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The Chosen One | Carol Lynch Williams | Reviewed By Niina

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Chosen One | Carol Lynch Williams | Reviewed By Niina


thechosenone


"I'd kill him first for me," I say into her cheek, my lips still resting there, my eyes closed. "And then I"d kill him for you. Then I"d kill him for the rest of our sisters. And our mothers. And the other women here..." 


The Chose One is a novel about a thirteen-year-old girl called Kira who's raised in a polygamist cult. Kira has three secrets: She reads forbidden books, she has secret meetings with a boy from school called Joshua and sometimes she wants to kill the prophet. But except from those secrets she doesn't question her family's lifestyle, not even the fact that her father has three wives or that she has twenty brothers and sisters. But one day everything changes. That's the day she gets the news that she's chosen to marry her sixty-year-old uncle and become his seventh wife. Now Kira is forced to make a difficult choice, but can she ever leave the only family she has ever known?

First of all there's one thing I would like to get out of my mind. I've read a lot of reviews claiming that Kira's story isn't believable. That the polygamist cult portrayed in this book is an exaggeration compared to existing cults. But I think it's important to keep in mind that this book isn't about an existing polygamist cult, this is fiction. Sure, the cult Kira is raised in is in many ways inspired by existing ones but this book never claims to be a true story. That being said I'm not an expert on polygamist cults so I don't know in which extent Kira's cult is similar to any of the existing ones but I still think The Chosen One is a book that tells an interesting story.

With it's 213 pages The Chosen One is a pretty quick read and I read the book in only two sittings. But Kira's story is still a story that's going to intrigue, fascinate and disgust you, so I wouldn't call it and easy read. I have to say that I really enjoyed Carol Lynch William's writing style. I also really liked the fact that the cult Kira is raised in isn't purely portrayed in a bad way.The love that the members of Kira's family has for each other feels strong and believable even if you as a reader can question many of their choices. You still really feel for them and in some cases even understand them, and that gives this book a lot more depth and makes it easier to relate to. 

Overall I did really find this to be a good and fascinating read but I still really struggled with the rating. I guess my biggest problem with the book was that everything happened really fast in the end. I might be that simple that story suffers a bit from it's short length because I really got the feeling that everything happened in the last 30 pages and that made me feel a bit overwhelmed in the end. But apart from that I think The Chosen One is a really good read and I would especially recommend it for younger readers. So in the end I decided that The Chosen One deserves 4/5 stars.

This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here.


4stars
No comments
Guest Review | Daughter Of Smoke And Bone | Laini Taylor

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Guest Review | Daughter Of Smoke And Bone | Laini Taylor

daughter of smoke and bone-vert 
 
I first saw this book on Good Reads a few months ago, and then while I was working as a Christmas temp at a book store, I kept seeing people buying the sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight, as it has recently been published. I thought I had better see what all the fuss was about, and started reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone. And I can see why everyone in the book store was fussing – it’s really good!

The story tells of Karou, a blue-haired seventeen year old art student in Prague who leads a double life. In one, she’s Karou the artist, complaining about her teachers, going out with her best friend to their local café/diner, avoiding her ex-boyfriend and living in a small apartment by herself. In the other, she’s Karou the messenger to Brimstone, a monster-like creature (chimaera), who isn’t from this world but from Elsewhere, and who is the closest thing she has to family. Brimstone’s work is a mystery to Karou; she just goes where he tells her and collects teeth from suppliers. You read correctly: teeth. As the story goes on, the doors are being closed to Elsewhere all over the world, and strange winged figures are spotted everywhere. When the door to the shop that the chimaera live in is shut and marked with a black hand print, Karou can longer get in contact with Brimstone and the other. She meets Akiva, a seraphim, or angel, who eventually tells her the answers to all her questions about what’s going on, why she has been in Brimstone’s care for as long as she can remember, why she has eyes tattooed on her palms, and why there is a door to an entire city in the basement of Brimstone’s store.

With twists and turns, fallen angels, incredibly kind chimaera – or demons – beads that grant wishes, a hilarious best friend, and untold stories from the past, this was a great read, with page turning events and interesting – and some of the time disturbing – characters. Laini Taylor has a great writing style, I found, and has the right balance of description, dialogue and background story, something which often annoys me in other books. I really enjoyed the spin she’s put on the sort of classic demon=bad, angel=good idea, and, perhaps it’s because Karou is the main character, but it was written in a way that I found myself liking the demon in the story a lot more than the angel. And let’s face it, that doesn’t happen often, does it? One thing that you may have to look out for if you read this is that it does jump back in time quite a bit, and can get a little confusing if you weren’t paying attention for that one important “we’re-jumping-back-in-time-now” sentence.

But I do recommend it if you’re a fantasy lover. I haven’t read a fantasy book in a while, although it’s my favourite genre, because I’ve been reading so many dystopian novels, but I’m glad that I read this one! Can’t wait to borrow the next one! Five stars, Laini, five stars.

