Monday, 30 June 2014

The Secret Diary Of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks goes to Netgalley and Touchstone for providing me with this e-ARC.

Pages: 400
Publisher: Touchstone
Released: 1st of July 2014

Twenty-four-year-old grad student Lizzie Bennet is saddled with student loan debt and still living at home along with her two sisters-beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. When she records her reflections on life for her thesis project and posts them on YouTube, she has no The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will soon take on a life of their own, turning the Bennet sisters into internet celebrities seemingly overnight.

When rich and handsome Bing Lee comes to town, along with his stuck-up friend William Darcy, things start to get interesting for the Bennets--and for Lizzie;s viewers. But not everything happens on-screen. Lucky for us, Lizzie has a secret diary.

What I Have To Say

I think that my opinion of this book can be seen by the 61 highlights that I made on my nook. I'm not often one to highlight or write down quotes, although I'm trying to get into the habit, so having 1 highlight is something special, let alone 61. 

I think that the thing I liked the most was how strong the voices were. I thought that they might feel a little less real, compared to the videos, but as soon as I opened the first page Lizzie's voice was just straight in my head. Admittedly, I spent most of the book trying to watch the videos along with the book (which I highly recommend as a great way to read it), but even when I was away from the computer the voices were so strong, even the characters we don't see in the videos. 

What I liked about the book compared to the videos was that it was that it was so much more detailed. There's so much in there that we didn't get to hear about in the videos and other background stuff that make it feel even more real. Also, we saw a lot more of Lizzie's course and occasionally she spoke like a Mass Media Student, which we don't see so much of in the videos. 

The book just reminded me how much I loved the videos. It was funny, intelligent, heartbreaking and full of scenes to make you swoon (or you know, have a stupid gooey smile while reading). I got absorbed in it in just the same way as I did the videos, it didn't even matter that I'd seen them before. And it made a wonderful companion to read along with the videos.

I could think of  a million things to say about the book and the diaries and still never manage it. It's really just something you need to experience yourself. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The Shadow's Curse by Amy McCulloch

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

My thanks go to Netgalley and Random House for providing me with this e-ARC

Pages: 323
Publisher: Random House Children's Book Publisher 
Released: 3rd of July 2014

Raim is no closer to figuring out the meaning of the broken vow that sentenced him to exile for life. But with his former best friend now a tyrannical Khan who is holding the girl Raim loves captive, he finds it hard to care. Every day, he and Draikh learn more about their powers, but it quickly becomes clear that he will never be able to stop Khareh and free Wadi unless he can free himself from the ultimate taboo of his people. Reluctantly, Raim begins the long journey down to the dangerous South, to find the maker of his oath.

In Khareh's camp, Wadi is more than capable of devising her own escape plan, but she's gradually realising she might not want to. The more she learns about Khareh, the more confused she becomes. He's done unquestionably bad things, horrific even, but he's got big dreams for Darhan that might improve their dire situation. What's more, rumours of a Southern king massing an army to invade Darhan are slowly gaining ground. Only if the Northern tribes can come together under a single ruler will they have the strength to fight the South - but what if that ruler is an impulsive (albeit brilliant) young man, barely able to control his ever-growing power, and missing the one part of him that might keep him sane? Whoever conquers the desert, wins the war. And the secret to desert survival lies in Lazar, which is set to become the heart of a great battle once again.

What I Have To Say

I feel like this book was better than the last, everything was much tighter, although I'm not sure I liked the storyline so much. It was good, but didn't surprise me as much as the first book did.

One thing I really liked was the way that the Seer-abilities worked. The fact that the Seer could see the possibilities and the ways that the future could turn out rather than just what would happen. It's a much more believable way of manipulating and Seeing the future.

It was also good to see some of the things that Kareh was doing because the last book had quite a sudden change between Raim's friend an the murderous dictator that he becomes.

I think that Raim was a little too dependent on Draikh though. Especially towards the end of the book when he shouldn't really have been. He grew a little but I'm just not sure it was really enough. 

