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Book Review

REVIEW: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

If you’d told me a few months ago that Crown of Midnight would be even better than Throne of Glass, I wouldn’t have believed you. Throne of Glass has been a firm favourite of mine since I read it and so I didn’t know anything could surpass it. But, obviously, Crown of Midnight did.

Crown of Midnight starts a little bit ahead of where Throne of Glass let off and we’re instantly brought back to Erilea and the life of our heroine, Celaena Sardothien. Following on from the events of Throne of Glass, Celaena is working harder than ever.

It was so easy to immerse myself in the world that Maas has created. The world building is so thorough and in-depth that it’s easy to think that you are actually living in Erilea. Imagine my disappointment when I lifted my head up to find that I was sat in my living room!

Celaena is as kick ass as ever and she’s definitely one of my favourite female protagonists ever. In this novel, we really get a sense of who she is and also learn a lot about her life before Endovier and the castle. I think this novel is really important to her character development. I wish I had read the novellas before reading this, but I’m going to be putting the time in now to catch up with them because I’d really like to know more about Celaena’s life before Endovier.

This book sees a lot of the love triangle that we saw hints of in Throne of Glass, and Celaena does make a decision. This book certainly sees a lot of heartbreak! At times I could feel myself wanting to shake the book because some of the scenes were so destroying. For both teams, actually.

The plot has been so carefully created that everything flows at just the right pace. I can’t fault Maas’ timing and precision because everything was perfect.

Crown of Midnight has left me wanting more of the amazing writing, the fantastic characters, and the action-packed and gripping plot lines. It really is going to be torturing waiting another year for the next book.

Book Review

REVIEW: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was the perfect concoction of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Before I Die, with a male protagonist, of course.Although I haven’t read The Silver Linings Playbook, I expected great things from the same author, and I was not let down at all.

It’s Leonard Peacock’s eighteenth birthday and the day he is going to say goodbye, for he has decided that today will be his last day on Earth. After killing his former best friend, he will take his own life. His mother, who he calls Linda to annoy her, who spends most of her time in New York with her French boyfriend, won’t care. His father, who has moved to somewhere in Venezuela and practically dropped off the face of the planet, won’t care.

Leonard has four packages: one for his Bogart- obsessed neighbour; another for his Holocaust teacher; one for a violin virtuoso; and one for a pastor’s daughter.

Leonard, for all of his odd characteristics, was a very likable character and one that I just wanted to send big hugs to. He’d never received any love from his parental figures and so was searching for something that he had never had. I loved his relationship with Walt. It was so natural and I relished the scenes when they were interacting. Walt really cared about him, and it was really sweet to see.

Written with footnotes at the bottom was a really good idea and fitted in really well with the narration and themes of the book. It’s something that really makes the book stand out and a really strong reason to pick up this book. If you like something a bit different, then Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is the book for you.

I loved the future scenes. I’d happily read a whole book that featured this world, because it was so carefully thought out and crafted. It really added a nice touch to the book, and this is the sort of thing that bumps up my rating.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is the kind of book that I devour. I love hard hitting and raw novels and this really was one of them. It’s impossible to say that this book was a light read, but if it was it wouldn’t be the same. I loved this novel because of its nature and I think this is something that other people will love, too.

I didn’t think I’d like Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock as much as I did and I’ll definitely be reading something else by Quick now.

Book Review

REVIEW: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Puffin (Penguin)
Acquired: Bought

Summary from Goodreads:

Emaline is spending her last summer before college in her home beach town of Colby. Everything is familiar – from working for her bossy sister Margo at the family rental company to Emaline’s gorgeous (and regularly shirtless) childhood sweetheart, Luke.

But when an out-of-town brash New York filmmaker, and her young assistant Theo, come to stay at one of the beach houses, everything Emaline thought she knew about herself changes.

But can her heart let go of a life she’s loved for so long?

