Book Review: Skinny by Ibi Kaslik

Tuesday 29 October 2013

A Dreadful Murder: The Mysterious Death of Caroline LuardSkinny
Ibi Kaslik
Genre(s): young adult, realistic fiction, contemporary
Published: December 26th 2007
Pages: 244
Rating: 3 stars

Holly’s older sister, Giselle, is self-destructing. Haunted by her love-deprived relationship with her late father, this once strong role model and medical student, is gripped by anorexia. Holly, a track star, struggles to keep her own life in balance while coping with the mental and physical deterioration of her beloved sister. Together, they can feel themselves slipping and are holding on for dear life. 

Skinny is not what I expected.

Holly and Giselle's stories were good, well developed and fairly believable  The book itself was well written and rather enjoyable once I started reading. But it took me forever to get through and I just felt... disappointed.

The main problem I had with it was, together, the stories didn't really go. I liked reading about Giselle and Holly separately, but together they annoyed me. 

I also found the title a little misleading, as even though Giselle does talk about her eating disorder, I felt like it wasn't the main focus of the story and the title, Skinny, makes you think it is. Although, it is mentioned and brought up quite a bit in the second part of the book, you just have to get through all the other, unrelated stuff in the first part.

It's not that Skinny is a bad book, or that I didn't like it, it's that I don't think I was in the right place personally as I was reading it. Maybe I'll revisit it in the future and get more from it, but for now, I'm just a little let down.

What's Next? #3

Thursday 17 October 2013

What's Next?, a weekly meme hosted by Icey Books, is a chance for readers to make a list of 3-5 to be read books that they can't choose from and have their readers come in and vote for which they want to see read next.

The Fellowship of the Ring
J.R.R Tolkein
Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered to him all the Rings of Power – the means by which he intends to rule Middle-earth. All he lacks in his plans for dominion is the One Ring – the ring that rules them all – which has fallen into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.

In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.

Lauren Kate
Hell on earth.

That's what it's like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel.

It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts - immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students: Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.

At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows to her previous lives. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn't told her everything. He's hiding something - something dangerous.
What if Daniel's version of the past isn't actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else?

Clockwork Prince
Cassandra Clare
In magical Victorian London, orphan Tessa found safety with the Shadowhunters, until traitors betray her to the Magister. He wants to marry her, but so do self-destructive Will and fiercely devoted Jem. Mage Magnus Bane returns to help them. Secrets to her parentage lie with the mist-shrouded Yorkshire Institute's aged manager Alyosius Starkweather.

Book Review: A Dreadful Murder: The Mysterious Death of Caroline Luard by Minette Walters

Wednesday 16 October 2013

A Dreadful Murder: The Mysterious Death of Caroline LuardA Dreadful Murder: The Mysterious Death of Caroline Luard
Minette Walters
Genre(s): mystery, crime, historical fiction
Published: January 2013
Pages: 125
Rating: 3 stars

A body is found in the woods . . .
Based on the true story of the shocking murder of Mrs Caroline Luard, which took place in Kent in August 1908.

Caroline Luard is shot dead in broad daylight in the grounds of a large country estate. With few clues available, her husband soon becomes the suspect . . . But is he guilty?

For such a quick read, I enjoyed this book and wasn't left wanting more at the end.

Things were wrapped up nicely, even though the ending was left open for readers to puzzle over, but no doubt that's how the real murder case was left. No killer was found, so no conclusions could be made. The suspects and motives included in this were all plausible, and I found myself agreeing with the detectives on more than one occasion. The pacing was good, too. Things didn't happen so fast you couldn't fully understand them, which is nice because I find a lot of shorter books tend to be rushed and below average.

A Dreadful Murder was a very quick, very simple but overall very intriguing read.

Book Haul: Birthday Edition

Happy 17th birthday to myself!

In case that wasn't obvious enough, today's my birthday and, naturally, I got some books. So, instead of my typical Wondrous Words Wednesday post, this week I am bringing you a book haul.

