Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (#5)

'Waiting on Wednesday' is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I am waiting on: Everlasting by Elizabeth Chandler.

For those of you who have followed me since October, you may have read my review on the previous Kissed By An Angel book, Evercrossed, with which I gave a rating of 5 because I really didn't like it. There was no need to continue the series, and everything about it was just...repeating on what we finally got around to solving in the third book. But I guess I can't help but want to read on - like I said: Kissed By An Angel was my all-time favourite book for many years, and even if I don't like it's continuation, I still feel a need to see it through to the end. Anyway - I will leave you with the blurb from Goodreads:

Ivy should be ecstatic that her formerly-dead boyfriend Tristan is back on earth with her, but the life of a fallen angel is never easy. Tristan has been cast down in the body of a murderer, and the police are after him. Now, there's only one way that he and Ivy can be together: they must clear him of the murder.
But when it becomes clear that there are darker forces at work, and Tristan and Ivy are still paying the price for Ivy's miraculous survival of the car crash, these starcrossed lovers have more at stake than ever before. And one of them may not be alive much longer...

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.
Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?

I absolutely fell in love with this book. It's basically a modern twist on the fairytale story of Little Red Ridinghood, where the grandmother dies and the little girl, Scarlett, is determined to get revenge on the man - the wolf - that did this. And I found it utterly entrapping - at times, I just couldn't put it down. I loved the way that the woodsey fairytale world coinsided with the real world, and it felt like you were in both places at once. Although I don't have a sister, I do know what the sibling bond is like, and the connection between Scarlett and Rosie was so real, so strong that it practically gripped hold of me, and I found myself hurting at times when the sisters fought or got into an argument with each other. The emotions playing in each of the characters throughout the whole novel was just so raw and real, and I found myself being able to relate to both the girls - yes, Rosie should be able to do what she likes and be allowed to be a noncommited normal teenage girl - but then again, not enough people know about stuff and do something about it, and at the end of the day, the hunting does bond the girls together in an utterly unique way. It was just...brilliant. I literally cannot give it enough praise. The only thing I would have improved was how obvious some of the twists were - I knew who the Potential was right from when the readers met him, and I just felt...deflated a bit - it was anti-climatic, in a way. However - Pearce is a great author, and I want to eventually get around to reading her debut novel, which I have heard is amazing. I really recommend this book because it is a great twist on the famous fairytale and really makes you think about sibling bonds and relationships.

p.s. I love the sisters names! Scarlett and Rosie - Little Red Ridinghood. Get it?

Friday, 25 November 2011

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital to be treated for depression. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital renowned for its famous clientele - Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, Anne Sexton and Ray Charles.

I got requested to read this book by my friend Amber - a different Amber from the one who asked me to read Fable: The Balverine Order. And since me and her have such an alike taste in books, I knew that pretty much from the start, I was going to fall in love with it. And fall in love with it, I did. The book is basically a memoire of Kaysen's late teenage years, where she was put into a psychiatric hospital for a personality disorder. (It was really strange when I found this out, because earlier this week I started planning to write a story for my English assessment where the main character has a personality disorder - coincidence, much?) Even though it was years since the events that Kaysen published this book, you can still feel the powerful raw emotion the patients in the ward felt - and even though they were typically 'crazy', a lot of what she talked about I could relate to, and I found myself growing incredibly fond of not only Kaysen, but of Georgina, Lisa, Torrey, Polly, Alice - and even Daisy. It says on the back of the book: "Sometimes the only way to stay sane is to go a little crazy", and I swear this is going to become my new life motto, because it is absolutely true. And at the end of the day, she got better, and had a lot more knowledge from that experience than a lot of people can get in a lifetime - and through reading this book, I feel like I have obtained just a little bit of that knowledge, and I am entirely grateful for it. I read it in less than a day, and will surely read it again sometime - but for now, I'm going to keep my eye out for any other novels she may have written.
Rating: 5/5

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

So I was stupidly excited when I stumbled across this book in the library, since I had been searching for it for ages. And I was so pleased by it! The novel is basically set 3 years after the end of If I Stay, and this time is told from the POV of Adam - which was definately one of it's best features. Throughout the previous novel, I was constantly dying to get inside his head - so when I finally did, I had really high expectations - and I wasn't disappointed. As I read, it felt like I could feel Adam's emotions brushing off on me, since they were all so raw and so clear. You can feel his pent-up hurt and anger, and when the two finally come face-to-face again, I didn't know whether I wanted them to kiss and make up, or for Mia to just go and crawl into a hole. Forman is such a talented author, and she somehow always manages to capture my attention and draw me into the story, even if it is just a recap of the previous novel. The sequel to the hugely popular If I Stay gave the closure the characters - and the readers - badly needed, and I'm eagerly waiting for whatever novel I am sure she will write next.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (#4)

