Friday, 31 July 2015

Book Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Read: July 29 - 30  Verdict: 5 Stars

Ruby caught a sickness that killed a majority of her class, and children both older and younger than her. She was one of the lucky ones...except she wasn't so lucky because now she's been sent to a special camp because of the abilities the sickness has given her and hundreds of other survivors, all children.

Years later, Ruby is still stuck in the camp until she's suddenly broken out by a kindly doctor. Ruby's different to the other children, her abilities are more dangerous and soon she discover's she could be used for all kinds of dangerous anti-government activities. On the run, Ruby meets other children like her and soon discovers that true friendship and kindness can still exist.

I really loved this book. It completely kept me on the edge of my seat, I had no idea what was coming around the corner which made me love it and hate it at the same time. For some reason, I always thought this book was something to do with fey or demons, I think because of the cover and the strange symbol, so I was pleasantly surprised when it ended up being more of a dystopian tale. 

I felt the premise of this book was very solid, from the build-up of the sickness to when Ruby ended up in camp. The fear, the colour sorting and the brief glimpses of Ruby's abilities. The camps reminded me very much of WW2 concentration camps from the designated uniforms, the work and the bullying from the guards. Which, I can only presume, was done on purpose.

There was so much suspense in this book. I never knew who Ruby could really trust, from Cate and Rob, plus yucky Michael, to Liam and grumpy Chubs (who ended up being a sweetie). I really loved the friendship that formed between this gang, not to mention the friendship that was already existing between Zu, Liam and Chubs. They may be my new favourite buddy group in a novel for the time being. 

Clancy Grey was such a mystery for me. I didn't know if he was going to end up causing another love triangle or if he was someone just not to be trusted. For a while, it almost seemed like his Orange powers were seeping out of the page and affecting me! The whole time the gang were at East River, I felt like the whole thing was a bomb waiting to go off. It was so worrying and really kept me on the edge of my seat!

The ending was great and heartbreaking (it reminded me a little bit of Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood) and I can't wait to continue on this adventure!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Book Review: Another Day by David Levithan

Read: July 27 - 28   Verdict: 4 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Another Day is basically Every Day, just told through the eyes of Rhiannon. To recap, Every Day tells the story of A who wakes up in a different body everyday. When A wakes up in Justin's body, he accidentally falls in love with Rhiannon, Justin's girlfriend. Every Day tells the story of A and Rhiannon and how they deal with their rather odd love story.

While Every Day was amazing and we got to see the world how A saw it, Another Day deals with living life stuck in the same place while the love of your life is god knows where and in who knows! I found it so interesting to see A's life through Rhiannon and how she dealt with her emotions, and how she was able to see A even when he was in the body of different people. Her development in beginning to recognise him was lovely to read and how she was able to sort her feelings out as well. Again, like Every Day, this book brought up some great thoughts and questions for about how people feel for others, sexually and emotionally. And how we can see and recognise each other's souls.

I also loved having an inside view into Rhiannon and Justin's relationship. Another Day gives a private peek into that, and we see both the good and the bad and can understand why Rhiannon stayed with Justin as long as she did and why she was so hesitant to break away from it.

I really loved the ending, and how we got a glimpse of Alexander as Alexander and his feelings towards Rhiannon. For me, I didn't quite get enough of that interaction but I'm just being greedy! While this book, understandably, didn't have quite the same impact on me as Every Day did this is still an amazing book with beautiful, thought-provoking writing.

Every Day review can be found here.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Book Review: Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Read: July 10 - 12   Verdict: 4 Stars

Blanche Beunon is an ex-Parisian circus performer, now living in San Francisco with her beau and his best friend. It's 1876, the smallpox epidemic is at large and Blanche is supporting her small family by working as a burlesque dancer in an established bar.

Little does Blanche know, but the night she bumps (literally) into Jenny Bonnet, a cross-dressing frog catcher who rides a large unicycle, is the night that changes the course of the rest of her life. Jenny's questions end up making Blanche reconsider choices she has made, and eventually, somehow, ends up with Jenny lying dead in an Irishman's bar.

I really enjoyed this book. I felt it extremely fresh and exotic. It was something I had never read about before and it really kept me on my toes. The story flashes back and forth from the night and the days following Jenny;s murder to the night Blanche originally met Jenny and the weeks that followed that meeting.

