Tuesday, 17 July 2012


Anna Carey
7 / 10

From the blurb: Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth's population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen year old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school but the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school's real purpose - and the horrifying fate that awaits her. 
Fleeing the only home she's ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust... and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

I have to say this before I can even think about the rest of the book: the ending is abominable. Seriously. Any reader will see it coming a mile off and still hate it when it happens. It's clichéd and horrible, and goes against the whole journey of the book. 

Also, the relationship between Eve and Caleb is sweet, but overly fast. They're suddenly planning their whole lives together when they barely know each other. At least Caleb has enough sense to apply the brakes. I would have liked to know more about the Plague that created this dystopian world. 

Anyway, onto why I liked this book. Eve is a smart, strong woman struggling against the brainwashing that's been going on since she was five. Though on the other hand, she's somewhat careless when it comes to other people, and when she breaks down she does it properly! She says she's slow to trust, but once that barrier's crossed the first time she's basically fine. The King, the ruler of this terrible new world, wants Eve. Supposedly so she can carry his children. But he puts a great deal of manpower onto tracking her down, and Eve doesn't stop to question this the way I did. Why is one girl so important? I hope we find out in the next book.
 And Caleb is the angry but gentle product of horrible conditions for young men. But my very favourite character is Benny, the serious but lovely six year old who concentrates so fiercely when he reads or writes and who clings to Eve. When he meets her he asks, "Are you my mother?" and it's heartbreaking. Leif, too, makes a fantastic villain, a guy impossible to understand and great to hate. And just when you think all of the characters are damaged, there's a reminder of Pip and Ruby whose innocence is refreshing, but will destroy their lives. 

The pacing in this book is great; the action moves ahead at a pace maybe a shade too slow but not so much that it becomes sluggish. The only slight problem there is that high-action scenes are slightly clumsily written, becoming a little muddled. The way Eve surveys remnants of the old world, our world, is hilarious - look out for her description of a television. And though I may hate the cliffhanger, it has made me desperate for the sequel. 

Teaser quote: 'My,' he crooned, his voice completely out of tune, 'balls are sweating, my balls are sweating, I can't keep my balls from sweating, noooo, noooo, noooo!' 
'Why is that funny? What are "balls"? Like the ball of your foot?'

You'll probably like this book if you liked 'Immortal Rules' by Julie Kagawa or 'Crossed' by Ally Condie, the road-trip sequel to 'Matched'.

The sequel, Once, was released in June 2012.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Manga - Shutterbox

I try to read manga when I can because usually the artwork is beautiful. One fantastic feature of manga are the sidebars written by the authors - they're like a mini-blog, so you get snippets of information about the books and the writers themselves. In this section, I'm going to show some of my favourites when I can.

Rikki and Tavisha Simons

From the blurb: On the surface, Megan Amano seems like a typical Los Angeles girl, attending college and spending a good time of her afternoons in therapy. However, when Megan dreams, she travels to a place unlike any other - a supernatural and surreal college, one any recent high school graduate would die to attend. And usually they must... for Merridiah University is the afterlife's premier educational institute. But for Megan a great exception has been made. 

I have to say, this series is incredibly difficult to get hold of. It seems to be out of print despite being a fairly new series, but if you can find a copy, buy it! It is available on e-readers, though. Now I just need to get an e-reader. It's an American manga so it reads left to right. 

This series is deliciously quirky, with a bird acting as someone's conscious, a "camera ghost" and a skeleton who puts the scare in scarecrow. There are flying rabbits called Beebos. But it's Megan who gives the books their charm as she stumbles through this mysterious world in  her pyjamas. There she meets the enigmatic brothers Dane and AJ who seem to neither like or dislike each other. Each acts as a guide of sorts (though one does so kind of reluctantly) but they only give her very select information - not even enough to survive at first. In a world that seems lush but can be deadly, how can she trust the personifications of the beautiful, dangerous environment?

I'm only on the third book of five published so far, but it's a great story from the start. 

Friday, 13 July 2012

Friday, I'm In Love! - Until I Die

This is the first of what I hope will become a weekly post called 'Friday, I'm in love!' (is the link to The Cure song too tenuous? Will people hear that when they read this? I hope so.) The point is to cast a spotlight on book characters who seem specifically designed to fall in love with. Whether they're gentlemen, nerds or bad boys, I want to show you some of my favourites! (I'm also hoping to twin it with a weekly Wednesday post tentatively titled 'Wednesday's Women')
First up is... 
Jules from Until I Die by Amy Plum.

To look at he's described as "cute": wiry build, curly brown hair and often sporting a sunburn. More importantly, though, he's "animated" if you watch him smile or tell a story to send his friends into peals of laughter. He has a studio he likes to escape to, and that's where he creates his paintings, or he hides in the nearest art museum. 