'Waiting on Wednesday' is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week, the book I am waiting on is: Dreamless by Josephine Angelini.
So I really enjoyed the first installment to the Starcrossed series, and I hated the cliffhanger - I just wanted to know what was going to happen between Helen and Lucas, since they are such a stupidly good pair! I really liked the idea of this cycle of revenege going down through the generations, and I love the dramatic irony used within the book. The book was full of thrilling mysteries, most of which have not yet been uncovered - so I'm extremely excited for this book. However, my only critique is of the cover - I don't like it. If I was doing a Starcrossed cover war, I would have definately gone with the UK one, because I thought the US one was a bit boring. This, again, is the US one, but I don't know if they will do two different covers for this one or not. Only time will tell, I suppose! For now, I will leave you with the Goodreads synopsis:

As the only Scion that can enter Hades at will, Helen descends to the Underworld in search of a way to overcome the Furies and end the cycle of revenge that has cursed the Scions. But she’s running out of time. Each descent weakens her both in mind and spirit. A mysterious stranger might be her only salvation, but the price may be her love for Lucas Delos.

As an unforgettable love triangle emerges, Josephine Angelini’s compelling saga becomes ever more intricate and spellbinding. The eagerly awaited sequel to the internationally bestselling Starcrossed, Dreamless delivers with a huge emotional impact that will leave readers satisfied—and longing for more.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

Will is twelve years old and he's just killed a man. Now he's on his own, on the run, determined to discover the truth about his father's disappearance.

Then Will steps through a window in the air into another world, and finds himself with a companion - a strange, savage little girl called Lyra. Like Will, she has a mission which she intends to carry out at all costs.

But the world of Cittàgazze is a strange and unsettling place. Deadly, soul-eating Spectres stalk its streets, while high above, the wingbeats of distant angels sound against the sky. And in the myserious Torre degli Angeli lurks Cittàgazze's most important secret - an object which people from many worlds would kill to possess...

I absolutely loved the first installment in His Dark Materials, and I was really excited when I stumbled upon the second in my school library. But honestly? It wasn't that good - not in the beginning, anyway. If I had to rate the book is halves, the first part would probably get a 4, while the second would get a 9. The beginning dragged, and I found myself avoiding reading it because it just droned on and on about nothing of particular importance. And then suddenly, you dive into this amazing story - it has action, adventure, fighting, mysteries - everything! Towards the end, I felt like I literally could not put it down - and now that I've finished, I desperately want to go on to read The Amber Spyglass. But, because I know now that it can take a while to get into the book, I think I am going to read a couple of other novels first before finishing the trilogy. But nevertheless, overall I really did like it.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (#3)

'Waiting on Wednesday' is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, the book I am waiting on is: Torn by Cat Clarke.

Cat Clarke's previous book, Entangled, which was actually the first book I ever reviewed on this blog, is quite a favourite of mine, and when I found out that she was releasing another book in about a months time, I nearly leapt about with joy. Clarke is such a great author, and has a real knack at leaving it until the very end of the book to lift the final veil from your eyes, and you simply sit there going "Oooooh!". I also really love her cover art - both the girl on this one and her previous novel are absolutely stunning, and obviously great models because they manage to capture the essence of both books in just one look. Even though I have only read the blurb, I am still eagerly awaiting this release and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Destined by P.C. and Kristin Cast

Zoey is finally home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side, and preparing to face off against Neferet – which would be a whole lot easier if the High Counsel saw the ex-High Priestess for what she really is. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx's gift of a human form, Rephaim and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together – if he can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father's shadow…
But there are new forces at work at the House of Night. An influx of humans, including Lenobia’s handsome horse whisperer, threatens their precarious stability. And then there’s the mysterious Aurox, a jaw-droppingly gorgeous teen boy who is actually more – or possibly less – than human. Only Neferet knows he was created to be her greatest weapon. But Zoey can sense the part of his soul that remains human, the compassion that wars with his Dark calling. And there’s something strangely familiar about him… 
Will Neferet’s true nature be revealed before she succeeds in silencing them all? And will Zoey be able to touch Aurox’s humanity in time to protect him – and everyone – from his own fate?

