Are there any books from 2014 that I should bump up the TBR pile?
Are there any books from 2014 that I should bump up the TBR pile?
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books
Release Date: 9th April 2015
End Game is really interesting as it’s told from the perspective of Nick, who is lying immobile in a hospital bed. Although he can think and see, he is unable to communicate or move, and he loses himself in dreams and memories about how he got to be there. It was great to see a mystery revealed this way: it had the same kind of dribs and drabs of information leaked that you’d expect in a mystery story, but had to be a bit more creative about the way it happened.
Sometimes though, that didn’t work for me. There were times when characters said things which sounded purely expositional, as if they were there to lead Nick into another flashback. The way some of the scenes were described over dialogue sometimes felt a bit clumsy too: I couldn’t imagine anyone actually speaking like that.
The issues in End Game are quite sensitive and it’s one of those books where it’s hard to point out the good guy and the bad guy, hard to tell if an action was pure evil or a simple mistake. I could see the point of view of both Nick and his father and felt sorry for both of them. It really was a tricky one.
I really enjoyed Nick as both character and narrator, which is a good job, as we spend a lot of time stuck in his head with him. There were several times when he made me laugh out loud, and I could really see his conflicts with his father and his relationship with his family and girlfriend. He felt very real.
The ending took me by surprise and had me racing to finish and see what happened. I don’t want to spoil it but there was a moment of “Oh no! Not after everything that’s happened!” (Nice and cryptic for you)
For me, this was a great re-introduction to Alan Gibbons, and I am going to make an efffort to read more of his books from now. I recommend you all do the same 😉
Soundtrack Saturday is a weekly meme created and run by Erin at The Hardcover Lover. This is my second attempt, as I really enjoyed my last one. Last week I chose to make a soundtrack for Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
This week I decided to do one for All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It’s my first five star review in a while and there were a few times when reading it that I felt my music really lined up to it. I may have been a little heavy with the water imagery though…
Hoping against a hope,
It’s rail thin.
All that you know from now:
You’d be waitin’.
So you walk the path through the sea of sleepers
And keep your eyes ahead.
Cos you know that light is finders keepers,
But what you found instead
Is no one was made for this,
To be lonely.
Keep it against your chest,
This is only
Everything reminds me of you,
Somewhere out roaming tonight,
You fought the bottle, and I
Came out behind.
Now everything reminds me of you,
Oh but the fire,
Will carry less higher,
Ready set go, gotta get out of this small town
The open road, air to breath, the sun is shining down
It’s you and me in a land of the free, so baby let’s run
While we’re young in America
In the start, in the dark I didn’t know
What you felt like on the inside, but the outside view was quite nice
Then we spent days in bed and time went slow
We started out adventure as we ventured out together
That our love was growing
I have fallen so many times
For the devil’s sweet, cunning rhymes
And this old world
Has brought me pain
But there’s hope
For me again
Well, won’t you take me down to the levy, take me down to the stream, take my down to the water,
we’re gonna wash our souls clean
Skipping beats, blushing cheeks I am struggling
Daydreaming, bed scenes in the corner café
And then I’m left in bits recovering tectonic tremblings
You get me every time
Why d’ya have to be so cute?
It’s impossible to ignore you
Must you make me laugh so much
It’s bad enough we get along so well
Say goodnight and go
Ain’t Gonna Drown – Elle King
(the Ending Song)
Train’s coming but I’m stuck on this roadMoon’s rising and my blood is growing coldPreacher man can’t save a soul like mineMiracles are just too damn hard to find
Publisher: Little Brown
Release Date: 26th February 2015
This book picks up where the last left off, with the Colonists hurtling to Earth, ready to disturb the life the hundred have worked to build. Drama does, of course ensure, along with a battle for peace between the hundred, the Colonists and the different factions of the Earthborns.
But none of that matters, because all of our protagonists are too busy moaning abour their love lives.
