Monday, 31 March 2014

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 617
Publisher: Gollancz
Released: May 2007 (first published 1999)

A class of 42 junior high school students are taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided with weapons and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing.

What I Have To Say

I have to admit that I was interested in this book because of the Hunger Games being compared to it so much. And I also have to admit that I saw the film before I read the book. I can definitely see how much this book influenced the Hunger Games. But I like them both. They have similarities and they have differences and I think they're both good in their own ways.

Battle Royale is a lot more violent than the Hunger Games. And there are a lot more people in the Game. I was a little worried that it might be hard to keep track of (and it was pretty hard in the film) but it actually worked pretty well, especially since there were maybe seven main players to keep track of and most of it was centred around the main three.

It is definitely much more chilling than the Hunger Games. Especially since the children are killing their own friends and classmates rather than strangers from other districts. And some of the scenes can get quite gory (especially in the movie!) So this is not for the young faint of heart, but something I do really recommend, especially for those who enjoyed the Hunger Games.

A word of warning about the movie though. It is great, but harrowing. Have chocolate nearby and be prepared to feel a bit hollow for an hour or so! The book is less hard-hitting, but probably best not to read it all in one go.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 418
Publisher: Hodder Paperback
Released: 5th of August 2012

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

 What I Have To Say

 This book was recommended to me years ago and I'm really regretting that it took me so long. Because this book was incredible from start to finish. 

First up, the prose. Few writers have the ability to write beautiful, intricate prose that invokes such vivid descriptions of such supernatural things, and not just the unusual, everything from the Chimaera to the Seraphim to Karou sitting with her sketch book, her bright blue hair being held back with a pencil is described so perfectly that it remains memorable and easy to picture long after putting down the book. 

The other thing that needs to be commented on is the mystery and intrigue that Laini Taylor creates throughout the book. There are hints and brief snatches of information about Karou and where she comes from woven throughout the story, with more and more revealed until Taylor is teasing the reader with  the knowledge that everything is so close to being revealed almost to the point of frustration, making it engrossing in the way that only the best books are.

This book was just perfect in every way. It all just works together to make something amazing. So much so that I can't think of a single thing wrong with it. 

Monday, 24 March 2014

The Worst Girlfriend In The World by Sarra Manning

My thanks go to Netgalley and Little Brown Book Group UK for providing me with this e-ARC. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 336
Publisher: Atom
Released: 1st of May 2014

Alice Jenkins is the worst girlfriend in the world according to the many, many boys who've shimmied up lampposts and shoplifted from New Look to impress her, only to be dumped when she gets bored of them. Alice has a very low boredom threshold.

But she never gets bored with Franny, her best friend since they met at nursery school. Friends are for ever. Ain't nothing going to come between them. Girls rule, boys drool is their motto. Well, it's Alice's motto, Franny doesn't have much time for boys; they're all totes immature and only interested in one thing.

But then there's Louis Allen, lead singer of The Desperadoes, the best band in Merrycliffe-on-sea (though that could be because they're the only band in Merrycliffe-on-sea). He's a tousle-haired, skinny-jeaned, sultry-eyed manchild, the closest thing that Franny's ever seen to the hipsters that she's read about on the internet and she's been crushing on him HARD for the last three years.

She's never worked up the courage to actually speak to him but she's sure on some deeper level that goes beyond mere words, Louis absolutely knows that she's his soulmate. He just doesn't know that he knows it yet. It's why he cops off with so many other girls.

So, when Alice, bored with callow youths, sets her sights on Louis it threatens to tear the girls' friendship apart, even though they're better than fighting over a boy.

They strike a devil's deal - may the best girl win. Best friends become bitter rivals and everything comes to an explosive conclusion on their first trip to London.

Can true friendship conquer all?

What I Have To Say

This is only the second Sarra Manning book I've read and it's just highlighted the fact that I really need to read more of them. Her writing is so true to life as well as fun and easy to read.

I think the thing I like most is the characters. All the characters in The Worst Girlfriend In The World are very realistic as well as being very unique and original. They all have their own thoughts, problems and personalities and none of their actions feel at all out of place. And after a while Franny's friends feel almost like your own.

