Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Review: Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen

Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen


Posing as one of Robin Hood's thieves to avoid the evil Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only her fellow outlaws, John Little, Much and Robin Hood know the truth - this agile thief is no boy but in fact a fearless young woman with a secret past. But Scarlet is torn between her desire to get as far from Lord Gisbourne as possible and a strong sense of responsibility to those who took her in when she was first on the run. As Gisbourne draws closer to Scarlet and puts innocent lives at risk, she must decide how much the people of Nottinghamshire mean to her, especially John Little and Robin, whose quick smiles and temper have the rare power to unsettle Scarlet. Full of exciting action, secrets and romance, this imaginative retelling of the classic tale will have readers following every move of Robin Hood and his band of thieves. 

Hey guys long time, no see! Sorry for the lack of reviews, college is demanding my attention, but I am back for a quick review of a book that I rather enjoyed!

I was so excited to read this book, the whole premise of it sounded amazing and as soon as I had money I bought it! Then when I was three or four pages in I realised that I didn't know a lot about the traditional Robin Hood story, but I soon caught on so if you don't know the Robin Hood story it doesn't really matter because Gaughen sets the story for us and you'll catch on soon enough! And just look at that cover, that is a pretty cover.
The setting in this book is amazing, I love stories set in the past anyway, but Scarlet was full of breaking into prisons, hiding out in the woods or caves and sneaking through crowded towns, whats not to love?! Add in Gaughen's well thought out characters with personal background stories and quirky personalities in with the setting and you've got yourself a well written, detailed and enjoyable story! Our main character Scarlet was likeable from the start, she has a big heart and is so thoughtful but also completely bad-ass when it comes to the bad guys, but I did find myself finding her a bit whiny sometimes which did make her a little annoying but her other redeemable characteristics made up for it. And of course Robin Hood, not much to say really, other than I think he's AWESOME but we don't need to go into detail about that!
The story itself was very well plotted, the start was a little slow for me at the start but after a while I was sucked into the story and couldn't put the book down. Every character had a story which made them more easy to understand and I found myself rooting for good things to happen to them. 
Overall I give Scarlet a 4 out of 5 stars as it was packed with action, politics, romance and friendship.

- Brodi

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show, " when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

The Cover: This isn't the same cover as my copy, but mine is the movie poster, hence my not using it in the blog. The two pictures in the corner is heartbreaking on first glance, but even more so once you read the story. The font is sprawling and covers the cover completely which, if we consider the saying that life is a blank canvas, becomes immediately more significant as you read on.

The Characters: Okay, I'll only talk about Charlie, Patrick and Sam because otherwise I'll end up writing pages and pages of basically 'fangirl' content. Charlie is the narrator and he's quiet and funny and really unprecedented. No-one acts as eccentric as he seems to in real life (not that I've come across anyway) and although it's normal to find such characters in books, none are portrayed in such a truly awkward light. He's often criticised by his peers and isolated and I think it's a fascinating way to look at a character. Patrick is hilarious. He's also the cement of the trio in my opinion, he's honest and he's a good person. he's not a saint or anything, but he's as good as any teenager can be. The best thing about the way Patrick is portrayed in this is that we see his darker moments and we (I certainly did) feel overwhelming empathy for him. I feel the same about Sam, really. The thing that sets her apart is the way she seriously challenges Charlie and won't accept any weak answers or anything less than his honest opinion on his worst character traits. The most interesting character in the book is actually the reader. We're adressed as 'friend' by Charlie, and we're told that we are someone that is kind and someone that will listen - which is a very good compliment.

The Setting: It's set in Pittsburgh, which I don't really know much about. The main places of the novel are Charlies house, the Big Boy and the Tunnel. The most extraordinary part of the book happens on the way to the Big Boy while they are going through the tunnel. I won't write what happens to keep it a surprise, but I will say that it made me feel a surge of reverence that I usually reserve for Looking for Alaska.

The Overall Story: The obvious overall story is about Charlie becoming more involved as he goes through a year in high school, but to me it's more about finding out what is wrong with Charlie. We know that he's a little bit off and a little weird, but as the novel progresses, we see that there really is something in the character that we need to uncover. I don't want to say too much to avoid spoilers, but it is heartbreaking. Truly, truly heartbreaking. But it's an incredible read that leaves you feeling hopeful and (beause of the constant compliments to you as a reader) feeling quite good about yourself.

Brilliant. I definitely recommend! 5 out of 5!

- Elsie

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Rebel Hearts by Moira Young: Review

Rebel Heart (Dust lands #2) by Moira Young


It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting
Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion.

 I love Blood Red Road so much, it really surprised me! Rebel hearts is a fantastic sequel, I did enjoy Blood Red Road a little bit more, but I was still happy with what Moira Young created. Review time!

The cover: I love the simplicity of the cover! The yellow colour really stands out and gives a perfect sense of what the deserted dust land within the story is like. One of the main things I like about the cover is how well it goes with the first book, ahhhhhh they're both so gorgeous together! Thumbs up for the cover!