But the most appealing part of Jules's personality is his gallantry. He's a gentleman, always showing concern for Kate's well-being. He died in the war to save another soldier and since then he's thrown himself into awful situations to save lives. He holds doors open, bows playfully and listens before speaking. And my favourite facet? The way he flirts with Kate. I can never tell for certain if he really fancies her or not - is he just trying to make her feel special to cheer her up, or is he letting her know he's there should she decide she wants him without pressuring her? 

I adore him even though he's not the main man, maybe more so because of that. He's content to be supporting and doesn't always need the attention to be on him. 

So who're your book crushes? Do you prefer leading men to background boys? And are you a Vincent fan, a Jules fan... or an Ambrose fan? Let me know!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Sweet Evil

Wendy Higgins
8 / 10

From the blurb: What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences? This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels. 
Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She's aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn't until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He's the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna. 
Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

Anna was surprisingly likeable for such a good girl. She struggles against the lure of alcohol and drugs, stronger in her than other people. Once she lets loose, the effects are terrifying and hilarious. And the friends she makes along the way are even more compelling. Kope is a sweetie, if a little safe - hopefully we'll see him truly explode in the next book. I adored Blake, though I wish he'd done a little more. And the twins, Marna and Ginger? One you love to hate, the other you want to protect. 

I never truly fell for Kaiden, though. Some of the moments between him and Anna were truly heartbreaking, but I couldn't bring myself to root for him. Partly because I was reading as an English girl, I think; he's the epitome of clichés that Americans apply to Brits. Some of the things he said sounded so forced or old-fashioned that I found myself wincing. 

The idea of Nephilim has been approached in a lot of books I've read lately, though Wendy Higgins adds another fresh twist. I love stories that examine the differences between each demon, and there's a whole cast of fallen angels in this book - that will only expand in the sequel! 

However, it's only now that I'm thinking back that I realise the plot was maybe a little thin. There's a high school party, a road trip, another party and then... the end. It also felt like it was cut off rather suddenly and harshly, as though it was too long and the end was lopped off to become the beginning of the sequel. It's mostly a novel of character exploration - which, I like, don't get me wrong, but it didn't have the same fierce intensity of similar books. 

Teaser quote: We were damned for simply being born. So why was I holding fast to rules that didn't really apply to me anyway? Why shouldn't I take from this life what I could in the time I had? This had nothing to do with what Pharzuph demanded of us, and everything to do with what Kaiden and I had become to each other. 

This was reminiscent of Brenna Yovanoff's 'Smoulder' and Nephilim also star in Becca Fitzpatrick's series, the first of which is titled 'Hush, Hush'. 

The sequel, tentatively titled 'Sweet Hope' is under consideration with the publishers. Check www.wendyhigginswrites.com for up-to-date news.


Jennifer Bosworth
5 / 10

From the blurb: My name is Mia Price and I am a lightning addict. I want the lightning to find me. I crave it like lungs crave oxygen. Nothing makes you feel more alive than being struck.

I didn't know what to expect when I started this book. I knew it would contain a post-earthquake LA, a girl addicted to being stuck by lightning, and a choice that would decide the earth's fate... or something. (I'm still a little foggy about her big choice and its direct impact.)

But if I'm being honest, I was a little disappointed. There were two different cults trying desperately to recruit Mia and a strange boy begging her to stay out of the conflict altogether. She struggles when it comes to deciding who to trust - and yet I couldn't bring myself to care. There was no real sense of tension or fear. Maybe it's because I didn't find Mia an interesting character. She starts out as an unwilling heroine until her family are threatened (her younger, innocent brother who gets dragged into the fight and her mother who mentally "checked out" after losing someone she loves in a mine building collapse) but has none of the likeability of Katniss. 

Katrina, on the other hand, I found curious and compelling. She's a child warrior of sorts, dark and sophisticated, fiery and cool, but actually vulnerable under the dark hair and striking clothes. But she wasn't really in the book enough to salvage it. That's something I found a lot in this book, actually - I'd be fascinated by a character, like Militiaman Brent, but they'd barely show up. 

And what of Jeremy, the gorgeous but sweet love interest with "boxy, Clark Kent glasses"? Well... he was kind of dull. He kept so many secrets from Mia and after a few of the things he does to her, I couldn't bring myself to love him the way Mia inexplicably and practically unquestionably does. He's not the only character with strange methods, either. Kale claims to want to recruit Mia, but instead of treating her with respect he just aims for force. She agrees to help and in return he... attacks her? Really? 