This post was written by guest reviewer Anjali.
Cover image via goodreads
2 comments

Monday, 28 January 2013

One Hundred Names | Cecelia Ahern | Reviewed by Laura


It is no secret that I am a huge Cecelia Ahern fan, I have read and loved every book, so as you can imagine as soon as I heard there was a new release on its way I was already anticipating spending hours at a time reading it.  I did exactly that, no washing, hovering or work could be done… I was hooked.

This story takes a main character who seems to have lost her way (as with many of Aherns books) and follows the journey of her taking control and getting her life back on track.  The main character is realistic and likable even when making mistakes! There are many more minor characters in this book (as the title suggests), which did cause me to find it a little different to keep up and remember who was who. I image if you were reading this book in shorter chunks it would be even more difficult to keep track.

What I was really looking for from this book was Ahern’s usual magic which takes over all of her books as she transports you into the world that she has created – this book did not fail to deliver. I cannot detail the magic without spoiling the storyline however I will say it’s there as it is with all her other books – just in a slightly different way this time, not quite so literal (there are no magic books or invisible friends).

I really enjoyed this book and although it fits the chic lit category it is less romance or hearts and more real life with struggles and successes (with a hint of romance on the side). I would recommend this book to any Ahern fans, chic lit fans or anyone who really enjoys going delving into a characters life when they read a book.


5/5 stars

This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
*Photo © Laura
4 comments
A Stolen Life | Jaycee Dugard | Reviewed By Taylah

Sunday, 27 January 2013

A Stolen Life | Jaycee Dugard | Reviewed By Taylah

You may or may not have heard of the author of this autobiography. Jaycee Dugard was only 11 years old when one morning, as she walked to school, she was abducted from her family friendly neighborhood  For over 18 years Jaycee remained a mystery. Who had taken her? Was she alive? What was happening to her? After a series of missed chances by local police to discover Jaycee, she was finally identified in 2009 and bought home.

I remember exactly where I was when Jaycee was found. I remember sitting on my friends bed watching the news. It was unbelievable, a girl thought to be dead for so long was actually alive. It was then that everyone, news and media as well as the general public began to ask questions. As a way of letting the world in to her life to know the turmoil and life she'd known for over 18 years, Jaycee wrote a book detailing her life from her abduction to being found.

It's important to remember that Jaycee was abducted at 11 while writing this book. Some parts are hard to follow and aren't very cohesive. She didn't finish school so it doesn't feel fair to be critical of her language. Jaycee writes in very plain and simple language, detailing her abduction and her life for the past 18 or so years. It's remarkable how much a person is able to remember a traumatic experience. Jaycee's recollection of her life is almost heart shattering, her life is nothing a person would have wanted to remember. I found this book almost unbearable in some parts, especially when you imagine them as it happening to her at 11, 12 and all through her teen years.

The books is really difficult to read at some points. It's almost unbelievable. My heart fell apart for Jaycee in almost every chapter. I found myself feeling so totally angered with local police and enforcement who had numerous chances to discover Jaycee, who was in the grasp of a convicted pedophile. I'm sure, by the end, you will too.

In the end the book had a comforting ending. Jaycee is returned home to a mother who never gave up on her, she has two beautiful children - a result of the sexual abuse she experienced, and she now runs a foundation that aims to help families recovering from abduction and other traumatic experiences.
I put this book down feeling extremely emotional. To think that this happens more than we are aware of his awful. Children are abducted everyday, more often than not they're returned. But a small percentage those abducted experience similar situation to the horrific events that Jaycee details in her book.
I don't feel it would be right to give this book a rating, it isn't here for my entertainment. It is here to inform and invite the world to understand the life Jaycee Dugard was forced into.

To read more about Jaycee's abduction have a look here. To read more about Jaycee's foundation, read here. To watch Jaycee's first interview after being found, look here.

This book was reviewed by regular reviewer Taylah, read more about her here.
1 comment
Blogger's Bookshelf Review Round Up #3

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Blogger's Bookshelf Review Round Up #3

30 12 - 25 1 review
Welcome to our first review round up of 2013! Missed any of our post in the past month, never fear, find them all below...
Also check out our January group collaboration post on our 'Reading Goals & Books We Vow To Read In 2013'. Keep checking back to see how all of our contributors get on with their targets!

Don't forget to get involved in our February collaboration post too! Tweet or email us who your Favourite Fictional Couple is and why?
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The Vampire Chronicles | Anne Rice | Reviewed By Elle

Friday, 25 January 2013

The Vampire Chronicles | Anne Rice | Reviewed By Elle

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Now these books, hands down have to be my favorite 'traditional vampire books' apart from Dracula. They are absolutely amazing. I know they span more than three books (about 7 in total) but these three are the main babies. I've read these more times than I can probably count, their just so good!

First of all, Interview with a Vampire meets our three main characters, Louis, Lestat and Claudia. We get told the story our these 3 vampric souls from the words of Louis spoken to a reporter in a bid to write down his life story. Within this book we get introduced to some old souls of Armand and tales of the old within the Theater of Vampires. This first book is what sucked me in, the description, the life and the time period amazed me. I love anything old and this was set in around the 18th century and it drew me in.