The setting: This story is set in a dystopian setting, with abandoned cities taken over by sand and wreckage left from technology made before the time the story is set. I loved the setting in Blood Red Road and Rebel Heart doesn't disappoint, I was thrown back into this harsh deserted land and really felt the struggles the characters had to go through. Unlike most dystopian books, this story takes place AFTER all of the advanced technology is created and AFTER the fall of civilisation. This gives the story a very unique setting to play with and I loved it!

The characters: The character development is so good, unlike some stories, the events that happened in the first book actually have an effect on the characters personalities. After the massive fight against the Tonton, the cage fighting and losing so many close friends, Saba becomes tormented with the events that have happened and loses part of herself. Although Saba is overcome with guilt and grief, she still holds onto the strength that she had in the first book which makes it so much more realistic! Lugh also has a slight change in personality and we get to see a clash in the two twins, whereas the first book was about Lugh and Saba's strong relationship, the second book concentrates more on the differences between them and highlights the true reality that they have to face. They can't be together like they used to be now that they are growing up and things are changing. And of course, we still get to see all of the old characters from Blood Red Road and we are introduced to a lot more! Oh, and of course we have Jack. Although he isn't seen a lot in the book, I still love him and the role that he plays.

The overall story: The story starts off a few months later than where we left off. Saba's heading west and Jack's headed to The Lost Cause before heading off to meet Saba. Simple? Oh no. So many things become obstacles and Saba and Jack's reunion seems far off. The story is full of so many twist and turns that made is unpredictable and I often had myself wondering what was going to happen and who was on what side. I loved the fact that we had different stories for each character. We see Saba in complete turmoil over all the people she had to fight in the cage and the deaths that are on her hands whilst trying to get back to Jack and we see Lugh's desperation to fix Saba but also create a life for him and his family. Tommo even gets his own little story on the side! We also have the Tonton, we get to see what they're doing amongst the lands but we also get to find out why they're doing it! Its so refreshing to have a sequel that actually wraps up all the questions I had in the story!

A brilliant sequel full of deserted lands, heartbreak and suspense! I give Rebel Hearts a 4 out of 5 stars. If you have read Blood Red Road then I recommend you to read Rebel hearts, and if you haven't then get your butt to a book shop or library and read it!

 - Brodi

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartmen.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartmen.

 The kingdom of Goredd is populated by humans and by dragons who fold themselves into a human form. Though they live alongside each other, the peace between them is uneasy.
But when a member of the royal family is murdered, and the crime appears to have been committed by a dragon the peace and treaty between both worlds is seriously threatened...
Into this comes Seraphina, a gifted musician who joins the royal court as the assistant to the court composer. She is soon drawn into the murder investigation and, as she uncovers hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace in Goredd for good, finds herself caught desperately in the middle of the tension.
For Seraphina hides a secret - the secret behind her musical gift - and if she is found out, her life is in serious danger...

Before I start my review, I would just like to fan-girl over this book for a moment. AHHHHHHH IT'S SO GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!! I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!!! okay, I'm done, now onto the review!

The cover: I'm not a fan of the UK cover so I bought the US cover instead because it is beautiful. The black and white colour scheme with a red mist throughout it all is so visually appealing! And the pencil like drawing of the town and the dragon is immensely gorgeous, but it also gives readers a perfect sense of what the book is about before going into the story, which I love! This cover has got to be one of my all time favourite covers!

The characters: Like a lot of fantasy novels, this book has quite a large cast with multiple Lords and Ladies, this can get a bit confusing as I often found myself having to remind myself on who's who. However, the large amount of characters does make the story more realistic as you truly get to feel like you're part of the busy city and castle, and truthfully I found it easy to remember the main characters names, it was just the side characters that I had trouble with so it's all good! Seraphina was a very likeable main character and I loved the fact that we were able to get to know her through her own past as flashbacks are involved in this story, so we get a much wider picture of who Seraphina is and why she takes certain paths throughout the story. The side characters were also loveable with their own quirks and stories which gives the book so much more life! And of course we have the dragons, they are perfectly described and I kind of just want to be a dragon now.

The setting: I'm a sucker for settings like the ones in Seraphina! It is set mainly in a castle of sorts, with servants bustling about and the royal family socialising in fancy halls, what's not to love?! But the town outside is also amazing, with churches, inns, forests and taverns where not only humans love to go! I usually find it quite hard to imagine settings in fantasy novels but Seraphina gave such a detailed description that I found the images easily being made in my head.

The overall story: As I said at the start, I loved Seraphina so much! With such a unique premise, I'm surprised I found it so believable in a way, I understood all of Seraphina's worries about the dragon kind, even though they are mythical creatures and don't exist. I often find myself becoming bored with stories that are very descriptive but this was not the case with Seraphina, I was sucked into this richly described world full of dragons and royal families that I never felt myself getting bored with it! The romance in this story doesn't play a big part, it's only really mentioned after you get halfway through. However, I liked the fact that it didn't play a big part because we got to see Seraphina form a friendship with the love interest instead of diving head first into love. Plus, it gave me a chance to think about the main plot line more instead of just being interested with whether or not she will end up with him, and with a story full of suspicion, tension, heartbreak and deceits it wasn't hard to become interested with the plot line at all! There's so many more amazing things about this book but I shall leave them for you guys to find!

