I am fast becoming a rather big fan of Kristin Cashore’s writing. You could be forgiven for thinking that book two iReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I am fast becoming a rather big fan of Kristin Cashore’s writing. You could be forgiven for thinking that book two in her Graceling Kingdom series would have the same world building we’ve already seen in Graceling. But, Cashore has cleverly crafted an additional rich and exotic world layered onto the clever landscape she has already depicted. I think it’s also fair to say if you really don’t need to have read Graceling to pick this book up. They could both quite happily be viewed as two separate stand-alone stories. I actually kind of wish there was more overlap, perhaps we will see this in Bitter Blue, the third book in the series.
Fire, our heroine lives in the Dells and she is the only living human monster. Monsters are vividly coloured, compelling and utterly beautiful version of normal animals, with mind control abilities. Think magenta horses, turquoise and gold tabby cats or bright green raptors.
Fire is a monster woman with red, gold and magenta hair, she hates that she’s stunningly beautiful, that some people lose their minds when they see her, wanting to possess her, to marry her, or there are those that would just prefer to kill her. She hates that she can control people with her mind, and every time she goes out she has to have a guard as animal monsters simply want to eat her. Or perhaps even worse than all of this, is the dark and cruel legacy her monster father has left before her.
This book truly vivid setting that completely draws you in. The world building is complex, rich and engaging. Even now, there is one scene where Fire rides out on her horse to save a group of soldiers and I can see it in my mind’s eye with almost cinematic quality.
The prologue actually began with Leck, a prequel to the cruel and evil King we meet in Graceling, and I found myself a little disappointed at first. Thinking to myself, we’ve met this baddie, we’re done with this baddie, I want a new one! But in actually first, as soon as I was over my initial irritation, once again Leck does most effectively wear his wicked crown. Thankfully, Fire also delivers with it plenty of additional villains to keep you entertained.
If I’m honest, I think I preferred Katsa from Graceling as a heroine, and I found I couldn’t help comparing them. But Fire did really grow on me, her sense of right and wrong, her repeated self-sacrifice, and the affection she feels for those she calls friends, even when those friends are not always kind to her demonstrated her a real strength of character. She became a solid heroine in her own right.
In addition, Cashore has created a rich array of characters, each so completely three-dimensional their flaws as important as their nicer qualities. For example, Archer, Fire’s best friend is one of these, he is noble, brave and full of love, but at the same time grumpy and impetuous. It’s also interesting to watch how Fire’s mesmerising beauty and mind control abilities play into these relationships. Where does the line between love and infatuation lie?
The love story was a real slow burner, and I mean real slow burner, have patience until the very end kind of one. But I think it would be hard for anyone not to fall for the brave, dedicated, honourable general that is Brigan. By the end I found I did want to see more of the two of them together, and that their scenes were just a touch too short for my satisfaction.
Technically, as Fire is 17, this is probably viewed as a YA novel. But as the rest of the characters were in their early 20s, and each had such huge responsibilities – a King, a general, warriors, a military strategist, the King’s sister responsible for running the kingdom, I think it’s fair to say that this is definitely on the older side of YA and not really a problem for me who generally steers clear of them.
Another great book from Cashore and for audiobook fans, also a well narrated story. I think I loved Graceling slightly more, but I think this is more to do with Katsa being awesome rather than due to any deficiency in Fire. I would recommend fantasy fans most definitely add this series to your reading list if you haven’t already.
I’ve wanted to read UNDER THE NEVER SKY for a while. If you remember it was on my ‘Top 10 ‘Must Have’ Books 2012′. IReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I’ve wanted to read UNDER THE NEVER SKY for a while. If you remember it was on my ‘Top 10 ‘Must Have’ Books 2012′. I’ve seen some great reviews of it, but I also had a certain amount of trepidation about picking it up. Mainly to be honest because it’s a YA novel, but also because I wanted it to be good! But of course, like so many other readers I loved it, and read it in less than two days.
Following the recent trend for Dystopia, UNDER THE NEVER SKY tells the story of Aria. Aria has grown up and spent her entire life cocooned in Reverie, an enclosed and protected city that is entirely reliant on technology. After an event she is expelled to the world outside also referred to as ‘the death shop’. She believe she won’t last more than a few days outside, told that the very air will kill her.
There she meets Perry. Perry is wild, a hunter and a survivor, he also needs her help. Agreeing on an uneasy allegiance as Aria knows Perry is her only chance of survival they team up.
UNDER THE NEVER SKY is a vividly drawn world. Barbaric and stark is one breath, full of beautiful and poignant relationships in the next. The story is one of growth, love and survival.
Aria and Perry are fabulous characters, their distrust and dislike of one another at the beginning makes the storyline all the more fascinating as they both grow and adapt. Aria is strong, a survivor, just in a different way to Perry. But I liked them both for different reasons. Perry is like a young warrior of old, a hunter and protector, but also one with great depths and strong emotions for those he cares for.
The contrast between life in Reverie and life in the wastelands is profound. I really enjoyed Rossi’s depiction of these two worlds, but in particular the outsider’s lives and the unique gifts a few of them possessed. They were fascinating and brutal, loyal and colourful.
The love story is completely spell binding. It’s a slow grower and that’s why I think it works so well. It’s believable as you watch two worlds collide, painfully at times as they slowly begin to respect and understand one another.
Ahh and the ending. No cliffhangers, hurray! It had me worried for a while! But man, I loved it! It was perfect and not perfect all at the same time. It had a proper conclusion, even if everything was not tied up in a tidy bow for us just yet.
A stunning and well written start to a new series. A superb piece of writing for an author’s debut novel. Pacy, easy to read with a beautiful, believable love story at its core. Even not being a huge YA fan I loved it. Rossi is definitely one to watch.
FEVER tells the story of super intelligent modern day teenager Eva and Sethos (Seth) a seventeen year old gladiatorReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
FEVER tells the story of super intelligent modern day teenager Eva and Sethos (Seth) a seventeen year old gladiator in ancient Rome. For all of you fellow time travel fans, this book has a nice bit of time travel, although perhaps not in the way I expected.
Our characters have nothing in common, other than their age, and the fact they have both suffered from an inexplicable fever. But the fever they suffer from will bring them together, even though they were born centuries apart.