Prior to picking this up, I’d only read one Sarah Dessen book- The Truth About Forever. I’d really enjoyed it and so, after hearing good things about her latest, The Moon and More, I decided to buy it. I’m so glad I did because The Moon and More was a perfect summer read.
The Moon and More is set in the fictional town of Colby and, boy, do I wish it was real! Dessen got the setting just right and I much preferred it to some books that are set in real places.
It’s Emaline’s last summer before she goes off to college, leaving her hometown, Colby, and her family behind. Her life has always had the same familiarities until now. When Ivy, a film maker from New York, and  her assistant, Theo, arrive in Colby everything changes. Suddenly, the summer starts getting busier and busier and Emaline has to face old problems being brought back up.
I really liked Emaline as the main protagonist. The book flowed really well written in her perspective and Dessen had created a consist character. She was the sort of girl that you could easily become friends with and I’d happily read another book about her.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Theo, right from the start. His mannerisms really bugged me and I couldn’t see why Emaline liked him. He was just so annoying!
However, I did like Luke and found him so adorable. I craved the scenes he was in and his interaction with Emaline was just so sweet.
The relationships between the characters was something I really loved. Emaline was so close to her family and it was nice to see a happy family unit, rather than one that has a lot of issues like we see in many YA books.
I completely adored The Moon and More and will definitely be raiding my library for more Sarah Dessen books now.
Book Review

REVIEW: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published By: Orion
Acquired: Bought 

Summary from Goodreads

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

Imagine this: there I am, ill, sat on the sofa and the something drops through my letterbox. It’s a package and when I open it there are books inside. Magical. One of these books is Attachments and I put down my re-read of City of Bones especially to start it. Yes, I was that desperate to start this book.
Attachments is about a guy called Lincoln whose job it is to check the emails sent by employees of The Courier, a newspaper house where Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder work. Beth and Jennifer both have a habit of sending each other emails throughout the day and the majority of them get flagged up.

Written in both third person and through email correspondence, Attachments was a book that I added straight to my favourites shelf after reading it. I loved the way it was written, I loved the characters; I loved everything about it.

I was immediately drawn into the book and loved Beth and Jennifer straight away. Their emails really added a humorous tone to the book and I’d be happy to read a book entirely about their emails.

I think the novel thing about this book (excuse the pun) is that it’s set in a time when people didn’t have smart phones to hand and WiFi. I was also pleased because one of the emails in the book was sent on the day I was born and so that made me very happy.

As I’ve already read Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, this was the last of Rowell’s books that I had to read so I don’t know how I’m going to wait until Spring 2014 for her next, Landlines. 

Book Review UKYA

REVIEW: ACID by Emma Pass

Author: Emma Pass
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Acquired: Bought

Summary from Goodreads:

2113. In Jenna Strong’s world, ACID – the most brutal, controlling police force in history – rule supreme. No throwaway comment or muttered dissent goes unnoticed – or unpunished. And it was ACID agents who locked Jenna away for life, for a bloody crime she struggles to remember.

The only female inmate in a violent high-security prison, Jenna has learned to survive by any means necessary. And when a mysterious rebel group breaks her out, she must use her strength, speed and skill to stay one step ahead of ACID – and to uncover the truth about what really happened on that dark night two years ago.

ACID has been on my wishlist for ages now. It may be one of my most anticipated UKYA reads of 2013. I was so worried that I wouldn’t like it, but I was definitely not let down. In fact, it surpassed my expectations by a long mile! 
ACID is set in 2113 Britain, or, to be specific, the Independent Republic of Britain. I haven’t read many books set in futuristic Britain so this was one aspect that I was a little worried about. It actually scared me how realistic everything was because this could happen. I think the fact that I’m British, combined with the fact that ACID was so well written made it seem as if this world was going on outside of the book. It would be so easy for a scenario such as this one to make its way into the real world.
If you’re someone who pays a lot of attention to character detail, then ACID is the book for you. Jenna could give even Katniss Everdeen a run for her money. I’d even go so far as to say Jenna is now one of my favourite female protagonists. Most characters have something that irritates me about them but Jenna felt so real and whole. Yes, she had faults but they were human faults and so made her all that more realistic. 
All of the secondary characters were also equally amazing. I grew to really love Max and also loved Mel and  the rest of the group.
The overall plot was well thought out and there wasn’t a moment when I wasn’t enthralled. I don’t think I’ve read a dystopian quite like this one and I really loved it because of that. Pass has created a unique twist in the ever-growing dystopian market. If there were more dystopians like this then I’d be reading them a lot more often!
ACID didn’t let me down at all and I’ll read anything that Pass writes from now on. A unique and interesting take on a totalitarian country. 
Book Review

REVIEW: Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

Author: Tanya Byrne
Publisher: Headline
Acquired: Borrowed from library

Summary from Goodreads

They say I’m evil. The police. The newspapers. The girls from school who shake their heads on the six o’clock news and say they always knew there was something not quite right about me. And everyone believes it. Including you. But you don’t know. You don’t know who I used to be.

