Book Review: The 100:Day 21 (Kass Morgan)

 Details:

Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 320
Release Date: 16th September 2014
 
Summary (From Goodreads):

No one has set foot on Earth in centuries — until now.

It’s been 21 days since the hundred landed on Earth. They’re the only humans to set foot on the planet in centuries…or so they thought. Facing an unknown enemy, Wells attempts to keep the group together. Clarke strikes out for Mount Weather, in search of other Colonists, while Bellamy is determined to rescue his sister, no matter the cost. And back on the ship, Glass faces an unthinkable choice between the love of her life and life itself.
In this pulse-pounding sequel to Kass Morgan’s The 100, secrets are revealed, beliefs are challenged, and relationships are tested. And the hundred will struggle to survive the only way they can — together.

Review:

This book picks up pretty much where the last one left off, and is written in a similar format: jumping between different characters P.O.V and using a lot of flashbacks to tell back story.

I found the flashbacks more irritating this time round. It just felt like most of the important stuff had already been told in the first book and now the flashbacks were being used to illustrate points rather than give us insight. While some of the flashbacks were interesting, I kept thinking: if that’s the story you wanted to tell, why not start there, instead of constantly flashing back?

A lot of the tension seemed to have diffused now, which was strange considering the climax at the end of the last book. While I expected to find the 100 being attacked by Earthborns and Luke and Glass suffocating, everything seemed a bit calm when I expected panic and drama.

I found Luke and Glass’ story more interesting than the 100’s this time, as what was happening on Earth seemed fairly dull compared to what they were going through, which again, is strange because there was quite a lot happening down on Earth. I just found all the tension was erased by the constant back and forth romances and the insistent focussing on that. I understand if you dump a bunch of horny criminal teenagers together there’s going to be some sexual tension, but I can’t believe they’re so worried about who loves who rather than fears of attack or starvation or radiation poisoning.

While I still enjoyed this book, I think it’s a bit of an easy read: I’m in it more for the story than the writing and even the characters sometimes. It reads too simply and glosses over some of the finer details (and some of the larger ones) and that’s what really makes a good book. I can see why it’s been adapted to a TV show. It’s never going to be the height of great literature but I know I’ll still be looking out for the sequel.

My Verdict:

 3

Top Five… Couples

In honour of Valentines Day this weekend, my Top Five this week is Favourite Couples. I’m not the overly romantic type so some of these may be bitter sweet relationships! And I’ve added in some fan fiction for good measure 🙂
 
5.
 
Sonea and Akkarin by CartographerCaitlin
Picture by Cartographer Caitlin
Sonea and Akkarin – The Black Magician Trilogy (Trudi Canavan)
I’m going to admit that I can’t say much about this relationship: it’s been a really long time since I read the books and I’ve forgotten a lot of plot details, but I remember loving these two so much. At least this way there’s no spoilers for anyone (including myself – I want to read the books again as if it’s the first time!) I remember it from so long ago so I’m sure it’s worthy of a place here!
 
4.



Picture by Laurajanetolton

 

Sabriel and Touchstone – Sabriel (Garth Nix)
I’ve always loved the scene where Sabriel and Touchstone meet: there’s such an innocence and curiosity there that seems so genuine. Theirs is a relationship that develops slowly and doesn’t seem contrived: everything that happens occurs naturally and their relationship isn’t even a big focus of the book, which I appreciate. I also love being able to see them grown up in the next book, with an even stronger relationship despite all their trials.
 



3.
 
 
I Wished For Her - the-night-circus Fan Art
Picture by Greeneiris
Celia and Marco – The Night Circus – (Erin Morgenstern)
Celia and Marco are true star-crossed lovers: right from the beginning they are destined to be pitted against each other, and it’s infuriating when Celia doesn’t even know who her opponent is. But I think that the wonders they create for each other in the circus show an incredible love that can outlive their fate.
2.
 
Picture by Nick Morgan

 

 

Alyss and Dodge – The Looking Glass Wars (Frank Beddor)
It’s never an easy ride for Princess Alyss of Wonderland and Dodge Anders, son of the Captain of the Guards. Alyss is destined to wed the spoilt and rotund Jack of Diamonds and even if he were out the picture, Alyss could never marry a servant. When Wonderland is taken over by Alyss’ evil Aunt Redd, the childhood sweethearts are separated for almost 20 years and they both have a lot to work through when she returns. Still, they make an amazing couple and Alyss is very strong, inspiring woman.
And the winner is…
 



 
1.
 





