Monday, 22 December 2014

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 432
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Released: 4th of November 2014

730. That's how many days I've been trapped.
18. That's how many days I have left to find a way out.

DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible....

JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister....

MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She's about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window.....

What I Have to Say

This books was amazing. It had such an interesting setting, reading like a dystopia despite the fact that it was based on a real city that existed in China. It made everything so much more real and gritty. 

The characters were all really lovable, their traumatic pasts and the things they had to do to survive only served to make them more realistic and gain the readers sympathy. I don't think I even have a favourite out of the three characters, which is really unusual for me, normally I have a favourite from early on, but I warmed to all three of these characters pretty quickly.

I also liked the fact that the love subplot between Mei Yee and Dai was as hyped as it would have been in some other books, because the focus was on the plot, on escaping and getting out of the Walled City. Dai wanted to rescue Mei Yee, but he also wanted to rescue the other prostitutes and Jin. There wasn't the all consuming love that seems to be everywhere in YA. 

In short, this book was amazing. Historical fans, Dystopia fans, fans of other cultures, you'll all like this book. 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Book Haul #6

It's been far, far too long since I've done one of these, but I've had a lot of books recently so here they are!

All synopses from Goodreads or Netgalley respectively.


Rebel Wing by Tracy Banghart

The Dominion of Atalanta is at war. But for eighteen-year-old Aris, the fighting is nothing more than a distant nightmare, something she watches on news vids from the safety of her idyllic seaside town. Then her boyfriend, Calix, is drafted into the Military, and the nightmare becomes a dangerous reality.

Left behind, Aris has nothing to fill her days. Even flying her wingjet—the thing she loves most, aside from Calix—feels meaningless without him by her side. So when she’s recruited to be a pilot for an elite search-and-rescue unit, she leaps at the chance, hoping she’ll be stationed near Calix. But there’s a catch: She must disguise herself as a man named Aristos. There are no women in the Atalantan Military, and there never will be.

Aris gives up everything to find Calix: her home. Her family. Even her identity. But as the war rages on, Aris discovers she’s fighting for much more than her relationship. With each injured person she rescues and each violent battle she survives, Aris is becoming a true soldier—and the best flyer in the Atalantan Military. She’s determined to save her Dominion . . . or 

There's nothing I like more than tough girls flying planes. I've already started this and it's pretty good so far. Thanks Alloy Entertainment!

Mind Games by Teri Terry

In a future world, life is tightly controlled by the all-powerful PareCo. Standing out from the crowd is dangerous so misfit Luna hides her secrets carefully, not realising her own power. Unlike her friends and family, Luna has never been able to plug into Realtime, PareCo's virtual world, where almost everyone now lives their lives. So how do PareCo know about Luna, and why do they want her for their elite think tank?

The truth is hidden in a web of shining silver secrets, and the corrupt authorities would do anything to keep it that way. Can Luna find a way to use her own hidden powers and bring the truth to light before it's too late?

So excited to have this. Cannot wait to read it. Thank you so much Hatchette!

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

Twig lives in a remote area of town with her mysterious brother and her mother, baker of irresistible apple pies. A new girl in town might just be Twig's first true friend, and ally in vanquishing an ancient family curse. A spellbinding tale of modern folklore set in the Berkshires, where rumours of a winged beast draw in as much tourism as the town's famed apple orchards.

This looks really interesting. I've never read anything by the author before, so I'm really looking forward to it. She seems like she writes the kind of thing I like. Thanks Simon and Schuster!

Physical Copies

The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis

Wherever you need to go--the Map to Everywhere can take you there.

To Master Thief Fin, an orphan from the murky pirate world of the Khaznot Quay, the Map is the key to finding his mother. To suburban schoolgirl Marrill, it's her only way home after getting stranded on the Pirate Stream, the magical waterway that connects every world in creation. With the help of a bumbling wizard and his crew, they must scour the many worlds of the Pirate Stream to gather the pieces of the Map to Everywhere--but they aren't the only ones looking. A sinister figure is hot on their tail, and if they can't beat his ghostly ship to find the Map, it could mean the destruction of everything they hold dear!