A beautifully written tale of dragons, friendship, love and politics, Seraphina easily gets a 5 out of 5 stars from me! I recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

 - Brodi.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

"Grace," I whispered. "This isn't how it ends."
Sam has always loved Grace. As a wolf, he watched her from afar. As a boy, he held her in his arms.
Now facing the possibility of a life without her, he will do anything to keep her safe. Even if it means facing his demons. Even if it risks everything he has. Anything, as long as their love can survive.

The Cover: You probably can't tell from the picture, but the cover is super shiny! I think this is important because it immortalises the story in a way, like, it's almost like metal which is clearly more durable and memorable than simply black or white. Also, the rain is ominous but it has always and probably will always rain. Maybe a teeny tiny hint at the nature of the love between Sam and Grace?

The Characters: Amazing as ever. The most interesting evolutions of the characters are Sam and Cole. Sam goes from being fairly passive, not really a fan of facing situations; and he doesn't turn into a complete opposite, but you see him trying...or wanting to try at least. And it's for Grace and his pack, which makes it oh so cute. And then there's Cole who (in my opinion) was so lost in Linger and at the beginning of this book, that by the end of the book (and probably one of my top three book moments) I was overjoyed to see him really care for something that wasn't annihilating himself.

The Setting: I don't really have much more to say about the setting than I have already said in my previous reviews. It's gorgeous. I will say this though: The imagery and the pace of the last chunk of the book (I'm trying to stay away from spoilers) was almost other-worldly.

The Overall Story: The perfect ending to the story. I love that the characters go above and beyond for each other when they're forced into action. I love the relationship between Cole and Isabel. I love Cole and Sam's relationship. I love Isabel and Grace's relationship. I love the ambiguity of the ending. I think the ending is a good measure-er of what you took from the book. Like, I thought it was a happy ending, so I feel that the book gave me enough hope and faith in the characters to deal with the ambiguity in a positive way. I love love love the chase towards the end*. I give Forever a 5 out of 5.

- Elsie


Okay, the thing I love about the chase other than the imagery and the on-the-edge-of-your-seat pace of it all was the fact that Cole St Clair ran (as a human, mind you) with the wolves. Isabel puts it perfectly as she describes how small Cole looks, but how big his shadow is. I think it shows in the best way that Cole cares and that he isn't lost anymore.)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Review: Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris

Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris
24 meets the X Files in the biggest teen blockbuster of the summer…
Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.
And killed.
Then Ben Michaels, resident stoner, is leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows Ben somehow brought her back to life…
Meanwhile, Janelle’s father, a special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device – one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.
That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process…

I was extremely excited to read this book as I had heard so many great things but I was a little bit disappointed with it. Lets move on to the review!

The cover: I like the cover, the mysteriousness of it and the sleek white background it has, but it doesn't blow me away. If I saw the cover in a shop and didn't know anything about the story I probably wouldn't pick it up. However, the tag line 'stop the countdown, save the world' is very eye catching and lets be honest, it sounds awesome!

The characters: There's quite a lot of characters in this book but I feel like I got to know each one and were able to distinguish each character by their personality. Janelle was a very likeable character and I always agreed with every decision she made, which is quite rare for me. I loved the relationship Janelle had with her father, brother and her best friend, the relationships felt very real which did make certain aspects of the story very heartbreaking! (I'm not going to say anything more, I don't want to spoil it!). The love interested, Ben, was also very good, he was sweet and I did become attached to him but I didn't find myself rooting for them until the very end of the book.

The setting: I think the setting was one of my favourite aspects to unravelling, I loved the beach, the motorcycle shop and I loved the fact that Janelle's house was adjacent to her best friend's house (I mean, who doesn't want to live next door to their best friend?!) but I also loved the sci-fi element to the setting. Again, I wont go that much into the sci-fi element as I don't want to spoil it for you guys!

The overall story: I have to say, this book was extremely unpredictable which is very rare for me to think, I usually am able to guess the ending but Unravelling had me guessing right until the end! I don't read a lot of sci-fi so I found this book to be very unique and I did find it really interesting, I also liked the fact that the romance aspect of the book blended really well with the sci-fi aspect of it! However, a lot of the things that happened during the book did feel very far fetched, I doubt that an FBI agent would just leave his top secret files out in the open for his daughter to read! Also, I felt like the beginning and the middle of the book was basically Janelle coming up with theories about what was happening and then the end was like 'NOPE YOU WERE WRONG, THIS WAS HAPPENING AND NOW EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT, THE END!' The ending was good and it was very creative but I felt like I didn't get to find out more about what was going on.

Unravelling is a very face paced, creative and suspenseful sci-fi read that will leave you guessing until the very end. However, because of the hype surrounding this book and the high expectations I had when going into it, I was a little bit disappointed. Overall I give Unravelling 3.5 out of 5 stars, I liked it but it didn't blow me away.

 - Brodi

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Once Grace and Sam have found each other, they know they must fight to stay together. For Sam, this means a reckoning with his werewolf past. For Grace, it means facing a future that is less and less certain.  Into their world comes a new wolf named Cole, whose past is full of hurt and danger. He is wrestling with his own demons, embracing the life of a wolf while denying the ties of a human. For Grace, Sam, and Cole, life is a constant struggle between two forces--wolf and human--with love baring its two sides as well. It is harrowing and euphoric, freeing and entrapping, enticing and alarming. As their world falls apart, love is what lingers. But will it be enough?