It’s quite hard to write this review without too many spoilers, to reveal anything about the fever or how our characters meet, other than the fact time travel is involved I feel would give too much away. So I shall just refer to events as before the fever and after the fever.
The book is told in from two narrative points of view and is divided into three parts. Eva’s story and Seth’s story, the two main characters don’t actually meet until the third part of the book. This meant that the love story felt like it took a while to take route. There is a love story before and after the fever, and the love story before the fever didn’t quite resonate with me. It felt rushed and naive. As did Seth’s obsession with the ‘love of his life’. But ironically, although it irritated, this obsession made the second part of the love story all the more lovely.
Seth was my favourite of the two characters. He made the greatest journey throughout the novel, not only in terms of time, but in growth of character. Quite literally from gladiator to modern day schoolboy. Eva is complicated. Brilliant, but lost at the same time. She struggles throughout the story to find her place in the world. But I also like the fact that she didn’t fall into the generic high school geek-ette category (I may just have made up a word there ). Also the relationship between her and her mother is just heart-breaking.
The actual fever part of the story was the most fascinating, what is it? Why does it happen and what is the wider implications of it? Don’t expect all of your questions to be answered! It’s a unique and intriguing concept. I like that is a different idea and hope that this is the first in a series rather than a stand-alone novel and we get to find out!
I really enjoyed this book, and actually read it quite quickly. The romance did need perhaps a little more time to be allowed to blossom, and I would have liked the main characters to have met sooner to enable to this to happen. But it was well written and packed with compelling scenes. There are few books that combine scenes from the barbaric gladiator’s arena, complicated micro-biology and high school drama and do it successfully. But FEVER does.
A well written and interesting start to a new series. I am quite intrigued about the Fever and the clever concept that Shulman has created. Her characters and strong and compelling and it has a lovely story full of promise.
PANDEMONIUM is the second book in Oliver’s acclaimed Delirium series. Set iReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
*Warning minor spoiler highlighted below*
PANDEMONIUM is the second book in Oliver’s acclaimed Delirium series. Set in the future where love is viewed by society as a disease and all adolescents are ‘cured’ so they can no longer feel love. It takes off where ”Delirium’ left us, after THAT shocking cliffhanger. I’m trying my best not to reveal to many details here!
Lena is filled with grief, has abandoned her life to live in the wilds and has avoided having the cure. We watch her starting her new life and clawing her way back from her pain filled state. The opening chapters alternate between those first days and Lena in the future working as an undercover spy in the normal world. Which does mean that the story jumps about a little.
The book was a real mix, while I did find it engaging and the pages turned easily enough. I just felt like it didn’t dig beneath the surface enough and get into the nitty gritty. Perhaps this is a comment on the age range that this book is aimed at, rather than the writing itself. But as I wanted from Delirium, I wanted to know how this world got to be like it is and it still lacked explanation. Why is love illegal? We still don’t know…
In this book we meet Raven, a woman in her twenties who supports Lena during her road to recovery, but is also heavily involved in the rebellion. Raven is a bit of an enigma. I wanted to know more about Raven and behind the scenes of the rebellion and its strategy.
Oliver does draw the emptiness of this love-less world very well. That without love people become empty shells, going through their tasks due to obligation, not because they care almost drew chills. Lena often refers to them as zombies.
“In Zombieland, someone is always watching. There is nothing else for people to do. They do not think. They feel no passion, no hatred, no sadness; they feel nothing but fear, and a desire for control. So they watch, and poke and pry.”
The world building is excellent actually, from the Wilds, the societal rule and the characterisation of the key figures on each side. But the concept of a loveless world captured my imagination right from the start of the series.
The story includes some desperately sad moments of awful tragedy which is depicted poignantly. Life in the Wilds is brutal. We get insight into the people who are marginalised and live on the periphery, ostracised by this stark empty world who strive for nothing less than emotionless perfection. This writing is when the book is at its best.
I did struggle in general with the plot. I felt it was too predictable. Several times I thought to myself I bet that’s going to happen and then I felt let down when it did, wanting to be surprised.
I also felt saddened that Lena moved on so quickly. I don’t know why the author felt the need to introduce a love triangle, I didn’t really feel that the book or the story needed it and I didn’t fully engage with Julian. Through most of the book, I just kind of missed Alex.
Then there is the angst, ‘Pandemonium’ is filed to the brim with angst! Lena is quite an immature heroine, who seemed to need to grow up and wise up fast. She seemed to make some quite reckless and selfish decisions. Perhaps I shouldn’t forget that this is YA book? Because she did grow as the book progressed and evolve from the cocooned person she used to be, but she is yet to make that final leap from young childhood to adulthood and I felt like I wanted, no needed her to.
Looking on Goodreads, I’m pretty sure I’m in an overwhelming minority on feelings on PANDEMONIUM, most people seem to have loved it. Overall it just didn’t quite work for me. Don’t get me wrong there were still some great moments in it and I do think that Oliver is a superb writer, I just wanted more from this book. I felt it could have been so much better and there is still too much to be explored. The cliffhanger did have that jaw dropping moment, but at the same time I also saw it coming. Maybe Requiem, the final instalment will redeem it?
"Daughter of Smoke and Bone" is a uniquely drawn novel, rich and creative. For me it's pulled into two parts: before the doors to elsewhere close, and after. With second part of the novel by far having the grittier storyline. Marketed as a YA novel, I think this book would appeal to readers who normally only pick up adult novels too. ...more
We've waited two books to meet him, so much that I wondered if we ever would. But, book three in this trilogy is finReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
We've waited two books to meet him, so much that I wondered if we ever would. But, book three in this trilogy is finally about the alleged traitor, Prince Alberon. Once again the story is more about lethal political games than it is about action, as Wynter and Alberon's half brother Razi try to get to the bottom of the split in the kingdom and prevent an all out war between father and son.
Prince Alberon is not quite how I expected him to be. We have seen him thus far only through the eyes of Razi and Wynter, which has been slightly rose-tinted and filled with childhood memories. The grown up Alberon is a mixture of nobility and bravery, but at the same time spoilt and impetuous. And I wasn't able to gel with him the same way I have with other characters in the books. There were times when I felt like giving him a good slap!