Having said that, I did read the book til the very end. The climax was good, if not amazing, and there were a few laughs to be had. There was nothing hugely exciting about Bosworth's post-apocalyptic vision except the Rove, though I did really like that idea (not telling what it is, though!) and the poetry that links to it. 

I did enjoy reading this book. But I probably won't read it again anytime soon. 

Teaser quote: People probably wondered if I had scales under my clothes. Nope, just Lichtenberg figures. 

Try this if you liked 'Blood Red Road' by Moira Young or 'Maze Runner' by James Dashner.

Read and Re-Read - Smoulder

This is where I'll show books I read over and over again, because I just love them!
(Also known as 'The Space Between' outside the UK)
Brenna Yovanoff
10 / 10

From the blurb: Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time - until her brother Obie is kidnapped, and Daphne realises she may be partly responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. 
With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie's whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be. 

The mythology in this book is so in-depth and fascinating - there's a whole host of demons and angels and somewhere in between lies Daphne. Lilith is given a new lease of life; she's a real person under all the evil and though she is often cruel and careless, she truly cares for both Daphne and Obie. It's also interesting to see Brenna Yovanoff's museum of human artifacts, which mundane items are held up to show human life, and her terminal - it's the only way to travel from Pandemonium to Earth, and is laid out much like the London Underground. 

Once Daphne's on Earth, she's hilariously clueless. Instead of being slapstick, though, it's curious and terrifying. Despite being so dangerous, she is utterly naive and I felt a need to take her hand and lead her through our world. It's great to see the world through her eyes, the eyes of someone who can see all the beauty and horror and hope we've grown accustomed to. 

But what really steals the show in this book is the relationship between Daphne and Truman. It's breathtakingly fragile and they're both such destructive people. I found myself rooting for them from the beginning, wanting them to join in a crash of light and fireworks and excitement. They start in a spiralling descent, though, each unwilling to rely on the other, instead preferring to fall apart. There are so many beautiful moments between them, and each one feels breakable and brief. 

Teaser quote: I pull back the shower curtain and take Truman's hand. When I close the curtain around us, he raises his eyebrows but doesn't say anything. Behind the curtain, everything feels safer, like the world is very small.
We stand facing each other in the bathtub and he watches me intently. Moves his lips but no sound comes out. He raises his hands and mine rise to meet them, fingers tangling. Here is the best - the realest thing of my life and I don't know how to let him touch me. It scares me, how much I want things. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Immortal Rules

Julie Kagawa
6 / 10

From the blurb: In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity. She must decide what - and who - are worth dying for. 

My vampire creator told me this: 'Sometime in your life, Allison Sekemoto, you will kill a human being. The question is not if it will happen, but when. Do you understand?' I didn't then, not really. I do now.

I wanted so much to love this book. I've heard nothing but rave reviews about this book. It has a feisty heroine, an adorable love interest, and severe violence. What's not to love? 

But it was so slow to warm up. It took 194 pages for what I felt was the set-up to end, and the really meaty middle section to begin. Those first 194 pages were filled with boring routines, chunks of information about a world Allison was about to leave behind, and characters who were well-rounded, but needlessly active. 

However, once I got past that section, I really began to enjoy this book. As I said, Allison is a strong protagonist; she's angry and handy with a katana, and has a sense of honour and loyalty. Also, she's a survivalist. Once she accepts that becoming a vampire, the very thing she hates the most, was the only way to survive, there's no angsty self-loathing. The relationship between her and Zeke, a human boy, is beautifully self destructive and I loved watching it unfold (That sounds awful when I read it back, but you know what I mean!). Zeke is the highlight of this book, for me. He's smart enough to look assured on the outside, but behind all that are the introspective questions you'd expect from a young adult. He's stoic and brave, loyal to a fault, and generally a good guy. 

The action is fantastic, once it finally gets going. It's fast paced and tense, and kept me up well past my bedtime! Plus it didn't fall into the trap of playing safe. I never knew what would happen next, who would die. Nobody was to be taken for granted, not even the lovely little Caleb. And Jebbediah, the leader of their ragtag family, was impossible to read. Could we trust him, and did we want to? (Well, I didn't want to. I didn't like him. But I enjoyed not liking him!) 

Overall, not a bad book. I did enjoy reading it - I just hope that the sequel won't have the same long-winded build up!

Teaser quote: 'Be warned,' he said in a low voice, 'even if I turn you now, there is still a chance for you to rise as a rabid. But I will not leave you,' he promised in an even softer voice. 'I will stay with you until the transformation, whatever it may be, is complete.' 

Try this if you liked Julie Kagawa's 'Iron Fey' series, or Andrew Fukuda's 'The Hunt'.