I'm really excited to read all of these! Especially Mark of Athena, as I've been waiting the matching cover to be available in paperback since January, and now House of Hades has been released, I can finally try and catch up. I do kind of wish I'd bought The Hobbit as well as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, just so I have everything in that world (because I'm sure I'll enjoy it, I mean, I adored A Song of Ice and Fire) but it was a lot more expensive than I would have thought.

Either way, I'm happy with my purchases and I can't wait to read all of them!

Book Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Thirteen Reasons WhyClockwork Angel
Cassandra Clare
Genre(s): young adult, fantasy, steampunk
Published: June 14th 2011
Pages: 482
Rating: 4 stars

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Friendless and hunted, Tessa seeks refuge with the Shadowhunters, a band of warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. Drawn ever deeper into their world, she finds herself fascinated by — and torn between — two best friends and quickly realizes that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

Much like City of BonesClockwork Angel didn't disappoint me but it also didn't live up to all the hype. 

I found things to be a lot more explained in this book, which was really nice because the terminology was the thing I struggled most with when reading City of Bones. I think it's because Tessa gets her hands on a copy of the Shadowhunter's Codex, the book that explains everything about the Nephilim. Either way, I found myself able enjoy reading more as I could actually understand things. 

The pacing still needs a bit of work, and (again) I feel that a lot of scenes could have been cut and the book still make sense. There was a lot of unnecessary filler parts that dragged and this book islong, so that was less than desirable. But then, I like things to be condensed and don't like waiting around for the action. This book came across as a whole lot of nothing for about 300 pages and then a whole lot of someone for the last 100 or so. I just don't understand why it needed so many pages, you know?

The characters weren't bad though, and unlike with City of Bones, I do have a favourite this time. Sophie. She was a breath of fresh air for me in the shadowhunter world and her personality and back story drew me in. Although, I do feel that a lot of the back stories are a bit far-fetched and unbelievable, no matter how well they seem to have been pulled off (Jem's was the perfect example). They were all still a little one dimensional (the bad guys are crafty and all out bad, the protagonist is clueless yet strong, the bratty girl is stuck up, you get the picture) and I couldn't help but feel that I'd met them all before.... In City of Bones. I just felt that Tessa was filling Clary's shoes and William Jace's and it was rather annoying. 

I did enjoy the plot, though. Throughout the whole book I was saying to myself 'what has Tessa's angel necklace got to do with anything?' Because you can't call a book Clockwork Angel, include a clockwork angel necklace and then not have it do anything. The whole clockwork (do I want to say clockwork any more?) thing was interesting, and I didn't see the twist coming at the end with the army invading the Institute and Nate's involvement, so that was a nice surprise. 

Overall, I did enjoy this book. Perhaps a little more than I enjoyed City of Bones because I do love the Victorians (even though it lacked the feel of being set in Victorian England, which I was rather disappointed by). But whatever. I will definitely be completing the trilogy at some point, but knowing me, it won't be for a couple of months.

Friday Favourites #2

Friday 11 October 2013

Friday Favourites is a weekly meme, hosted by Tressa's Wishful Endings, that focuses on a favourite author, book, series, cover, publisher. Any bookish thing, really. 

Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin
Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

Why this is a favourite
I just... do I really need to explain this one? I feel that whatever I write will end up not doing this book justice, so I'm going to - try and - keep this brief.

What is there not to love about George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series? The answer to that, if you're wondering, is nothing. 

That's right. Nothing.

Game of Thrones, along with all its sequels, is set in a wonderfully crafted world. I don't even want to think about how long it took GRRM to come up with it and finish polishing every last detail, because believe me when I say every last detail has been covered. Things from the country itself and the regions within it to the way society is to the way different languages are spoken have been included and fully developed. 

Not only that, but the characters - the hundreds and hundreds of characters (no joke) - have had so much time and effort and thought put into them. Everyone has their own house, their own loyalties, their own families, their own story, their own motives and agendas, their own way of speaking, their own characteristics and quirks. You instantly have your favourites, and you instantly have your least favourites, but even then, you can't help but quietly root for and love them, even when you probably shouldn't. 