At last, and most importantly we finally discover what the feared 'bloody machine' is that King Jonathan and Wynter's father have done everything in their power to hide. The revelation shocking to our three main characters, but perhaps more disturbing is Alberon's plans for it.
Wynter, Razi and Christopher arrive in the camp accompanied by the Merron, Christopher's people. But after the events of the last book their relationship with Razi is shaky. And yet despite those shocking events, I still could not help but like most of these strange people, with their ancient habits and traditions and wanted them to get the new beginning they were so desperately seeking.
Prince Alberon's camp is made up of numerous political envoys from different nations and the relationships between them are tentative at best. But when the hideously violent Loup Garous arrive, the same people that enslaved and mutilated the man she loves, Wynter is suddenly very fearful for the future. It seemed that Alberon the boy she had once loved like a brother, was no longer a person she knows or understands.
For a lot of the book I had absolutely no idea how it was going to end. I got to about three quarters of the way through and I still had no idea and began to get worried that things weren't going to get tied up as nicely as I would have hoped for a trilogy. The ending seemed to come out of nowhere and totally took me by surprise. It's an explosion of edge of your seat action and horror. Then it all ended as abruptly as it started. But, never fear there is an epilogue, which in a one word summary was lovely.
This has been a fantastic trilogy. The lure of the books has to be Celine Kiernan's amazing characterisation. These were people I loved, feared for and cared about. Wynter was such a fabulous heroine and at the same time while still brave and determined, very different from heroines seen in a lot of stories at the moment. Don't be put off by the less action scenes, because the political games and revelations are as thrilling and definitely keep those pages turning....more
If you loved the first book in this series 'Perfect Chemistry' then without a doubt you're going to fall for this onReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
If you loved the first book in this series 'Perfect Chemistry' then without a doubt you're going to fall for this one too. The plot itself is pretty similar, bad boy falls for good girl. But this time with no star-crossed lovers quality.
Like his brother before him, Carlos is descending into the dark world of drugs, violence and gang crime. With an attitude the size of a small planet, he can't see what's wrong with his lifestyle. He's putting food on the table and preventing his mother from working like a slave. When his brother and Mum insist he moves to Colorado, enrol back in school and make a fresh start for himself, he's of course immediately resistant and inevitably falls straight in with the wrong crowd.
Kiara, is a good girl. I liked her more than I liked Brittany from 'Perfect Chemistry', she is a less conventional heroine. Her love for over sized t-shirts, shorts and hiking boots, the fact she doesn't even own a pair of high heels and her favourite past time is renovating old cars. She also has a stutter. All of this adds a touch of difference to her character.
I read this book pretty quickly, in about two days. It's a fun and engaging read. The romance between Kiara and Carlos develops at a nice pace. I liked the fact that beneath the tough, cocky exterior Carlos has a soft, vulnerable centre. Which allowed for some lovely tender moments.
This book is also surprisingly funny too. I shall just say look out for the gay Frisbee scene. :)
An issue I did have was that the ending does get wrapped up pretty quickly. There was more focus on the relationship between Carlos and Kiara and because of this things are tied up a little too easily for my liking. It felt like, ok they're in love now, now we need to find away to resolve this problem (not wanting to give too much away), which of course had been a huge part of the storyline.
It is interesting seeing Alex and Brittany again, two years on. While I know this was Carlos and Kiara's story, I would have liked to have seen a bit more of them. But I did certainly like seeing a wiser, more mature Alex.
I'm usually a fan of epilogues. I sometimes think if I could live in a Disney movie I'd be in heaven, I adore happy endings! But unfortunately Simone Elkeles can't seem to get the tone of hers right. The epilogue went beyond cheesy, and I hate to sound mean, but to pretty ghastly. My advice.... skip it.
Despite the too easy wrap up I had fun with this book. Made up of great characters and with a romance that is very easy to get swept up in. Carlos is as dark, wild and handsome as his brother.
The third and final book of the trilogy has a much darker tone (if you can believe it) than the first two. Katniss has now survived two horrendous hunger games, so much death and violence, and is now the face of the rebellion. Recovering in district thirteen, President Snow will stop at nothing to destroy her and all those she cares about. And to make things worse, he has Peeta...
None of the characters are who they were anymore, they are all slightly broken. Like china bowls that have been smashed and glued back together again, they are not quite complete or whole any longer.
I did miss the tough Katniss from the first two books, her fragility is painful to watch. I got excited when she fought in district two. But Katniss excels because she is a survivor, and there were times when I wanted her to get back up and keep fighting, to scream, kick and do everything she can possibly do to remain true to herself. But she has suffered too much to be unchanged.
As the book progresses and we learn more about district 13 and I became terrified that the survivors are just swapping one harsh dictatorship for another. I worry that the new world they fight for will not actually be new in anyway and that in itself is heartbreaking.
President Snow's ruthlessness knows no bounds. Just when you think Katniss and the tributes can't possibly suffer anymore, The Capitol throws some other appalling manipulation or punishment at them. And Peeta, oh Peeta what can I say? As much as I'm team Gale, I found that I missed the bread-baking, gentle Peeta who would do anything for Katniss.
As with the previous books, the second half was better than the first. It delivers plenty of twists and also prepare yourself for painful tragedy. Then comes the ending, a dark and uncompromising turn of events as Katniss has to make some terrible decisions.
I am in awe of Suzanne Collins' writing skills. I could not have predicted how this trilogy would have ended. In my opinion the first book was the best of the three, but this trilogy is an absolute must-read and is up there with my all time favourites.
I quite literally ached for Katniss and all of the atrocities she has endured. The epilogue itself was bitter-sweet, and prepared there is a good chance that tissues may be required....more
I was really intrigued by the premise of this novel. A world where love, also known as amoReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
I was really intrigued by the premise of this novel. A world where love, also known as amor deliria nervosa, is classed as a disease. Every citizen must undergo an operation as soon as they turn eighteen to 'cure' them. I found the concept both unique and fascinating.
Our lead character is Lena. A young, seventeen year old girl with a mere ninety-five days remaining until she can be cured, and she cannot wait. Dreading the very thought of catching the disease and looking forward to a life of simplicity and conformity.