Who I could have been.

Awaiting trial at Archway Young Offenders Institution, Emily Koll is going to tell her side of the story for the first time.

I haven’t read much crime/mystery novels before and so this was a bit of an experiment for me. I’m very pleased to say that I’m most likely going to be reading more novels in the genre because I loved Heart-Shaped Bruise.

Heart-Shaped Bruise is about a girl called Emily who is in a Young Offenders Institution and has started a record of her days in the Institution. As the novel goes on, she reflects on how she ended up in the Institution and the reader can begin to place all the little pieces together to create the big picture.
I thought the pacing of this novel was perfect; it couldn’t have been written any better than it was. In this type of book, I think pacing is important but it wasn’t too fast or too slow- just right!
Our main character, Emily, is a very strange character to read about. Even though I knew she had done a terrible thing, I still liked her and found that I wanted to read more about her and read the little anecdotes about her former life. There is just the right balance of past and present written. 
The plot was thrilling and I was sat on the edge of my seat whilst reading the majority of the book. It was so easy to get inside Emily’s head and I did sympathise with her an awful lot- was it really her fault that she was born into this world and this life?

I’m definitely going to be reading Follow Me Down which is Byrne’s latest novel. She’s definitely an author that I’ll read again and again.

Book Review

REVIEW: After Eden by Helen Douglas

Author: Helen Douglas
Publishing Company: Bloomsbury Childrens Books
Acquired: Through publisher for review
Release Date: July 4th 2013
Summary from Goodreads:

Eden Anfield loves puzzles, so when mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school she’s hooked. On the face of it, he’s a typical American teenager. So why doesn’t he recognise pizza? And how come he hasn’t heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden the most, however, is the interest he’s taking in her.

As Eden starts to fall in love with Ryan, she begins to unravel his secret. Her breakthrough comes one rainy afternoon when she stumbles across a book in Ryan’s bedroom – a biography of her best friend – written over fifty years in the future. Confronting Ryan, she discovers that he is there with one unbelievably important purpose … and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success.

I haven’t read anything quite like After Eden before and I loved it!

When new boy Ryan starts at the local school in Perran, Cornwall, it’s evident that there’s something different about him. I mean, who doesn’t know what pizza is? The novel follows the story of Eden Anfield and her friends and explores the subjects of relationships, friendships…and time travel.

Although a little predictable in places, After Eden was enjoyable and I zoomed through it; I couldn’t put it down! Eden was a likeable main character and I found her easy to read about. She’s definitely a character who I wouldn’t mind reading about again.

Regarding the romance in the book, I found myself veering towards “Team Connor.” I just thought that Eden and Connor were a better pairing than Eden and Ryan. Ryan was different to a lot of the many male characters out there now though so it was quite a nice change and I didn’t dislike him in any way, it’s just that I thought Connor and Eden should end up together.

I learnt a great deal from this novel and astronomy plays a huge part. I don’t know a lot about the stars but I’ve always enjoyed learning about the solar system in science so it was really nice to read about and it was obvious that Douglas knew what she was writing about.

I’ll definitely be reading the next book because I do want to know what happens to Eden, Ryan and Connor. This is book that I would be sure to recommend.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing me with a review copy
Book Review

REVIEW: Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Summary from Goodreads:

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

I really wanted to love this novel, but sadly didn’t. As a major fan of all things historical fiction, I had very high hopes because Gregory is a bestselling author here in the UK and her books have even been made into TV programmes and films. So, this is actually quite a sad review to write.
Before I get on to the reasons why I didn’t like this book, I need to talk about the positive things. The attention to detail was brilliant and I thought the settings were described well so that it was easy to picture where the book was taking place. It was easy to tell that a lot of research had taken place beforehand.

I liked the characters, but they were really bad at interacting with each other. The dialogue felt forced and I felt like screaming in frustration regularly. Isolde was probably the most understandable character, and there wasn’t a lot of competition.

Both the cover and summary are hugely misleading. Both promise a romantic aspect that sounds amazing but there was no romance in this book at all. For someone like me who lives for these moments in books, it was a major let down.

When you’re reading a book you should be able to feel that what you’re reading is true and you’re witnessing the events but this didn’t happen in Changeling. Everything felt a bit forced and I found a lot of the plot lines very unrealistic.

I didn’t enjoy this book at all and I’m so sad about that fact because I really wanted to like it. I’m going to try and read one of Gregory’s adult novels to see if I like one of them better but I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest in this series.