I'm really looking forward to this. It looks brilliant. Thanks Orion

Alice and the Fly by James Rice

Miss Hayes has a new theory. She thinks my condition's caused by some traumatic incident from my past I keep deep-rooted in my mind. As soon as I come clean I'll flood out all these tears and it'll all be ok and I won't be scared of Them anymore. The truth is I can't think of any single traumatic childhood incident to tell her. I mean, there are plenty of bad memories - Herb's death, or the time I bit the hole in my tongue, or Finners Island, out on the boat with Sarah - but none of these are what caused the phobia. I've always had it. It's Them. I'm just scared of Them. It's that simple.

Just started this and it's really good. Can't wait to carry on reading. 

Death & Co by D.J. McCune

Adam is a Luman, and it runs in the family. Escorting the dead from life into light, Adam must act as guide to those taken before their time. As his older brothers fall into their fate however, Adam clings to his life as a normal kid - one who likes girls, hates the Head and has a pile of homework to get through by Monday morning. When Adam gets a terrible premonition he realises that he must make a devastating choice, risking his life, his family and his destiny.

This looks like such an interesting book. I'm really hoping it will be a nice new series I can get into. Thanks Hot Key!

The Glory by Lauren St. John

A Girl on the Run from the Law

Alexandra Blakewood has everything any teenager could wish for, apart from the horse she'd love, but she won't stop getting into trouble. Sent to a US boot camp, she dreams of escaping. It seems impossible until she's told about a gruelling 1,200 mile horse race across the American West...

A Boy on a Mission to Save a Life

Will Greyton was the star student at his Tennessee high school until his father was laid off. Now Will works at a burger joint. When his dad falls ill, it seems things can't get any worse. An operation will save him, but there's no way to pay for it. Then Will hears about The Glory, a deadly endurance race with a $250,000 purse, open to any rider daring enough to attempt it... 

I've heard so many good things about Lauren St. John so I'm really looking forward to reading this. Thanks Orion! 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Brood by Chase Novak

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to BookBridgr and Mulholland Books for provide me with this copy. 

Pages: 320
Publisher: Mullholland Books
Released: 7th of October 2014

Two teenagers struggle with a horrific family legacy, and the woman who has adopted them fights for their lives--and her own.

Adam and Alice are reaching the age when some of the children created by the fertility treatment that spawned them begin to turn feral. Will they succomb to the same physiological horror that destroyed their parents? Every change brings on terror--the voice cracking as it changes, the swelling of the breasts, the coarsening of down into actual hair. Their aunt, Cynthia, oversees renovations to the Twisden family's Manhattan residence--torn apart by the children's parents at their most savage--and struggles to give her niece and nephew the unconditional love they never had. Meanwhile, in the world outside, the forces of good and evil collide as a troop of feral offspring threatens to invade the refuge Cynthia is so determined to construct behind the Twisdens' walls.

What I Have To Say

I had no idea that this was a sequel until about five minutes ago, so that shows I need to do more research into the books I review. But even so, it didn't read like a sequel. If books do then I normally stop reading until I can get the book before it. The issues I had with this book had nothing to do with it being a sequel as far as I can tell. 

I really just didn't get into it. The writing wasn't that thrilling to me, especially as there were a lot of characters to keep track of. But I think mostly it was that I wasn't in the mood for this sort of book. It was just a bit slow. 

I also thought that the children didn't show enough trauma. There was a sort of head nod to the trauma, but after what they'd been through it should have affected them and the other wild children, far more than it was in the book. 

This book wasn't bad, it just wasn't for me really. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

The Gatekeeper's Son by C.R Fladmark

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 348
Publisher: Shokunin Publishing Company
Released: 1st of October 2014

Junya’s grandfather is a billionaire who keeps the secret to his success hidden in a heavily guarded safe.
His mother is a martial artist who wields a razor-sharp katana—and seems to read his mind. 
And a mysterious girl in a Japanese school uniform can knock him over—literally—with just a look.
What do they know that he doesn’t?
Junya’s life takes a dangerous turn on his sixteenth birthday, when someone sets out to destroy not only the family’s business empire—the one that he’s set to inherit—but Junya himself. He’s fighting for his life, and doesn’t know who to trust. 
What has his family been keeping from him?
Junya’s journey takes him from the narrow streets of San Francisco to Japan, and through hidden portals to the top of the ancient Japanese Izumo Shinto shrine, to places where death and violence are a way of life. And in a mystical world he’s never imagined, he finds his true destiny.