The Cover: As I said in my last review, the thing I love most about these covers is how they relate to the covers of the other books in the series. The inverse of the Shiver cover is really something that becomes more resonant as the book goes on. The reverse represents the reverse of who is more vulnerable in the Sam-Grace relationship. The heart shaped leaf in the corner of the Shiver has transformed into a red paw print - another detail that I think highlights one of the main parts of the struggle in all of the characters (which is, in short, how dangerously intertwined love and the wolves are).

The Characters: Sam and Grace have more depth in this novel, which I love. Sam's relationship with his parents and the pack are explored deliciously - the stark contrast being the thing that really makes it stick in your mind. The chill of the bathroom tiles as opposed to the warmth of the reds and browns of Beck's house. Grace also enters into newer territory as well, with the sudden friction between her and her up-til-now absentee parents. Grace's parents are interesting characters - I don't like them as characters, but they add to the story and the realism of it. Isabel's perspective in this novel makes it even greater. I love her character even though she can be a nasty piece of work. And then there's Cole. Cole St Clair - frontman of NARKOTIKA and all round pain in the butt. I love his longing to lose himself, his humour and his exchanges with Isabel. I sometimes got frustrated with his inability to take much seriously, but that's part of the character so I don't mind so much.

The Setting: Flawless, as ever. The woods and Beck's house remain to be characters in themselves - they even overshadow the characters in the forefront - but I'm a sucker for settings, so I may be biased.

The Overall Story: I love it! The scientific element of the 'werewolf toxin' (to borrow a phrase from Mr St Clair) gives the mythological elements more logic and realism. I love the switch-a-roo of vulnerable characters (I'm being vague to avoid spoilers) and the evolution of the characters that were in Shiver (Sam, Grace and Isabel, mainly) and Cole.

And it only gets better in the third and final installment of the series (which I'll be reviewing next time). I give Linger a 4 out of 5.

- Elsie

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Review: A touch of power by Maria V. Snyder.

A touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

  Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honoured for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.
Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life...

Let me just begin by saying wow. This book was amazing and is possibly one of my favourite of the year! Now lets get onto the review, I'll try not to gush about it too much!

The cover: I love the colours and feel of this cover, its one of my favourite fantasy covers so far! However the girl on the front has a different hair colour than the main character in this book, but thats only a tiny flaw and the cover is still beautiful so I’ll give it a thumbs up!

The characters: Each of the characters in this book were described perfectly, I could envisage them in my mind so easily and they each had their own personalities so they weren’t just clones of each other which made the book feel more realistic, well as much as a fantasy book could be! Avry is a very likeable main character and I quickly became attached to her, but unlike many other books, I began to become attached to many of the side characters too. On her journey, Avry travels with a group of guys who are very loyal, humorous, strong but also have a soft side. What’s not to like about these guys?! One of the other thing I liked about this book was the villain of the story, he had an army of reanimated humans which made him so awesome! (you know, in a villain sort of way.)

The setting: A touch of power is a fantasy book so of course the setting is going to be good. It mainly takes part in forests and caves which I love, but we do get to see some royal palaces and small villages which makes it so much more better! The way the setting was described made it so easy for me to imagine in my mind which sucked me into the story straight away.

The overall story: So you guys already know that I love this book but the overall story is the main reason why I loved it so much. This story doesn't centre around one thing, there are lots of side stories to it as well that interlink with each other, this made the book so action packed that I never become bored with it. The romance part of the story was also well written as it wasn’t part of the main story it was merely one of the side stories, but it was woven so well into the book! It also wasn't instant love which was refreshing, it felt real and you could see the love flourish throughout the story. Although I didn't want the book to end, the ending wrapped up the whole book nicely but also left and opening for the second in the series which I cannot wait to read!

If you're a fan of fantasy, thinking of reading fantasy or haven’t even thought about reading a fantasy book, pick up this book because it was fantastic and I’m sure you will love it! A touch of power is action packed, heartbreaking, suspenseful and beautifully written so I will reward it with 5 out of 5 stars! 

- Brodi 

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater

Grace is fascinated by the wolves in the woods behind her house; one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. Every winter, she watches him, but every summer, he disappears. Sam leads two lives. In winter, he stays in the frozen woods, with the protection of the pack. In summer, he has a few precious months to be human ...until the cold makes him shift back again. When Grace and Sam finally meet, they realize they can't bear to be apart. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human - or risk losing himself, and Grace, for ever.

The Cover: The cover is really pretty, but I think that there's not much else to it. I mean, it's set in the woods, so it's not completely irrelevant and it doesn't have any obvious connections to the wolf-y side of the plot which I think is a good thing, but that's all really. I think the best thing about the cover of Shiver is its relationship with the covers of the rest of the trilogy.

