Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Spoiler Review/ Discussion on Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth 
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release: 22nd October 2013
Genre: Dystopian, YA, Sci-Fi
Rating: 3/5 stars
Source: Bought

Goodreads Summary: 
"The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love."

This is the third and final book in the Divergent trilogy and WILL contain spoilers not only from the first two books but Allegiant itself. I usually don’t write spoiler reviews but could not review this book any other way and I found it therapeutic to get my feelings on what happened out there. If you haven’t yet read Allegiant I wouldn’t recommend reading this review unless you want to be spoiled on pretty much everything that happened. Go read the book and come back and share your thoughts.

Firstly, I want to get it out there that my overall rating (3 stars - which is fairly low for this series considering both Divergent and Insurgent got a 5 star rating from me) is not purely because I was upset about the ending for this book. One thing that is irking me is that some people who loved the book are assuming that everybody who didn’t like it didn’t like it purely because of the ending and whilst that may be true for some readers that wasn’t the case for me. I simply didn’t feel that Allegiant was as good of a book as the first two in the series and found it to be a weak ending. So this review isn’t a rambling mess of emotions I’m going to split my thoughts into four subheadings talking about specific aspects of this book.

Beyond Chicago, Experiments and Genes:
After Edith Prior’s big revelation at the end of Insurgent I had a good idea as to where Allegiant might be heading with Chicago being an experiment city and the Divergents having genetically “pure genes.” My theories were confirmed in this book and all Allegiant really did for me was colour in the shades of grey in between that I hadn’t already figured out. In short I guess I was expecting something more. Divergent and Insurgent were full of twists and turns and revelations and so I kept waiting for there to be some crazy twist that would take this book to a whole other level that sadly never arrived.

Whilst I loved finally getting those missing links to connect the dots I felt like the information was pretty much dumped on us all in one go and although I loved all the science and corruption to begin with about half way through the book I was waiting for somebody to actually step up and do something about what was going on.

With no twists, little action and a slower pace I didn’t find Allegiant’s plot to be as exciting as Divergent or Insurgent and I guess I was just expecting more. To me it felt like the plot was very weak and Roth knew it so to leave a lasting impression she’d create the most shocking and brave ending ever. I’d rather have had a stronger plot to be honest.

Tris and Tobias:
My first thought when I found out that Allegiant would be from both Tris and Four’s point of view was “She is going to kill Tris!” To me it was clear because why else would you suddenly on the last book introduce a whole new narrative? Unless that original protagonist was going to die and the new narrator would lead readers to those closing chapters. I had this awful suspicion and I didn’t want to believe it so I pushed it to the back of my mind hoping I wasn’t right and that Roth simply wanted to give readers a glimpse into Four’s head.

I started off really enjoying having Four’s point of view; I loved getting to know Tobias in this new way. However again at about half way through I felt that Veronica lost that distinctiveness and Tris and Tobias’ chapters would start to merge together for me. I’d have to flick back to the start of the chapter to figure out who I was supposed to be reading from. When Tris and Tobias were separate it wasn’t too bad and I liked getting to see the different things going on at one time but when they were together whose chapter I was on would get completely lost to me despite making a conscious effort to keep track. I’m not sure if the dual narrative didn’t work for me because the voices weren’t distinctive enough or if I was just used to reading from solely Tris’ perspective. Either way I had mixed feelings on the way this story was told.

That Ending:
What did I think of Tris dying? I still honestly don’t know myself. Part of me feels like her story came full circle. She was both selfless and brave and it was a powerful and fitting end to this wonderful character. A lot of people are saying that her death was pointless and without meaning and whilst a part of me suspects that Veronica Roth killed Tris because this book wasn’t great and she needed to do something to make it memorable I have to admit that the way her death was handled fit with Tris’ character and didn’t feel forced.