Blanche is a flawed character who, despite throwbacks, does try to do her best. She has led a life being sheltered and manipulated almost by the men in her life and it's interesting to see her character development into not only a mother but a woman who can stand up for herself, and stand on her own two feet. Jenny was a character that was so full of life but also full of secrets and it both thrilled and frustrated me that by the end of the novel we still only got a half-painted picture of who she really was. I would actually love some kind of short story in Jenny;s POV as I found her truly fascinating. I suppose she could be called a feminist before people even knew what the word meant.

The backdrop of the story, San Francisco during an epidemic was full of atmosphere, and dripping with history. Blanche's home is in the middle of the street where a number of emigrants lived and her daily life was full of the French, Irish and Chinese. I really loved this. I also loved that all the characters in this book were actually real people!

I think, from reading reviews on Goodreads, people need to go into this book with fresh eyes and not compare it to any other books from the same author. It is a delicious, atmospheric piece of historical writing, and it will have you dancing on stage with Blanche and riding around San Fran on a unicycle with a bag of hopping frogs with Jenny. Enjoy the ride!

Book Review: Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

Read: July 3 - 5    Verdict: 3.5 Stars

Zoe lives in a world where emotion simply does not exist. Fear, worry, love, kindness, has all been evaporated. Except in some people. Some people in Zoe's world 'glitch' and when that happens, there's times they are never seen again. Zoe is glitching and she is terrified. Then she meets Adrien. Adrien saves Zoe's life and introduces her to a world she never knew existed. One that she can <i>feel</i> in.

I wonder how i would have felt about this book and Zoe's world if I hadn't read the Delirium series first. I couldn't help but compare the two, though there are slight differences in the fact that Zoe has technology implanted in her brain, similar to an android or robot, where in Delirium Lena would have surgery to eradicate the feeling of love.

I enjoyed Zoe's exploration of her different feelings and i really liked how she felt love and protection for her brother. Being a big sister to a brother myself, I understood that feeling of feeling protective and I really bonded with her over that. I also felt that while Zoe's relationship with Adrien could be deemed 'insta-love' it worked for me because Zoe had never felt (or been allowed) such feelings before. And Adrien had felt he'd known Zoe for well over a year with his visions.

The major problem I had with this book was Max. It was such a strange love triangle. There was nothing really redeeming about Max for me at all. He seemed cute and innocent at first and then he quickly turned into a sex-crazed lunatic. He was pushy, possessive to the point of being controlling and dangerous, and way too forceful when it came to sex and intimate interactions. Ew. What a creep.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Book Review: Love's Curse by Darren Gallagher

Read: July 14 - 21    Verdict: 2.85 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I'll admit that I did waver between giving this book between a 2.5 stars and 3 stars. I think to compromise, I'll give it a 2.85. Overall, I enjoyed the novel and it's the first zombie novel I've read based in Ireland which is fantastic.

Love's Curse centres around Justin who is living in a Post Office warehouse following the zombie apocalypse. One day, Justin gets a call from Camille, the girl he's loved from afar since, well, forever. She needs his help and Justin finally gets the chance to be her knight in shining armour.

From the get go, we can tell that nothing is going to go as it seems for Justin. And, of course, it doesn't. While this is mainly suppose to be a zombie novel, I think I have to describe it as a not-your-typical romance novel set in the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse. There wasn't quite enough detailed scenes of zombies for me. I would have liked a few flashbacks too - something that would broaden out the story a bit more and take away from Justin's plentiful moments of pining after Camille.

I enjoyed Justin as a character. While he was quite weak-willed around Camille, though it's understandable as he believes himself to be in love, he proves himself to be a very kind and considerate guy when meeting Abbie and his care and love for his friends and family such as Belle and Ken are very evident. He's also pretty funny and a dab hand with his hurley skills.

I also enjoyed the dynamic between the group back at the depot. Again, I would have liked more scenes, finding out a bit more about the characters and how they knew each other. How they ended up at their hideout. Maybe even possibly finding more survivors.

Now, the major problems I had with this book was mainly to do with areas regarding Camille. Though one other thing was the frequent use of the c-word. I HATE that word. I can' stand to hear it or read it, and I would never choose to read it. It's an ugly word and, for me, there's a reason people don't use it in normal conversations. I'd much rather people use 'asshole' or even 'bitch' if they have to cuss at all. I just really really hate that word and everytime I read it in this book, i couldn't help but feel a flare of anger. But that's just my personal opinion. I'm sure there's other people out there that have no problems with it.