Second, the Vampire Lestat we meet even older beings with Marius and and Gabrielle. Here we get the full and tragic story of Lestat which is a very different tale to the one told to us by Louis. Very different indeed, here we go back even further in time to the 16th century and then even further to the old legends of Marius and his becoming. At first I rather disliked this book, I just found it annoying and whiny and a little boring but the more I read the more it grew on me!

Lastly, Queen of the Dammed. Now this one, it always takes me a while to read. I just seem to struggle through it, I adore the story and the characters. I rather dislike Lestat and prefer everyone else so much more. It did contribute to the story with the real Queen of the Dammed but I just felt like it slightly bored me and it just took a little time to get going I guess. However I would consider this book the end to these books, I feel with this book they are over. I feel as if the other books just slightly ruin what has been built up and created by the earlier ones.

These books are filled with wonderful vampires who are old and traditional and just so full of love. They are by far my favorite. If you haven't read them yet and you like vampires, I urge you to read them! 

 This review was written by regular reviewer Elle, learn more about her here.
Photo credit to Elle.
1 comment
Seriously...I'm Kidding | Ellen DeGeneres | Reviewed by Erin

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Seriously...I'm Kidding | Ellen DeGeneres | Reviewed by Erin

seriouslyimkidding
“Seriously… I’m Kidding is a look at Ellen’s life through her humour. In her own words, Ellen says, “I've experienced a whole lot the last few years and I have a lot to share ... I think you'll find I've left no stone unturned, no door unopened, no window unbroken, no rug unvacuumed, no ivories untickled. What I'm saying is, let us begin, shall we?” Source

I should probably start this review by telling you that when it comes to comedy there’s no denying the fact that I’m fussy. However one show I do keep up to date with (via the wonders of YouTube) is Ellen. So, being a fan of her show and after hearing her mention it everyday around the time of it’s release last year I thought why not read her latest book Seriously…I’m Kidding.

Less of an autobiography and more of a collection of comments and observations of everyday life, Seriously…I’m Kidding provides a light-hearted view of the little things in life much like the opening monologues on her television show. The majority of the reviews I had read beforehand were from disappointed fans who after reading the misleading blurb had expected to find an autobiographical piece so if you are looking to read about Ellen’s rise to fame and gain an insight into her daily life this isn’t the book for you. Amongst the random subjects she does touch upon a few more personal ones including why she left American Idol, her and Portia’s decision not to have children and becoming the face of CoverGirl at age 50, although she doesn’t do so with a serious tone.

The content and length of the chapters varies throughout with the longest one being only around six pages. There are quite a few which could be termed ‘filler’ chapters but I took these with a pinch of salt and wasn’t bothered by them at all. The book even includes colouring pages for children and a special chapter for the audiobook listeners, as Ellen says herself ‘I decided to include a little something for everyone’. Although I read the paperback version in this particular case I think it would possibly be even better in audiobook format as Ellen’s timing and delivery seems to be key to her style of comedy and this is obviously more difficult to show through writing.

There is no organisation to the content, the chapters don’t follow any sort of order so it would be very easy to pick up and put down at any time however if read in one go it would only take a few of hours at the most. The writing style can only be described as an informal ramble which is very much like having a conversation with a friend as Ellen addresses the reader directly throughout.

I think this book made a refreshing change from all the dystopian, action-packed, end of the world style books I seem to have overdosed on over the last year. Yes, it is silly but it is also very entertaining and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You won’t learn a lot about Ellen and her life but you will most likely be amused by what you read so if you are looking for a fun, light-hearted book then why not give Seriously…I’m Kidding a chance. 4/5

4stars

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here.
 Photo © Erin Elise 

 
3 comments
The Catcher In The Rye | J.D. Salinger | Reviewed by Ria

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Catcher In The Rye | J.D. Salinger | Reviewed by Ria

J.D. Salinger's seminal novel The Catcher In The Rye has been one of those classics that people always mention as one of the books you need to read growing up and at nearly 21, I finally have.
Catcher In The Rye cover
The story follows 16 year old Holden Caulfield. A loner of a character who's just been kicked out of a school, called Pencey, which isn't really a big deal for him - he's been kicked out of quite a few by this point. He's admittedly lazy with no real interest in anything except English and writing, even then it's not enough to keep him there.
We meet him a few days before his imminent departure from the school, when he decides to screw it and return to his home town of New York City before his parents find out he's no longer a Pencey student. Red hunting cap in tow and with some money in his back pocket the novel's structure follows Holden as he meanders around for three days. 
And when I say structure, I use this term very loosely.
Yes there is a chronological plot, but Holden's tale veers off into different anecdotal directions. From talking about his family to people he went to school with and his stories that have shaped his viewpoint and opinions about the world. 