And then there's the actual books. Coming in at 500+ pages each (with A Storm of Swords and A Dance With Dragons being split into two separate 400+ page books), A Song of Ice and Fire is a very daunting series to start. Once you start, though, and immerse yourself in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, you can't put them down. You can't tear yourself away from the story and the characters because the writing is exquisite so, so well done that you just don't want to stop reading

I literally cannot sing enough praise about this series, but when I tend to start, I usually end up talking a lot of nonsense. But it's not nonsense when I say Game of Thrones is a perfect fantasy novel, whether you're just getting into it or have been interested in the genre for quite some time.

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Thursday 10 October 2013

Thirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why
Jay Asher
Genre(s): young adult, contemporary, realistic fiction
Published: June 14th 2011
Pages: 288
Rating: 2 stars

Clay Jensen doesn't want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. Her secrets should be buried with her.

Then Hannah's voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes-- and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his small town. . .

. . .and what he discovers changes his life forever.

From the beginning, I knew I wouldn't really enjoy Thirteen Reasons Why. I didn't know how angry it would make me, though.

While I can deal with switches in POVs and narration, I found it hard to keep up with the constant swaps in Thirteen Reasons Why. I understand why it was done, Hannah was the voice on the tapes and the rest of the book - Clay's POV - was written in first person. But that doesn't mean it wasn't annoying. I understand Clay's thoughts were interspersed within the playing of the tapes to break it up a little, but half the time the thoughts were random, boring and really had no relevance to the tape. Sure, he was talking about the same party they attended, but no one really cares if he forgot his jacket on purpose. This book is about Hannah's reasons for killing herself, not Clay's random and annoying thoughts to interrupt that. Or, that's how I viewed it anyway.

I also can't help but feel that Hannah's reasons were, well... rubbish. Not only that, I find her whole idea just down right cruel. Okay, it sounds interesting, but when it really comes down to it it's nasty. Why would you do something like that? As if people don't feel bad enough abut someone committing suicide, why would you guilt them? Why would you blame them for something that was ultimately your decision because you couldn't handle living any more? Why would you set them up to become public enemies? (That's my personal view, at least.) And going back to her reasons being rubbish, I just feel that they weren't enough for suicide. I feel like they're problems countless teens deal with on a daily basis, and yeah, things can spiral out of control, but suicide? I just feel she overreacted. Like, majorly. It made her sound whiny and like she was just doing it for attention or something. And she didn't even sound like she was suffering in the tapes, I actually thought she sounded like she was enjoying herself. Why would you commit suicide if you weren't suffering? (Whether that's the author not fully portraying her suffering or not, I don't know.) I understand a suicide note or something with an apology, but if you were really desperate and unable to cope, I can't see anyone taking the time to make cassette tapes and pass them around. I just... No. This book rubbed me the wrong way.

While I was reading this I got a very Perks of being a Wallflower-esque vibe and I cannot stand that book. Maybe that's part of the reason why I didn't get on with Thirteen Reasons Why. Or maybe it's just because I found it rather unbelievable.

What's Next? #2

What's Next?, a weekly meme hosted by Icey Books, is a chance for readers to make a list of 3-5 to be read books that they can't choose from and have their readers come in and vote for which they want to see read next.

P.C. and Kristen Cast
Zoey Redbird is the youngest High Priestess in House of Night history and is the only person—vamp or fledgling—that can stop the evil Neferet from raising all kinds of immortal trouble. And she might just have a chance if she wasn’t so busy being dead.Well, dead is too strong a word. Stevie Rae knows she can bring her BFF back from her unscheduled va-cay in the Otherworld. But it’s going to take a lot more than hoping to bring Zoey back. Stevie Rae will have to give up a few secrets of her own...

Marissa Meyer
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

City of Ashes
Cassandra Clare
Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

Wondrous Words Wednesday #2

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Bermuda Onion, where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.

I'm currently reading Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and I haven't really stumbled across any new or exciting words. So, this week, I'll just be sharing some of my all time favourite words.

entwine - wind or twist together
'The statue's base is decorated with the symbol for medicine, two serpents entwined around a staff.'

murmur - a soft, indistinct sound made by a person or group of people speaking quietly or at a distance
'"The train is going to be late," he murmured to his friend.

