Sunday, 26 February 2012

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, "strange" and "impossible "have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?
For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.
Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

 Mother of a Siren, this book was so flipping brilliant! But then again, why do I sound so surprised? I've been reading this series for over a year and I still freak out like a five year old on Christmas day when I hear a new novel is coming out. And to be honest, I preordered this book back in, what, September? And I've only just got around to reading it, even though it is my second favourite series - ever (after Harry Potter, naturally, but before The Hunger Games). I think part of the reason I had put-off reading it for ages was the fact that everything is going downhill for Casters and Mortals alike, and I KNEW something bad had to happen; and it did, and at the end, I was a glass case of emotion (aka, literally bawling my eyes out). I think both Garcia and Stohl make a great writing pair, and their characterization and plots are actually fantastic. First, the characters - it is rare that I like all the characters, but heck, I totally do - and I actually have Lena Duchannes on my 'Inspirational People' list on Facebook (yes, I know that's incredibly sad, but I think she's amazing). I adore all the characters, from Ridley and Macon, right over to John and Mrs Lincoln. And the whole plot, despite being supernatural, is actually quite believable in some respects - what with Lena just wanting to be treated like a normal girl, and with the bullying, and the constant hopes and fears of teenagers, no matter whether they are part-Incubus, Caster, or Mortal. And I beg you; if you have not read this series, get down to your nearest bookstore and buy Beautiful Creatures - believe me when I say that from the first page, you are hooked. It is a breathtaking story, and I am eagerly awaiting the next installment into Lena and Ethan's thrilling journey.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Willow by Julia Hoban

Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen year- old Willow's parents died in a horrible car accident. Willow was driving. Now her older brother barely speaks to her, her new classmates know her as the killer orphan girl, and Willow is blocking the pain by secretly cutting herself. But when one boy - one sensitive, soulful boy - discovers Willow's secret, it sparks an intense relationship that turns the "safe" world Willow has created for herself upside down.

 I've had this book on my shelf for ages, so when I finally picked it up I was a bit reserved at first - but after a while, I was completely hooked! Hoban writes the book in the present tense, which is a bit confusing to begin with, but I think it was a effective because it makes the reader feel that they are going through the story along with Willow. And actually, I really enjoyed it. I loved both of the main characters, and found I could relate to each of them equally - which I think everyone can. Willow represents fears and the bad light that people can see themselves in - and Guy represents things getting better. I think the book isn't just about death, love and self-harm - I think it's about the fact that although you can't change the past, you can improve things for the future. And even though it does appear to be quite a depressive book at first, towards the end it is actually quite happy, and you're left feeling quite satisfied with the overall ending. I would have liked a bit more interaction to go on between Guy and Willow, as well as with Willow and Markie. But apart from that, I thoroughly enjoyed this, and recommend it to anyone who likes real-life stories that aren't sugarcoated.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Tempest by Julie Cross

The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.
That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.
Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.
But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.
Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

 So it did take me a couple of days to thoroughly get into this book, but trust me: once you get within the first 100 pages, you are hooked! Admittedly, it was a bit confusing at the beginning, especially since Jackson's abilities are just kind of thrown at you with no explaination. But as the novel progresses, you learn more about his background, and I actually think the whole plot is absolutely brilliant! At first, I thought it was just about time travel and teenage relationships, but it's also about learning how to cope with things you can't change and a sort of coming of age. And for once, I actually loved all of the main characters - Jackson is witty, but not enough to be arrogant and irritating - and Holly can be a bit of a drama queen at times, but mostly she is a strong independant girl who actually puts up with a lot from the people around her - which a lot of teenage girls can relate to, I find. Although a boy is the main character, I have to say that I'd actually recommend this book for girls, because even though there is a bit of blood and violence, at the end of the day it is mainly a romance novel. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and a lot of the time I found myself reading late into the night and going "I will go to bed at the end of this chapter" and then I get to the end of the chapter and there is a massive cliffhanger, so I'm like "Okay, maybe to the next chapter..." and so on. Once you're hooked, you are addicted, and I cannot wait for the sequel to this amazing series.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (#10)

'Waiting on Wednesday' is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

 I haven't done one of these in ages! Okay, so this week I am awaiting Thumped by Megan McCafferty.

Okay, so last week I finished reading the first in the series, Bumped, and I have been wanting to post this ever since! If you've read my review, you'll know that I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, and the cliff hanger has left me biting my nails on the edge! I really want to find out what becomes of Melody and Harmony, Ram, Jondoe and Zen, as well as their contracts and relationships. However, the Goodreads synopsis is confusing me:

It’s been thirty-five weeks since twin sisters Harmony and Melody went their separate ways. And now their story has become irresistible: twins separated at birth, each due to deliver twins…on the same day!

Married to Ram and living in Goodside, Harmony spends her time trying to fit back into the community she once believed in. But she can’t forget about Jondoe, the guy she fell for under the strangest of circumstances.

To her adoring fans, Melody has achieved everything: a major contract and a coupling with the hottest bump prospect around. But this image is costing her the one guy she really wants. 

 Sort of spoiler here, but I didn't think Melody had had sex with how can she be pregnant? I swear I'm missing something. Anyway! I am eagerly awaiting this novel, and I can't wait until it's published: roll on 24th April!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Blood Ties by Sophie McKenzie

When Theo discovers the father he thought died when he was a baby is still alive, he's determined to find him. The clues lead him to the lonely Rachel, who has problems of her own, including parents who compare her unfavourably to her long-dead sister.