Holden is essentially an old man in child's body. He's judgemental of people who are 'phonies', yet is deeply hypocritical about nearly everything he talks about, he's consistently showcased as being slightly irritating to those around him, is an accomplished self-confessed liar, and most importantly a lonely person. All this qualities make for something I find quite common in coming of age novels, the 'hipster-I-hate-life-teenager'. He moans...a lot, which arguably makes for a incredibly dislikable character. 
Then you realise he's actually writing this as an account of events gone by. Holden is writing about himself in this way, this what he saw himself as when he was 16 years old and post-Pencey, and it's only when you read between the lines that you realise that Holden is still trying to figure out who he is and that's ok for now. 
Catcher In The Rye spine
So what's my verdict?
I won't lie to you and say that 'Catcher...' was an easy read, because it wasn't. The language is archaic mid-20th century and Holden's storytelling is disjointed and frustrating at times. Upon reflection, reading comments on GoodReads and watching a couple of discussions of the novel, I've come to realise that Holden is supposed to be frustrating, that's the whole point of him. He is a teenage boy. Simple as. And much like all teenagers, he's a little lost. There's no fairytale ending here, (the closest to one would probably be the scene with his sister Phoebe and the carousel) and there's certainly no complete resolution to his story - which some readers may find unsatisfying. 
If anything reading 'Catcher...' aged 20 made me wish I read it as a teenager, I may have felt more empathy for a character who's desperately searching to be heard, caught between acting like an adult and reminiscing on a romanticised version of his childhood/early teens. But it was none the less a fascinating read and I can imagine will only get more complex the more you re-read it!

Reading Soundtrack: 
Those You've Known: Spring Awakening OBC; Comin' Thro The Rye: Marion Anderson; Timshel: Mumford & Sons;  Just One Of Those Things: Frank Sinatra; Hurt: Johnny Cash; People Help The People: Birdy

For lovers of...coming of age novels, Salinger's other works and YA classics. Note! I would also recommend watching John Green's analysis on 'Catcher in the Rye' and his 'Catcher...' CrashCourse videos on youtube, if you have already read the novel (part1 & part2 of analysis here! and the start of his Crash Course mini series here)

This review was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to know her here.

*all images (c) Ria Cagampang
5 comments
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children | Ransom Riggs | Reviewed by Lucy.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children | Ransom Riggs | Reviewed by Lucy.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine, #1)
 
 
This book tells the story of sixteen year old Jacob. After witnessing his grandfather's death, Jacob's life is not the same. He is sent to therapy to try and help his grief and fear of a monster which he's not sure is real or an item of his imagination. But nothing can help him from his nightmares. As the book develops, Jacob starts to think about the last few things his grandfather said to him before he died. Slowly but surely, the clues present themselves and the only way to investigate further is to go to a small island in Wales. His grandfather spent his childhood there under the care of Miss Peregrine. As Jacob starts searching for some answers, he begins to realise that the stories his grandfather used to tell him of the other children are more than just stories.
 
I really liked the storyline of the book. It was a proper journey that Jacob had to go on in order to find the answers of what his grandfather's childhood was really like. I found it really interesting how the author developed the book.  It's kind of hard to explain but I just found it really unexpected and then I was encouraged to read more. I really enjoyed the pictures, although I found some of them quite disturbing.
 
I don't know whether it was because I have been busy recently, but I found it really hard to get into the book and that it was quite slow moving until you reached a certain point in it. Another disadvantage about this book, for me, was that I didn't like Jacob as I do for most characters I read in books. I don't know why, I just couldn't empathise for him in certain situations.
 
I will give this a three and a half star rating because, although I liked the story, I just couldn't sympathise with the characters. Also, I really like a book which keeps me engaged throughout every chapter, and I prefer it when the chapters aren't too long.
 
If you are at all interested in reading scary books or books which have a bit of a thrill to them then I would recommend this to you. I know we all have our own different preferences so even though I had my disadvantages, it still is a very good book.
 
This book was reviewed by regular reviewer Lucy, get to know her here.
 
Photo from Goodreads :).
1 comment
Group Collaboration | Reading Goals & Books We Vow To Read In 2013

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Group Collaboration | Reading Goals & Books We Vow To Read In 2013

titlevow

As it is the beginning of a new year many of us have been setting ourselves new reading goals for 2013. So, this month we asked you to let us know your personal reading targets and to choose five books or book series you vow to read by the end of 2013.
Every few months throughout the year we will also be checking in with regular reviewers Laura, Francesca, Lucy, Ria & Erin to find out how they are getting on with their 2013 reading challenges set in this post so make sure you keep an eye out for those to see how we are all getting on!


riavow
 
*The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare, Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli
___________________________________________________________________________________________
luluvow
*Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver, The Luxe by Anna Godbersen, Insurgent by Veronica Roth, Trapped by Michael Northrop, Wither by Lauren DeStefano
___________________________________________________________________________________________
 

lucyvow
 
*A Game Of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen, Sever by Lauren DeStefano
___________________________________________________________________________________________
 

lauravow
 
*The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart, The Growing Pains Of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend, Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
___________________________________________________________________________________________
 


francescavow
 
*The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, Blog Inc by Joy Deangdeelert Cho, Cross My Heart, Hope To Die by Sara Shepard, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
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erinvow
 
*Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart, The Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman, Requiem by Lauren Oliver, Lord Of The Flies by William Golding, Fractured by Teri Terry
___________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 
 
catvow
 
*Any Human Heart by William Boyd, The Catcher In The Rye by J. D. Salinger, On The Road by Jack Kerouac, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
___________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 

anjalivow
 
*The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling, Daughter Of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor, Feedback by Robison Wells, Reached by Ally Condie, The Twelve by Justin Cronin
___________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Don't forget to leave a comment below and tell us your reading goals for 2013! :)
 
 
Next month's group collaboration is all about our favourite couples in Fiction!
If you'd like to get involved please email or tweet us the name of your favourite fictional couple and tell us a little bit about why you've chosen them. 
 
Contributors - Cat, Ria, Francesca, Lucy, Laura, Lulu, Anjali, & Erin
All book cover images via goodreads.com


9 comments
We Need to Talk About Kevin | Lionel Shriver | Reviewed by Francesca

Friday, 18 January 2013

We Need to Talk About Kevin | Lionel Shriver | Reviewed by Francesca

'In a country that doesn't discriminate between fame and infamy, the latter presents itself as plainly more achievable.'- Lionel Shriver.

I have to admit, 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' is probably one of the darkest books I've found myself reaching for in a long time.
Kevin Katchadourian is, as his mother Eva refers to him 'one of those Columbine kids'; going on a  killing 'spree' at his high school which left nine people dead, Kevin is afforded some kind of twisted infamy in their small suburban town, and his mother finds herself an outcast, labelled as a 'bad mother' who neglected her son.
It's through a series of letters that Eva begins to analyse her memories of Kevin, right from birth up until that drastic day, and beyond, as she regularly visits her son in incarceration, wondering if her  suspicions about Kevin's...questionable nature, even in infancy, were correct - and worse, if the fact that she'd never much wanted him in the first place, had lead him to become the young man capable of such cruelty.

I don't know what I was expecting, when I first bought this book - it is far from consistent with what I'd usually opt for - but whatever it was, the sheer darkness of the theme I'd chosen was enough to stop me from reaching for it for about 18 months, where it sat on my bookshelf, tauntingly.
All I can say, now, is that I certainly didn't get what I'd bargained for when I did finally start reading; I'd expected gore (of which there is surprisingly little, if you're squeamish, like me, and find it off-putting), explicitness (of which there is some - minor swearing, one or two brief mentions of sex which anyone 16+ would probably not bat an eye at), and a certain sense of bias - letters written by the child's mother, after the fact, I expected to be full of retrospective insight, lending to a sense of 'I knew this was coming'/'I told you so'...and, again, I was wrong (although Eva's character did grate on me, more than a little).

Although a work of fiction, there is something startling realistic about Eva's account of her life both before and after her son's birth, and the events which followed his most horrendous act; it's almost disturbing, the way Lionel Shriver has managed to construct this narrative through the eyes of a mother who feels, at times, entirely to blame for her son's actions, who wonders constantly why this, who, despairingly, sees a darkness in him that she can't quite seem to get her husband, Kevin's father, to open his eyes to.

'We Need to Talk About Kevin' is harrowing, at times, heartbreaking, at others, and entirely frustrating - for, even as you read about their decision to have Kevin, his birth, his early childhood, and even the morning of the 'incident' itself, you know how inevitable it is that it will all go wrong.
I will say this, though - it is a truly incredible read, as details are revealed slowly, slowly, in such a way that, even though you might think you know how this story ends, I can promise you, you don't.

5/5 stars

This review was written by regular reviewer Francesca, get to know her here.
Photo © Francesca Sophia.
1 comment
This Is Not A Test | Courtney Summers | Reviewed by Niina

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

This Is Not A Test | Courtney Summers | Reviewed by Niina

thisisnot.jpg


“The thing no one tells you about surviving, about the mere act of holding out, is how many hours are nothing because nothing happens. They also don’t tell you about how you can share your deepest secrets with someone, kiss them, and the next hour it’s like there’s nothing between you because not everything can mean something all the time or you’d be crushed under the weight of it.” 
- Courtney Summers, This Is Not A Test 

This Is Not A Test is about six students that are taking cover from a world infested with zombies in their High School. One of the students name  is Sloane. But the difference between Sloane and the others is that she can't find a single reason to survive. She doesn't want to fight. She wants to die. 