The Characters: The story is told through Sam and Grace's point of views - which is done really well. Sam is sensitive, thoughtful, and turns a lot of his experiences into song lyrics (I can't decide whether I like this personality trait or not); whereas Grace is logical, independent, and loves the woods and the wolves. I prefer Grace's personality and her narrative voice to Sam's overall - however, the chapters in Sam's POV when he's a wolf are spectacular. The other main character is Isabel Culpeper, who seems not very nice at all, and she probably isn't, but I love her bluntness and her brutal honesty. I really dislike Grace's parents, mainly because they basically ignore her, and I feel like her friends Rachel and Olivia don't pay much attention to her either.

The Setting: Breath-taking. The imagery of the woods, especially in winter is one of the best things about the book. You feel transported every time Grace steps out onto her deck and I love that. The description of Beck's house is fantastic as well, especially in Sam's point of view.

The Overall Story: Out of the trilogy, I don't think Shiver is the best. I love the beginning and how Stiefvater sets the foundations for the characters and leaves hints for the reader to pick up and use to piece together the puzzle we're faced with as the story progresses; but the middle section moved a bit too slowly for my taste. It's greatly improved at the end of the book, however, when the characters are forced into action. I also think that while the dual narrative is good, I prefer the use of Cole (who isn't introduced until Linger) and Isabel's perspective as well as Sam and Grace's.

A great starting point for an interesting and fresh take on the werewolf myth. I give Shiver 3.5 out of 5 stars.

- Elsie

Friday, 20 July 2012

Review: Allison Hewitt is trapped by Madeleine Roux

Allison Hewitt is trapped by Madeleine Roux.

 Allison Hewitt is trapped. In the storeroom of Brookes & Peabody's. In a world swarming with the Undead, the Doomed, the Infected.

Locked away with an oddball collection of colleagues and under siege, Allison takes advantage of a surviving internet connection and blogs. She writes, as the food runs out and panic sets in, as relationships develop and friends die, and as zombies claw at the door, all in the hope of connecting with other survivors out there. But as she reads the replies to her posts, Allison begins to comprehend the horrifying scale of the damage. And when no one comes to the group's rescue, they are forced to leave the safety of their room and risk a journey across the city; streets that crawl with zombies, and worse - fellow humans competing for survival. 

I love a good zombie novel and Allison Hewitt is trapped was full of the fast paced action that makes these novels so good! Now onto the review...

The cover: I love this cover so much! Its perfect for the story as you can tell just by looking at it that the book will be full of action and horror. The axe pictured on the front is also amazing as it has meaning to the story so its not just a random object they decided to put on it. The one thing that may be a flaw to this book is the title, Allison Hewitt is trapped, as it leads people to believe that the whole novel will be centred around Allison being trapped in one place throughout the novel when, in fact, she isn't. However it is a striking title and did attract me to buy this book so I’ll let it slide!

The characters: The main character, Allison, is amazing and had everything I loved a main character to have. She's sarcastic, strong willed but also like your average human, which is so good because it adds a sense of realism to her character but also makes the story humorous as she throws in some snarky remarks now and then. A lot of side characters are featured in this book and some are described very well and I felt myself becoming attached to them as well (Ted!) but because so many characters leave the story throughout the novel, we don't get to know them as well. However, making so many characters leave the story did make it more realistic as in a zombie apocalypse, im pretty sure many people will split up, get killed or go missing, so even if the characters aren't described that well, it makes the story that much more realistic.

The setting: The story begins in a book store which immediately makes me love the setting, but I did love the fact that the setting kept changing throughout the novel as readers get to see different sides to a zombie apocalypse. We get to see survival camps, a book store's staff room with zombies trying to find their way in, enemy camps, and characters driving throughout the abandoned streets, what's not to love?!

The overall story: The story is very fast paced and full of action which makes it such a good zombie apocalypse novel, but the fact that its written in blog posts gives this novel a unique viewpoint and gives it a sense of realism. You get to see different aspects of a zombie apocalypse through Allison's different experiences but also through the people that comment on her blog posts! The romance in this book wasn't brilliant and I didn't find myself pining for them to be together, but the romance only played a small part in this story so it didn't really effect my view on the storyline.

Allison Hewitt is trapped was a very exciting read and gives a frightening and realistic view of a zombie apocalypse but also adds humour to it to not make it so heavy and dark. Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars!


Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Girls by Lori Lansens review

In twent-nine years, Rose Darlen has never spent a moment apart from her twin sister Ruby. She has never gone for a solitary walk or had a private conversation. Yet, in all that time, she has never once looked into Ruby's eyes. Joined at the head, "The Girls" (as they are known in their small town) attempt to lead a normal life, but can't help being extraordinary. Now almost thirty, Rose and Ruby are on the verge of becoming the oldest living craniopagus twins in history, but they are remarkable for a lot more than their unusual sisterly bond.

The Cover: When I first saw this cover, it told me a lot about the book before I had read the blurb. Really, the essence of the story is the sister relationship of the two narrators and the image of two pairs of bare feet dangling into water really encapsulates that relationship. The cover also ties in to the setting, although not that significantly, I don't think.

The Characters: Rose longs to be a writer, and her passion for books leapt of the page. It was so realistic, and the way she writes is the way a budding writer would. She also leaves the revealing of massive secrets and plot points to her sister, Ruby, who only writes a few chapters. I think this really shows how much Rose relies on Ruby, even though it's often portrayed as the other way round in the book. Ruby is hilarious. I love her voice in the novel. She doesn't take it as seriously as Rose does, she has digs at Rose's expense but she's so loving towards her, the digs don't really matter.The other two characters I love in this book are Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash. I think that Lansens really hit the nail on the head when creating such loving parents.