Picture by Gtjiyeon
Will and Lyra – His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman)
I told you there’d be some bitter sweet in here! Lyra and Will’s relationship was one of the first that I really remember touching me from my younger days of reading, and it always stayed with me. There was something so natural and truthful about their relationship and the progression of it, whereas these days it often feels like relationship are just shovelled in for the sake of it (especially the dreaded love triangle!) This relationship was made more memorable by the sacrifice they made together (which I won’t spoil, in case you haven’t read it.
Wishing you all a Happy Valentine’s Day this weekend, whether you’re celebrating with someone special or enjoying a little me time 🙂

 

Book Review: Water Born (Rachel Ward)

Publisher: Chicken House

Pages: 273

Release Date: August 7th 2014

Summary (From Goodreads):

Nicola’s dad has been terrified around water for as long as she can remember, and will never come to watch her swim. But then Nicola starts to hear a voice in the pool which changes everything. When girls start drowning, who’s to blame? What secrets lurk beneath the surface?

Review:

I loved The Drowning but I loved Water Born even more. The stakes were higher, the pace was faster and it would work perfectly as a stand alone novel as well as a sequel.

I think the main thing for me with this book was how relatable Nic was as a character. This is probably quite a personal thing, but I struggled to relate to Carl in the first book as a young male with quite a poor family life. Nic, however, is a young female with a loving home and is also a competitive swimmer, which is something I did at her age.

Personal touches aside, I raced through this book. Rob’s spirit or ghost or whatever it is of him that is haunting water has survived since the last book and become even more malevolent. In his quest for revenge on Carl and Neisha for the events in the first book, he isn’t fussed about hurting others to get to them, including using their teenage daughter, Nicole.

This book is less of a mystery than the previous one, because early on I knew who Rob was and what he wanted. The tension came through his threats and ultimatum to Nic: girls are mysteriously drowning and accidents start happening to people he knows she’s angry with. I felt so awful each time something happened, for what it did to Nic and what I knew it was driving her towards. There were also a few twists and surprises that I wasn’t expecting to keep me on my toes.

The ending was satisfyingly sad (from someone who’s not a fan of the happily ever after stories) and it seemed an appropriate sacrifice to stop Rob. I did feel the last few pages were perhaps a little cheesy at first, but on reflection I found it sinister: if (trying not to spoil things here) this person is talking to her in the water, that means Rob still could too, or some of the other people who have died in water by his hand/influence. I’m wondering if it points to a possible sequel or if I’m just being paranoid!

This book was the perfect follow up to The Drowning and will give a more satisfying ending to those who want to discover what happens to Rob next.

I will be interviewing Rachel Ward as part of the UKYA Extravaganza Blog Tour so if you have any questions you’d like to ask, leave a comment or drop me a message!

4

Book Review: The Drowning (Rachel Ward)

Details:

Publisher: Chicken House
Pages: 274
Release Date: April 29th 2014
 
Summary (From Goodreads):

What happens if you’ve done something terrible? But you can’t remember what. And you don’t know how to put it right …When Carl opens his eyes on the banks of a lake, his brother is being zipped into a body bag. What happened in the water? He can’t remember And when he glimpses a beautiful girl he thinks he recognizes, she runs away. Suddenly he knows he must find her – because together they must face the truth before it drowns them.

Review:

I was intrigued by this book as soon as I read the prologue. It was only a couple of pages but it draws you into the story so well you can’t help but be hooked.

The protagonist, Carl is left with amnesia after an accident that’s left his brother dead. His confused state is just another thing that pulls you into the story: information is leaked in dribs and drabs as it comes back to him. Small things like where he lives and who his neighbours are, and then much bigger things, like his relationship with his mother and, of course, the events that led to his brother drowning.

The book reminded me of a Kevin Brooks novel in the way that Ward handles the mystery so skilfully. Each time I though I’d figured out what had happened she’d let slip a little more information that would throw my theory overboard.