Still, I really liked the ending. It felt like a natural conclusion. Both books are really worth reading. 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Every Second Counts by Sophie McKenzie

Synopsis (from Netgalley)

My thanks go to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for providing me with this e-ARC

Pages: 407
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Released: July 31st 2014
Other Books In The Series: Split Second

Nowhere is safe for Charlie and Nat. They have each other, but Roman Riley's networks could reach them at any time. Charlie believes the only option is to go undercover in Riley's team, and sneaks away from Nat to pursue her plan alone. Nat is desperate to find Charlie, but his family are in danger and Riley is coming ever closer. Even if Nat and Charlie can find each other again, could being together be even more dangerous than being apart . . .?

What I Have To Say

I'm really not sure which I preferred, this book or the first. I feel that the ending of this one was a lot better. It was really tense and gripping. A book that demands your attention until it's over.

I adored how manipulative Roman was. How everything was part of his plans and Charlie and Nat could do nothing but play into his hands.

The ending was perfect as well. It was just the right balance of satisfying and accepting the least bad option. If it had been an ending where everything turned out brilliantly and the country ended up in the hands of someone who would do everything right, it would just have undermined the honesty and realism that both books presented.

Like it or not, there is no perfect government.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Event Report: John Green Party

So on Saturday night, I went to the John Green party at Birmingham high street Waterstones. I didn't really know what to expect but they said there would be cake so I thought it would be cool. Although the cake part ended up being a bit disappointing.

The friend I was supposed to be going with had to cancel last minute, which made walking into a room full of people I didn't know, being unsure what was actually going to happen, really nerve-wracking. Luckily I managed to sit with three girls (and met more awesome people later on) so it was fine.

The event started with announcements of some future events ( Maze Runner Party, Lauren Oliver Signing and the Launch of Alice Oseman's Solitaire, all very exciting) followed by a really hard TFIOS quiz (who can remember the name of the drug Hazel was on?).

We were given awesome goodie bags (see picture above), even though they're both ones I've already read. Though the new John Green covers are so pretty and I've been wanting a hard copy of The Year of the Rat so I'm keeping both!

Then we were let loose to buy books (all buy one get one half price), raffle tickets and event tickets, eat cake and chat. The cake consisted of a table of nibbles with a disappointing lack of cake. There were cake balls, which you have to try if you get the chance, but they were 50p each. The money went to a cancer charity, which is great, but after delicious cupcakes at the Laini Taylor signing, I expected more.

The raffle was filled with loads of amazing prizes that I didn't win, and I mean loads. So many people were made happy by winning T-shirts and signed posters and star prize goodie bag that I'd have sold my soul for.

The whole event was just amazing. I met a ton of people and had a lot of fun. The cake, while being a lie, was lovely and I can't wait for the next event.

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch

Synosis (from Goodreads

Pages: 416
Publisher: Random House Children's Publisher
Released: 6th of June 2013

Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.

Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.

Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.

What I Have To Say

I know I say this about a lot of books, but this is one of the most interesting worlds I have come across in a Fantasy novel. McCulloch has created three quite distinct cultures and while this does mean that there is a lot of infodumping (way more than necessary to be honest) it makes the world feel very real and well rounded.

The magic system was also a really good part of the book. The idea of using knots for magic isn't unique, but there is a perfect sense of symbolism in the act of making knots when making a promise, which I think fits very well.

I really liked the characters as well. Draikh and Wadi especially really stood out for me. Wadi because of her roots and personally history and Draikh because of his sarcasm as well as who he is and what he can do.

I'm really looking forward to the next book and not just because of the cliffhanger it ended on.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Split Second by Sophie McKenzie

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 368
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Released: 12th of September 2013

Bound together by the devastating consequences of a terrorist attack on a London market, teenagers Charlotte (Charlie) and Nat appear at first to have much in common. But, as Charlie gets closer to Nat and his family, she begins to wonder if perhaps he knows more about the attack than he has let on. Split Second is an action-packed thriller that shifts between the perspectives of its two main characters as their courage and their loyalties are tested to the limit.