Book Review: Tempted by P.C. and Kristen Cast

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Hunted (House of Night, #5)Tempted
P.C. and Kristen Cast
Genre(s): young adult, paranormal, fantasy
Published: October 23rd 2009
Pages: 319
Rating: 3 stars

Zoey needs a break after some serious excitement. Sadly, the House of Night school for vampyres doesn’t feature breaks on its curriculum—even for a High Priestess in training and her gang. Plus juggling three guys is no stress reliever, especially when one is a sexy Warrior so into protecting Zoey that he’s sensing her emotions. Wider stresses lurk too, and the dark force in Tulsa’s tunnels is spreading. Could Stevie Rae be responsible for more than a group of misfit fledglings? And Aphrodite’s visions warn Zoey to stay away from the immortal Kalona and his dark allure—but they also show that only Zoey can stop him. She’s not exactly keen to meet up, but if Zoey doesn’t go to Kalona he’ll exact a fiery vengeance on those closest to her. She just has to find the courage to do what’s necessary, or everything that’s important to her will be destroyed.

Tempted is a turning point in the House of Night series.

Things begin to improve, the plot thickens and I found things to start being explained a little more. It's still not a great book by itself, but in House of Night terms, Tempted is amazing.

It may have something to with the introduction of new POVs, or the writer's may have just gained enough experience and been in the House of Night world long enough to get better. Whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain... much.

The new POVs in Tempted really help the reader to understand what's going on in everyone else's heads, and they're refreshing breaks from Zoey's constant babble and 'struggles' (not knowing which boy she likes best? Oh god, the world is ending! But seriously, that is not an issue that needs to be brought up in every. Single. Chapter.). That being said, they are a little confusing in the beginning, as not only does the POV change, but the tense does as well, from first person to third. While that isn't necessarily a bad thing (I don't think I'd have been able to cope with everyone else in first person, thanks a lot, Zoey), as it allows a little more world building and for the reader to see the bigger picture. Things aren't limited to that person's personal views and opinions, which is very nice, as first person can become incredibly boring and repetitive, what with the same thoughts going round and round.

We get insight into Stevie Rae and Aphrodite's minds in Tempted, with Aphrodite's being a lot more interesting, I found. While it was nice to see how conflicted and guilty Stevie Rae feels, the constant use of country idioms got very tiresome and, overall, her perky nature just got annoying. I found Aphrodite to be a lot more relateable, and I really liked how her chapters clued us in about her upbringing and how she feels behind the bitch façade. We also get a brief glimpse of the Raven Mocker, Rephaim's, POV but I found those parts a lot less interesting than everything else. Probably because I think the whole Raven Mocker storyline is too long-winded and dragged out (but I've already up to Destined, so that's probably why). And, at the very end, we even get little snippets from Heath and Stark, which I think helps with the whole 'Zoey has mulitple boyfriends' issue, which is getting so drawn out and annoying. 

Not only do we get new POVs, but there's some actual plot!

Okay, some parts of Tempted are still a bit filler-y, like Huntedwas, but these bits are done to build up to the next big instalment. And boy, is the next instalment big!

The build up is pretty good, even if I feel like the dialogue related to it was rather forced and unnatural. I felt things were laid out a little more clearly than usual, which was a very nice change from things being mentioned briefly and then pushed aside. The pacing was, again, nice. The writing kept things moving at a fair pace, but not so that you were overwhelmed with plot and details and left going 'huh?' over things.

All in all, a good addition to the House of Night series. Still not perfect, but definitely not the worst book in the series.

Book Review: Hunted by P.C. and Kristen Cast

Monday 7 October 2013

Hunted (House of Night, #5)Hunted
P.C. and Kristen Cast
Genre(s): young adult, paranormal, fantasy
Published: January 1st 2009
Pages: 439
Rating: 3 stars

The good news: Zoey’s friends have her back again and Stevie Rae and the red fledglings aren’t Neferet’s secrets any longer. The bad news: Ancient evil with the face of an angel has been let loose—that and various other nasties (whose faces aren’t so angelic). Grandma Redbird is in trouble. Heath is in trouble. The House of Night is in trouble. Okay, let’s face it—Zoey’s whole world is in trouble! But when the trouble comes from a being who appears to be beauty personified, will the world believe it? Especially when only a teenager and a group of misfits are the only ones who really understand the danger he brings. Will Zoey have the strength and wisdom to reveal the truth? Especially when, in the House of Night, the truth is often hard to come by...