The characters were well developed and you get a great picture of them from just a few snapshots of information. And everything is just so vivid. The description of Carl’s house and his mother gave me such an image of the kind of poverty they lived in and the relationship they had and I empathised with him immediately.

I loved the relationship between Carl’s dead brother and water and thought it such a creepy concept. Imagine fearing water and having to avoid it, especially when living in rainy ol’ England. It’s so depressingly, terrifyingly impossible, and the inevitability of his encounters made it even scarier. I was also impressed at how individual each encounter was: it’s a real tribute to an author’s talent when they can write about the same basic thing (water in this case) over and over again and still make it fresh and interesting. It never felt like I’d already read about this: each time was new and beautifully described.

Overall, a really great read for any lover of YA – and I say that as I normally go for much more fantasy based books. But not one that I’d read in the bath…

I will be interviewing Rachel Ward as part of the UKYA Extravaganza Blog Tour so if you have any questions you’d like to ask, leave a comment or drop me a message!

My Verdict:

4

Book Review: The Sin Eater’s Daughter (Melinda Salisbury)

Publisher: Scholastic UK

Pages: 336

Release Date: 5th February 2015

Summary (From Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favour of a doomed love?

Review:

I was lucky enough to receive this book from the author (through a competition on Twitter) Along with a copy of the book, I got a signed proof copy and some other lovely bits and pieces too.

I am drawn in instantly by the cover (the colours are just beautiful) and by the idea as well: the quote on the proof copy reads ‘I am the perfect weapon. I kill with a single touch.‘ Along with some hype that’s gone on around it on Twitter I was all set to read and love this book.

And that is exactly what I did.

Twylla, the protagonist, is well rounded in a way that I haven’t seen in many books lately. While being likeable and believable, she has real emotions and flaws that hold her back and have a major impact on her life and how she’s living it. It’s interesting to watch her develop over the book and eventually start taking some control for herself. I hope that in the sequels, (which I can’t wait for) we’ll see her growing into herself more.

The world creation is beautifully done. There’s a lot of information to take in but it’s drip fed slowly and steadily, with little reminders throughout the book so you never forget what world you’re in and what the rules are. Speaking of which – and without giving too much away – I admire a writer who can create and then break rules in the way that’s done here. It makes for great twists and turns in the book and really shows how clever you can be with your own world if you know what you’re doing.

What really made the world feel real and rounded was the mythos: the religion, the Gods, the fairytales. It’s just enough information to bring the world to life. I was really intrigued by the idea of ‘Sin Eating’ and would love to hear more about it. Twylla’s mother as the Sin Eater was an excellent character who both repelled and fascinated me.

I’ll admit to being the teensiest bit irritated by the love triangle that formed, not because it wasn’t believable and intense and everything, but because it feels like love triangles are almost mandatory in YA novels at the moment. But that’s only the briefest if niggles: it’s integral to the plot and has its own series of twists and turns. I love that, like Twylla, both contenders for her heart are deeply flawed and neither is the obvious choice or knight in shining armour that you might expect.

I’d say it’s easily one of the best books I’ve read this year (I know it’s only February but I’ve read a fair amount and only one other got five star). If you like a beautifully crafted world full of its own mythos, with an deep and intricate plot then this is for you. It stands well alone as a novel as well as the first in a series and it’s definitely one to read immediately.

My Verdict:

Copy of an art exhibit
Check out my soundtrack for The Sin Eater’s Daughter here

UKYA Extravaganza Blog Tour

 I am extremely excited to say that I am going to be taking part in the UKYA Extravaganza blog tour this year.

As a newbie to blogging still, this will be my first blog tour and also the first book related event I’ll be attending as a blogger. I feel incredibly lucky that this amazing event is happening just around the corner from me in Birmingham. I believe it sold out the day the tickets went on sale, so there’s definitely demand for this kind of event in our area.

The event sees 35 authors all gather in one place for a magical day of Q&As, book signings and a chance to meet the people behind the stories we love. Below is a list of all the authors ‘officially’ attending (I believe there may be some ‘unofficially’ attending as well).

 

But before the event we have the blog tour, with a blogger assigned to each author right up until the event itself, and a write up to follow afterwards.
I have been paired with the “new and exciting” Rachel Ward who wrote the Numbers series, which has won multiple awards, and more recently The Drowning and Water Born which I shall be reviewing on this site soon. Our slot is on the 22nd Fenruary so there’s a while to wait yet.
But, in the meantime here is a list of all the bloggers and authors on the tour. If you want to keep up with everything going on then take my lead and follow the blogs so you don’t miss a thing!