The romance is another thing I loved. Only a few authors manage to write a relationship that you can completely see. It's just so apparent that there doesn't need to be much exposition at all. It is just the romance and nothing more.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Steadfast by Claudia Gray

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 346
Publisher: Harper Teen
Released: 4th of March 2014
Other Books In The Series: Spellcaster

Nadia, Mateo, and Verlaine have saved Captive's Sound from the dark Sorceress Elizabeth...or so they thought. Despite their best efforts, a crack opened and a new, greater evil seeped through. With Mateo as her Steadfast, Nadia's magic is magnified and she is more powerful than ever. But there is still so much she doesn't know about the craft, leaving her open and vulnerable to a darker magic...which has begun to call Nadia's name.

What I Have To Say

I'm not sure whether I like Steadfast better than Spellcaster. I like them both for different reasons. Spellcaster was all new and exciting with the type of magic that I love, which is still there in Steadfast but it's not so new anymore. But I think I prefer the plot of Steadfast, it felt a lot more interesting than the plot of Spellcaster. I especially liked how much 
 more involved the town was, because it felt as though they were rather oblivious in Spellcaster, but in Steadfast, they can't help but notice.

I loved the manipulation and how Elisabeth was trying to split apart the group, but I feel like it didn't really amount to anything. Other than worrying them all, it didn't really have much effect.

I really enjoyed the ending though. I don't know how I'm going to be able to wait for the next book because this series looks like it's getting good. I'm really looking forward to seeing what's next and how Nadia will cope with it all. 

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Year Of The Rat by Clare Furniss

My thanks go to Simon and Schuster as well as Netgally for providing me with this e-ARC.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 320
Publisher: Simon and Schuster 
Released: 24th of April 2014

I always thought you'd know, somehow, if something terrible was going to happen. I thought you'd sense it, like when the air goes damp and heavy before a storm and you know you'd better hide yourself away somewhere safe until it all blows over. But it turns out it's not like that at all. There's no scary music playing in the background like in films. No warning signs. Not even a lonely magpie. One for sorrow, Mum used to say. Quick, look for another.

The world can tip at any moment … a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mum dies after giving birth to her baby sister. Told across the year following her mother's death, Pearl's story is full of bittersweet humour and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mum, but also the fact that her sister - The Rat - is a constant reminder of why her mum is no longer around…

What I Have To Say

I think the thing that struck me most about this book was how realistic the emotion was. Although it felt a bit overwhelming at first because there was little other than sadness, especially in the first hundred pages. But it's a really accurate picture of how someone can be torn apart by the death of a parent. Add in a new baby sister and Pearl's fears that her best friend's new boyfriend may pull her away from her and it makes for a very intense ride. 

It was incredibly easy to get in touch with Pearl's emotions, there was no effort needed to understand her feelings of resentment towards her baby sister, who her mum died giving birth to, or the fear that her dad will love the new baby more than her. 

I also felt that the adults' reactions were very accurate as well. Pearl's dad being completely oblivious to just how much she's suffering and her teacher's concern for her grades rather than her well-being may seem harsh, but it is a very honest picture of what many struggling teenagers have to face. 

You will definitely need tissues when reading this book, but it's worth the tears. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Angel by L A Weatherly

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 512
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Released: 1st of October 2010

Angels are all around us: beautiful, awe-inspiring, irresistible.

 Ordinary mortals yearn to catch a glimpse of one of these stunning beings and thousands flock to The Church of Angels to feel their healing touch.

But what if their potent magnetism isn't what it seems? BrWillow knows she's different from other girls. And not just because she loves tinkering around with cars.

Willow has a gift. She can look into people's futures, know their dreams, their hopes and their regrets, just by touching them. But she has no idea where she gets this power from.

Until she meets Alex… brAlex is one of the few who know the truth about angels. He knows Willow's secret and is on a mission to stop her.

The dark forces within Willow make her dangerous – and irresistible.

In spite of himself, Alex finds he is falling in love with his sworn enemy.

What I Have To Say

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book as I'm not that into angels, but I was really surprised. The concept that L A Weatherly creates of these creatures and how they come to hold such a different image in people's imaginations. Having such a different idea of angels could have gone wrong, but the way that it was done, made it work. 