I really enjoyed this book! As much as the House of Night books are one of my all-time favourite series, for the last couple of books, for me, they have been lacking in plot, character and suspense - especially because they were situated all over the place, and all that really seemed to happen was that people died and Zoey became best friends with a gazillion other people who you'd never even heard about before. But this book was a real comeback - here, you are back at the Tulsa House of Night where Zoey, the nerd herd and the red fledglings are fighting Neferet and Darkness. I think one of the things I most loved about this book was how some of those loose ends were tied - for example, the storyline with Dragon, which has honestly been bugging me for ages because I've always believed that he was a great guy - so when the Cast's made him all horrible, I was more than just a little bit annoyed. I also loved how finally the High Council are actually doing something about all the countless strange things that have been happening throughout the past books - I mean, it was a bit stupid before, when they are supposed to be this high and mighty group, yet they can't see through Neferet's obvious lies. However, as much as I liked this book, I can't give it full marks because one thing really annoyed me - that how Aurox plot. I like the idea of someone who died in a previous book being reborn - but honestly? Did it have to be that character? You finally think that Zoey has settled down with loving Stark -  but then another guy comes along?! Really? That really did annoy me. Although I know Zoey is typically the star of the show, I really think some of the other characters need a bit of the limelight - yes, Rephaim and Stevie Rae were centre stage for a book - but it's always back to Zoey. I know it seems like a small thing, but for me, it really did spoil a bit of the enjoyment of the book for me. But nevertheless, I really did love it, and I can't wait for the tenth installment to this series.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

From Where I Stand by Tabitha Suzuma

Raven is a deeply disturbed teenager. After witnessing the death of his mother and living in a children's home, he's now been placed in foster care. His new family, the Russels, do their best to earn his trust but it's going to take a long time.

Meanwhile, at school, bullies are making Raven's life a living hell. And then an unexpected saviour comes in the form of Lotte, a classmate bored by her 'ordinary' friends. Together, they set out to track down Raven's mum's killer, in order to expose him to the police. But their carefully crafted plan goes dangerously wrong and suddenly nothing is as it seems. Everything is falling apart and, ultimately, there is only one, final way out.

 I don't know what to say about this book. As many of you probably know, Suzuma is one of my all-time favourite authors, and this is the last of her five currently-published books that I've read. And honestly? I didn't really like it. I know it was about the second book she published, so of course her writing skills have developed over the years, but I just didn't connect with anything. Not the characters, not the twists, not the storyline. I only really enjoyed the ending, where the pace actually picked up. I'm not saying it was terrible, though. I do like the idea of the plot - Raven's mother's died, and he's dealing with his new life with his foster family. If I was thirteen, I reckon I would really have enjoyed this book - but since I'm two years old, all I could seem to do was pick holes within the story. I mean, for one thing, how stupid is Lotte? So many hints about the ending were openly said throughout the book, and it's like - you didn't pick up that any of this and Raven's actions were completely strange? But I don't know whether that's just because I tend to look too in-depth into books like this. But anyway - like I said, it wasn't that bad, and I still greatly admire Suzuma as an author.
Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Sara Fitzgerald's daughter Kate is just two years old when she is diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia. Reeling with the helpless shock of it, Sara knows she will do anything - whatever it takes - to save her child.

Then the test results come back time and again to show that no one in their family is a match for Kate. If they are to find a donor for the crucial bone marrow transplant she needs, there is only one option: creating another baby, specifically designed to save her sister. For Sara, it seems the ideal solution. Not only does Kate live, but she gets a beautiful new daughter, Anna, too.

Until the moment Anna hands Sara the papers that will rock her whole world. Because, aged thirteen, Anna has decided that she doesn't want to help Kate live any more. She is suing her parents for the rights to her own body.

I have literally just finished this book, and I am currently an emotional wreck. It was actually amazing. Admittedly, I was worried at first that I wouldn't like it, purely because Picoult is an adult author, and I thought that I wouldn't be mature enough to understand some of the things that happened. But I was totally wrong. Merlin, I just...I'm speechless. My mum, who has read nearly all of Picoult's novels, warned me that at the end there is a twist that is just so unexpected you are just left sitting there going "What...the...hell!". And so this morning, I tried to guess what the major twist was, and in the end, my mum told me. But now that I've finished, I realize that she lied, and there was actually a way bigger twist yet to come! I just have so much praise for this book. By chopping and changing the point of view to every major character in the book, you really get up-close and under-the-skin of all of them, and you get to the point where you feel like you're an extra member of the family, yourself. I absolutely adored the characters of Brian, Jesse, Anna and Kate - but I couldn't stand Campbell or Sara half the time. But then again, all great books do have characters that you want to slap in them, don't they? Otherwise what's the point of a novel where all the characters are perfectly nice? Exactly - there wouldn't be a point. Picoult is such a talented author, and I'm really glad that I chose this book to be the first I ever read of hers. I hope the next one I pick up lives up to it's standards!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Fable: The Balverine Order by Peter David

 In a land without heroes, there are two choices: find one, or become one...