 

Book Review: The 100 (Kass Morgan)

Details:

Publisher: Little Brown

Pages: 336

Release Date: 18th March 2014
Blurb:

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves — but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.

Review:

I’ll admit I only heard about this book because I saw adverts for the TV show on E4. I was intrigued by the idea and am a stickler for reading a book before watching a TV show/film, so here we are.

I found the multiple P.O.Vs a little confusing in the beginning, as it felt like quite a rush of character information. Because of the nature of the names as well (Glass, Clarke etc) I wasn’t always sure who was male or female and struggled to keep up, but I soon warmed to it.

I’m a bit of a space story fan – Battlestar Galactica is my secret nerdy(ist) passion – so I was glad that (minor spoiler) one of the 100 actually stays on the ship and we see what life is like on there. It’s interesting to see the kind of daily struggles of living permanently in space: artificial food, timed water allowances and the rarity of ‘Earthmade’ goods.

It was more of a slow burner than I’d anticipated after seeing the TV adverts, and a lot of story is told in flashbacks to months and years earlier in the narrators’ lives. I thought this would be a bit irritating but I enjoyed seeing how they got to where they are, and have their past secrets be slowly revealed like this, rather than in a clumpy dialogue confession or something.

And boy are there a lot of secrets! Some you might be able to guess at, others may take you a little more by surprise, but everyone seems to be hiding multiple things. And everyone thinks their’s is the biggest and most important secret of all, which I did get a little tired of hearing sometimes. Their is a tendency towards big, dramatic statements which I found a bit jarring to the narrative and think they could have easily been left out.

The focus on the love stories also irritated me a little: I do enjoy a good love story, but this seemed one of those situations where you’d put things like that on hold a little, you know, when you’re returning to Earth after 300 odd years. And while I liked Clarke as a character, I found the boy’s views of her got very irritating: there were too many occasions where she looked more beautiful than ever watching a sunset or sniffing a flower.

I’d say this is a gentle read, and I expect more of the action will occur in the following two books (one which I shall be reading, the other is out in March). It’s a good background start to a trilogy and really builds its world against some interesting characters. I look forward to reading the next one, and I hope you will look forward to reading this one.

 

My Verdict:

 4

Book Review: The Last Leave Falling (Sarah Benwell)

*I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Details:

Publisher: Random House

Pages: 352

Release Date: 29th January 2015

Summary (From Goodreads):

And these are they. My final moments. They say a warrior must always be mindful of death, but I never imagined that it would find me like this . . .

Japanese teenager, Sora, is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Lonely and isolated, Sora turns to the ancient wisdom of the samurai for guidance and comfort. But he also finds hope in the present; through the internet he finds friends that see him, not just his illness. This is a story of friendship and acceptance, and testing strength in an uncertain future.

Review:

I started this book last night when I realised it was about to be archived on NetGalley. I got half way through before bed then finished it off on the bus to and from work. I wouldn’t recommend such public reading as it forced me close to tears, often.

This isn’t the kind of book I’d usually pick out – I’m not a fan of the ‘dying teenager’ books that there have been a flux of lately – but I’m glad I read it. Everyone should read it.

I found Sora a very realistic protagonist with what felt like an accurate reaction to his illness (I say felt like only because I don’t want to put myself in those shoes, as someone who hasn’t been through that). In the same way that John Green shied away from those brave smiling cancer kids, Sora’s emotions felt raw and real, not at peace with the fact that his time was being cut short, not constantly putting on a brave face. That’s not to say he wasn’t brave. There’s plenty of bravery in this book as he makes new friends and tries to protect his mother from his inevitable decline.

I found it interesting to read about disability and death in general, as I’ve not read a lot that covers this (disabilities seem to be under represented a lot in YA fiction) but it was made more interesting to read this from another culture. Sora is constantly comparing himself to the great samurai and is mournful that his death cannot be dignified and his own.

