was just what I needed to help me relax and unwind. The ‘issues’ of the time were addressed too – homosexuality, the Red Scare, mob feuds, attitudes towards women – but with subtlety and a lack of preachiness which makes it really accessible to teens.
The plot was nicely balanced between the character’s current-day and snippets of her past, and it made good variation. I liked the fact that we didn’t know everything that had gotten her to where she was upfront, instead we were drip-fed it throughout the story. It kept it interesting. The plot itself moved at a steady pace. There were some slow parts but these were few and far between and didn’t really impact my enjoyment of the story overall. The story, for the most part, was pretty straight but then in the latter third of the book the action really picked up and it was one twist after another.
Kit herself, was a tricky one for me. Sometimes I liked her and sometimes I wanted to slap her – is anyone really THAT naive? Yet there was something about her that endeared her to me. Nate, on the other hand. irritated me to the point where I felt like throwing the book across the room. I didn’t really feel either way for Billy. There were points where I felt for him and there were points where he annoyed me but mostly I was indifferent. I felt that there could have been more character building where he was concerned.
The only thing that spoiled it for me was that the ending felt a little rushed and a little too neat. All of the loose ends were tied up perfectly in the space of a few paragraphs and, given that this is a 350 page book, I felt like the author could have taken more time over that aspect. Aside from that, this would have earned 5 stars from me.(less)
The premise for this book was good and the author had clearly done her research into the history of Guernsey. I learned a lot about the island's past...moreThe premise for this book was good and the author had clearly done her research into the history of Guernsey. I learned a lot about the island's past and this was a saving grace because to be honest I didn't enjoy too much of the rest of the book. I found the constant jumping back and forward in time to be confusing and a hinderance to the enjoyment of the book. Contrary to many other reviewers, I did like the voice of Cathy - yes, she was angsty, but so are most teenagers and I guess I'm used to this as I read a lot of YA. I liked that she was fiesty. On the other hand, I couldn't connect at all with Charles, which I found really annoying as his story makes up at least a third of the book.
In all, this was an ok read, but I felt a little let down as I'd heard lots of buzz and was expecting to enjoy it a lot more than I did. (less)
What I love about YA novels is that they grab you from the beginning and don't let go until the end. This book was no exception. It made me question m...moreWhat I love about YA novels is that they grab you from the beginning and don't let go until the end. This book was no exception. It made me question my point of view the whole way through and really made me wonder how far I would go to protect the people I love.
This is a romance story intertwined with an ongoing investigation into an alleged rape. Whilst I want to say I enjoyed the book, it would be the wrong word because is it possible to actually enjoy a book that deals with such a sensitive subject? Anyway, I think the author handled it well and managed to put the thoughts, emotions, feelings and everything else that goes with it across without going into graphic detail.
The main characters were really well developed and I thought Mikey, in particular, was a character that I really grew to like. Whilst I didn't agree with everything he thought and did, it was blatantly obvious how much he cared about his family, especially his youngest sister Holly. Reading about his interactions with her really touched my heart as often in books we don't get to see this side of male characters.
The plot was fast moving and I read it in two sittings. It didn't affect me as much as her previous book, Before I Die, but nonetheless it was a gripping read and I was hooked all the way through.,(less)
Swim the Fly follows three teenage boys who, every year, set themselves a goal for the summer. This year's goal is to see a real life naked girl. The...moreSwim the Fly follows three teenage boys who, every year, set themselves a goal for the summer. This year's goal is to see a real life naked girl. The book charts their attempts to complete this mission, with plenty of laughs along the way. It's told from the viewpoint of Matt, who has another challenge of his own - to swim the 100 yard butterfly in his swim-team's championship relay race in order to impress the new girl on the team.
It's an interesting peek into the mind of a teenage boy and, as expected, sometimes I really wished that I wasn't in the mind of a teenage boy! There were some parts that were a little disgusting but mostly it was entertaining. The points of view and general thoughts and conversations that take place between the three hormone-fuelled boys had me laughing out loud in parts. I even had sympathy for them in parts of the book - was cringing at some of the scrapes they got themselves into!!!
The plot and dialogue are fast-paced and the pages just kept turning. I finished it in a few sittings and I could have easily read more. I loved the adolescent humour and, considering most of the YA books I read have a female protagonist, it was nice to read things from the male perspective!(less)
It was the cover of this book that initially caught my eye whilst I was browsing the books in my local supermarket. I think it's beautiful. Something...moreIt was the cover of this book that initially caught my eye whilst I was browsing the books in my local supermarket. I think it's beautiful. Something about it screamed "pick me up!" so I did.
This book is very much a voyage of discovery and as such I can't really say too much about the plot without giving spoilers. So I won't - the blurb is enough.
This is pretty powerful for a debut novel. It got me so hooked that I read it in two sittings - I would have read it in one but I started it before going to bed and I was so tired that I just had to put it down!
