Thursday, 21 August 2014

Review: Messenger of Fear (Messenger of Fear #1) by Michael Grant

Review also available on my blog!

I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself.

And then the games began.

The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear. 

But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out … - Goodreads

Author: Michael Grant
Published: August 26th 2014
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Source: An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
My rating4 of 5 stars

Wow. WOW. I am so so SO excited about this series! You may know that Michael Grant is one of my favourite authors. His Gone and BZRK series have pushed the limits of YA fiction in terms of graphic detail and thrills to the point of horror. This book does NOT disappoint.

The protagonist, Mara, wakes up surrounded by mist not knowing anything about herself except her name. I love books where you discover things as the main character does - Maze Runner anyone? I loved that series. The mystery is gripping. Mara heads to a nearby creepy church and meets the Messenger which is where her story really begins. Throughout the book, you learn little bits of info about Mara at a time - the Messenger controls her memories. Although this control makes the Messenger a powerful character, Mara isn’t submissive and does stand up for herself. We learn about her in terms of her reaction to things as well as her memories. I really enjoyed the characters in this series. You’re introduced to people from the Messenger’s world who are so fantastical and alluring but also ordinary people from a high school. I loved this contrast of the surreal and the mundane.

Like I just mentioned this book deals with a high school. Among others (love the multiple plotlines!) (so hard not to give anything away!) There’s this huge philosophical world of justice which the Messenger has to serve out but Grant also deals with serious teenage issues such as bullying, homophobia and teen suicide. I like how he treats both with depth and gravity, and interweaves one with the other.

Now the CREEPY parts. WOW. Always a highlight in his writing, the chilling elements of this book really are addictive. They are so unique that you can’t predict what might happen and there is a real shock element. At one part I had to put the book down and just be like WHAT DID I JUST READ. WOAH. It was crazy, gross, creepy and it is gripping writing! Grant continues his fantastic gruesomeness that he used in his other series.

There is a lot of mystery in this plot. On several levels. Who is Mara? Who is the Messenger? What is this world? But as the Messenger deals out a game in order to get justice, this book does also raise real questions about right vs wrong and does the punishment always fit the crime? It does make you think. 

The reason this book is a 4 is because it did feel quite introductory. You’re learning the ropes as Mara is and at the end you learn a bit about the history/religion of this other world that the Messenger inhabits. Now that we’re familiar with this world, I feel like book 2 can really expand on the fantasy and the other characters to properly develop into something brilliant. There are several hints as to what we can expect in book 2! Oh, and there’s a twist at the end which is just superb.

Overall, chilling, mysterious and deliciously creepy, Grant uses the style of his widely successful Gone series to create a world with fantastic depth and raises real questions about right vs wrong. Highly anticipating book 2!!

4 stars.

Are you excited for this book or what? :D


Thursday, 7 August 2014

Review: Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

Review also available on my blog!

The perfect life or the perfect love. You choose.

For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she shifts to her ‘other’ life - a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she’s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she’s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.

With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments that bring her dangerously close to the life she’s always wanted. But if she can only have one life, which is the one she’ll choose?

A compelling psychological thriller about a girl who lives two parallel lives - this is Sliding Doors for the YA audience. - Goodreads

Published: August 7th 2014
Publisher: Orchard Books
Source: An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
My rating4 of 5 stars

Hi everyone!

So Between the Lives is about Sabine, who lives each day twice, in two different lives. I was already captivated by this idea, it’s so unique and there are so many different directions Shirvington could have taken. As quite a sci-fi sort of idea, it was described wonderfully - even details such as meeting her other self and wounds in either life were addressed. But it wasn’t so detailed that you get confused, Shirvington clearly and concisely sets the scene which lets the readers fully immerse themselves in the story.

The writing is really easy to read and this along with many tense moments makes this a very gripping read. I read it in less than a day. I also loved how there were tense moments at midnight in one life, then she woke up in the other life and you really feel her frustration, anticipation or fear to return to the other life. Throughout this book you want to know more and more and so this was an incredibly quick read. I was also thankful that each chapter told the reader what life she was in and what day it was. I was starting to understand the confusion living through days twice could cause!

The characters were fab. I could really relate to the struggle of Sabine as she often felt it was hard to fit in and we’ve all felt that at some point. I loved how different she was in her lives, goth in one and blonde and popular in another. This mix of personalities I felt gave her character depth. Shirvington uses Sabine and her lives to talk about issues such as self harm and suicide and I thought she dealt with them in an appropriate way considering the YA audience. Ethan was lovely as a heartthrob but he wasn’t anything too new if that makes sense? He is a great character but I didn’t feel it was refreshingly new. The minor characters such as Capri and Lucy I totally fell in love with as they are light and genuine.