The other part of me was mad. Devastated, actually. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind sad endings. I actually loved Mockingjay and Clockwork Princess and The Fault in Our Stars (a book well known for being heartbreakingly sad) is one of my all-time favourite books. But what I didn’t like about this book was how hopeless it was. It was actually bleak and depressing to read. In stories about corrupt societies I want there to be justice, I want good to defeat evil, and I know there will be sacrifices along the way - I’m okay with that. In Allegiant Tris dies, Tobias is left a shell of his former self, and the bad guys go on living. “But it’s okay readers because the world is better and it’s all because of Tris!” Is the silver lining Roth offers us. I don’t care. I couldn’t care less what the world is like now because the characters I loved and wanted this safe and fair world for are gone. They’re not here to see the outcome of everything they fought for. Yes I’m including Tobias in this because I feel like a huge part of him died when Tris died, in the end we are left with a person so different from the Four we met and loved in Divergent. What are we left with? As a reader who has loved and cherished this series and has cheered the characters on? An empty body. An Uriah of a story. The people I loved were gone. The newly reformed society worthless to me as a reader. Turn off the damn machine.

Tris’ death aside let’s talk about the other things that went down in that ending. I HATED how easily everything was resolved with Tobias and Evelyn in the end. I actually got to the end of that chapter and said “seriously?” I wasn’t buying it. After all this build up there was no war, no battle, no argument, no honesty, no communication, no passion. After everything Evelyn put Tobias through and after how hard Evelyn fought for her beliefs they just hugged it out and everything was peachy. No! I refuse to accept this as a conclusion to all these years of planning and built up anger and pain. Just, no. Although I was ever so slightly happy that Four had somebody in his life again what with Tris dying and everything. Really convenient the timing of that actually *rolls eyes.* 

My Favourite Parts:
I really enjoyed learning about Tris’ Mom through her journal. And although I didn’t like that Tris died what she died for and how she went with her mother coming for her was well done. I also loved how they chose to spread Tris’ ashes – she really would have loved that. And I loved those last few moments of happiness between Tris and Four and how I got to see one of my favourite Divergent memories through Four’s eyes. That was devastating but beautiful – I sobbed my way through that short but moving chapter.

Overall I guess you could say that I have mixed feelings over Allegiant. There was some good and some bad and a whole lot of stuff that I’m still muddling over in my head. Although it was definitely my least favourite book in the series it wasn’t a bad book and I both loved and hated it all at once. I’d love for you to share with me your thoughts on this book and to vent your feelings in the comments, whether you loved it or hated it. I just ask that if you do decide to comment lets please keep this drama free and respect both the author and one another’s opinions.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Review for Amelia Grey’s Fireside Dream by Abby Clements

Amelia Grey’s Fireside Dream by Abby Clements
Publisher: Quercus
Release: 26th September 2013
Genre: Chick-Lit, Romance, Autumn
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary:
"Amelia has a dream: toasting chestnuts by the fire with her husband Jack in their own cosy cottage. Their real life is another world - a cramped one-bedroom flat in Hackney. But when life takes a surprising turn, removal vans are soon heading to the Kent countryside. They soon realise the cottage makeover is a far bigger project than they'd anticipated. On top of that, there's Amelia's newly loved-up mum and her tearaway half-sister, Mirabel, to contend with - pushing Amelia and Jack's marriage to breaking point. Amelia begins to strip back the wallpaper and fittings in the cottage and discovers the story of the cottage's previous owner - and a hidden secret. As Amelia's ideas about love and family change, will her fireside dream finally come true?"

I’ve read all three of Abby Clements’ books so far and Amelia Grey’s Fireside Dream is my favourite yet! As soon as I read the synopsis I knew that I’d love this one with the cosy cottage in the countryside, Autumnal setting, and house renovation. I too have always dreamed of living in an old little cottage in the middle of nowhere and so I loved living vicariously through Amelia – a heroine after my own heart! I also loved the inclusion of each chapter being named after a location or room in the house and the mood board snippets at the start that really brought Amelia’s ideas for the cottage to life as well as sparking my own imagination for when I decorate!

Amelia Grey’s Fireside Dream was a cosy autumn read that I loved snuggling down with in front of the fire. Amelia and her husband Jack live in a cramped flat in London and on her thirtieth birthday Amelia decides that enough is enough and that it’s time to create the dream home she’s always wanted. The book has a very realistic take on moving house and the big renovation of an old cottage with Amelia and Jack missing out on ideal homes whilst searching, struggling to create their dream home on a budget and the strain the stress has on their relationship. I loved the message placed throughout the book that a house is not a home; it’s the people who fill it.