Although this book deals with some serious and sensitive topics, she does so without going into too much detail, which I think is a good thing to do in this novel - she's not preaching, she's not trying to offer answers or theories, she's just writing about it and letting the reader make up their own minds. Grace is pretty damaged, psychologically, and it's a very emotional ride as she tries to remember exactly what happened to get her where she is now.
The writing is brilliant. The author has really managed to get into Grace's head and the book is pretty much a stream of consciousness. The writing reflects how confused Grace is and, as she starts to put the pieces together, the writing gets more consistant and spends less time jumping between the past and present. Grace has many flaws, but the book wouldn't be what it is without them and, as much as I felt like I should hate her, I really couldn't. I guess it's because I related to her in so many ways. I think that's one of the great things about this book - most people reading will be able to relate to some part of her story. At times I wanted to shout at her and ask her what the hell she was thinking, but most of the time I just wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be ok. I was very emotionally involved in this book from start to finish, especially at the finish. It wasn't an easy book to read, by any means, but it was well worth reading and, despite the seriousness of the content, still managed to make me laugh.
I really want to talk about the twist, but I can't without giving spoilers and so I'll just say that I didn't see it coming, but once it was out there it made a lot of sense. This is the kind of twist that makes you think OH! and completely changes your whole take on the preceding story.
Cat Clarke is a talented writer and, after reading this brilliant debut, I can't wait to read more of her work. (less)
This is, by far, the best book of the Twilight saga. I read the first 500 pages over the course of a few hours (split over 2 days). I couldn't put it...moreThis is, by far, the best book of the Twilight saga. I read the first 500 pages over the course of a few hours (split over 2 days). I couldn't put it down and was really sad when it finished. Bella's character was really well developed throughout this book and I was definitely rooting for her throughout! Brilliant escapism!(less)
After loving the Harry Potter series, I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book. To be honest it wasn't anything special. I enjoyed the origi...moreAfter loving the Harry Potter series, I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book. To be honest it wasn't anything special. I enjoyed the original fairy tales and, having read it after the HP series, I liked the parallels it had to the original books. That said, it didn't enthral me and I won't be clamouring to recommend this to anyone.(less)
Being a teenager is hard enough without being moved to a new town and a new school where you don’t know anybody and no-one wants to talk to the new gi...moreBeing a teenager is hard enough without being moved to a new town and a new school where you don’t know anybody and no-one wants to talk to the new girl. Alice finds it difficult to fit in and so when she has the opportunity to go back to her old town for the summer she jumps at the chance. Whilst she’s there she meets one of the popular girls from her old school, who invites her to a party. Having never been part of the popular crowd, Alice is excited to be invited and accepts the invitation. Unfortunately for her, this proves to be a bad decision as this is where she is, unknowingly, turned on to drugs. This book is a diary of her ensuing journey with drugs and chronicles her life as addiction takes hold.
This is supposedly based on a true story, however over the years there has been some controversy over whether this is the case. Regardless of whether or not it’s factual, it’s an absorbing read. It was heartbreaking to see Alice’s decline as the addiction took hold and the torment she went through as she tried time and time again to break the habit. What is clear throughout is that Alice knows that drugs are wrong and she hates herself for needing them, but the desire to take them is, ultimately, stronger than her desire to quit. I really liked Alice and so I became emotionally invested in the decisions she made throughout the book and went from rooting for her to screaming at her in the course of a page.
I wouldn’t say that the writing is good, but then, if it is a true account, how good could you really expect the writing to be from someone who is using drugs? What I will say though, is that despite this being written in the 60s, the story is still very true today. I have been lucky enough to only have had limited exposure to drugs, however I know of people who have been down this path and I know the devastating affect it can have on the lives of everyone involved.
If I had read this book as a teenager, especially in my early teens, I can see how it may have seemed glamourous to run away from home and live the life of a ‘grown-up’ whilst still so young, however reading it now, I’m horrified that this may the impression the book gives. I think all teenagers should read this as part of their drug education, however I don’t think it’s suitable for younger teams.
Overall, I’m glad I read it. Although I know of people who have been down this path, it’s been an eye-opener to see it from their perspective. (less)
I wish I hadn't spent money on this book. It just didn't draw me in. As it's a novella there isn't really much room for character development and so i...moreI wish I hadn't spent money on this book. It just didn't draw me in. As it's a novella there isn't really much room for character development and so it falls a little flat. The story just kind of meanders along and although it has a direction and an ultimate conclusion, it still feels like nothing much actually happens. It was an ok read, but after enjoying the first three Twilight books, I expected more.(less)
I picked this up from the library as I loved Kate Cann's books when I was in my early teens and so I wanted to see if I would still enjoy them. The on...moreI picked this up from the library as I loved Kate Cann's books when I was in my early teens and so I wanted to see if I would still enjoy them. The ones I read were coming of age/romance, whereas this is more a supernatural/thriller.
I enjoyed it. It wasn't anything special, the writing wasn't spectacular, but it was fun and was the perfect book to lose myself in after my previous heavier read. I liked the character of Rayne and could empathise with her wanting to get away from it all for a while. The plotline kept me guessing until almost the end and I wasn't expecting the twist.(less)