Wednesday, 6 June 2018

#49 After the End

After The End by Amy Plum

This book came out in 2014 so i'm a tiny bit late jumping on the bandwagon considering its been on my TBR for 4 years! Im a sucker for a post apocalyptic/dystopian type book. I think 4 years ago i would have enjoyed it a lot more but it was still pretty good!

Ok, so this story follows both Juneau and Miles in inter-changing chapters which i usually enjoy as its always nice to have more than one voice especially in YA.

Juneau as the name would suggest is from the wilderness of Alaska where she lives with her 'clan', shes been kept in a small clan under the pretence that the world is in ruins after world war 3 and there is no civilisation other than there own. Juneau has been raised to believe that some members of her clan Juneau included can 'read' and 'conjure' which is basically the ability to perform spiritual magic.

Miles in true YA contrast form lives a privileged life in L.A. where he is destined for Yale, his father is the owner of a large pharmaceutical firm  that believe a new drug for anti ageing exists within a clan in Alaska, they set out to hunt down Juneau as they believe she is the key to this new drug that will potentially make them millions.

Juneau and Miles cross paths when Miles decides to try and steal Juneau to impress his father but as he meets her and then begins travelling with her he is convinced that his father is wrong about her and that she is not the girl he is looking for. Throughout the story Juneau unravels a lot of lies about her clan and the world she thought she knew which conflicts her thoughts. Who should she believe? Should she continue her quest to find her kidnapped clan?

I didnt realise that this book was part of a duology, i realised towards the end when the story was no where near resolved. I cant see what more will happen that would warrant a whole other book but i will pick it up at some point to satisfy my curiosity.

My main criticism of this book is that there was no need for the romance between Juneau and Miles, there arent enough YA books with no romance element in my opinion. It didnt add anything to the story really and took it down a star rating.

Monday, 21 May 2018

#48 Our Dark Duet

Our Dark Duet by V.E. Schwab

This is the sequel and final part of the 'Monsters of Verity' duology. These 2 books have completed restored my faith in YA, there was a few months there when i thought oh god, im too old for this now but after reading these 2 beauties ive realised that im not too old for YA when its done right!

I haven't liked any of Victoria Scwabs writing since i read Viscous... I know her 'Shades of Magic' books were massively popular and i did read this first one but it just wasnt for me every chapter felt like an absolute chore and i just couldnt get into it at all even though id pre-ordered it and it was my most anticipated read of that year (sorry for the tangent) but this book blew my mind, it was paranormal which im normally verrrrrry sketchy about but i managed to read both books in the duology and simply put, i loved them!

Our Dark Duet picks up roughly 6 months from where This Savage Song leaves off. August has joined the FTF to somewhat make up for the loss of Leo and Kate has become a monster hunter in a different territory after leaving Verity. Kate makes a few blah new friends that seem to be a big part of the story up until half way through and then you never hear about any of them again... its a good thing i didnt get attached to any of them! Augusts storyline is a bit more complex, he no longer has the desire to be human and has instead imbraced being a monster. He spends all his time hunting and trying to make Verity a better place by ridding it of the sinners.

The premise of this sequel is that SPOILER ALERT Sloan is alive and out for revenge and that there is a new monster that seemingly is impossible to catch and makes humans turn violent towards each other. There is also another monster that Kate created at the ending of the first book called Alice and she basically follows Sloan around like a lost puppy. She wants both Kate and August dead.

Normally im not a massive fan of sequels and i thought that This Savage Song ended like a stand alone, it cleared everything up nicely so i had no idea where this story would go but it surprised me! it was actually really good and a very worthy sequel. What i loved most about the first book was that it was a YA with NO romance which literally never happens! There was a brief moment in this book where i thought ohhhh godddd shes making it into a romance but luckily for me it was only 1 page of the 400 odd page book.

All in all very enjoyable and it has reminded me why i love Scwabs writing so much. One bad series does not and will not put me off any of her future work :)

Monday, 14 May 2018

#47 Illuminae

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This isn't my usual go to genre or book generally, its the sort of thing i would have picked up and enjoyed in my early 20's but ive heard so much about this trilogy? so i thought why not! The cover art is very pretty which made it a very easy decision to buy a physical copy as lately ive been trying to read more kindle versions of books to save space

Right, so this story is a sort of sci-fi apocalyptic romance YA mash. At the very beginning of the story the protagonists Kady and Ezra a teen couple who have just split up are attacked by a war ship run by the corporation Bei tech and they must escape together to safety.