Seriously. I know I’m not exactly the champion of romances (they often annoy me) but I can get onboard with a good coupling or two. But this book is just obssessed with the petty dramas of their relationships when there’s so much bigger stuff going on.
Even so, I could accept all that – I’ve been a teenager, I’ve been in love, I know how all-consuming it can be (though I’m not convinced it takes priority in this situation) – but I just don’t believe in any of these couples. I realised part way through that they were all interchangeable. I could be reading about Glass and Luke, Bellamy and Clarke or Wells and Sasha and not know the difference: they all have the same burning passion for each other, they all see their men as brave and loyal and they all see their women looking more beautiful than ever in the sunlight. There was no discernible differences between them.
Aside from that, I felt like messages and character traits were really shoved down your throat. A lot of the start of the book was spent reminding you what happened in the first one, and who everyone was. And I felt I was constantly being told how people were feeling and what they wanted rather than being shown it.
Overall, this series has disappointed me. I really loved the idea and just wish that the plot and writing style could have lived up to my expectations.
Take it or leave it
If you’d like to see what Stacie has nominated me to read then hop on over to see her post – and while you’re there, check out her swanky new blog, which has been done up and looks amazing!
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself – a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
What I loved about this book more than anything were the characters. They really just sang to me, and I felt really connected to both Finch and Violet equally. While I tend to lean towards female charcters (being female myself) there was something about Finch that was just infectious.
This book deals with a lot of heavy issues and is not for the faint hearted. Violet’s survivors guilt after her sister’s death was a real driving force in the story and it was uplifting to see her slowly come to terms with it and learn to start coping, however painfully it might be, without her sister.
Finch, on the other hand, goes the opposite way, and gradually gets worse throughout the book. Even though I kind of knew where it was going, it didn’t make it any less painful. I wanted to shout at him to get help and sort things out, but it’s not always easy for people to do that (and definitely not easy for Finch). I loved his quirkiness and the fact that it was all weirdly rational, rather than just being another quirky YA hero who’s there to save the female from herself.
That said, I wasn’t sure about that aspect of their relationship sometimes. I loved the way it grew and how it seemed so natural for them to become friends (at Finch’s insistance) and then slowly more. But I don’t like the idea that it just took a good man to help Violet find herself again and start living after her sister’s death. I’m simplifying a bit there but there seems to be a bit of a trend towards that these days and it irritates me.
When all is said and done though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. When it came to the climax and I found myself speeding up reading because I was desperate to know what happened, and when it hit me what did I was left with such complicated emotions, I dwelled on them all day. It’s always so good to see mental health issues discussed in an honest way in books for young adults, and this is one of the better ones.
I actually found this pretty hard, I need more princess/queen story suggestions!
This is why my review of The Selection was a little muted. I had really enjoyed it, but after going straight into The Elite, I couldn’t help but think not a lot happened in the first book, comparatively. While the focus was still very much on the love story, I felt in this book there was more to keep me interested.
The main thing that I loved was Marlee’s storyline. I won’t spoil it here, but it seemed to come out of nowhere and really shocked me. It was the kind of thing I’d expected more of in the first book: the brutal reality of life in the palace, where harsh decisions have to made and punishments need to be dished out. This was by far my favourite part of the book.
America’s indecision and constant swinging between Maxon and Aspen did get on my nerves a little, but that’s mostly because I don’t see the appeal of Aspen very much. I just don’t see the connection there, and when America is with him she can be a bit simpering and annoying, whereas she seems much more herself (and likeable) with Maxon.
While I still feel I know very much where the story is going, there were a lot more plot twists and surprises in this book, and it’s really made me want to read on (I’m awaiting approval from Netgalley for The One, fingers crossed!)
If you enjoyed The Selection then I think you’ll definitely enjoy this book, and if The Selection left you wanting more then I think you might just find it here.