In Abby Clements last two books there has been a shared narrative between two leading ladies so I was surprised to find that this book was only told from Amelia’s point of view. However, I quickly liked her and found that her journey was more than enough to keep me invested in the story. I also quickly fell in love with the wide range of secondary characters from Amelia’s friends Sunita and Carly to her mum and tearaway younger sister Mirabel. Every character was likeable and developed and I loved being in their company. The cottage also tells its own story as we get to find out about Eleanor (the houses previous owner) through her left behind belongings that Amelia comes to find.

In chick-lit it’s often quite predictable as to whom the heroine will end up with in the end but with ‘Fireside Dream’ I honestly couldn’t call it and couldn’t decide what Amelia should do! Although I liked how everything concluded in the end I would have liked a bit more insight into Amelia’s thought process when she was making her decision because to me it felt a bit out of the blue and too easy of an ending. It is my one small niggle with this book.

Overall Amelia Grey’s Fireside Dream was a lovely, warm, autumn treat that makes a perfect read for this time of year. In my opinion this is Abby Clements best book yet and after enjoying all three of her novels over the past twelve months she has fast become one of my must read chick-lit authors!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Review for This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales 
Publisher: Macmillan
Release: 10th October 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age, YA
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary:
"All her life, Elise Dembowski has been an outsider. Starting a new school, she dreams of fitting in at last – but when her best attempts at popularity fail, she almost gives up. Then she stumbles upon a secret warehouse party. There, at night, Elise can be a different person, making real friends, falling in love for the first time, and finding her true passion – DJ’ing. But when her real and secret lives collide, she has to make a decision once and for all: just who is the real Elise?"

“Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts about you, and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them. And if you don't know yourself very well, you might even believe that they are right. But the truth is, that isn't you. That isn't you at all.” ― Leila Sales, This Song Will Save Your Life 

This Song Will Save Your Life is Leila Sales’ UK debut. I’d heard brilliant things about Leila’s books from US bloggers and was excited to finally check out this author. I went into this book expecting a fun, contemporary story about a girl who loves music and whilst that is somewhat true this book goes so much deeper than that and deals with bullying, self-harm, suicide and self-worth to name a few of the topics covered in this book. This Song Will Save Your Life hit me right in the feels and had me emotionally invested in Elise’s story. It’d be fair to say that I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did. Leila Sales – I underestimated you.

Elise is an outcast. She’s an intelligent girl who cares for her family and has a passion for good music. She’s a good person yet she doesn’t fit in to social conceptions at school and although she tries to fit in she’s awkward and feels like she doesn’t belong. Elise is isolated and lonely and carries this inner rage and embarrassment at herself for not being ordinary, for standing out, for being smart, for being special. In high school being different is the worst thing you could possibly be. You have to be normal and blend in else you become a target for the small minded which is exactly what Elise becomes.

“I had this feeling suddenly. I get this feeling a lot, but I don’t know if there’s one word for it. It’s not nervous or sad or even lonely. It’s all of that, and then a bit more. The feeling is I don’t belong here. I don’t know how I got here, and I don’t know how long I can stay before everyone else realizes that I am an impostor. I am a fraud. I’ve gotten this feeling nearly everywhere I have ever been in my life. There’s nothing you can do about it except drink some water and hope that it subsides. Or you can leave.” ― Leila Sales, This Song Will Save Your Life 

Right from the start I connected with Elise and understood how hard it is to be different and stay true to who you are in a world that demands you be just like everybody else to get along smoothly in life. This book captures those feelings of inadequacy perfectly. On the flip side this book also shows how your passions and interests can save your life – in Elise’s case that’s her music and being a DJ. It brings out the best in her, draws likeminded people into her life, gives her an escape from the bullying and most importantly provides her with a home and community that embrace her exactly as she is. At its heart I guess you could call this book a coming of age story but it’s also about hope and embracing the things that make you different and so many other wonderful things that make this book special.