The Setting: The only part of the book I can fault, although I'm not sure it's due to Lansens writing. I had absolutely no idea where this was set until about page 200, but that's probably because I'm not that good at geography. The description and imagery of the farmhouse and the bridge over the creek was superb though.

The Overalll Story: Beautiful and heartbreaking. The writing itself is elegant and the relationship between the two girls is so real and just brilliant. You find out about loads of secrets and little funny mishaps as you are carried along their story, but their accounts of their past runs parallel to their present life and present struggles, which really puts it all into perspective, like you have inhabited their heads and you're watching their memories roll by. Also, the ending made me cry. Just saying.

I give this book a 5 out of 5.

- Elsie

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Fateful by Claudia Gray: Review

Fateful by Claudia Gray

A tragic tale about falling in love on the world’s most infamous ill-fated sea voyage as heroine, Tess, discovers darker secrets that lie beneath the doomed crossing… and a hidden brotherhood that threaten to tear her lover from her forever.

The RMS Titanic is the most luxurious ship ever built, but for eighteen-year-old Tess Davies it’s a prison. Travelling as a maid for the family she has served for years, Tess is trapped in their employ amid painful memories and family secrets.

When she meets Alec, a handsome upper class passenger, Tess falls helplessly in love. But Alec has secrets of his own… and soon Tess is entangled in a dangerous game. A sinister brotherhood that will do anything to induct Alec into their mystical order has followed him on board. And Tess is now their most powerful pawn.

Tess and Alec fight the dark forces threatening to tear them apart, never realising that they will have to face an even greater peril before the journey is over…

When I heard that this story was about werewolves on the Titanic, I thought that people were kind of running out of idea of stories to write and that this would be a very random book. Oh how I was wrong! This book surprised me so much and I fell in love with it within the first few pages!

The cover: I wasn't sure of the cover at first, but the more I looked at it the more I loved it. Its simple, gives the readers the perfect sense on what this story is like and actually has meaning to what happens within the pages!

The characters: The main character, Tess, was very likeable to me. She's loyal to the ones she loves, she's intelligent and knows when to step back from dangerous situations (though sometimes these situations find her) and she's also a really strong character. One of the other things I love about the characters is their back stories, we get to find out more about not only Tess but also the people she knows and meets along the way, which adds a lot more depth to each character. And of course there is Alec. You can't complain about Alec.

The setting: The story takes place on the Titanic, which in itself is amazing! But we get to see the main character go to and from first class to third class, so the readers get to see both sides of the Titanic. We get to see the rich side of it from the family that Tess works for, with luxurious rooms and a grand deck. Then we get to see the poorer side of it through Tess and the friends she makes, with tiny rooms and crowded corridors. The way Claudia Gray writes about the differences in each classes experiences makes it a lot more realistic, and a lot more heartbreaking.

The overall story: Although the premise of this story may seem completely random, Claudia Gray manages to make werewolves on the Titanic seem understandable and you start to think to yourself 'It makes sense for them all to be on the ship'. Every character has a legitimate reason to be on the Titanic and the way she intertwines each characters lives together is brilliant! The story is so fast paced as well, that I didn't find myself getting bored in places. Also, one of the main reasons I loved this book is, I became so wrapped up in Tess' life that I forgot what happened to the Titanic in real life, so when it happened in the book I felt a lot more heartbroken! This pretty much was what I was thinking near the ending of the book 'MOVE! Awww thats sweet! NO WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! OMG WHAT?! Noooooooo. AHHHH OMG YES!!' so all in all, I loved this book.

Claudia Gray creates a story of love, betrayals, friendship, guilt and heartbreak. I was probably the most surprised with this book out of my whole bookcase! Everything about this book was amazing, from the detailed characters and their stories, to the detailed surroundings of the Titanic. So I award this book with 5 out of 5 stars, because I fell in love with it when I was only a couple of pages into the story.


Thursday, 28 June 2012

Lucas by Kevin Brooks

Caitlin is spending the summer on the windswept island that is her home. She is caught between girlhood and maturity, and feels utterly isolated from the rest of the world. Then she meets Lucas, who is the embodiment of freedom and honesty. She is instantly drawn to him. But Caitlin must also grapple with the darker forces that seem to be confronting her family. Lucas himself further complicates matters when he is hunted for an awful crime that Caitlin herself becomes involved in.

The Cover: There are a few different covers for this book (which I only discovered when getting the picture for this review) and I'm so glad that my sister had this version. (I 'borrowed' it from her about half a year ago). It's not the best, but I absolutely love its simplicity. It really reflects the simplicity of Lucas himself. Plus, the blue is a very nice colour - kind of like the sea.

The Characters: In my mind, there are two groups of characters in this book. There's the Evil Meanies (this is only my opinion, mind), which consist of Jamie Tait and Sara Toms mainly, who are just smarmy and spiteful and I do not like them one little bit. The second group consists of the Goodies; mainly Lucas and Caitlin. But Lucas really should be in a group of his own. He is just simple and honest. These are my favourite qualities about any character, and it serves as a fantastic contrast to the over the top complexity of all the other characters. Caitlin is so much like me it's insane. Loves the beach? Check. Fascinated by Lucas? Check. She's also intelligent, but she never comes across as false. It really is like reading someone talking about a part of their lives.