But when Rachel and Theo are attacked by men from RAGE - the Righteous Army against Genetic Engineering - at Rachel's school disco, they are rescued by strangers and taken to meet a mysterious figure. There, they both make some startling discoveries about their identities, which will affect their past, present, and future in dramatic and life-altering ways.

At first, I was a bit apprehensive of this novel, after reading The Medusa Project and being thoroughly  disappointed. But I absolutely loved this book, and it definitely lived up to the expectations my friend's built it up to be. Like the Medusa Project, the main characters were used for experiments while their mother's were pregnant with them - but unlike the MP, the plot and characters had more depth to them, and I honestly didn't expect any of the plot twists. For once, I adored both of the main characters - they were both incredibly realistic - like any other person you would pass by on the street. I especially loved the character of Rachel - the reader could easily relate to her in so many different ways; from her insecurities about her body, to being bullied, to being felt like you're constantly compared to someone else who you think is better than you. But I loved Theo too - I think the fact that girls can relate with Rachel and that boys can relate to Theo makes the book accessible to both genders - because it isn't just based on love and relationships: it's about friendships, secrets, and a certain coming of age. This novel is literally un-put-downable, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who loves thrillers and action novels. Hopefully I'll be able to require the next in the series soon!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.
Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody's doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.
Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.
When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls' lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common. 

At the beginning, I thought this book wouldn't be that great - that it was just about two sisters, one who is an athiest and who wants to be a Surogette, and the other who is a strong Christian and who thinks it's sinful to do such things. But as I read on, I realized that the plot was so much thicker than that, and I honestly did not guess half of what the plot would be. McCafferty is a really good YA author, and the way she created this futuristic world is actually pretty believeable. I loved the different language she came up with to match the change in time - like using terminated as an emotion. I also liked the way she characterized both the characters of Melody and Harmony - yes, the names are a total cliche, but it's pretty cute and it suits them. However, Harmony did frustrate me a lot - I know her background story was that she'd never known anything outside her Church, and that everything was new to her - but she was just so dependant upon everyone! It's like she needed Melody's help with pouring cereal onto her cornflakes. I also thought the majority of her storyline was unbelievable - especially the parts including Jondoe. Jondoe frustrated me too. But I did love Melody and Zen - I thought they were really witty and interesting characters. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes Amy Kathleen Ryan's Glow, and Ally Condie's Matched, and I am keenly awaiting the next installment to this series.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Oh my stars. As many of you may know, John Green is probably my favourite author, and I preordered this book yonks ago, and have been waiting for it ever since! And let me tell you now; that wait was definitely world it! This book is probably his best yet, even though I personally think it differs from his other novels - mainly because he is telling the story through his female main character, not through the male. And I think he did that brilliantly - Hazel was incredibly realistic, and while you could tell she was a girl, she wasn't girly enough for you to want to slap her. She was down to Earth, and was the kind of person we all aspire to be - and she was battling with cancer. Now while I don't know much about it myself, from what I read, Green got the overall feeling of it accurate - but I wouldn't describe this as a cancer book. For me, it was a book that teaches you to expect the unexpected, and to make the most of what time you've got, and to appreciate the people in life that you meet along the way. I also loved the character of Augustus - Green made him so witty that it had me crying in laughter - but he also made him so serious and real that in the end I was crying with tears and pretty much managed to freak my mum and gran out. Hazel, Gus and Isaac were all just so inspirational, despite being ficticious - but out there, there are other people who are going through the same things that they did, and even if I don't know who every one is, I have even more respect for them now than I did before.

I have also become even more aware of This Star Won't Go Out, a foundation created by the Earl family to help families deal with cancer, after Esther Earl (the nerdfighter TFiOS is dedicated to) passed away in 2010. And even though I know this is mainly a book blog, can I just please ask anyone reading this for two minutes of your time to read Esther's story, and to perhaps donate some money to the foundation? And if you can't, then at least this year, on August 25th, drink a glass of orange juice and think of Esther - and not just her, but also Hazel and Gus and Isaac and anyone and everyone in the world battling with cancer. Because they are our heroes - no, they don't kick a football around a field or bring out a bestselling album - but they battle day-in-day-out to stay alive, even when it may be easier to give up. And I think that for as long as I live, I will not forget about reading this book and how it has literally changed my life.

Even if this doesn't sound like something you would read, I will you to give it a chance, because Green is such a talented author, and every book of his I have read has changed me for the better, in at least some way. And if a book can have so much good impact, surely it's got to be bloomin' amazing? (And that it is, if you haven't picked that up from the rest of the review.) Even though it is fresh off the shelves, I am already awaiting what masterpiece Green will be publishing yet, but I'm afraid I will probably have to wait for quite a few years. Ah well, I suppose I'll just have to reread this a million times.

(Also *slight spoiler alert* An Imperial Afflication is NOT REAL. I checked. But it should be. #JohnIfYoureReadingThisPleaseTakeNote )

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Book of the Month: January

This month I have read so many great books, and while there was something special in each one of them, there is no doubt in my mind when I say my book of the month is Looking For Alaska by John Green.

I read this book for the first time about a year ago, and I love it just as much now as I did then. I mean, I even have little quotes underlined and circled in Sharpie in it. It changed my whole perspective on life, and for that, I urge anyone who hasn't read it to click here (or here if you're not in the UK) and buy it! And for those who have read it? Read it again! This book is for everyone and anyone, and even if you read the sypnosis and decide it isn't your thing, you should still give it a try, because it is genuinely amazing.