“I don't believe that anyone who is a legitimately interesting person can be popular as a teenager," Mel went on. "Or ever, maybe. Popularity rewards the uninteresting.” ― Leila Sales, This Song Will Save Your Life 

The most important relationship in this book is the relationship Elise has with herself. But I also loved the relationship she has with her family and the friendships she makes throughout the book. I also loved the relationship Elise had with Char - but not in the way you’d imagine. Char is Elise’s love interest throughout the book but they don’t exactly have a healthy relationship or one that you’re desperate to see work out. We all know a guy like Char who messes girls around and takes advantage of girls with low self-esteem. Char is as insecure and selfish as they come and I LOVED that Leila Sales decided to showcase a relationship that girls are more likely to experience as teenagers as opposed to the happily ever after romances that are so popular in YA. Everything about this book was so raw and honest and I absolutely loved that about it.

This Song Will Save Your Life is the kind of book that made my heart ache with emotion and I’d thoroughly recommend it. You’ll connect with and root for Elise throughout and will close the book emotionally exhausted due to feels overload. This Song Will Save Your Life unexpectedly crawled under my skin and nestled into my heart where I imagine it will stay for a long time to come.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Letterbox Love (34) A Rambling and Lengthy Catch-Up!

Letterbox Love is a meme hosted by Lynsey @ Narratively Speaking for UK based book bloggers to showcase the books that they’ve received each week.

Wow, it has been almost a month since I last did one of these! I honestly don't know where that time has gone and why I'm only just getting around to posting a Letterbox Love now except that my weekends have been pretty busy lately and I'm trying to spend less money on books to save for Christmas. Yes I said the C word. Yes it's only October. You're going to have to deal with it because I am a huge fangirl for Christmas time! I started buying presents this week and the general anticipation of it all has started to kick in for me which reflects in this haul because I have some very exciting Christmas books to share with you. The C word aside with all the time that's passed it is entirely possible that I'm missing some books out. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the case but I can't for the life of me remember what I've left out. Alas, these are the books that I REMEMBER acquiring over the past month. Let us begin.

 For Review

Panic by Lauren Oliver (Proof Copy)
A thousand happy dances for your new book Ms Oliver! I seriously want to read it RIGHT THIS SECOND however it's not out until March and so I'm going to try and resist until at least January. Maybe.
Crash into You by Katie McGarry (ARC)
Oh, Isaiah. I just want you to be happy! I need you to be happy in this book or else me and you are going to have words young man. WORDS! *Stares at book in a firm manner*
Impostor by Susanne Winnacker (Proof Copy)
I had no idea that this one was being published in the UK and had the US version on my wishlist and so when the publisher asked me if I wanted a review copy I was all "hell yeah!" and now I have one, and now I have to wait until January to read it because yeah, again, 2014 titles *sighs.*
The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis (Proof Copy)
Another 2014 title that is going to be sitting staring at me on my shelf until next year. I'll put my hands up and say that I don't know too much about this one but I do know that the publishers are pretty excited about it and that Rupert's writing has been compared to the beauty that is Patrick Ness' so I have high hopes!

 More For Review...

A Gift to Remember by Melissa Hill
And here we start with the pretty Christmas books! And what better book to start with than with Melissa Hill and her story of Christmas and Books and New York and Bookshops? This sounds like my dream story and I love Melissa Hill so I'm hugely looking forward to reading this one next month!
Calling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews
Another Christmas book, another gorgeous cover! I read my first Carole Matthews this summer and really enjoyed it so I'm looking forward to trying out another one of her books. This one is about an unemployed woman who sets up her own Christmas business for wrapping presents, writing cards, decorating trees and the like. Sounds like a festive treat!
It Felt Like a Kiss by Sarra Manning (Proof Copy)
I'm a huge fan of Sarra's YA Contemporary books but have yet to read one of her Chick-lit novels so I'm really excited to give 'It Felt Like a Kiss' a go. Although this is another 2014 proof copy that I want to read NOW but which I'm going to have to save until January. Also the cover is GORGEOUS!
Finding It by Cora Carmack
This is irksome because I REALLY want to start this series and have been sent the first and now the third book for review BUT I HAS NO SECOND BOOK!!! Looks like this series is going to have to wait until I can hunt me down a copy of Faking It.


Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan
Ellie! Ellie! I found it! Ellie found this one in her The Works a couple of weeks ago and I was mega jealous because I love me some Jenny Colgan and I couldn't find one in my store! Then I was in there on Tuesday and found this ONE copy and I snatched it up and hugged it tight. Okay, so I haven't actually read the first Cupcake Cafe book yet - but I own it! And I love Jenny Colgan! And this hardback was only £2.99 when the new paperback is more expensive and so it just made sense for me to buy it.
Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
Whilst I was in The Works I found this copy of Sweetly. I have a proof copy and was mulling over replacing it for the bargain £1.99 that the paperback was. The big deal breaker was when I noticed whilst I was flicking through it that I had been quoted inside! I didn't know this! Of course I couldn't leave without a copy after that.
Ashfall by Mike Mullin
I have had my eye on this one for years and so was really eager to see what Ellie thought when she was reading it to determine whether it should go on or off my wishlist for good. Turns out she loved it (check out her review here) and very kindly sent me her copy. I think this might make a good Halloween read so it's on the pile and I'm hoping to get around to it.
The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher (Proof Copy)
I have a confession. I wasn't the biggest fan of Stolen *ducks and hides.* Still, this one sounded really interesting to me and like it would make a good Halloween read. I think I might have read somewhere that it deals with PTSD as well which has piked my interest further as I've been diagnosed with that myself. Anyway I wanted to read it but was reluctant to actually buy a copy and so my day was made when the lovely Amber sent me her proof copy! I'm hoping that I'll get around to this one for Halloween and that I'll enjoy it more than I did Stolen.

 That's all from me! And I apologise for the rather long ramblyness of this post. If you read it all and didn't skim read then a big "Aww shucks!" and a hearty hug to you. Needless to say it looks like there will be some brilliant reading in store for me! As always thank you to the lovely publishing folk for the review copies. If you decided to do a Letterbox Love, Book Haul, IMM, Showcase Sunday, Mailbox Monday or whatever else featuring the books you got this week leave me a link as I’d love to check out your books too! ^_^

 Happy reading till next time!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Review for Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Just One Year is a companion novel to Just One Day and so if you haven’t read Just One Day this review may contain spoilers.

Just One Year by Gayle Forman 
Publisher: Definitions
Release: 7th November 2013 (UK)
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult, YA, Travel
Source: Borrowed from Jasprit – thank you!

Goodreads Summary: 
"After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself."

Just One Day was an incredibly special book to me. It changed the way I looked at life and pushed me to say yes to exciting but scary opportunities. It had a massive impact on me and so I went into Just One Year hoping for more of the same. After Just One Day’s ending I still had so many unanswered questions and was hoping for closure from this companion novel which serves as the flip side to the same coin.

Going into Just One Year I had no idea where this book would take place on the Just One Day timeline. I only knew that it was a companion novel from Willem’s perspective. The book begins with where we left off with Willem in Paris after his beautiful day with Allyson and although I was grateful to finally get those crucial missing pieces to the puzzle I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to experience that whirlwind day through Willem’s eyes. Because of this I would definitely recommend reading Just One Day first as I don’t think that you can fully appreciate this series without knowing what happened on that life changing day. I was actually kind of surprised that Gayle didn’t include it as it’s such an important part of Willem’s journey and is the crux of the story. I would have loved to have experienced his thoughts and feelings first hand and I feel like it would have resurrected the feelings I have towards this couple and would have brought those feelings back to the surface. I guess Gayle didn’t want to cover old ground but I personally would have liked it to have been included.

Sadly there isn’t as much time spent with Allyson and Willem together as there was in Just One Day however the chemistry between them and the anticipation of them meeting again is kept alive through Willem’s memories of the day they shared together that are always very present in Willem’s mind which I felt like was a fair compromise for not re-visiting that day. I loved finding out what Willem had got up to in the year since their meeting and I loved that he put just as much time and effort into looking for Allyson as she did for him. I’m pretty sure that their paths may have crossed over at some points but because it’s been a while since I read Just One Day I couldn’t be sure and so where Allyson was at that time was often lost to me. I’d definitely recommend reading the books back to back or even each month side by side. I’m going to be trying this myself in a future re-read!