The House of Night series isn't great, I have no problem admitting that (or admitting that I don't really enjoy it), but Hunted wasn't bad.

Okay, yeah, it wasn't amazing either, but it wasn't totally awful like some of the other books have been (I'm looking at Marked and Chosen when I say this). It's definitely more filler material than actual plot development, but it was a nice change of pace.

The writing meant that it was incredibly quick to get through, as even though it's not the best or the most complex, it's gripping. Mainly because it's so simple, but also because there is a lot of suspense throughout the series. Unfortunately, a lot of that suspense is ruined if you're particularly good at guessing what happens next. But whatever, Hunted's still a quick read.

A lot of new characters are introduced in Hunted as well, mainly more red fledglings, but the old characters we've come to know (and either love or hate) don't really get any more development. Maybe that's just down to the filler-y nature of this book, or just because they're pretty bland characters, I don't know. What I do know is that it's annoying.

I thought that by re-reading this series I'd not only remember everything for when I come to read books 10 and onwards, I'd come to fall in love with it again. Sadly - or maybe not sadly - I haven't. Perhaps it's because when I first read these books I was only about 13 that I loved them. Now, with a whole bookcase of other books under my belt, I can see the faults. I don't know. I just feel rather disappointed and annoyed with this series.

My point is, Hunted (as well as many other House of Night books) is a quick, easy and enjoyable read if you're a young adult that likes vampires - sorry, vampyres - and bad dialogue. If you don't, it's still a quick, easy read, but it'll most likely end up annoying you or turning into that series that you love to hate.

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Saturday 5 October 2013

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)Cinder
Marissa Meyer
Genre(s): young adult, science fiction, dystopia
Published: January 5th 2012
Pages: 387
Rating: 3 stars

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Cinder is not your average fairy-tale retelling. It's set in a post-WWIV world with cyborgs, aliens and advanced technology, with a distinct lack of singing and helpful woodland creatures.

While that all sounds excellent, I can't help but feel a little unfulfilled. The fairy-tale, I found, was pushed aside almost completely, with only a few hints towards it throughout the book. Shelving that plot did open the story up for Marissa Meyer's new world, though, which ended up being a lot more interesting.

The setting for Cinder is certainly unique and intriguing, but I found it to be a little under-explained for how complex everything is. You're thrown in at the deep end, left floundering about in a wash of terminology that is never fully expanded on, as well as a whole new set up to the planet and how its countries are ruled. With a little more work, New Beijing and the entire Eastern Commonwealth could become a world as well known and loved as The Hunger Games' Panem or Harry Potter's Hogwarts.

Not to worry though, as Cinder herself seems to struggle with keeping up with it all, as the life-saving cyborg surgery she underwent five years ago has wiped her memories. At first, after I learnt that, I was hesitant about her. Having no memories is a perfect set-up for a weak character who falls prey to insta-love and walks right into the bad guy's plans. Fortunately, with Cinder, this wasn't the case. She is independent and strong, and doesn't really have a problem with standing up for herself.

Cinder was a very quick read due to the writing style, which wasn't especially complex, and - while I don't always enjoy science-fiction - I am finding myself wanting to read the sequel, and all the other books in the series.

Friday Favourites #1

Friday 4 October 2013

Friday Favourites is a weekly meme, hosted by Tressa's Wishful Endings, that focuses on a favourite author, book, series, cover, publisher. Any bookish thing, really. 

Laurie Halse Anderson
The first ten lies they tell you in high school. "Speak up for yourself--we want to know what you have to say." From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.