The Setting: Lucas is set on the island of Hale, which is joined to the mainland by a long causeway/road thing called the Stand. There are a lot of settings on the island that the book goes into, my favourites being the beach (for obvious reasons), the mudflats (which are really important to the story) and beyond the mudflats. I won't say more about that one because it might spoil it. The setting is also brilliant because it really aids the hysteria as it grows. You know how typically people from tiny towns and/or small islands are really distrustful of other people? Well, this perfectly captured in this book.

The Overall Story: I love it. I love it. I love it. It's heartbreaking. I read this in a day and afterwards I was honestly gobsmacked and furious at the world. It grabbed me and pulled me into its world and I got so invested in the story, in Caitlin and Lucas, that I honestly didn't know what to do with myself after the last page. The most remarkable thing about it, I think, is that there is no doubt that Caitlin is in love with Lucas. No doubt whatsoever. But there's no declarations of this love, there isn't any physical contact (I think the most she gets is a kiss on the cheek), she doesn't even say it in her thoughts. It's like the book is screaming 'SHE LOVES HIM'. Which makes all of it so much sadder.

Definitely 5 out of 5 for me.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers review!

Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers. 

Young, beautiful and deadly.
Trained as an assassin by the god of Death, Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, where she finds herself under prepared - not only for the games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death's vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?
A dangerous romance full of intrigue, poison and ultimately finding one's way.

A fifteenth century assassin falling in love with the man she was ordered to kill? This immediately sounded like my kind of book! At first I was a little apprehensive to read it because I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction but Grave mercy hooked me on the first page! Now on to the review.

The cover: This cover is so amazing, it gives the book a perfect first image and doesn’t deceive readers. I also love how the title stands out and is simple, unlike some books that just go overboard on their font. So its a thumbs up for the cover!

The characters: There are a lot of characters in this book and I did find myself getting confused with who was who and what side they were on, but this tiny flaw was just surpassed by each distinctive personality LaFevers gave to each character, making the story have a sense of realism and making the reader become attached to characters other than the leading lady (cough Beast cough). The main character, Ismae, was likeable from the first page, she is so loyal to the people she loves and is a strong woman knows what she has to do without letting her feelings get in the way. And of course there is Duval. I love Duval. Duval is awesome.

The setting: Grave mercy takes place in fifteenth century Brittany before France took over. The story takes place mainly in a mansion of sorts which immediately makes me love the setting, with its winding corridors and hidden tunnels, it just adds so much to the story making it that much more enjoyable.

The overall story: Although the blurb suggests that this is a romance, it is much more than this. Its filled with betrayals, deaths, treasons and politics and you find yourself going 'Oh he's a bad guy!' and then later going 'wait, he's actually good!', I am usually able to predict who the bad guy is in books but with Grave mercy I couldn't guess what the outcome would be! I also love the romance in this book because Ismae doesn't fall in love with the love interest at first glance and she doesn't start to trust him straight away like other characters may do in other books, we actually get to see her love grow throughout the book which is refreshing!

This book has such a unique premise and will grip readers from the first page, it will break your heart but then piece it back together again and will make you question which characters are good and which ones are bad and it will ultimately shock you with betrayals! I rate this Grave mercy 5 out of 5 stars because I didn't get bored once whilst reading it and feel in love with the story!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

When Henry meets Clare, he is twenty-eight and she is twenty. He is a hip librarian; she is a beautiful art student. Henry has never met Clare before; Clare has known Henry since she was six...

Following the format of Brodi's last review of Wither, I'll split this review into four parts.

The Cover:
The cover becomes almost self explanatory as you read the book, and I love it because it captures the essence of the story - the main reason I love the story. A girl is waitng for a time travelling man, waiting with the facilities to help him. It really does show the depth and simplicity of their love in the midst of all the confusing timelines and complexities of Henry.

The Characters:
Most of the characters are paired off, which I think is pretty genius, mostly because it's easier to track them...timelines confuse me and having two people effectively as a unit, makes it easier to keep a handle on them. The main characters are, obviously, Clare Abshire, who is understanding and creative and most importantly: patient. Which leads us to Henry DeTamble, he's a librarian (already high in my estimation) and his sense of humour is really what made him likeable to me in the first section of the novel. What's extraordinary about these characters is that they know how they're going to end up (mostly), so there's none of the 'willl they wont they' fuss which, I have to admit, I'm starting to dislike. Next, there's Gomez and Charisse - who are friends of Clare. I am not a fan of Gomez at all. I just really dislike the character, which adds to the realism of the book, if anything. You're not supposed to like everyone you meet, are you? That's my rationale, anyway. There's also Alba, but in the interest of keeping this review spoiler free, I'll leave that one well alone.

The Setting:
The main settings are Chicago, which I dont really know anything about, so I'll just assume that it's accurate. The second main setting is the Meadow, which I love, both because I like meadows and it's really symbolic.