Yes, this is another YA novel about zombies. And yes, this is yet another review from me about a book involving zombies. But I have to say that this is pretty different from everything else I've read in this genre! This story is not about the action, the danger and the survival. This story is about emotions. It's about fear, about guilt, about love and about hopelessness. And to be completely honest, at first, that kind of made me a bit bored with it. I'm used to those fast paced novels about raw and simple survival. And this is just not it. So, I struggled with the first part of this book. The thing that annoyed me the most was the main character Sloane. I don't know how many times I thought "If you want to die, just walk out that door and get it over with!". But you know what!? The story really grew on me. Even Sloane grew on me. And in the end I found it to be a really enjoyable reading experience.


I'm not saying that the book should be more action filled or violent to deserve a full 4 stars (I give This Is Not A Test 3,5/5 stars). But I think there's just something missing. Something that would have drawn me into the story straight from the beginning. I'm a bit of sad about the fact that that something is missing. Because maybe this book actually deserves  4 stars, because it truly has something that makes it worth reading. That being said, I'll certainly pick up the sequel and I hope it will get at least that full 4 star rating... And I think you should give This Is Not A Test a go!


This post was written by regular reviewer Niina, get to know her here.


3halfstars




2 comments

Monday, 14 January 2013

Pride and Prejudice| Jane Austen | Reviewed by Laura

I think I can pretty much guarantee that the majority of us have read this book or watched the film (Or at least watched Bridget Jones) and therefore have some knowledge of this storyline. Myself? I studied this book 3 times during my college and university days and it always was one of my favourite books before then. This amount of in-depth study however made my never want to look at the book again. Until…

This gorgeous book arrived and it looked so pretty I couldn’t stop myself from picking it up and starting to re-read, at my own leisure this time though! Although I am familiar with the characters and storyline every time I re-read this book there is something new and interesting which I have missed in previous reads.

Austen has complex characters; moments of amusement and such an in-depth storyline that it makes you believe you were born in the wrong century.

I’m sure that everything I would like to say about this book has already been said before. If you are a fan of classic English Literature and you have not read this book then shame on you! And to everyone else, give it a go! It might not be your usual type of book but I promise you will fall in love with it (Or at least with Mr Darcy!

5/5 stars

This post was written by regular reviewer Laura, get to know her here.
*Photo © Laura

3 comments
Flowers In The Attic | VC Andrews | Reviewed by Taylah

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Flowers In The Attic | VC Andrews | Reviewed by Taylah


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“I am a pretty, useless ornament who always believed she'd have a man to take care of her.”
Flowers in the attic was one of those books that had been sitting on my mum's book shelf for years. I would sit in my mum's room and look through her book collection. I'd always love the covers of VC Andrews books. There was always a pretty face, but usually it was sad. I picked up Flowers in the Attic purely because of the title, I was pleasantly surprised at the inside of the book.

Flowers in the attic follows the story of the Dollanganger family, narrated by the second eldest child, Cathy. After their father dies in an accident at the start of the story the family relocates to their maternal grandparents house. It's then that all 4 children are locked away upstairs out of their grandfathers view. In order for Cathy's mother to claim inheritance, she wasn't meant to have any children. The children are locked away and slowly days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months. As time goes on the children's relationships with each other evolve, their feelings towards their mother change and their hope for freedom diminishes.

A theme quite common throughout VC Andrews' books is that the majority of her books begin with tragedy. Not necessarily a death, but tragedy is what generally gets the usually gothic themes and stories started. Flowers in the Attic featured some disturbing themes, especially for the time it was first published. The book can be kind of hard to read at times, the topics and themes can be really quite sad and disturbing. But once you're able to get passed that and look at the whole book, it's easy to understand why this book was such a big hit amongst teens when it was first published.

The books is the first in a five part book series. After the first book I felt the urge to get through the next four books as quickly as possible. I sympathise with the children locked in the attic and the turmoil their life brings and find myself quickly turning on their mother. The book can feel like a long read, like it's never ending and dragging on. It's this length that leaves you able to fully understand what's happening in the tale, a life lived in a room, moving slowly.

I wouldn't recommend this book for those soft at heart, or those sensitive to disturbing themes. I have no other books to compare this to other than other books published by VC Andrews herself. It's definitely more of a gothic read, a dark tale.
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This post was written by regular reviewer Taylah, get to know her here.
1 comment
The Hobbit - J.R.R Tolkien | Reviewed by Elle

Friday, 11 January 2013

The Hobbit - J.R.R Tolkien | Reviewed by Elle

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"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort." - (source) 

The look of my actual book I think gives away my opinion of this, it's dog-eared and well worn, but loved. It is a wonderful book. For the those who haven't seen the film also, it is wonderful it's a true book to film adaptation. However if you want a children's story with a slight dark twist and Middle-Earth, well you got it right here! The Hobbit is one of the first books that sprang out of Middle-Earth, with the Lord of the Rings trilogy following in pursuit. The whole idea is that little hobbit's are gentle and friendly folk, they eat, sleep and smoke and never go on adventures...