The unique thing about this book is that its told in a series of instant message logs, emails, memos, announcements etc. I enjoyed this style and layout as it broke up the story really well especially as the book is just short of 600 pages. If this was written in the usual YA novel  style i probably wouldn't have got through it as its a tiny bit generic.

There was a few twists and some enjoyable villains, most notably Aidan who is the computer artificial intelligence system. Aidans monologues were very well written and i enjoyed the dry humour of it. Kady and Ezra were a bit meh as characters and Kady was portrayed as your typical pink haired heroine that is pretty bad ass which is fairly standard in YA these days (and which i actually dont mind, girl power) whereas Ezra is a love sick puppy who would do anything for Kady (zzzZZZ) he had little to no substance at all and was generally quite difficult to like or even care about. There wasnt very many other notable characters really... So if you didnt like Kady or Ezra you were pretty screwed.

All in all it wasnt bad. A fairly average sci-fi YA book, they only thing that saved it for me was the layout which i found to be fairly unique. Im not sure if i would read the second or third book. Possibly but id probably have to nap them from the library as im not interested enough to splash any cash for them.

Friday, 11 May 2018

#46 This Savage Song

This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab

where do i even begin with this? It was amazing! It was back to the V.E. Schwab that i know and love and none of this Darker Shade of Magic crap. 

This book follows the story of August and Kate in a weird dystopian Romeo and Juliet like vibe. August is a monster and Kate is a human, they live on opposite sides of the city of Verity which currently have a truce meaning no war or violence. 

There are 3 types of monsters the violent harrowing Corsai, the blood draining malicious Malchai and the soul stealing Sunai. There are only 3 known Sunai in all of Verity, August being the youngest and his sister and brother making up the other 2. 

Kate's father Harker runs the north side of the city whereas Flynn who is Augusts human father runs the south side. Kate is desperate to prove to her father that she has his blood running through her veins and that she is a worthy successor. 

August is desperate to help his father maintain the truce and order within the south side and although he has been hidden for years and not allowed to leave the safety of their walled compound he has become restless and his need to want to help the way his older brother Leo does is too great. When his father plans for August to attend the local school in Verity Colton ultimately to spy on Kate and to get close to her so that they can potentially use her as leverage if the truce breaks.
This plot is obviously not the most original in the world of YA but the writing is outstanding! The characters are so diverse and life like you can imagine them all in your head. This would make an excellent movie (if it was done right)

One of the main high points for me was there was no romance at all! how unusual is that in YA, i applaud you Victoria! 

Im very much looking forward to reading the next book. I had no idea this was a duology as this book ended like a stand alone and didn't leave many loose ends which strangely makes me even more intrigued as to where the story will go next!

Watch this space! 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

#45 All the light we cannot see

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I read somewhere that it took the author 10 years to finish this story so my expectations were pretty high, this did not disappoint. I loved it. The writing style is so beautiful. The way the stories weave into each other is so masterfully done. The author manages to make you care about every single character.

The story is set in both Germany and France during the midst of world war ll. In Germany we follow the story of a young boy, Werner is a gifted child who is enlisted into the Hitler youth and sent to fight a war that he does not believe in. As a child he was an orphan who lived in a childrens home with his younger sister, Jutta. He spends his days fixing radios and building technology with spare parts until at the age of 13 he is sent away.

Marie-Laure lives in France and is a young blind girl. She lives with her father whom she is dependant on. Her father builds her mini models of the streets so she can learn to navigate unaided through the streets. When the Germans invade Paris Marie-Laure and her father are forced to flee to Saint Malo where they seek the shelter of her great uncle Etienne. Etienne is a 60 year old agoraphobic who is affected really badly from PTSD. When Marie-Laures father is arrested and moved to Germany she is left in the care of her great uncle and his house keeper, Madame Manec. Etienne owns one of the last remaining radios in France and broadcasts secret messages for the resistance.

When Werner hears Etienne and Marie-Laure's broadcasts he makes the decision to abadon his post and try to rescue them.

The story follows the lives of several characters throughout time, the plot ranges from when Marie-Laure and Werner are six until present day. There is a lot of sadness in this story and at times it can be a difficult read.

Monday, 5 June 2017

#44 Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris

Behind Closed Doors is a psychological thriller that follows the story of married couple Jack and Grace Angel. They appear to be the perfect couple to all their friends but they dont know what is happening behind closed doors.