Of course, we know that this life cannot be for Lena. And just a few months to go until her operation, she meets Alex.
The book is slow at first and takes a little while to get going. This is because the author takes time to set the scene and draw this vacuous society. The world is fully realised, a dystopian future complete with a utilitarian dictatorship, propaganda and mass brain-washing.
At first, it's hard to grasp exactly what a world without love equates to. A lot of the hideousness of it is in the subtleties as much as the vicious punishments for those who do not conform. It simply feels hollow and it took a while for me to fully comprehend the barbarity of it.
The cured are like neutered zombies as though part of their souls, their very life essence has been carved away. People raising children out of duty, only picking them up to clean their cuts when they remember this is something they're supposed to do as a parent. Not something they feel compelled to do because they care. All passions be it for one another, a favourite hobby, even dreaming have been wiped from the world.
It did have one thing missing though. An understanding of how the world ended up here. We're treated to lots of snippets of educational literature at the beginning of each chapter, which adds to the overall rich tapestry of the story:
"Symptoms of amor deliria nervosa PHASE ONE: preoccupation; difficulty focusing dry mouth perspiration, sweaty palms fits of dizziness and disorientation reduced mental awareness; racing thoughts; impaired reasoning skills"
But, there is not one reference to what caused society to declare love an enemy. And this revelation was missed.
Lena really struggles to come to terms with her feelings for Alex, so convinced at first that she is diseased. But, what also makes this book work is the complex relationship she has with her best friend Hana. Hana, the beautiful, wannabe rebel, meets the girl who just wants a safe and predictable life. This adds a interesting dynamic to the story, when the unlikely half of the pair ends up rebelling. Lena's journey is believable, intense and engaging.
As the end drew closer, I was almost frightened to read any further. My stomach weighed down with lead. Could anything good come out of this barren world? I actually thought about putting it down for a while, so afraid was I of what those final pages would say. I should have known there would be a cliffhanger!
I'm going to contradict myself here, but bear with me. This book is imaginative, clever and very well written. The problem is, I'm not quite sure I liked it. But, if that's the case why am I already looking forward to the sequel, knowing I won't be able to resist reading it?
I think at the heart of it, my problem with this book is it was painful to read. A gut-wrenching swill of emotion that can't help but burn inside you as you follow Lena's journey from brain-washed to diseased. Angst with a capital A. It's certainly a book you need time to draw breath after it has concluded. Never the less, it is one I would recommend and Lauren Oliver is definitely a writing talent to look out for....more
**Warning contains spoilers for first book in the series**
As the winners of The Hunger Games, you would think that Katniss and Peeta's lives would be simple now. With more money than they could ever need, never having to worry about themselves or their families being hungry again. The only tedium being the celebrity interviews they are required to attend. But of course life will never be that simple for Katniss. Unwittingly Katniss's act of defiance at the end of 'The Hunger Games' has led her to become a symbol of the rebellion that is rapidly growing in strength. The ruthless President Snow cannot allow this to happen. In fact, he will manipulate Katniss into doing just about anything and threaten all those dear to her to save the his reign and the lives of the people in The Capitol.
This first half of this book spent a long time building the story and the complexity of the plot. But a little bit too much time for my liking was spent on the awkward love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gayle. This trilogy for me isn't about the love story, but the stark dystopian setting, political games and fight for survival.
I know I'm going to be going against the grain with this, but I'm afraid I'm team Gayle. There's something a little like a lost puppy about Peeta. He unequivocal love and selflessness towards Catniss is charming, but he does not have the grit and fight of Gayle. I look at Gayle and Catniss like two halves of a coin. Where Peeta and Catniss are not equal partners, forever circling around one another's plans.
The character that surprised me by really growing on me in this novel was Haymitch. You begin to understand the surly alcoholic. This reason for his loneliness and empty existence. What it must have been like year after year to send two children from district twelve to their death, barely able to help them. You realise he doesn't want to be sober, because he has no reason to. And surprisingly I began to really like him.
I didn't see the twist in the middle of the book coming, and my heart nearly broke for Katniss once more as she become the victim of President Snow's vicious manoeuvrings, as he desperately tries to quell the uprising.
This book throws in some great new characters, my favourite has to be the handsome and charismatic Finnick, he adds a new dynamic to the story. Can you, can't you trust him, who is the man behind the flirty facade?
Katniss is quite naive at times, but just when I was shaking my head at her for not keeping up, the storyline dealt me a revelation that had quickly passed me by and I realised she was not the only one who had been kept guessing. Actually there are quite a few surprises in this book, the ending itself was a shocker and I was glad I had the third audiobook lined up to listen to straight afterwards.
A fabulous second instalment in this very well written trilogy. Katniss keeps bouncing back no matter what is thrown at her and is no doubt a survivor. This book will throw some shockers at you and the second half is tense, gritty and action packed....more
There has been so much buzz about this trilogy on the book blogosphere that I couldn't resist picking it up. But likReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
There has been so much buzz about this trilogy on the book blogosphere that I couldn't resist picking it up. But like anything that gets lots of positive press, I was slightly nervous when I began listening to the audiobooks in case I didn't love them as much as everyone else. I needn't have worried!
The entire trilogy is narrated by Carolyn McCormick, who is a superb narrator. She really encapsulates Katniss's essence, the pace and the highs, lows and horrors of the story. I was sucked in and wrung dry through each book, barely able to press the pause button on my iPod.
Set in the future, 'The Hunger Games' is a fantastically compelling and dark dystopian novel. It tells the story of Katniss, a young woman who lives in district twelve of the poorest districts in the country, where many people suffer from hunger. Katniss helps feed her family by poaching daily in the local forest with her best friend Gale & selling any excess game on the black market.
This new world is brutal and cruel, ruled by the unscrupulous Capitol. Years ago the districts rebelled and the Capitol will never let it be forgotten. As a punishment, each year two children from each district, one boy and one girl aged between 12 and 18, are selected to enter 'The Hunger Games', a violent reality show where the children must fight to the death until one child remains.
Each year the town people pray it is not their child that is selected. Then the unthinkable happens, Katniss's little twelve year old sister gets selected for the games. Katniss has spent her whole life protecting her little sister and does the only thing she can think of and volunteers to go in her place.