What I Have To Say 

 This book got better as I got into it, but I had a lot of issues with it. I liked Junya's computer skills and how they were utilized in the plot and I quite liked Shoko's character in general. But I don't really think that the Japanese culture fitted into the story. It didn't seem to have a reason to be there except for the big shrine in Japan where all of it is supposed to have started.

Shoko had no reason at all to be wearing a Japanese school uniform in the middle of San Francisco except for possibly the fact that it gave her an excuse to were a tennis racket case to put her katana in (though why not have a proper case for it, since it isn't uncommon in Japan for students to carry cases to put their Bokken in for Kendo practice, they've already got her in a school uniform?). Since her people are supposed to come from another world where they don't wear modern clothing, there was no reason to have her in a Japanese school uniform. It would have made more sense to have her in regular clothes.

Also, I didn't like the way that Junya came into his powers, automatically knew how to use them and was amazing at it. I get that he had loads of training in martial arts from his mother throughout his childhood, but that doesn't really make someone good at magic... just at martial arts. He might have the mindset already... but surely he'd still need some sort of training to apply it to magic and learn to direct it?

This book just wasn't for me.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to the publisher for providing me with this review copy.
Pages: 448
Publisher: Orion
Released: 2nd of October 2014

The spiral has existed as long as time has existed. 
It's there when a girl walks through the forest, the moist green air clinging to her skin.
There centuries later in a pleasant green dale, hiding the treacherous waters of Golden Beck that take Anna, who they call a witch.
There on the other side of the world, where a mad poet watches the waves and knows the horrors they hide, and far into the future as Keir Bowman realises his destiny.
Each takes their next step in life.
None will ever go back to the same place.
And so their journeys begin...

What I Have To Say 

I chose to read this in the order it was put in the book. It was the most logical order and seemed the most easy since I was reading a paperback and was slipping reading time in whenever I could rather than reading it straight through. If I'd had other circumstances, I might have tried a different reading order, but to be honest, I'm pretty happy with the order I read it in. It made sense chronologically and had a nice sort of come together at the end. But I'd be interested to hear from people who chose to read it in a different order and how they found it. 

This book was a work of art. A lot of books that feel more like art than works of fiction feel like the art concept is overshadowing the actual enjoyment of the book. This one was better though. There was still a feeling that the art and the spiral metaphor of the whole thing was overshadowing the goal of making an entertaining story, but each little story was entertaining. 

The final one was pretty confusing though. It made my head hurt. But then often with that brand of sci fi, the confusion is half the fun. Still, I think it is worth reading, if you like Marcus Sedgwick or are just interested in all the myths and ideas surrounding spirals. It's an interesting read. 

Monday, 1 December 2014

Captive by A.J. Grainger

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 250
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK Children's Books
Released: 9th of January 2015

I open my eyes. The cell is flooded with sunlight; the window is a slice of pale blue. Dust particles dance in the sparkling light, pirouetting in a golden line from the window to the opposite wall of the cell, where they seem to converge into shapes. It is like looking into a kaleidoscope. 

Dad isn't here. No one is, but me.
Robyn Knollys-Green is an A-list celebrity, famous for being the daughter of one of the world's most powerful men. But not even the paparazzi can find her now.

Robyn begins to realise that she is trapped in a complicated web of global corruption and deceit - and that the strange, melancholy boy who has been tasked with guarding her might not be an enemy after all . . .

What I Have To Say

I don't know where this new trend about Stockholm Syndrome has come from, but I don't like it. I think it's something that is hard to do well and that needs to be well researched. Most importantly, I think it cannot be romanticised. 

This book was a lot better at it than Black Ice was. Partly because the boy that she fell for was caught up in the terrorism and not so  much her captor as someone who was helping to guard her, but also because they acknowledged that it was weird and wrong. I think that's part of what's needed in this genre. It needs to be said that it's not a good thing at all. It's a syndrome and it's not real love. 

Aside from the romantic Stockholm Syndrome, this book was all right. It had a fair bit of tension and was enjoyable to read, which is pretty impressive since most of it took place inside a very small, white room. But it wasn't amazing.