Jack and Grace meet in the park by chance one Sunday afternoon. Grace is on a day out with her seventeen year old sister Millie who has Downs Syndrome. No man has ever accepted Millie as a big part of Graces life which has always stopped her from having long term and serious relationships. Graces and Millies parents did not want to carry on with the pregnancy when they found out that Millie would have Downs Syndrome so Grace became her primary carer when she refused to let her mother abort the pregnancy. Millie attends a boarding school but will be released into Graces care on her eighteenth birthday.

When Jack is completely accepting of Millie, Grace believes she has found the perfect man. After introducing him to her parents they find themselves engaged and planning a wedding. On their wedding night everything changes as Jack disappears and ignores all of Graces calls and texts. The next day as they are due to travel to Thailand for their honeymoon Jack shows a different side of his character. He steals Graces passport and purse and informs her that she will basically be living as his prisoner. He informs the staff at the hotel that she is mentally ill and suffers from paranoia and anxiety so any time she tries to escape the staff believe it to be down to her illnesses.

When they return from Thailand she is confined to the house that has bars on the windows and every door is locked. Grace is kept in a small room with an en suite. She has no tv, books or anything to entertain her. Jack dictates what she wears, says and does. They hold dinner parties in which Grace must act like the perfect wife and play into their facade of being the perfect couple.

Grace complies to Jacks wishes as he blackmails Grace with her sister Millie. Firstly by not allowing her to visit her at boarding school and also by threatening to scare Millie and lock her in the basement when she comes to live with them when she is eighteen. As Grace is so attached to Millie she will bow down to Jacks wishes in order to protect Millie.

The most compelling thing about this story is that it is so realistic! As you are reading you cant help but think that this could happen in real life and it is almost sickening. Parts of this story actually scared me and Jack as an antagonist is so believable. Grace is a slightly annoying character but she is also very believable.

I have often heard this compared to Gone Girl but they arent similar at all and i found this story to more realistic than Gone Girl although i ended up rating both 4 stars. This is a must read if you enjoy thrillers.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

#43 Lion

Lion by Saroo Brierley

Lion is the true story of how 5 year old Saroo gets lost in India and is ultimately adopted by an Australian couple and moved across the world, the book follows his journey as he tries to get back to his family 25 years later. 

Im a sucker for a true story, especially one that can make me weep like a little girl. This made me happy in parts and sad in others, it really was a roller coaster of emotions! I felt so immersed in the story and that doesnt happen to me very often. 

Saroo comes from an extremley poor family in India, his father left him and his siblings for another woman meaning his mother worked long hours 6 days a week. His two older brothers also went out doing odd jobs and scavaging for food so that Saroo and his little sister could eat. One night Saroo's older brother is going out to clean at the train station to earn a little money and Saroo decides that he wants to go too. As his older brother goes off to work leaving Saroo sleeping on a bench, when he doesnt return Saroo is left stranded with no way of getting home. Saroo doesnt know his last name or the town that he lives he is lost with no way of getting back. He boards the nearest train and gets stuck  in the carriage, he then travels half way across India.

This story isnt for the faint hearted, Saroo lives on the streets for several months before he ends up in the childrens home that leads to his adoption. He faces many issues whilst living on the streets, he is constantly hungry and scared whilst searching for a safe place to sleep. I often found myself welling up whilst reading. 

When Saroo is finally adopted his new parents move him to their home in Australia where he must learn English and adapt to a western way of life. He slowly begins to tell his new parents his story and they encourage him to draw maps of his hometown and write down all his memories so he is unable to forget. Saroo adapts well to his new Australian life and doesnt begin his search for his family and hometown until he is in his twenties with the help of Google  Earth he spends months trawling through the remote countryside of India searching for the train station that he once boarded a train which took him far away from home.

When he finally after months of searching finds what he believes to be his home he makes the decision to travel there to be sure and to also find his mother and siblings. Upon arriving in India he realises that he was correct and he had found his hometown. His mother had moved home but through a chance encounter with a man that spoke good English he was soon reunited with his mother. He was later reunited with his older brother and younger sister. He had many unanswered questions regarding why his brother hadnt come back for him the night he got lost but sadly his brother was involved in an accident that same night and had died. This made me cry more than any other part of the story. 

As Saroo reconnects with his family he also tells them many stories of his new family and soon he introduces the two families.

This is such a heart warming page turning story. It reads as fiction as you cannot fathom that such a story is true and that it actually happened to a 5 year old who managed to survive. The happy ending is extremely

uplifting and you are left feeling euphoric by the end of the story.