Here we meet Bilbo, oh and Gandalf the Grey. The Tookish side of Bilbo just can't seem to say no to this wonderful looking map and dangerous adventure that would lead him out of Hobbiton, the Shire and on to the other side of the world practically and so we see at the beginning of this book our good friend Bilbo Baggins set out on an adventure to the Misty Mountains, something he never thought he would do and my it has got some surprises in store for him. The wonderfully detailed passages describing ever inch of Middle-Earth and the characters we meet, including 13 hungry dwarves.

This is one of my favorite books, I could read it over and over and still love it. It has a fun loving story even a child could appreciate. I soon learnt to love the company on their adventure and when everything came to an end, well it was rather sad because they all fit together so well. In this we see a small unadventurous hobbit go to great lengths for his new friends on this epic journey. I would recommend this to anyone wanting a light hearted adventure with a little action filled with fantasy. Oh I'd also give it 5 stars, some people may laugh at this but I consider this book a classic, not only because the story is beautifully written but because the story could be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere for years to come.

This review was written by regular reviewer Elle, learn more about her here

Photo credit to Elle.
2 comments
Slated | Teri Terry | Reviewed by Erin

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Slated | Teri Terry | Reviewed by Erin

slated
“Kyla’s memory has been erased, her personality wiped blank, her memories lost for ever. She’s been Slated. The government claims she was a terrorist, and that they are giving her a second chance - as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?” Source

Slated is set in the not too distant future in a worryingly believable version of the UK. It tells the story of Kyla who has gone through a process called Slating meaning her memory has been erased leaving her to start her life all over again with a new family.

The process of Slating was introduced as a way to eradicate young terrorists and other criminals. All those who have been Slated are required to wear a Levo which is like a non-removable bracelet that monitors the wearer’s emotions. These reminded me of a mixture between the tracking devices worn by some of the Crims in the Uglies series and the collars from Battle Royale. Anger and violence can cause the Levo number to drop too low and this should cause the wearer to blackout but Kyla soon discovers she is different when anger causes her levels to rise rather than fall.

Despite what has happened to her and not knowing anything about who she used to be Kyla is quite a strong protagonist. Whilst overall I didn’t dislike her I also found her actions frustrating at times although I guess they are understandable under the circumstances. There are several other characters who play an important part in the story however the one that stood out to me in particular was Kyla’s mother, or rather her new mother. She seemed to have the most interesting background story which left me wanting to know more about her family in particular her parents who played a crucial part in the existence of Slating.

Terry’s writing style is clear and concise and effortlessly takes you on Kyla’s journey alongside her. She is able to make you question yourself throughout and wonder what you would do in Kyla’s position under the terrifying circumstances that are all too plausible. As there are so many dystopian YA novels around right now it would be easy to get it wrong or become repetitive but Terry has created a world which still manages to feel fresh and interesting. The story itself isn’t as action-packed as some comparable titles, instead it is much more realistic as we follow Kyla’s day to day life post-Slating. This aspect in particular makes it so easy to imagine your own everyday life being changed in the same way and because the edits Terry has made are so convincing it’s hard not to picture yourself emerged in her version of our world.

Slated wasn’t quite as engaging as some of the other books I have read in this genre but I did really enjoy it am looking forward to hopefully finding out more about the development of Slating and of course Kyla’s past life in the second installment Fractured. 4/5

4stars

This post was written by regular reviewer Erin, get to know her here.
Photo © Erin Elise
2 comments
Unsaid Things: Our Story | McFLY | Reviewed by Ria

Monday, 7 January 2013

Unsaid Things: Our Story | McFLY | Reviewed by Ria

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Hi everyone and welcome to my review of Unsaid Things: Our Story, the autobiography for the pop-rock band McFLY. As veteran McFLY fan - coming up to 8-ish years now lol - I will attempt to be as unbiased as possible!

Unsaid Things is the self penned story of 'pop-rock' band McFLY. It regales the story from start to present day, and when I say start I mean the very start. The book begins with the boy's childhoods where you discover just how different each of their personal backgrounds were. There's Tom Fletcher, the ambitious theatre trained front-man, Danny Jones, the rough and tumble northerner, public school boy drummer Harry Judd and baby of the band-turned man of the house Dougie Poynter.
Their musical journey starts with founder Tom and his journey growing up through his failed audition for Busted, learning to song write with James Bourne and meeting the other band members. First Danny, who met Tom by chance at an audition for a boyband before becoming close friends and song-writing partners. Then finding Harry and Dougie through an extensive, and hilarious, audition process.
Once formed the book follows their life from '5 colours...' all the way up to the present day and their current exploits. It includes snippets of their early teenage 'naughty-ness' in the London band house; travels abroad from the USA to Australia; personal relationships with family and loves and, arguably the most interesting part, the music making, all of which is written from the boys' point of view.
For fans some stories will be familiar and some rumours are finally cleared up (including the infamous Lindsay Lohan/Harry saga), but it's the chapters circling the band's early family life, darkest times, coping with fame and ongoing struggles that are the stand-outs.
Ultimately the story is uplifting with a positive spin on everything that's happened to them as a band and individually.
Unsaid Things coverUnsaid Things back
So my verdict?
As a fan this book was wonderful, it was hilarious and in keeping with the spirit of the band themselves. But it was also heartbreaking - I'll admit shedding a tear during Dougie's chapter. For non-fans it may be a bit harder read. The constant changing of voices and stories may become confusing for those not used to the boys usual banter, but for veteran 'Galaxy Defenders' such as myself their voices ring out loud from the pages. One thing to definitely take away from the book is to approach with an open mind. You may think you know this band, but you'll certainly be proved wrong. 