Believing she is sentencing herself to a death sentence, the book tells of Katniss's journey leading up to and of the games itself. The tone shifts itself between unbearably painful, to shockingly violent and then to desperately sad. The narrative is written so well, you become fully submerged into Katniss's story willing her to survive after every shocking incident. Like her, you begin thinking she cannot survive, to daring to believe with her poaching skills maybe, just maybe she might be a contender.
Katniss is one of those heroines you cannot help but admire. She is vulnerable yet tough, naive, but at the same time intelligent and a fast and strategic thinker. The book does contain a slightly unexpected, and at times awkward love story. But it adds a really great twist the games itself.
There is one scene worth a special mention, not want wanting to spoil it, I shall say look out for the scene with the singing and flowers. You will know it when you reach it. If you manage to remain dry eyed, you are a tougher person than I!
This novel is also as much about social commentary as it is a fantastic story. It highlights current issues with popularity of celebrity and our fascination with the shallow and unimportant. It is perhaps at its darkest when it focuses not on the contestants of the games, but the shallowness of the people who organise it. The shock of the frivolous behaviour we see from the TV presenters as they gush over the contestants like they are the luckiest new celebrity in town, combined with such a macabre subject is ironic writing at its best. You can't help but see the inevitable comparisons it draws between 'The Hunger Games' and the plethora of reality TV shows that are on our screens everyday.
But also, there was something about this book that had a ring of George Orwell's '1984' for me. The dystopian setting, the ghastly government messages and the control and subjugation of people, society broken into tasks and regions. The terrible fear of what would happen to you if you voiced a criticism against 'The Capitol'.
A really stunning novel that I cannot help but implore you to read. It's excellent, and is one of those stories that sucks you in, churns you up and leaves you gasping for more. Don't let the dark premise put you off, yes it's gory and shocking at times and does involve children killing one another, but trust me when I say it's written very well, and is not gratuitous at all....more
'The Crowded Shadows' takes off where 'The Poison Throne' had left us. With Wynter, leaving her dying father behindReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
'The Crowded Shadows' takes off where 'The Poison Throne' had left us. With Wynter, leaving her dying father behind in the corrupt court to embark on a dangerous and lonely quest. She must travel through the dangerous and bandit infested forest, a solitary, young women as she tries to track down the exiled and believed traitorous Prince Alberon, who was once her dear friend. Her hope in finding him is that she may get to bottom of the darkness that is seeping through the Kingdom and save her friends.
As I begin this review, I'm not quite sure where to start. This book really wasn't I expected it to be at all. It takes you on a remarkable journey. Wynter is such a brave and eminently likeable heroine. A mixture of strength and diplomacy, yet vulnerable at the same time. In fact all of the characters are magnificently well rounded. My heart was in my mouth as Wynter travelled on her own, terrified that something was going to happen to her and fracture her lovely innocence. So it was with a huge sigh of relief when the book welcomed Razi and his companion Christopher back into the fold.
Travelling through the forest together on their journey to find Alberon, the trio encounter the ruthless and terrifying Loup-Garous. We learn more about Christopher and his time as a slave, a prisoner of this terrifying wolf clan. With nowhere to turn, they end up taking refuge with the Merron.
The plot is quite intrinsically complicated and keeps you guessing at all times. The Merron are an ancient and superstitious tribe. But Wynter and Razi have one thing on their side, Christopher's adoptive father was Merron, and he was raised in their culture and he understands their strange and dark traditions.
You spend a lot of the book feeling as puzzled and confused as Razi and Wynter are. As Christopher tries his best to manoeuvre his friends through the ancient Merron ways without them getting hurt and the Merron getting offended. It soon becomes evident that the Merron are part of the ever growing political web that is surrounding the Kingdom and they cannot afford to alienate them. But their culture is shocking and tests the trio's friendship to its limits. There are scenes in this book that will absolutely make you gasp.
The three main characters continue to be at the heart of the story, governed by their friendship and loyalty to one another. I wasn't sure about the blossoming love story between Christopher and Wynter at the end of the last book, but my feelings changed in this one. Their tenderness for one another was warm, sweet and captivating.
A lot of the initial story development from 'The Poison Throne' was put on hold, we learn nothing of the ominous 'bloody machine' and it looks as though we're going to have to wait for the third and final book to get those much needed answers and to meet Prince Alberon. But while this should have been frustrating, it really wasn't. This book had an important part to play in the overall journey and development of both the characters and the story.
I've seen this trilogy often classed as a young adult novel, but it really doesn't feel like one to me despite the fact that Wynter is only fifteen years old, she comes across as much older. Also this is definitely a part of a trilogy and not a stand alone novel.
I really enjoyed this book. Celine Kiernan is a very talented writer and she builds her stories cleverly and with obvious passion. The first two books of the trilogy so far have been well crafted together. It's also quite unusual for me to be looking to the end of a trilogy without a clue as to how it's going to end and I can't wait!...more
I think it's fair to say that 'Perfect Chemistry' isn't an original story. We've read superb stories of star-crossedReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
I think it's fair to say that 'Perfect Chemistry' isn't an original story. We've read superb stories of star-crossed lovers before. Ultimately in Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' and of course 'West Side Story'. But this didn't matter to me. In fact, after the first two chapters I was hooked.
Brittany is your high school princess, the girl every other girl wants to be. Beautiful, rich, the head cheerleader and dating one of the hottest guys in school. Raised by a mother obsessed with perfectionism, she knows what it means to create the ultimate image. Wearing the right clothes, going to the right places, not having a hair out of place or a smear in your make-up.
But scratch beneath the surface and you will see her life is far from the perfect image she has created.
Alex is not a guy that most mothers would like their daughters to bring home. Following his now dead father's footsteps he has been lured into gang life as a misguided way to protect his family. Now he's in deep, on the threshold to a spiraling life of crime and violence.
Then one day, their chemistry teacher reassigns everyone alphabetically and much to their distaste Alex and Brittany have been put together as lab partners. Initially sparks fly, and when Alex's fellow gang members bet him he can't bed Brittany, ego gets in the way and before he know it his beloved motorbike as well as his reputation end up on the line.