The reason this book is a four is because I was disappointed with the lack of explanation of Sabine’s condition. It never really explains why she is living two lives. With references to ‘glitches’ I thought this book might develop into something bigger but considering this is a stand alone, I think Shirvington did tread the right path. I just was left with many unanswered questions which could have perhaps developed this book into a trilogy or a series. But for a stand alone the plot was understandable. However, I do think this book has lots of potential to become a series.

Overall, a gripping, emotional and unique story with surprising reflections of our own lives and bundles of potential.

4 stars.

Have you read this book/going to read? :)


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Review: The Moment Collector by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Review also available on my blog!

"The yard of this house is a graveyard of moments and everything left behind is a clue. And I am here to dig."

There’s a ghost haunting 208 Water Street. She doesn’t know who she was, or why she’s still here. She does know that she is drawn to Maggie, the new girl in town, and her friends - beautiful, carefree Pauline and Liam, the boy who loves her.

But the ghost isn’t all that’s lurking in Gill Creek… Someone is killing young girls all across the county. Can the ghost keep these three friends safe? Or does she have another purpose? - Goodreads

Published: August 7th 2014
Publisher: Orchard Books
Source: An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
My rating5 of 5 stars

Hi everyone!

This book was first published last year as The Vanishing Season, which I find to be an unsuitable title - The Moment Collector is much better suited to the story in my opinion.

Before I get into my review I need to make sure you understand some things. 

1) Many people did not enjoy this book as they expected a serial killer/ghost story. These are elements of the books but definitely not a MAJOR part. It is an absolutelybeautiful book about friendship, romance and coming of age, with a ghost twist.

2) I wouldn’t call it an exciting book per se. There is a killer but there is no tension or fear. This will put some people off but I urge you to read this book for other reasons I’ll go into in a moment.

3) This book HAS received some unfair (imo) reviews because of expectations not being met. Although different from expected, it is a wonderful read.

OKAY! Now that’s done I can go into the review! I loved this book. Anderson’s writing is absolutely exquisite and although the plot lacks tension, Anderson’s writing makes it seem like there doesn’t need to be any tension. The story is told in third person from mostly Maggie’s point of view. But occasionally there are parts told from the perspective of a ghost who lives in Maggie’s house. The ghost does not know who she was and slips around in time. These are the parts I looked forward to. They are written in such haunting prose and are filled with a sense of inevitability. For me, there was no shock in this book. Even in the end, when everything is revealed, Anderson really cleverly (using the ghost) makes you feel as if this was always going to happen. Not in a negative, helpless way but in a sort of satisfied way. Like, a kind of peace that everything has fallen into place. Ugh I can feel my words mushing together it’s just I am unable to put into words how utterly gorgeous Anderson’s writing is. Although the plot will leave some people disappointed for lack of ‘action’ I found the pure simplicity of this book incredible. 

The characters were fabulous because they were so real. There are so many writers these days who write their characters as flawless. That they handle all situations perfectly. And they also use stereotypes such as antagonist female teenager - beautiful and popular compared to the protagonist who is quiet and meek. Plus the love triangles which I have grown to hate due to how they are ALL THE SAME. However, each of Anderson’s characters were so unique. Maggie, the protagonist, although quiet - she isn’t meek. She is headstrong and gets angry. Just like the best of us, she can be petty and mean sometimes. Pauline - she is beautiful and gets the attention of others but she doesn’t utilise it. I loved how childlike she is, how she is so naive compared to Maggie but not in a pathetic way. Liam - finally a boy who isn’t obsessed with the protagonist! Although there is a love triangle is this book, it isn’t cheesy. It’s complex, and gritty and necessary, like those in life, for the characters to grow and develop. I can’t really describe these characters fully because they are so real - it would be more accurate to describe them as people.

Overall, although differing from expectations, this book is an exquisitely haunting mystery, with characters so real they leap off the page and writing so beautiful it will linger with you for hours. I highly recommend and will definitely be reading more of Jodi Lynn Anderson’s work.

5 stars.

Will you be checking this out when it’s released tomorrow? :)


Sunday, 3 August 2014

Review: The Young World (The Young World Trilogy #1) by Chris Weitz

Review also available on my blog!

Welcome to New York, a city ruled by teens. After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he’s secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind. The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park …and discovers truths they could never have imagined. - Goodreads

Author: Chris Weitz
Published: July 29th 2014
Publisher: Atom
Source: An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
My rating4 of 5 stars


Hi everyone!

I know exactly what you are thinking when you read the description for this book - ‘I’ve heard it all before’. And I thought the exact same thing - I immediately thought ofGone by Michael Grant. However, The Young World proved to me that a book does not have to be particularly new, in terms of ideas, to be a good read.