Why this is a favourite
I don't tend to read realistic fiction, purely because I like to escape reality when I read, and a lot of 'realistic' topics put me on edge and I find I'm unable to enjoy the story. I was worried Speak - seeing as it deals with rape - would be hard to get through, not to mention unrealistic and anxiety inducing. 

Fortunately, that wasn't the case. I found Speak to be written well, in an interesting, informal journal style. It allowed the reader to understand Melinda more, I thought, and why she was so reluctant to talk about what had happened and why no one would listen to - or believe - her. 

The subject was handled well, too, in a mature way that wasn't too serious that Speak left the young adult genre and turned into an adult book. I enjoyed that it never went into detail about the rape, but focused more on its after-effects and how Melinda dealt with it. Unlike a lot of realistic (specifically YA realistic) books, the controversial topic was not just thrown in for the sake of writing a controversial book, but to address the topic and highlight just how much of a problem it is.

Long story short: Speak is powerful. If you haven't read, you really should.

Book Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Thursday 3 October 2013

City of Bones
Cassandra Clare
Genre(s): young adult, fantasy
Published: 2007
Pages: 442
Rating: 4 stars

Clary Fray is seeing things: vampires in Brooklyn and werewolves in Manhattan. Irresistibly drawn towards a group of sexy demon hunters, Clary encounters the dark side of New York City - and the dangers of forbidden love.

I actually really enjoyed this book. I don't think it quite lived up to all the hype surrounding it, but it certainly didn't disappoint me like I expected it to. Although, there were a few moments that had me thinking 'this is boring, why is it included?' Fortunately, all the good, action-packed, world-building, character developing bits outweighed the parts (mainly dialogue, I found) that dragged.

I think my favourite things about this book were the characters. As of now, I don't have a favourite - or a least favourite, if I think about it - but I'm sure I will if I decide to carry on the series. And I think I most definitely will be continuing with The Mortal Instruments books.

The thing I found most appealing about the characters was how they weren't one-sided. Okay, yeah, they could all still use a bit of work because they were a tad cliché, but I didn't find them to flat or unrealistic. Simon, for example, stood out to me. I liked that he ended up falling out with Clary at one point, despite the fact that they were best friends, because I feel that it really shows how people behave in reality. He was annoyed with Clary and he let her know by ignoring and snubbing her. You can tell that, even though they work through things, the things that were said and done between them will never truly allow for their old relationship to become fully fixed. I'm not sure that that made much sense, but what I'm trying to say is that they manage to get over themselves, but not in an overly dramatic 'I totally forgive you and want to be BFFs again'.

While I did really enjoy the world and all the fantasy elements that were introduced, I did find it rather difficult to keep track of everything. I was constantly opening up Google to search what a Downworlder is, or what a certain rune looks like, or what a Seraph blade is. You get the idea. I feel like all of that wasn't explained as clearly as it could have been, at that it should have been explained again towards the middle/end of the book to just refresh the reader's memory, because with everything that happened between the initial explanation and the ending (there were a lot of twists and turns, which again, were sometimes hard to get your head around and keep track of) it was easy for all these new words to just slip your mind.

City of Bones ended up being a quick, gripping read for me, but I'm still kind of wondering why it needed to be so long (and why there are so many more books in the series). I get that the world and characters need to be established, but can't it be a little more condensed so only the important, action-packed parts are included? Yeah you need non-actiony parts to balance it out, but not too many. In this case I felt like there were nearly too many, partly because the chapters were so long and the author's writing didn't really captivate me or motivate me to read lots at once (although I did finish this rather quickly). I don't know, I just feel like it's a bit too long, and that scenes could have been cut and it still be a good story.

Overall though, it was a good read. Perfect for any young adult fantasy fans that enjoy the Harry Potter books and the show Supernatural.

What's Next? #1

What's Next?, a weekly meme hosted by Icey Books, is a chance for readers to make a list of 3-5 to be read books that they can't choose from and have their readers come in and vote for which they want to see read next.

13 Reasons Why
Jay Asher
Clay Jensen doesn't want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. Her secrets should be buried with her.

Then Hannah's voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes-- and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his small town. . .

. . .and what he discovers changes his life forever.