What I Have To Say

I've been reading a few Sophie McKenzie books lately, trying to see what people like about her books. I have to admit that they weren't really catching me. They were good but nothing special. But now I've found a great one. The first few chapters of Split Second were gripping and it was really hard to put it down and go to bed (gotta stop starting books in the middle of the night).

While the training camp part was less gripping, it was a part that I really enjoyed. A lot of YA characters these days seem to already know how to fight for some reason, so it was interesting to see the characters having to learn how.

It would be lapse of me to finish this review without talking about the chilling near future reality that McKenzie has created. It's most worrying because she describes our world, our country, London! But gripped in a state of rampant poverty where the poor have to take free food bags from the government while the rich send their children to expensive schools.

This is the world we could live in. A world that may not actually be that far down the line. And isn't that thought terrifying?

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa (a.k.a some thoughts on Trilogies)

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 393
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Released: 15th of April 2014
Other Books in the Series:

Vengeance will be hers.

 Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster? With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer. 


 Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions - her creator Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost - the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie.

 In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, her triumph will be short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.


What I Have To Say

I've adored this trilogy since the start, but this book? This book was something even more special. It made the whole trilogy more special. Because it didn't just wrap up the story and tie away the lose ends. It made the trilogy come together as one. 

Trilogies are very popular, especially at the moment. It feels like every book coming out is part of a trilogy. And that is the term for a series of books (or plays, films etc.,) but if you look at the best trilogies, they're more than just three stories told over three books. They are one story. A story which loops around and brings in very significant aspects of the start, into the finish. 

This is exactly what The Forever Song did. It finished off in a place that seemed to fit exactly with what happened in the first book. It felt almost like a circle with so much of the first book coming back to play important parts in the ending. It felt like Frodo going back to the Shire and having to free the hobbits. It felt like Luke seeing the spirits of Yoda and Obi Wan and Anakin. It felt like a trilogy. 

And it makes me wonder, is a trilogy any more than just a series of three connected books? Or should it be redefined to something more like the Blood of Eden? Are we doing it wrong? 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Some Fine Day by Kat Ross

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

My thanks go to Strange Chemistry and Netgalley for providing me with this e-ARC. 

Pages: 384
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Released: 1st of July 2014

Sixteen-year-old Jansin Nordqvist is on the verge of graduating from the black ops factory known as the Academy. She's smart and deadly, and knows three things with absolute certainty:
1. When the world flooded and civilization retreated deep underground, there was no one left on the surface.
2. The only species to thrive there are the toads, a primate/amphibian hybrid with a serious mean streak.
3. There's no place on Earth where you can hide from the hypercanes, continent-sized storms that have raged for decades.
Jansin has been lied to. On all counts.

What I Have To Say  

The thing I liked most about this book was how easy it was to read. Instantly I was pulled straight into the world and into the main character's head. And Jansin was a good main character. She was strong, independent and clear of her own mind. She wasn't willing to be the good little girl and stay with the man her parents liked and considered perfect for her. She didn't want to just go down the path that was picked for her. She wanted more. She didn't love the boy and she wasn't sure about the division she wanted to head into. But after eight years of being trained by the army academy, thinking by herself is difficult for her.

The world was simple, easy to picture and without too much info-dumping, but occasionally it felt a bit hollow. Some of the facts didn't seem very accurate. Starting each character with a fact about the world was a good idea, but when it states that people only have career options, which seemed to ignore a lot of jobs that exist and are needed to exist in order to survive. Even in the future when so many things are done by machine, there are surely more job prospects than science, military

Although, I would have liked to have spent more time on the surface, with Will and the others, I do like the way the story went. It was an interesting plot with lots of twists and turns. Even if some of the characters were rather cardboard and easy to mix up, it wasn't too hard to follow.