Release Date: April 24th 2012
Summary (From Goodreads):
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself–and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
I made a mistake after reading this book, and that was to read the sequel straight after it (seriously, I devoured it in a day, there was no stopping me). Because of that, I think I’m marking this book a little lower than I would have if I’d read it on its own. Perhaps a little unfair, but what’s done is done!
I was curious going into this book because I’d heard pretty mixed reviews and it didn’t really sound like something I’d enjoy. But I was wrong.
Sure, the book had its flaws. My main gripe was that it was quite predictable, but at the same time I thought that was a little unfair: without it’s predictableness (America getting picked for the Selection, Maxon falling for her etc) then there wouldn’t really be a story. There was also something quite simple about it: the characters were sometimes a bit stereotypical and the world felt a bit underdeveloped. That said, I still enjoyed it.
The pace felt really gentle: nothing overly dramatic happened, everything just kind of sauntered along but, for some reason I can’t explain, I really enjoyed it. America was very likeable, not too perfect to be annoying yet pretty and talented enough to be in the Selection. Her main flaw for me was Aspen: I didn’t believe in the relationship for some reason, so her longing for him while faced with someone as lovely as Maxon was unfathomable.
I felt I’d like to know more about the world they lived in: about the castes, how they began, and more importantly, about the rebels. While we saw a couple of attacks and heard vague bits of information about them, I really wanted to know who they were and what they wanted. They were so nameless I didn’t really feel the threat from them.
I felt some of the other girls were a little bland: I forgot names of a lot of them very quickly, but I guess that was because they were doomed not to last too long. Marlee was obviously a favourite, being so sweet and friendly, but I did like Celeste and her massive bitchiness. I expected more characters like her to be honest.
This was a really great start to what looks to be an interesting series. I love that the concept isn’t really too far away from things that happen these days (I remember a certain show about girls wanting to marry ‘Prince Harry’). I’ve already eaten up the second book and can’t wait to read the next ones.
Soundtrack Saturday is a weekly meme created and run by Erin at The Hardcover Lover. I’ve been meaning to do join in and do a soundtrack for a while now, and (finally) here it is.
This week I’ve chosen to make a soundtrack for Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill, which I read a few weeks back and adored.
I’m awake and I’ve been losing sleep
I’ve been fighting all my demons
I’ve been getting weak
Cause I’ve been trying, trying, trying
To be anything other than me
They clawed about my dress and now I’m naked
Tore holes in my soul about my neck.
The doctor says I have to wear a jacket
But as darkness falls I see this light, it’s burning at the fog and
I’ve followed ever since.
I knew you best back when love was just a feeling that ran out between my legs onto the, back of my dress
onto the clothes that i was wearing
They’re gonna eat me alive
If I stumble
They’re gonna eat me alive
Can you hear my heart
Beating like a hammer
Done by the hands of a broken artist.
You painted black where my naked heart is.
I finally know what wrong is.
Now I finally know what wrong is.
Carved like a stone with your hands still shaking.
On display through a soul still breaking.
Aren’t you proud you’re the one that made me?
Aren’t you proud you’re the one that made me?
Easy come, easy go,
Tell me things I want to know.
Drink until your lips are black,
You’ve given things you’ll never get back,
Oh you silly thing
Cold sheets of linen,
Doomed from the beginning.
Do what you will,
Leave the worry to the women;
That’s our game to play
I could show you now but you’re never gonna see
Cause you’re watching me go up in smoke
I could shut it down, when I lose, you’re gonna leave
But you know that I’ll fall out alone
There’s secrets that you know
And secrets that I hold
Bath is Black – Marika Hackman
(the Ending Song)
Even though you think
To push me from the bath into the sink
I can still get clean
From everything obscene
So just pass me the soap
And I will scrub so hard to have the hope
That one day I’ll be free
And flies won’t follow me
But if the bath is black
And the soap is old
You’re turning the hot tap but the water is cold
Try as you might
Everything you’ve done has been washed out