As Alex begins his mission of seduction, things don't go quite to plan. As he starts to get to know Brittany, he begins to see the girl beneath the veneer. The girl who is fed up of being perfect and the girl who desperately loves and cares for her disabled sister. As he unwittingly begins to fall for her, he begins to question everything in his life and a very small part of him dares to dream.
The story is told with alternating chapters from Brittany and Alex, which gives you insight into each of their feelings and experiences. It grabs you right from the get go and it's one of those books you just can't put down. The chemistry between Alex and Brittany sizzles and the love story is one of those that hits you right in the solar plexus.
Alex is ruggedly handsome, the bad boy that every girl could easily fall for. Brittany is at times naive, but there is something pure and shining about her love for Alex.
This is a well written story about hope, dreams and love. Yes, it is at the core of course a love story, but it also tackles teen issues, the problem of social disparity and the circle of gang life in America. This is a book I would most definitely recommend.
One tiny, tiny thing and I was forewarned about this from a fellow reviewer. I'm not a big fan of the epilogue, it was slightly heavy on the cheese factor.
While this book won't win any awards for originality, I loved it! Alex and Brittany capture both your heart and imagination from the start. I can't wait for the next!
I have to say as a self confessed bookaholic, there's something super exciting about beingReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (6 out of 10 on the blog)
I have to say as a self confessed bookaholic, there's something super exciting about being able to get my mitts on a book before it's even released. It gives me a warm feeling inside ;)
Seventeen year old Ellie is your typical American teenager. Until she begins to have strange dreams and visions and then one night hears unusual noises in the dark. She learns of the existence of reapers. Evil beings that kill and steal people's souls.
This coincides with the arrival of Will, who proclaims to be her very own Guardian Angel. Will tells her that she is in fact the Preliator, a powerful warrior reborn again and again over thousands of years into a mortal's body. And that she is the only person that can fight and stop the evil reapers.
As a teenager she has enough to worry about with her school grades, friends, and Ellie does not welcome this discovery, especially after a reaper causes her to right-off her car.
With her powers awakened, Ellie cannot escape her destiny. What starts with reluctance turns to passioned determination. Reinforced as her visions affect her everyday life as the memories of her previous lives bleed their way into her consciousness.
There seems to be a theme for reincarnation stories lately, as this is the third one I've read so far this year. All with young women as the leads. I have to say I quite like them and in each book have been interested to see how the past affects the present day character.
Some of the best parts of the novel were the fight scenes. There are some fantastic fight sequences. In particular, the final battle on a liner in the middle of the ocean was inspired. And it will no doubt keep you on the edge of your seat.
The love story in the book is tender and engaging. Nothing adds to the edge of a romance like forbidden love and I found my heart squeezing at some of the scenes.
However, despite enjoying many, many aspects of the book I didn't quite love it. Maybe I'm just a little 'YA'd' out at the moment, but at times I found Ellie a little irritating and superficial. It was hard to get my head around her and her parents almost flippant towards money. Additionally, Will was a fascinating character, but I wanted to know more about him, to understand the character behind the boy who has been in his late teens for the last six hundred years.
A good read and without a doubt it was the action packed fight scenes that made the story. I think it's a book YA fans will love, while I do have a couple of reservations it is still one I would recommend. ...more
Nearly sixteen years ago the 'Shift' happened. And every child that has been born since caReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com (7 out of 10 on the blog)
Nearly sixteen years ago the 'Shift' happened. And every child that has been born since can see and communicate with ghosts. The world is divided into two sub sets, post and pre shifters, those who can see & those who can't.
The Shift has changed everything. Ghosts can now testify in their own murder cases. Certain building & rooms in your house have to be 'black boxed' so that ghosts cannot go into them. Red has become the all prevailing fashion statement of the under sixteens. A colour ghosts cannot abide.
Most ghosts are harmless, if not persistently irritating. But there are the ghosts that become Shades - dark, malevolent spirits.
At nearly sixteen years old, Aura is a post-shifter. She's spent her life being able to see, talk to, and wherever possible ignore ghosts. She has an amazing boyfriend - Logan. The night of his seventeenth birthday is supposed to be perfect. That is until it all goes horribly wrong and he tragically dies. Suddenly being able to talk to ghosts takes on a whole new meaning and she prays that Logan will come back to haunt her.
But, as Aura struggles to come to terms with her grief she becomes friends with a new transfer student from Scotland: Zachary. Zachary is kind, understanding and has a rather sexy accent. As her friendship with Zachary grows, she realises that she has to make an impossible decision between the two men in her life. One dead, one alive.
I expected this book to merely be a tragic & haunting, in more ways than one, coming of age love story. But it was more than that and in the final third of the story, the pace changes as we realise a few of the characters have some secrets they haven't been sharing.
I loved the originality of the book, this new ghost ridden world that only children and teens can see was imaginative and interesting. I was intrigued by the mystery of the Shift and what caused it. While we begin to explore the mystery, the story barely scratches the surface so I look forward to discovering more as the series progresses.
This was a surprisingly easy read, and while it was sad and moving, it was written in a way that wasn't over wrought.
A refreshingly different young adult novel, that is sad and at times intense, but never the less enjoyable. The storyline was developed slowly and the second half certainly has more pace than the first. We're given just a few hints of what is to come in the subsequent books. It doesn't reveal much, but what it does give is just enough to leave you wanting more....more
The cover of this book is oddly deceiving. When I first looked at it, I wasn't sureThis review was written for www.bookchickcity.com (rating was 7/10)
The cover of this book is oddly deceiving. When I first looked at it, I wasn't sure if the book would be for me. As it looked a little bit too YA for my taste. How could I be so wrong?
This book is hilarious! Full on, laugh out loud funny. It's like a cross between Harry Potter and Mean Girls meets Sabrina.
Sophie is a witch. Having never met her father, she has been raised by her human mother and has had no magical education. But when one spell too many goes wrong, she is sent to Hecate (Hex) Hall. A reform, boarding school for magical children. She's never even met another witch before, let alone shape-shifters and faeries.
Hex Hall is like a baptism of fire. Firstly she's nearly attacked by a werwolf and then she's roomed with the only vampire and outcast of the school. If that isn't bad enough, there's the beautiful, coven led by Elodie who seem to have it in for her.