 I would like to see more from the author in the future.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Take Back The Skies by Lucy Saxon

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

My thanks go to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for supplying me with this e-ARC. 

Pages: 378
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: 5th of June 2014

Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.
So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all...

What I Have To Say 

Steampunk dystopian. Just the idea made me fall in love. And I liked it. I liked the characters. They were all very well rounded and had great personality, except maybe Alice who just seemed like "the wife" the typical woman who cooks and coos over everyone like they're her children. But Cat was awesome and Fox was surly and irritable and cool even if his tragic back story was rather mundane.

In hindsight, there was quite a lot not to like, but there were only two things that I really didn't like about it whilst I was reading it. Everything else I quite enjoyed. Those things were mostly plot and setting based. The plot was... Well it was readable, and maybe it's just that I've read too many dystopians, but it only surprised me in one case, and even then, it was something that I had wondered if it might be leading too, even if I had dismissed it as unlikely.

The other thing was the technological part of the setting. They had newsports in most houses and androids for the rich, but aside from the obvious part of the plot, there wasn't so much technology involved. Even the screens just seemed to be thrown in occasionally because the author had just remembered there was meant to be technology there.

Maybe it's the sort of book that's best for people who haven't read too much dystopia. Or maybe I wasn't in the mood for it. In all it was good, as long as you don't pick it up wanting something with lots of shocking twists and turns.


Thursday, 5 June 2014

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Synopsis (from Goodreads

My thanks go to Netgalley and Hatchette Children's Books for supplying me with this e-ARC

Pages: 368
Publisher: Hatchette Children's Books
Released: 1st of May 2014

At least, that's what everyone seems to think when Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. But Sara is sure she hasn't done anything wrong, because Emma brought it on herself. Sara is adamant that she was the victim - not Emma.

What I Have To Say

I'm always interested in books that take a different viewpoint. There are tons of YA books that deal with bullying. But this is the first I've ever come across one that isn't told from the victims point of view. 

I really liked the format of the book, how the chapters alternated between Sara preparing for her trial, with lawyers, therapy and summer school, and the incidents that brought her there with Brielle and Emma Putnam. It helped create a sense of mystery.

I felt that the issues of bullying and blame were handled very well. Obviously, it's a very sensitive topic and the book managed to create enough sympathy for Sara without glossing over the matter at hand. it also delves deep into the debate of whether or not blame should be put on any person in a tragic circumstance like this.

This was definitely a very interesting read and a good look at the kind of harassment that happens every day inside a lot of school. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Grim Anthology by Christine Johnson

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 454
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Released: 25th of February 2014

Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today.

What I Have To Say

I think most people who read these posts know how much I like fairytale retellings, so obviously Grim was a book I’ve been really looking forward to. Anthologies like this are ones I find hard to review. I mean there are so many very different stories. Reviewing each one would take forever. So I’m going to talk about my favourites, the two that really stuck out for me. 

The first one I’m going to talk about is my absolute favourite, Beauty and the Chad  by Sarah Reese Brennan. I wasn’t sure about the concept at first, it felt a little silly. But I really should have taken into account the comedic skills that Sarah Reese Brennan always shows in her writing, because Chad’s portrayal was perfect, a stereotype, but just on the right side of ridiculous. And the way he fit into the medieval society was hilarious.  
The fact that the heroine was disguised as a boy and the very insistent cutlery, the best part in my opinion, made this story a brilliant, light-hearted reworking of Beauty and the Beast. 

The other story I want to talk about is Figment by Jeri Smith-Ready. With references to Puss in Boots, the story is told from the point of view of a creature inhabiting a toy cat, a sort of guide, helping a musician find his potential. 

This story broke my heart. I fell in love very quickly with the figment and his feelings of rejection, being unappreciated and abandonment really touched me. 

There are so many stories from this book that I could write full reviews of and though, naturally, as with any book like this there were others that weren’t so good, most of them were ones I really enjoyed.