I want to know more about the angels and their society in their own world as well as the powers that Willow has received from them. It will aso be interesting to see what happens between Willow and Raziel.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Champion by Marie Lu

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 369
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Released: 5th of November 2013
Other Books in the Series: Legend

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

What I Have To Say

I have to say,  approached this book with caution, because honestly I liked how Prodigy ended. It was sad, but it felt like an ending. June and Day's story aside, I could see what else could happen. But I was so very wrong. 

Antartica was my favourite part I think. Though it was a bit apart from the main story, it was cool to see another part of the world. Though I would have liked to see how it all worked and more importantly: what's wrong with it. Because the best part of these worlds is finding the dark secrets that are hidden beneath the surface. 

Day was also completely adorable with Eden, so it was nice to see them get some time together to just be brothers even if it was short lived. 

I really really loved this trilogy and the ending was good. It may have felt a little convenient but it made the romantic in me happy. 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: Templar Publishing
Released: 1st August 2013 


 Every year, the United Commonwealth invites top graduates from each colony to participate in The Testing. Successful candidates will go on to the University and help the government work to rebuild our war-stricken world. This process is not optional. 

Disclaimer: The United Commonwealth is not responsible for candidates' psychological or physical heath during The Testing. 

What I Have To Say

This is one of my new book crushes. I got it on the recomendation of a friend and I love her for getting me to read it. 

I think the thing I like most about it is the main character, Cia. The best thing about Cia is that she knows herself. She knows her strengths and her weaknesses and she acts according to them. She doesn't angst over what she can't change. And when she shows emotion or worry it isn't overly repeatitive or overdone. I feel that she's much more realistic than a lot of characters that I've found in YA. 

Another thing I like is how practical she is. She knows she can't trust the other students being tested and so she thinks things through and figures out the best options. 

Which is another thing I like. I love books where you don't know who the enemy is. You have no idea who to trust. It gives a lot of chance for me to try and work out who can and can't be trusted. I think I spent most of the book seeing who I thought would betray Cia.

There's also a lot of emphasis on the skills Cia has learnt just from living in her village. I think it's great that that it really shows how much harder it is just living in a place without the comforts that we take for granted (and not just lack of food, which a lot of books seem to fixate on). A lot of things that Cia does to save herself come from experiences she had at home. 

There are just so many things that make this book wonderful. And the twists! So many great twists that are almost completely unexpected (unless of course you spend most of the book trying to guess every way that Cia could be betrayed). 
This is just one of those books where all I can say is trust me. And I hope you take my advice. 

Monday, 3 March 2014

Shattered by Teri Terry

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 402
Publisher: Orchard Books
Released: 6th of March 2014

Kyla is in danger from both the government Lorders who erased her memory and the terrorists who tried to use her. So now she’s on the run. Sporting a new identity and desperate to fill in the blank spaces of her life pre-Slating, Kyla heads to a remote mountain town to try to reunite with the birth mother she was kidnapped from as a child. There she is hoping all the pieces of her life will come together and she can finally take charge of her own future. But even in the idyllic wilderness and the heart of her original family, Kyla realizes there is no escape from the oppressive Lorders. Someone close to her may be one of them, and even more frighteningly, her birth mother has been keeping secrets of her own.

What I Have To Say

I was so excited to read Shattered and see how everything ended up. Kyla,  or Rain or Lucy or Riley or whatever she's calling herself now, feels like an old friend. Throughout the books we have seen her develop from an empty Slated girl into her own person, even whilst not knowing quite where she came from. 

This book was slower than the last two, but I actually quite liked that. I think the pace gave a nice peaceful tone to Kyla's journey around the town of her childhood. Though I did find it a bit sudden when it heated up again. 

The ending wrapped up nicely. All the lose ends were wrapped up and there was nothing I was left wondering about. It had just the right amount of tension, twists and drama to make it a really good and satisfying conclusion. 

I will miss this trilogy a lot. Slated will always been the best of the trilogy to me and it has been a book I have adored since it first came out. I'm really, really sad to leave it behind, but at least I will have Teri Terry's new trilogy to look forward to.

Do I really need to tell you again that you need to read Slated?