I would have preferred less 'slut-shaming' in this book. Camille has a boyfriend, she's going to kiss and have sex with her boyfriend. Now, Justin. She may have kissed you but she genuinely, at this point, believed Vic to be dead. She was grasping on survival strings, and calling her a slut, isn't helping anything. Not to mention the amount of times Belle and Ken also called her one. I see it used as a casual insult way too often in normal society so I don't like to read it in my book as well.

The main thing that angered me was the point when Abbie told Camille that her 'acting like a dirty little slut' caused Vic to turn violent. No. There is never a valid reason or excuse for anyone in a relationship, male or female, to turn emotionally and physically abusive. It's domestic violence, and it should never be okay. While I whole-heartedly agree that neither Vic or Camille were good people, and both were ill-mannered, petty, and's still not okay for there to be an excuse. 

I would love to read some kind of sequel eventually and to see how Abbie, Justin, Belle and the others are doing and how they're getting on in the zombie apocalypse. Overall, it's a fast-paced enjoyable read.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Read: July 2 - 3      Verdict: 3 Stars

The Iron Kings centres around Meghan Chase, a recently-turned sixteen-year-old girl. Meghan lives with her mom, stepdad and half-brother in a rundown farm and she has one of those problems that people never seem to notice her.

One day, a lot of strange things happen to Meghan and when she gets home, her brother is not himself. Meghan's best friend Robbie tells her that the person pretending to be her brother is a changeling and in order to rescue her real sibling, they must travel to Fairyland. Meghan, it turns out, is the daughter of one of the Fey Kings and Robbie is not Robbie but Robin Goodfellow aka Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Not only does Meghan have to deal with the fact that her real father is a King of the Summer court, and her stepmom wants to kill her, or turn her into something unnatural, but she also still has to find her brother. With the help of Robin, and the dark prince Ash, who may or may not want to kill her, Meghan need to find the 'Iron Court' which no-one knew even existed.

The detail in this book was extraordinary. Fairyland, despite its inviting name, is not somewhere I would like to go...ever. It's basically the epitome of every bad story about faeries, these are not TinkerBell-esque pixies but drowning waterhorses, human-eating goblins and satyrs who would gladly rape a young girl walking alone in a blink of an eye.

I recently read American Gods by Neil Gaiman and the Iron Court reminded me of some of the concepts in his book as well. The new court was created with people's new obsession with technology. Real magic was weakening while iron and technology grew stronger and threatened to overcome the other fey realms. I think this is a great concept to explore, especially with the age we're living in now.

Overall, this is a great take on a gothic, creepy look at fairies and the world of magic. This book lost a star because of how annoying Meghan was for me. I didn't feel an overly strong connection to any character, Meghan or her love interests Robin and Ash. I think I will go on and read the rest of the trilogy and I'm hoping I will feel closer to the characters as they go through some more trials and I can root for them to come out on top.

Book Review: Fire Storm by Lauren St. John

Read: July 7 - 8   Verdict: 3.25 Stars

Recap: Casey Blue saved a horse, whom she called Storm Warning, from a knackers yard. Casey, who lived in a poor neighbourhood and who's dad has recently served time in prison, decides that Storm is her chance to make her eventing dreams come true. With the help of some well-meaning people in her local run down stable, and an old friend who turns out to be an expert in all things horses and competing, Casey Blue and Storm Warning become a dream team.

It was really nice to step back into the world of Casey, Storm and Angelica Smith. Fire Storm tells the story of Casey Blue as she prepares to go for the Grand Slam title and win the Burghley Horse Trials with her horse Storm Warning, and the help of her slightly eccentric but utterly devoted trainer Mrs Smith.

Straight away there's an awful tension in this book. There's a lot of issues going on that just never happened in the other books. Casey is riding a horse other than Storm, and you really miss the special connection she has with him and the uncertainty she has when dealing with Roxy is so unsettling. Mrs Smith's health issues, which we learnt about in the previous book are getting worse and making her sacrifice some time from Casey's training - and her student doesn't even know she's sick.