His friend’s reactions towards the end were very thought provoking. Even though I saw Sora’s struggle from his own perspective throughout the book, I felt I agreed when Kaito talked about living life to the full and enjoying your time, especially when life has dealt those grim cards to Sora. But even as I agreed with him I knew I had no right to, just as he couldn’t justify that opinion: it’s all very well saying grand words like that but death is ugly and undignified and nothing can change that.

Overall a very emotional read. I love a book about death that doesn’t feel like its preaching at you to live your life, even though that’s what this book made me want to do. It’s sensitive and unflinching and a definite must-read.

My Verdict:

Copy of an art exhibit

Top Five… Sisters

(That’s Top 5 sisters in books – I’m not numbering my siblings in order of preference. That would be mean.)
Today my older sister turned 27, so I thought I’d dedicate my Top 5 to her and my other two (younger) sisters. Girls seem to run in my family a bit – my mum had the four of us, and she had five sisters of her own.
I also love writing about sibling relationships and it’s something that drives my own work. So this week I’m looking at my favourite sisters in books I’ve read.
5.
 
 
I’ve loved this book forever, not only as a ballet nerd but as it has three (adopted) sisters who all have dreams to follow and achieve them through working hard. I love how rounded and different they are as characters: they can all be flawed at times but ultimately they pull through for each other.
 
4.
 
Not only is Georgia’s little sister Libby hilarious throughout the series, she also reminded me a lot of my relationship with my youngest sister (she’s now 12 and behaves a lot more ‘normal’ mostly…) She was the kind of kid that you couldn’t trust around a new boyfriend because she’d definitely come out with a Libby line.
 
3.
 
Katniss and Primrose have a memorable relationship and it’s Katniss’ love for Prim that gets her into the Hunger Games in the first place. When I read this the first time, I was around Katniss’ age and one of my sisters was Prim’s age and I just knew exactly how she felt. I’d go through a hundred Hunger Games for any of my sisters.
 
2.
 
I loved Pilbeam and Appleby’s relationship in the Mennyms series. I think the main bit for me was when Pilbeam was introduced as their sister and snapped Appleby out of her brooding. Although they fight often and can be such different people/ragdolls, they are also really good for each other.
And the winner is…
 
 
1.
 
My Naughty Little Sister is something my big sister used to read to me (even though I’m sure she was the naughty one really…) I can’t remember either of the sisters names – maybe they weren’t mentioned – but I do remember these being some of my favourite stories as a child and, even if one sister was often naughty, it showed a really lovely relationship.

Book Review: It’s the End of the World As We Know It (Saci Lloyd)

 *I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
Details:

Series: Book 1 in the series
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Pages: 288
Release Date: 1st January 2015
 
Summary (From Goodreads):

Welcome to a world controlled by a megalomaniac Lolcat. A world where data pirates, zombies and infobots on surfboards roam free. A world at war over cheese … When teenager Mikey Malone gets sucked through a wormhole into this parallel world, he discovers a power-crazed corporation is planning to use Earth as a dumping ground for an uncontrollable poisonous algae. It’s a race against time for Mikey and his rebel friends to stop the ruthless tyrants from getting their way.
 
Review:

I admit my attraction to this book was mainly because of the cover (a bad habit for me) but I think this ultimately worked against my enjoyment of the book, as I was mentally comparing it to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is a lot to live up to.

I did ultimately enjoy the book, and I’d recommend it to others, but there were some things that hampered my enjoyment of it, so I probably won’t be reading the next instalment. I think this is more to do with personal taste though, which is why’d I’d still recommend you giving it a read.

My main problem was with the dialogue. A lot of the characters speak in a kind of internet/text slang which I found really jarring (possibly old age showing or just the fact that even as a teenager I didn’t really use ‘text slang’). If it was just a few words to show character here and there I could forgive it, but several characters did it constantly and I just found it really hard to read.

When there was no dialogue I was able to involve myself in the book a lot more. There were some funny moments, though I wouldn’t really say it was a ‘laugh out loud’ book, more just a gentle smile or approving nod. The plot was interesting enough, but I felt that the ‘rip’ that featured prominently in the book became a bit of a writer’s convenience: it showed up and got the main characters out of trouble a few times too often for me.

Overall, it is one crazy ride that anyone with a love for the weird and wonderful with appreciate, but I think this is one book that is just not for me.

My Verdict:

3