The Overall Story:
I love the overall story. I became so attached to the characters that when I reached the last page, I jumped back a few chapters because I didnt want it to end. It's beautiful, it really is. The relationship between Henry and Clare is a joy to read, there isn't glorious harmony throughout their relationship as you might expect, but that's what makes it better because you really feel like you've been invited into the bubble of their world.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Wither by Lauren DeStefano.

 Wither by Lauren DeStefano review. 

Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery has only four years left to live when she is kidnapped by the Gatherers and forced into a polygamous marriage. Now she has one purpose: to escape, find her twin brother, and go home – before her time runs out forever.
What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb – males only live to age twenty-five and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape – to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

           Lets just begin this review by saying this is an amazing book! I honestly think that everyone should read Wither, even if they are not fans or haven't read Dystopian YA books, because it is a brilliant story with a descriptive setting and contains a world that will draw you in from the first pages. So to do this review without rambling or going off on a tangent, I will split it into four sections. The characters. The cover. The setting. The overall story.

The Cover: Okay, lets just start off with a shallow point, the cover is gorgeous! People should just buy this for the cover, and of course because the story within is equally amazing, but it looks damn good in a bookcase! Also, the cover creates a perfect image of the story straight away, there are so many clues to what the story is like, you'll find yourself reading it and going "So thats what the birdcage was for!" and I just love it when the cover actually has a meaning to the story.

The Characters: One of the main things I love about the characters in this book is the individual differences DeStefano has created, each character has different qualities and are completely different people, for example Cecily is very childish and bubbly whereas Jenna is quiet and reserved and Rhine is extremely strong willed, which I think helps bring the story together as we see all three sister wives deal with their situation differently, and you star to root for every character, hoping that they will find a way out of the horrible situation!

The Setting: One of the problems I've seen come up in the book blogging community about Wither is the fact that the setting is set only in one place, but I disagree. The story is set in a mansion of sorts but rarely ventures far from that setting, which I think adds to the sense of feeling trapped perfectly. I found myself wanting the characters to get out of the house just as much as the characters themselves! However, the setting was so detailed that I began to fall in love with the house, you have a golf course, a swimming pool with holographic fish swimming around and a library stacked full of books, I'd love to see it for myself, well without having to marry a stranger!

The Overall story: I think the overall story is the best feature this book has. The premise is so unique but also really realistic, which added a sense of scariness as I found myself thinking “this could actually happen in the future!” The setting, characters and plot is so creative, I rarely found myself becoming bored with the story. Even the villain of the book was amazing, I found him quite creepy and I don't scare easily!

The setting and premise of Wither sucked me in instantly, the characters added so much emotion to the book and the cover wrapped up the story perfectly! The only flaws I had found in the book is the romance side of it, this isn't a romance story in my eyes, the love interest was more of a side story to me as we don't get to find out that much about Gabriel or see Rhine's love for him grow. I would've loved to of seen more of Gabriel to give me a better sense of his character and who he was as a person. Overall, this book gets a four out of five from me so I definitely recommend it!

P.s: I want to say thank you again to Elsie for getting me this book for my birthday, it was awesome!

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Looking for Alaska review - may contain spoilers

Review Number 1: Looking for Alaska - John Green

'Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words–and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps'

I first picked this book up when I was 14 years old and I liked it a whole lot - but when I revisited it in Febuary, it blew my mind. It's subtle in the use of countdown of the days, the chapters are short (which suits a lot of young adult reader's taste - including mine) and the little anecdotes are hilarious and the steady stream of insight that resonated with me and a lot of the people I know that have read it.

'That's why I'm going. So I dont have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps'

'I hated being careful - or wanted to, at least'

'Damn it, how will I ever get out of this labyrinth?'

Miles 'Pudge' Halter is the narrator, and he goes through the most significant change in the book (which, I guess is quite obvious). It's quite remarkable, actually, because we see (read?) him fall in love, be a little bit rebellious and then we see his innocence stripped and we seem him lose his 'Great Perhaps'; but then by the end, it feels like he's punching grief in the face - which is really refreshing.

Chip 'The Colonel' Martin is the 'military-style planner' of the pranks which we read about or the ones that are hinted at in the book. I love Chip, he's one of my favourite characters in the whole book, mainly because he is simple. He points out sometime during 'After' that he always has a reason to feel the way he does, like, 'I got caught smoking, so I'm pissed off. My head hurts, so I'm cranky'. Also he and Takumi (the sickest emcee in Alabama and the fox) are hilarious.

Alaska Young is the focus of the book. She's all over the place, to put it midly. When I first read the book, I wasn't sure how to take her. However, when I read it again, I completely fell in love with her. Maybe it's because of the way we see her through Pudge's eyes, or maybe it's her personality but whichever - I love her. It breaks my heart when I read The Last Day and when we slowly discover more and more about her, it just deepens the grief.

I can't fault it, really. My favourite part in the whole book is undoubtedly Barn Night. Not only are we introduced to THE FOX HAT, but we also get a glimpse of the characters' vulnerability and the Best day/Worst day section reallly fleshes the characters out as real people in your mind.

That's all I'll say about this book, because I don't want to labour my point or write a full length essay about it; but I will say this: It is my favourite book - I cannot reccomend it enough.