The days of magic and myth are fading away, the days of industry and science are coming. As the aged last Hero sits upon the throne of Albion, two friends - the privileged Thomas and his loyal servant, James - set out for the East in search of a legendary beast: the vicious, rarely seen balverine. But their desire for adventure may be their ultimate undoing.

For although the ages of Heroes is ending, dangers still abound in the wilds of Albion. And as they travel, they encounter both unlikely friends and unnerving allies who seek adventure of a different sort. Though Thomas and James seem on the verge of finding their quarry, they may not live to tell the tale. Because their quarry has just found them...

So I was requested to read this book by my friend Amber, who is an absolute Fable fanatic. For those of you who don't know what Fable is, it is basically a current trilogy of xBox games based in a kind of mythical land called Albion, and in each of the games, you take up the role of a Hero and set about trying to save the land from some evil guy. This book isn't a tale of any of the games - it is set around about inbetween Fable II and Fable III, when there are no current Heroes around. I have to say, I am about 50/50 with this book - because on one hand, I absolutely loved it, but on the other hand, I really didn't like it. Firstly, I honestly felt that reading the book was a bit of a drag - I kept waiting for it to pick up and get really exciting and give me an adrenaline rush like the game does - but it didn't, until the last 50 pages or so, which was rather disappointing. But then again, quests on Fable do have their boring bits, and those last 50 pages were stupidly good - I literally could not put the book down. I also loved both the developments of the main characters, Thomas and James - you honestly felt like you personally knew them, and were under their skin for the whole time. I also loved the plot twists that were put in, and how the mysteries were not at all obvious, and when you worked out certain parts, you felt like slapping yourself in the face for not realizing before. So, all-in-all, I'm really glad I read it, despite the boring bits, and I would definately recommend this novel to any Fable fan out there.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey has big dreams but little hope of seeing them come true. Desperate for money, she takes a job at the Glenmore, where hotel guest Grace Brown asks her to burn a bundle of secret letters. But when Grace's drowned body is fished from the lake, Mattie discovers the letters reveal the grim truth behind a murder.

If you've read my previous Jennifer Donnelly review on Revolution, you'll know that I am a major fan of hers - and this book was definitely no exception. Even though I preferred Revolution, this book was still of an incredibly high standard. The story is based on a real 20th century murder of a lady called Grace Brown, who wrote letters to her later-murderer, Chester Gilette. In the story, the fictional heroine, Mathilda Gokey, gets given her letters, and at several points during the tale she reads out those letters and finds out not just about Grace's story, but also her own. At first I thought the way that Donelley chopped and changed between the past and the present would be confusing - but she did it in such a brilliant way, with the past's titles all her dictionary's word-of-the-day, and the present having no titles. I also loved how well she developed each of the characters - especially Mattie, Weaver, Minnie and Miss Wilcox. I felt like I was under the skin of each of the characters, and constantly seeing them for the first time. Mattie wasn't your average super-hot and dumb damsel in distress - she was an ordinary girl who had big dreams and wasn't going to let certain people drag her down - I think that's why I loved her so much. That, and the fact that she was obsessed with books, just like me. I really think Donnelly has a knack for creating such imaginative but realistic characters, all of whom you can't help but love. I really enjoyed the story, and am sure I will re-read it again someday.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (#2)

'Waiting on Wednesday' is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, the book I am waiting on is: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

John Green is one of my favourite authors (and vloggers), and as soon as I heard he was publishing a new book, I immediately pre-ordered it! Looking for Alaska and Will Grayson, Will Grayson are two of my all-time favourite novels, and I have high hopes for this next book. Although I don't know much about the initial plot, I know that the story is based on a girl he knew in real life - a 16 year old nerdfighter called Esther, who died last August because of incurable cancer. Through knowing Esther, Green says he was able to develop Hazel, who is the main character of the story. I find it really touching how he developed Hazel through Esther, and I know that she would have absolutely loved the book. I also love the cover art - it is really simple but effective - it gives the impression of  sky and childhood. Although the release date is still a couple of months away, I am still eagerly awaiting its delivery to my door, and I know I will get a review up about it within the week.

Book of the Month: October

Over this past month, I have read six books in total, and the best book would definitely have to be City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. If you have read my reviews over the first three books in the Mortal Instruments series, you'd know that I am a big fan of them now, and am waiting on City of Fallen Angels to arrive in my school library. But despite the high standard in all the books, I did enjoy the first one best of all because it gave off such a fresh and original vibe, and all the characters and the plot were thoroughly developed. I really loved it!