Archer Cross is Elodie's boyfriend and let me briefly say *swoon*. Archer is an interestingly complex character and Sophie can't help her feelings for him although she knows nothing can come of it.
Interwoven amidst the magic fun is a great sinister mystery with pupils falling victim to a malevolent and dark force. Suddenly, Sophie needs to face up to family's past as she begins to realise who she really is.
Sophie is a great character and it's easy to engage and go on her journey with her. You find yourself willing her to succeed. I totally loved Jenna, the vampire obsessed with pink! The alone was enough to endear me to her.
This isn't a complex novel, it's an easy read and maybe at times a little predictable. But all the characters are well rounded and engaging. The mystery was tantalising and kept the pages turning and it had a great twist at the end.
A light, fun read that I read in the space of a day. It is undoubtedly aimed at a young adult audience, but this didn't affect my enjoyment at all. I would say it is a book for all ages. The book had a brilliant ending that left me wanting for more. The second book in the series is already on my wish list....more
Wow, it took a while to get going but the ending of this book is gorgeous! I was listening to it on audiobook and nearly had tears streaming down my cWow, it took a while to get going but the ending of this book is gorgeous! I was listening to it on audiobook and nearly had tears streaming down my cheeks as I was driving to work. Can't wait to start Linger.......more
Radiant Shadows is the fourth book in Melissa Marr's 'Wicked Lovely' series. It begins where 'Fragile Eternity' left off. However, while Seth featuresRadiant Shadows is the fourth book in Melissa Marr's 'Wicked Lovely' series. It begins where 'Fragile Eternity' left off. However, while Seth features as quite a main character, the story is no longer about Aishlin and the summer court.
The book is about Ani and Devlin, we've met them in previous books but as relatively minor characters.
Ani is Rabbit the tattooist's half sister, and daughter of Gabriel, leader of the hunt. She is a member of the dark court and halfling: half human and half hound.
By contrast, Devlin is half brother-son to the High Queen Sorcha and Queen of War Bananach, created jointly by them and not born. He is a powerful member of the High Court. Known as the Queen's Bloodied Hands. He is ordered, disciplined and importantly, Sorcha's obedient servant.
Devlin first met Ani when she was just a child. When he was ordered to kill her. And for the first time in centuries of obedience he disobeyed a direct order and spared Ani's life. Hiding her survival from his Queen.
Since the events of the last book Sorcha is no longer herself and her imbalance begins to seriously impact the world of faery. Reason appears to have departed from the Queen of Reason and Bananach glorifies in this advantage and her dark malevolence spreads. This book has some important developments for the faery world as all courts struggle to avoid the sinister plottings of the Queen of War, which has some far reaching affects. But primarily it is a love story between Ani and Devlin.
As the book begins, Devlin has not seen Ani in the years since he spared her life. But, sent on a mission to protect Seth by his unbalanced Queen he encounters her in a club. The chemistry between them is tangible, and while Ani has no idea who Devlin is, he's never really understood why he saved Ani and is inexplicably drawn to her.
In my opinion, this is by far the best book in the series. I sat down one evening to make a start and before I knew it I'd read 175 pages. Melissa Marr has a beautiful and captivating writing style. She draws the vision of her characters and worlds which sucks you in brilliantly.
On the surface of things the love story between Ani and Devlin could easily have not worked. It's not largely mentioned, but Ani is very much a young adult at 16, while Devlin's significantly older than her. Yet as the story progresses they both go on what I would class as a 'young adult' journey.
Being a halfling, Ani is frustrated with being pushed to the outskirts of the faery. Yet having the power to feed on the emotions & touch of both mortals and faery, her power is unheard of and it becomes quite clear she is no mere halfling. Because of this Ani is confined and protected by her father and the dark court and she chafes at the restrictions. She is desperate to prove to them all that she is a woman and no longer a child and can look after herself. While Devlin is struggling to escape the controlling influence of his sisters. Learning that he can have his own sense of identity and his own relationships while remaining true to himself.
I really like Ani and Devlin as a couple as they were so different. Fate obviously plays an important part in their lives, it is clear as all the threads begin to close that from the very beginning they were meant to be together.
As the book reaches its climax there is a big twist. However, for me it wasn't entirely unexpected, and I wondered from about a third of a way in if something similar would happen. But it didn't take away from my enjoyment of it at all.
This book really was superb and I could barely put it down, but I do have a couple of criticisms.
I would of liked to have seen a flashback to the time that Devlin spared Ani's life to fully understand the reason for that decision and what he was feeling at the time, it felt to me liked it lacked some explanation.
Additionally, having read the previous three books, I found it a touch frustrating that while Seth was an important character in the book, and some events happen that will change his life at least for the moment, irrevocably, there was virtually no mention of the love triangle that had me so hooked in previously.
This is a fantastic fourth instalment to the 'Wicked Lovey' series, and the best so far. Marr has cleverly interwoven the plots of the each of the books as the series builds to its sinister conclusion.
Technically if you haven't read the first three books in this series you could read this as a stand alone novel, but my recommendation would be to read them first in order to fully enjoy the depth of the story.
I am very much looking forward to discovering what happens next, but I do hope that Seth and Aislin take the helm once more.
Willow is a moving and poignant young adult novel. When I first read the back cover, I wasn't sure how I'd react to the subject matter and was concernWillow is a moving and poignant young adult novel. When I first read the back cover, I wasn't sure how I'd react to the subject matter and was concerned about how the author would handle the issue of self harm. But, to my surprise the book captured me from the first page to the last.
Willow is a confused and grief stricken teenager struggling to come to terms with the death of her parents in a car crash. Making her grief even more complicated is the fact she was the one driving when they died.
The book takes off seven months after their death. Willow is living with her older brother David, his wife Cathy and their new baby Isabelle. The move means she also at a new school with few friends and due to circumstances money is also tight, requiring Willow to work in order to contribute her share towards the household bills.
As well as coming to terms with their parents death, Willow and David struggle to come to terms with the shift in their relationship. From brother and sister, to guardian and ward. This shift seems to have irrevocably altered it, which wrapped up with their grieving combines to push them further apart.