And then blonde, perfect Kyle West walks in, give three bits of advice and Casey is off to join him in his stables. Obviously, not all is as it seems.

I enjoyed Casey's evolvement as a rider, and it was really great to see her connect with Roxy eventually and want to buy her. However, for me, the sub plot was just very bizarre. I also hate the trope of boy sees girl kissing another boy and doesn't wait five minutes to let her explain (or vice versa).

The ending definitely seemed rather abrupt for me, I was kind of shocked when I turned the page and realised there was no more. I can't help but be disappointed with Casey's decision, overall it was rather an odd one even if she didn't want to compete Storm anymore. It felt like she was kind of throwing away her childhood dreams just when they became an actual reality. It just wasn't extremely well-rounded in my opinion.

Book Review: The Legend of the Blue Eyes by B. Kristin McMichael

Read: July 11 - 15    Verdict: 0.5 Stars

Can I give this zero stars? This was so painful to read. The only reason I didn't make it a DNF is because I always finish a book. I kept hoping for this to get better and it just didn't happen.

At sixteen years old, Arianna discovers she's a vampire. Or, to put it correctly, half dearg-dul and half baku (two different species of 'Night Humans', a name I can't take seriously). While the premise of the different species and their war was interesting, the actually story telling really let it down.

From the get go, Arianna was pushed as being an absolute pleasure whom everyone loved and wanted to take care of. Despite being a teenager, she never ever complained about the fact that she had no living family and that she was kind of poor - something extremely unrealistic if you ask me, a little but of grumbling is perfectly natural. Ariana is just too  sickly sweet. She was small in stature and constantly reminded of it. She was far too much of a prim and perfect Mary-Sue for my taste. Her characteristics were far too perfect for me, and they made her very hard to relate to. I found her pretty pathetic.

I felt like there were a lot of inconsistencies with this book. I also felt like every new chapter was basically a rehash of the one before it with a few more details, the same story was played out again and again as Arianna found one more guy that miraculously had loved her since she was a child. It became really boring. I also thought it really convenient that not of the score of men she had trailing after her portrayed no jealousy whatsoever at the fact they had to share her with four other guys because that's just how it is. I honestly felt like nothing happened in this entire book except Arianna feeding and sleeping, that's it. Oh, and her being mollycoddled by pretty much every single person she met. There was zero action, and pretty much zero of anything of any worth....

Whatever it was about this book, it just didn't work for me at all. The only thing it resulted in doing was to put me in a bad mood and want me to take a big leap back from fantasy for a while. I have never ever been tempted to put down a book more than when I reading this...and this is coming from someone who managed to make it through Fifty Shades of Grey.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Book Review: Married With Zombies by Jesse Petersen

Read: June 30 - July 1   Verdict: 5 Stars

This book completely blew me out of the water. I definitely wasn't expecting to love it so much!

David and Sarah are struggling. They are on the brink of divorce and therapy sessions just aren't working out. Sarah is fed up of paying the bills while David plays video-games. And David is really sick of hearing of all the ways he failed Sarah. It's pretty much the end for a once-loving couple until the zombie apocalypse breaks out and they find themselves working together to bash the brains in of their therapist-turned-undead cannibal. Soon all those relationship techniques given to them by their therapist come in handy...when combined with zombie killing, of course!

Okay first off, I don't know why, but I immediately pictured Sarah and David as Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher from What Happens in Vegas. I think it's because of the scene in the movie where they are racing each other to the therapist's office? Take that scene and throw in some zombies, bam, perfect David and Sarah, haha!

I really enjoyed this. It was an easy, laugh out loud read. I find with other zombie apocalypse books, the main character is generally struggling on their own until they meet a new band of survivors and strike up relationships. With David and Sarah, we didn't have that - they already knew each other pretty much inside out, despite their marital difficulties, and they knew that they could depend on each other from the get go to help keep each other alive. The strength of their relationship and how they allowed themselves to break down, cry and hold each other after particularly bad experiences was truly genuine and something we normally don't see in other Z novels for quite a while into the story.

I like the fact that different issues in their marriage didn't just disappear with the apocalypse. They still bickered, and brought up some old resentments including Sarah getting annoyed at David's choice of car music following their first zombie kill, haha. 

I'm really excited to see where David and Sarah go from here, and how they get on with Zombiebusters (LAWL).