One of the things that I loved most about Just One Day was how deeply I connected with Allyson and her journey. Willem is a lost soul drifting from place to place since the death of his father and the loss of his home. He’s grieving and broken and is a big believer in accidents and life leading you to where you’re supposed to be. I didn’t connect with Willem on the same level that I did with Allyson but I still enjoyed his journey. Like Just One Day, Just One Year is both a physical and mental journey and I loved both the sites and experiences of Willem’s travels and his growth as a person as well as meeting the people who shape him along the way. I also enjoyed the subject of Free Will VS Fate and Love VS Luck and how maybe you need a little of both in life to get to where you belong.

The ending to this book was simple yet perfect. Just enough was said to leave me feeling like I got that closure. With this duology it is definitely a case of journey over destination and by the end of Just One Year I felt like both Willem and Allyson had become who they needed to be and that was down to each other and the journey they took to find a way back to one another. Although Just One Year didn’t leave as strong an impression on me as Just One Day did I closed this book feeling satisfied and like Willem and Allyson’s story is complete.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Double Feature Review: Burn For Burn and Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Burn For Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian 
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release: 28th February 2013
Genre: Contemporary, YA, Thriller
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary: 

Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.

Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she's ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. And she's ready to prove it to him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they each had a taste."

Burn for Burn was such a guilty pleasure read for me! There is something so juicy and enjoyable about books dealing with revenge. We all know some idiot who gets away with their sucky behaviour time and time again and it was so fun living vicariously through Lillia, Kat and Mary as they demanded payback. Watching them get their revenge felt strangely satisfying as a reader who loves these characters but at the same time I liked how this book shown that there’s always more to people and their reasons than meets the eye…

Before starting Burn for Burn I was worried that I might judge the girls and find them petty but that wasn’t the case at all! I loved all three of the main characters – they were very distinctive from one another and I loved getting to see things from each girl’s perspective. Lillia was my favourite, she’s part of the popular crowd and is rich and beautiful but she has a good head on her shoulders and wants to protect her sister from frenemies and stop older guys from taking advantage of her. Then you have Kat who used to be part of Lillia’s crowd until Queen Bee Rennie pushed her out just when Kat needed her friends the most. I loved Kat’s fiery attitude- she was never anybody’s victim. Lastly we have Mary who’s a bit strange and more of a mystery than the other girls. I put the book down feeling like I didn’t know her as well as Lillia and Kat although I did feel really bad for her after reading her emotional back story.

I’ve read and loved Jenny Han’s Summer trilogy and the start to this new series did not disappoint! I couldn’t tell where Jenny ended and Siobhan Vivian began because their writing blended together so seamlessly and I now really want to check out one of Siobhan’s novels. Overall Burn for Burn was a gripping contemporary thriller that I read in a few hours because I couldn’t put it down!

This is the second book in the Burn for Burn series and so this review may contain spoilers from the first book.
Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release: 29th August 2013
Genre: Contemporary, YA, Thriller
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary:
"Lillia, Kat, and Mary had the perfect plan. Work together in secret to take down the people who wronged them. But things didn’t exactly go the way they’d hoped at the Homecoming Dance. Not even close.

For now, it looks like they got away with it. All they have to do is move on and pick up the pieces, forget there ever was a pact. But it’s not easy, not when Reeve is still a total jerk and Rennie’s meaner than she ever was before.

And then there’s sweet little Mary…she knows there’s something seriously wrong with her. If she can’t control her anger, she’s sure that someone will get hurt even worse than Reeve was. Mary understands now that it’s not just that Reeve bullied her—it’s that he made her love him.

Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, burn for a burn. A broken heart for a broken heart. The girls are up to the task. They’ll make Reeve fall in love with Lillia and then they will crush him. It’s the only way he’ll learn. It seems once a fire is lit, the only thing you can do is let it burn..."

Fire with Fire felt like quite a different read compared to Burn for Burn. It was less focused on revenge and instead focuses more on the aftermath of Burn for Burns ending and the relationship between Lillia, Kat, and Mary as they go from being accomplices to true friends who care about each other. There’s also the introduction of a romance which I really enjoyed. Although I loved both Burn for Burn and Fire with Fire equally they felt like very different books to me and I loved them for entirely different reasons.