Submerged in terrible grief, guilt and loneliness, Willow finds an outlet that enables her to survive: her razor. She lives from one cut to the next, only able to feel she can breathe again when the blade penetrates her skin.
There is no escaping that Willow's illness is shocking and when you first begin reading even makes you feel a little uncomfortable. Perhaps what becomes more uncomfortable is that after a while you begin to identify, just a tiny bit with Willow as you begin to understand her suffering.
The book is undeniably dark and doesn't shy away some very difficult issues, but at the same time it does not become too intense.
The main reason for this is Guy. To put it simply, Guy is lovely. A bright, caring and charismatic boy who inadvertently discovers Willow's secret. They are both horrified at first, but little by little as their connection grows, Guy begins to teach Willow to live again.
Willow has not only forgotten who she is, but how to communicate and live in the outside world. She has shut it all out, because it's easier to harm herself and focus on that than it is to deal with her own emotions. Guy forces her to look outside herself, to remember what it's like to enjoy the small things and what it's like to have friends.
This is what makes the book so eminently good in my opinion, how the narrative combines moments of real darkness with that of hope.
Willow aims to demystify the stigma and misconception around self harm. At first it is a first quite baffling why anyone would chose to disfigure and hurt themselves in this way, but as the book progresses you, like Guy, begin to come to terms with who Willow is.
This book really is beautiful. A surprising choice of word perhaps given the subject matter, but out of the agony and suffering blossoms a love story that is about acceptance and loving a person for who they are despite their flaws.
****Next caveat only includes a small spoiler****
I have one small caveat to my review and that is a small frustration that at no point in the book did Willow and Guy turn to anyone for help. I would have liked to have seen Willow seek professional help or at least tell an adult about her problems. If the book had been about an anorexic sufferer I think the approach would have been different, and this shows perhaps a little naivety in the writing. Given the audience that this is aimed at, it's important to show that asking for help is not a demonstration of weakness.
**** End ****
Willow is about intense grief, mental illness and ultimately redemption.
Don't be put off by the difficult subject it explores, while I'm not expert on self harm, I believe it is handled exceptionally well by the author.
The overall message of this book is one of hope. While we all might suffer terrible things in our life, we must never forget ultimately that there is still joy to be had in living it.
When I first started reading 'Before I Fall' it reminded me a little bit of a cross between the films 'Groundhog Day' & 'Mean Girls'.
At the beginnWhen I first started reading 'Before I Fall' it reminded me a little bit of a cross between the films 'Groundhog Day' & 'Mean Girls'.
At the beginning, I didn't like Sam very much at all. She was one of those girls at school who was more concerned about appearances than substance, and her friends were equally as shallow. They were more obsessed with how many red roses they would get on Cupid's Day, as a show of their popularity, than the true meaning of friendship.
It seemed somewhat fateful that after a party and one episode of drink driving too many, that Sam's life ended in a horrific car crash.
Then, as the pages began to turn, I realised that this was the point. I wasn't supposed to like Sam at first. As she began to relive each day, she also began to grow as a person. And with each new day, Sam begins to realise that her life is not as good as she thought it was.
At first her choices are selfish and evolve around her desperation & frustration as she tries to alter its inevitable course. But, each day brings with it a new discovery and soon Sam's choices become more about everyone else, than herself.
Surprisingly, despite Sam living the same day seven times, the book doesn't get repetitive at all. Each time she makes different decisions that twist the story in new & at times quite unexpected directions.
As the book develops and Sam begins to grow, the more I began to see her as misguided and began to like her. So that when the seventh and final day arrives, I turned each page with anticipation, wondering how she was going to get the guy, save herself and avoid some of the less than pleasant events.
When the novel reaches its crescendo your desperation mirrors Sam's. The day whizzes by and despite having lived it with her six times before you have no idea how it's going to conclude.
The ending of the book is beautiful and eloquently written. I won't spoil it for you, but be warned there's a good chance that tissues will be required.
'Before I Fall' is a really well written and moving book. It's a poignant tale of how life can end all too soon and about understanding the impact of your behaviour on others.
It's one of those books that when you turn the final page you have to sit back and let it all sink in.
My one criticism would be as I didn't like Sam at first, it does take a little while to get into, but persevere as it is worth the read.
'Arson' is a deep and moving book about Arson Gable, a seventeen year old orphan who lives with his Grandmother and has the ability to create fire wit'Arson' is a deep and moving book about Arson Gable, a seventeen year old orphan who lives with his Grandmother and has the ability to create fire with his mind.
Living in remote America, other than his job in an ice cream parlor, Arson lives in relative isolation. That is until the Pheonix family move in next door, and suddenly Arson's near empty life is awakened. Enter Emery, a scarred yet gutsy girl, who feels safer wearing a mask over her face when she greets the world.
Emery challenges the way Arson lives his life. Forcing him out of his current existence, from a trip to the bowling alley, to volunteering at the local hospital. All small steps that force him to connect with the local community. And as Arson begins to connect and inevitably fall in love, he begins to start to come to terms with his troubled past and present.
Arson's ability aside, at the root of this novel is a coming of age story about two teenagers both damaged in some way; one emotionally and the other physically.
It also tackles the complexity of family relationships: what it means to love and hate someone all at the same time. As well as difficult issues facing many young adults such as abuse and alcoholism. Arson's relationship with his elderly Grandmother is painful, as is Emery's with her dysfunctional and breaking parents.
For a long time throughout the novel, I wondered what the purpose of Arson's ability was, as it felt like nothing more than a manifestation of teenage angst. If the author had given Arson a box of matches instead, I believe it would of had about the same impact as his pyrokensis on 90% of the novel. And as the book neared its end, I wondered how on earth all of the threads were going to come together.
Then came the conclusion. A compelling, horror filled ending that left me thinking – where on earth did that come from. It seemed to come out of nowhere as though the author had tried to tie the threads together a little too fast. It was shocking and ended on a cliffhanger that leads me to believe there must be a sequel to come.
'Arson' is extremely well written book, packed with stunning imagery. It was dark, intense and at times disturbing. It's navigation through some very difficult issues means that it wasn't always an easy read, but is compelling never the less.
My one small wish is that Vega had taken a little more time to build the ending as I think it would of hard more of the impact he was hoping for.