Reading Soundtrack:
Unsaid Things: McFLY; Year 3000: Busted; The Power Of Love: Huey Lewis; She Loves You: The Beatles; Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen; Baba O'Reily: The Who; Always: Blink-182; Don't Stop Me Now: Queen; Love Is Easy: McFLY

For lovers of...McFLY, of course, and those who aren't fans too ;)

*all photos in this post (c) Ria Cagampang

This post was written by regular reviewer Ria, get to know her here.
4 comments
The Alchemyst | Michael Scott | Reviewed by Lucy.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Alchemyst | Michael Scott | Reviewed by Lucy.

The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #1)


The Alchemyst is the first in a series of books called The Secrets of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Josh and Sophie Newman's lives change when they witness an attack of magic which breaks out in Nick Flamel's bookshop. Shortly afterwards, they realise that Nick Flamel is actually the great Nicholas Flamel, the greatest alchemyst of all time. His death apparently was six hundred years ago but to this day the tomb lies empty. The secret of eternal life lies in a magical book and with it, you become immortal. However, the book is now stolen by the evil Dr John Dee and it is up to Josh and Sophie Newman to save not only Nick and his wife Perry but the whole world.

I have only read the first two books in this series but they are both un-put-down-able books and I can't wait to continue the series this year. The Alchemyst is a great start to a great series. It is filled with fantasy creatures and full of adventure. I would definitely recommend this series to people who might be a slow reader because the chapters are really short and you get through the book in a couple of days. I would also recommend it to people who love the fantasy genre and who might be looking for something similar to Harry Potter. I must admit that I thought there was a serious link to Harry Potter when I read the title. But there really isn't as the series starts in San Francisco. I won't give any spoilers but they do have portals which go from place to place and The Historian, which is the sequel to the Alchemyst, is set in Paris.

I'm going to give this series four out of five stars because it's a brilliant series. I definitely think it's quite an underrated series and more people should read the books. So if you're looking for something which is fantasy related or anything to do with magic then this is your book. If you also want to get stuck into a new series then I would love it if you would give this a go!

On a personal note, I hope you had a great Christmas and that you have a fabulous 2013!

This book was reviewed by regular reviewer Lucy, get to know her here!

Photo from Goodreads.

3 comments

Peter Pan | J.M. Barrie | Reviewed by Francesca

'Every child is affected thus the first time he is treated unfairly...after you have been unfair to him he will love you again, but he will never afterwards be quite the same boy.'- J. M. Barrie.

I think almost everyone reading this blog will be familiar with the tale of Peter Pan; whether you were read the story as a child, or, like me, parked in front of the much-loved, slightly glossier Disney movie, most of us have, at one time or another, come across the the Boy Who Never Grew Up (or, more aptly, the Boy Who Point-Blank Refused to Grow Up, Ever).
However, just in case Peter Pan is a story that skimmed by you, in some way or other, I'll give you a taster; Wendy Darling's a young girl from London - intelligent, practical, and kind. Peter Pan, a young man who possesses a serious disliking for 'grown-ups', soon recognises that she'd make the perfect make-shift mother for his gang of likewise young men, his 'Lost Boys'. Flying into Wendy's room one night, he offers to take her and her younger brothers on a trip to Neverland...and things are never quite the same again.

There's something oddly bittersweet about (re-)reading a childhood classic, particularly when your best memories of it carry a certain 'Disney spin'; the story itself is slightly grittier than I remembered, but then I suppose that was what I'd expected. Where themes seem playful, boisterous, in my childhood recollections, an eccentric Captain Hook and his band of oddly endearing pirates, the tone becomes more sinister in J. M. Barrie's original - right down to the tick-tocking of that crocodile. Whilst it's oddly rewarding, reading a version of the story that's so, ironically, 'grown-up', it does tarnish some of the shine a little. The narrative, in particular, is more than a little disjointed, with no real timeline. It has a child-like quality to it, certainly, but whether it's intentional or not is another matter entirely. Peter is arrogant, flighty - endearing, in his eternal boyish charm, but not lovable

Did I enjoy reading Peter Pan? So much so that I finished it in a day and a half. But as a separate entity from the story I know and love, in a way which is, considering the fame of the Boy Who Never Grew Up, ironically mature. Would I recommend giving it a read? Definitely - if only to remind yourself that not all children's tales are as 'sugar coated' as Disney might like us to believe.
3/5 stars

This review was written by regular reviewer Francesca, get to know her here.
Photo © Francesca Sophia.
 
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