In Burn for Burn I felt like Mary was quite an allusive character and I wanted to know more about her and I definitely got that with this book although perhaps not in the way that I was expecting! Mary’s quite an unreliable narrator and one of the things that I’ve come to love about this series is the uneasy feeling she gives me. Mary’s chapters have this building tension and she reminded me of ‘Carrie’ like sooner or later she’s going to flip and the whole Island’s going to know about it!

Romance wise my ships in this series are all over the place! There are so many characters that I like but feel uneasy about and I’m not entirely sure who’s genuine. I couldn’t tell you who will end up with who and I love the unpredictability of it all! I do have someone in mind for each girl but they all have a lot of craziness to overcome first so I guess I’ll have to wait and see!

The ending to this book is INSANE and so clever! I have so many questions and I love the direction the authors have taken this series in with THAT ending. Waiting for Ashes to Ashes to come out is going to be PAINFUL! Overall Fire with Fire was an amazing sequel that didn’t suffer from middle book syndrome at all. If Ashes to Ashes is as good as Burn for Burn and Fire with Fire then this could very well go down as one of my favourite contemporary series!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Review for Red Hill by Jamie McGuire

Red Hill by Jamie McGuire
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release: 1st October 2013
Genre: Adult, Apocalyptic, Horror, Survival, Romance, Thriller
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Jamie McGuire is the international bestselling author of New Adult sensation Beautiful Disaster. Although Beautiful Disaster doesn’t really appeal to me I have been interested in checking out this author and so when I heard about Red Hill which sounded more up my street I was eager to pick it up for an early Halloween read. I’m so glad that I did because I thoroughly enjoyed this book even though it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting it to be…

Going into Red Hill I didn’t know much about it other than it’s an adult apocalyptic novel about a deadly epidemic. I picked it up expecting a horror full of death and gore and although I got that to some extent it was also so much more than that. At its heart Red Hill is a survival story that takes a look at humanity and how hardship tends to bring out the very best and the very worst in us as humans. It demonstrations our strength and how quickly we adapt as a species to change and shows that when everything is stripped away what we live for and what keeps us going is love and hope. Even if you’re not usually a fan of horror I would still recommend giving this book a chance as the apocalypse is really just the trigger to the story setting up a series of events in the characters’ lives. The story is about what happens from that moment on and it read more like a contemporary novel compared to anything else.

The book is narrated by three different characters that begin the book as strangers but gradually their stories intertwine. Scarlet’s story begins as a nurse and watching the epidemic sweep through what starts as an ordinary day at the hospital was a fascinating narrative to read from. As the hospital overflows with this unusual illness Scarlet knows something is very wrong and flees to find her daughters who are staying with their dad for the weekend. Next we have Nathan whose wife decides to leave him and their daughter on the day that the epidemic hits and then we have Miranda a college student who’s driving her sister and their boyfriends to spend the weekend at their dad’s home on the secluded ranch Red Hill. I loved having the different narrations as not only did it keep the story snappy and fast paced but I also loved seeing the outbreak from all the different vantage points and watching the characters stories overlap. As the epidemic spreads you can feel the characters desperation and panic rise which made Red Hill a nail biting read.

As well as our three main characters there is a wide range of secondary characters and I loved each and every one of them! They’re all smart, strong, and compassionate and they grow and change throughout the novel meaning that my favourites were constantly shifting as well although I’d have to say that overall Scarlet, Nathan, Zoe and Cooper held a special place in my heart. However this is an apocalyptic novel and so of course it’s a given that not everyone will survive. My heart broke at several points during this book and I was in a state of constant fear for the characters’ lives. Red Hill is an intense read!

Overall I’d recommend Red Hill to pretty much anybody whether you’re a fan of apocalyptic horror novels or not. I’d especially recommend this book to fans of The Walking Dead, the movie Contagion or Tracey Garvis Graves novel ‘On The Island’ as the writing style struck me as very similar as did the story of survival with a dash of romance. Red Hill is a fascinating look at humanity and endurance and is a nice, solid, standalone novel that would make a perfect Halloween read!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Review for Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release: 3rd October 2013
Genre: Dystopian, Mystery, Thriller, YA
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary:
"On the floating city of Internment, you can be anything you dream. Unless you approach the edge.

Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city in the clouds where she lives, can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. If she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in her best friend, Pen, and in Basil, the boy she’s engaged to marry.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially once she meets Judas. Betrothed to the victim, he is the boy being blamed for the murder, but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find – or whom she will lose."

Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy is one of my favourite series so I was looking forward to this new book from her to begin with and then when I found out what Perfect Ruin was actually about I literally couldn’t wait to read it and started it as soon as my copy arrived. I was drawn into the story straight away – Lauren’s world building is flawless and her words paint such a vivid picture that you can’t help getting sucked in. Perfect Ruin is a mystery driven dystopian novel that has similarities to books like Delirium, Matched, Across the Universe and Divergent but is mostly something completely new and exciting.

The book is about a city in the sky that has a protective force around it stopping anything from getting in and anyone from getting out. Small, claustrophobic and alone in the sky it’s important that Internment thrives and so couples are betrothed from birth, have a waiting list to reproduce and are scheduled to die at a certain age to stop overpopulation. Life on Internment is controlled but fair - you can be whoever you want to be and everything is shared out evenly. The lack of need along with the fact that you have nowhere to run means that crime on Internment is a very rare thing and so the whole society is shocked when a teenage girl is found murdered - her number one suspect being her betrothed. Soon a series of crimes begin and our protagonist Morgan starts to question the running of her home in the sky and whether escaping to the ground is as impossible as the King would have them believe.

I loved, loved, loved this new world that Lauren has created! Her descriptions of living amongst the clouds and the stars sounded so beautiful and majestic yet also claustrophobic and limited. Life on Internment is brutal but in a more subtle, discreet way than the world of The Chemical Garden series. Internment is creative and fully developed as a world but it doesn’t give up all of its secrets at once. You’re always given just enough information to understand what’s going on and more is revealed with each chapter right until the very end. Even after finishing this book I’m still left curious about this land in the sky and I suspect that Lauren has a lot more to give us in future books.

I enjoyed getting to know every single character. No matter how small their part each character was interesting and developed. My favourites were Morgan’s brother Lex and his wife Alice who I just wanted to wrap up in a big hug they had been through so much! Strangely enough I also really liked Celeste who I’m not sure if I’m supposed to like but I do anyway. She’s a curious and interesting character that’s for sure! I also really liked Daphne (the murdered girl) who although we never actually meet in this book has a strong presence throughout the novel thanks to the snippets from her essay at the beginning of each chapter.

Overall Perfect Ruin was a brilliant first book to set up the series and kept me up late at night turning the pages. I feel like this series has great potential especially after that cliff-hanger ending that hints that a whole other exciting part of this world is going to be uncovered in book two. In many ways it feels like this story is only just beginning and I can’t wait to find out more about this enthralling world in the sequel.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

September Round-Up and Book of the Month!

September's Book of the Month is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

If you've read my review for Fangirl then it being September's book of the month really won't come as a surprise to you. Fangirl was one of those books that I really connected with. It was so much more than just an excellent book to me. This is a new all-time favourite book of mine and there really are no words to describe how much I loved it.

*** Because how could I award book of the month to Fangirl without sharing a GIF of one of the best fangirling moments ever? *** 

Read in September
78.) Briar Rose by Jana Oliver (2*)
79.) Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (4*)
80.) Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (4*)
81.) The Elites by Natasha Ngan (3.5*)
82.) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (5*)
83.) Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano (4*)
84.) World After by Susan Ee (5*)
85.) Just One Year by Gayle Forman (4*)
86.) Another Way To Fall by Amanda Brooke (4*)

September Book Awards
Best Plot: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Best Writing: Just One Year by Gayle Forman
Best Cover: The Elites by Natasha Ngan
Best Characters: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Best Ending: Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Best Romance: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Most un-put-down-able: World After by Susan Ee
Most Memorable: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Best Moral: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Top 3 Most Recommended Books: Fangirl, World After and Just One Year

Books I’m Looking Forward to Reading/Being Released in October
Red Hill by Jamie McGuire
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken
A Gift to Remember by Melissa Hill
Calling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Haze by Paula Weston
Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve
Resist by Sarah Crossan
Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

 Happy reading for October! What was the best book you read last month? And what are you looking forward to reading in October?
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