Scott Westerfeld
Tally can't wait to turn sixteen and become pretty. Sixteen is the magic number that brings a transformation from repellent Ugly into a stunningly attractive Pretty, and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks, Tally will be there.

But Tally's new friend, Shay, isn't sure she wants to be Pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the Pretty world - and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn Pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

Beautiful Creatures
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
In Ethan Wate's hometown there lies the darkest of secrets . . .
There is a girl. 
Slowly, she pulled the hood from her head. Green eyes, black hair. Lena Duchannes.
There is a curse. 
On the Sixteenth Moon, the Sixteenth Year, the Book will take what it's been promised. And no one can stop it.
In the end, there is a grave. 
Lena and Ethan become bound together by a deep, powerful love. But Lena is cursed and on her sixteenth birthday, her fate will be decided.
Ethan never even saw it coming.

Wondrous Words Wednesday #1

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Bermuda Onion, where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.

I'm currently reading City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, so while I have encountered a lot of  new words - or, rather,  a lot of new terminology - they can't easily be used in everyday conversation. Imagine meeting your friend for lunch and saying 'sorry I'm late, I had to stop to draw an iratze on my arm'. However, that doesn't stop them from being very cool words. These are two of my favourites that I stumbled across: 

stele - a wand like instrument used by Shadowhunters to draw runes on themselves, weapons and clothes
'She looked nervously at Simon, who was very pale, and then at Jace,who had raised the stele in his hand and was moving the tip lightly, in a sort of square shape, across the back of the screen.'

hubris - excessive pride or self-confidence
'"My signature," he said. "I knew it was folly when I did it. An act of hubris..."'

Book Review: Breathe by Cliff McNish

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Cliff McNish
Genre(s): Horror, Paranormal
Published: January 1st 2006
Pages: 232
Rating: 3.5 stars

Jack is used to danger. His asthma has nearly killed him more than once. But his new home has a danger he's never known before -- the spirits of the dead.

The can't breathe.

But in Jack's house, they can chase, hide, scream.

Only Jack can see them. Only he can hear them. And only he can learn their secrets in time to save his mother -- and himself...

I class myself as a horror fan. Not a big one, mind you, but I do enjoy a scary story every now and again. I like being left shaken and wondering if the things from the book are actually real and are coming to get me, even if it means I don't get to sleep for a week.

Maybe it's because I mainly read Stephen King when I read horror, or maybe it's because I'm not as much as a wimp as I first thought, but Breathe wasn't very scary. Quite creepy, yes, but not in the 'I need to put the book down for a while' kind of way.

I haven't read any typical ghost stories, so this was a nice change for me. I enjoyed how Jack, the main character, had a paranormal ability to sense other people through touching the furniture in the house and could talk to spirits. It wasn't overdone, like a lot of paranormal things tend to be, nor was it just done for the sake of it; it actually had a point to it and helped the story develop and unfold.

Speaking of the story, it was definitely interesting and intriguing. I was always wondering what's going to happen next? at the end of each chapter, and I found it a little tricky to try and figure it out. Normally, I'm quite good at figuring plots out (especially in cliché books) but I was pleasantly surprised that guessing Breathe's storyline was more difficult.

I did find the writing to be quite simple and more for children and younger readers than young adult/adults readers. It wasn't necessarily bad, but it did get a little boring at times, what with all the simple sentence openers. (Although that's probably because I've found myself reading more 'adult' books lately, and they have a distinctly different style of writing compared with young adult and young reader books). I think the flow of the writing and the story combined was good, but if the plot hadn't have been so interesting I think I would have enjoyed the writing less. It made for easy reading, though, and I found myself racing through this book and not having to stop and puzzle out the meaning of a word or anything.

Overall, I'd say Breathe fits more into the paranormal and supernatural genres rather than horror (that's not a bad thing! I enjoy paranormal and supernatural stories!), but that it's a quick, interesting read. I didn't find myself totally submerged in the story and right on the edge of my seat, but I don't regret buying and reading it. 

I'd definitely recommend Breathe to any younger readers that are looking for something spooky and trying to break into the horror genre.
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