It tells the story of life after It Happened - a Sickness that killed all the adults and little kids, but the teenagers survive because of their hormones. Okay so maybe you have to suspend your disbelief slightly but the story does work.The teens have formed tribes, and The Young World is about a group of teens from a tribe trying to find a cure for the Sickness. My favourite part about this book is the plot. It is gripping, tense and you will keep reading to find out what happens next. It’s why I love Dystopia, although the genre is quite exhausted. There are lots of exciting scenes contrasted with the right amount of calm, character building ones so that it doesn’t turn into an all-action-no-plot kind of book. I loved the tribes. The interaction between the protagonists’ tribe and others is really fascinating and I think the way Weitz showed how different people reacted in different ways to the end of the world was very interesting. Interwoven with this is the overarching plot to find a cure. It’s deliciously  addictive - you always want to know what they are going to encounter next.

The pacing of this story was excellent until the ending which I felt was a bit too rushed. I felt that the pinnacle of their journey deserved more time to develop into where the second book will head. The cliffhanger, although a tad predictable, was very enjoyable. The plot and the pacing were the highlights of this book for me.

It is told from the viewpoints of two of the main characters - Jefferson and Donna. I enjoyed both of their contrasting narrative styles at first - with Jefferson being mature and intelligent but with doubts and Donna yearning for the past by using LOTS of pop culture references and the word ‘like’ frequently - I thought it was great how Weitz reflected the teenage use of language. However, as the book went on I started to dislike Donna’s narrative. She’s very rude and bitter, and I started to find her voice very grating. I think the book would have been better if told simply from Jefferson’s perspective. 

I enjoyed the characters but only to an extent. I think the racial, gender and sexual orientation diversity was really great and also the tension that emerges within these groups. However certain characters such as Peter - a gay African American, were very stereotypical and others such as SeeThrough had great potential, but were not developed enough. However, the biggest character problem I had was with Donna. At the start she is described as a girl-power feminist but I found her treatment of the rape survivor Kath shocking. I understand that she felt threatened by her but as girl in this now brutal world, surely she could be more empathetic to her situation? As a reader, you’re meant to like the narrator protagonist, even agree with their opinions. Which is why I completely did not understand Donna’s treatment of Kath. I generally did not think the rape theme was treated well within this book.

Overall, a wonderfully addictive read despite some problems proving that a dystopian does not need to bring anything new to the table to be a good book.

4 stars.

What were your opinions of this book? :)


Friday, 1 August 2014

Review: The Mapmaker's Daughter by Caroline Dunford

Review also available on my blog!

Sharra’s world is a terrifying place. Violent seismic ‘Shifts’ and outbreaks of an all-consuming black fire radically alter landscapes on an increasingly frequent basis. Only the Map Makers can predict where the Shift will fall, and Sharra, daughter to one of the most famous Map Makers, yearns to join their ranks and break a cultural taboo which forbids female cartographers.Sharra’s father, Lord Milton, is one of the few to challenge the current order, but his shadowy past limits his political reach and his second wife, Lady Ivory, is determined to manipulate him to ensure a privileged future for herself and her daughter, Jayne. The main obstacle standing in Ivory’s way is Sharra. - Goodreads

Published: April 17th 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Source: An eARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
My rating3 of 5 stars

Hi guys!

In The Mapmaker’s Daughter, you are thrown straight into the fantasy world Sharra lives in. I’m not sure if the world has a name but it has two moons so it isn’t Earth. This world has very violent Shifts which the Mapmaker’s predict and makes maps to tell people where is safe. This idea of Maps and Shifts is really imaginative and I loved the originality of the idea and the direction Dunford chose to take with this plotline. Although being thrust straight into this is a bit confusing to start, once you grasp the idea, you are really immersed into this world like any good fantasy book should do. With such an original idea I found it difficult to predict what was going to happen and therefore the ending was pleasantly unpredictable.

Although this is a fantasy book with a different world, it wasn’t filled with pages and pages of historical description of world. This works in cases such as Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones but it is very tricky making it readable and if it goes wrong then it can ruin a book. I enjoyed how The Mapmaker’s Daughter leapt straight into the story and the action. It made this a very quick and gripping read - I read it in one sitting - as you are eager to know what happens. However, although I enjoyed the quick pace of this book, I think Dunford could have included perhaps more information about the world’s history. Not too much but a little more as although you knew enough about the Shifts to understand them, more historical information typical in fantasy would have given this book the depth which I felt that it lacked.

I enjoyed the variety of characters. There was a real mix of good and evil as well as others who were a mix of both. However, I felt much more description of the characters was needed. You are never told Sharra’s age or appearance. Only that Jayne (her step-sister) is two years older than her. But we are never told Jayne’s age! I pictured Sharra as about 15 years old in this book due to her childish nature but maturity to soon be getting married. However, as we are never told her age, she could be anywhere from 13-18! Her appearance isn’t mentioned either, I simply pictured her as the girl on the cover. I found this particularly strange as certain characters, such as Gareth, through the use of similes I could easily picture in my mind, but many others I simply had to guess. This was a major downfall, in my opinion.

Overall, a very promising book with a wonderfully original plot but would have benefited with more depth in terms of characters and the history of the world it is set in.

3 stars.

Have you read this ebook? What did you think? :)

Read my interview with the author - Caroline Dunford!