Monday, 25 May 2015

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Book: Red Queen

Series: Red Queen #1

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 383 Pages

Format: Hardcover

Source: Given to me as a gift

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

Red Queen was not at all what I expected it to be. The word that was thrown around so much was 'epic', and I just didn't get that. I think that Red Queen is a perfect example of how over hyping a book can ruin it for someone. Red Queen came with this label of 'epic' and 'the best dystopian in a long time' and it fell flat for me. That being said, I did like some of it, just not all of it.

I found the plot, while moving very quickly, to be quite lackluster, and a bit too convenient. Everything in the first 3/4 of the book were predictable, and the world wasn't as complex as I think it could have been. It was simply laid out so that no questions were asked - Silvers were high up, and Reds were lowly. And this war? I felt like it overpowered the other elements in the story. All the elements were battling for dominance - the romance, Mare's self discover, blending in, and this war? I don't know. It was like nothing made sense.

Speaking of things that didn't make sense, the ages of the characters. I'm fully aware that this was my fault, and it kind of ruined the beginning of the book for me, but I totally thought that Mare was 16, Maven was 14 (I honestly don't know where my head was at), and Cal was like, 19-20. I went through most of the book being like, WHY IS THIS GIRL WITH A 14 YEAR OLD?! I know. I'm kind of an idiot who obviously wasn't paying attention. But thanks to Victoria Aveyard for clearing up those ages for me over Twitter :P

Mare was probably the only saving grace in this book, and even then, I wasn't on her side 100% of the time. While she was extremely honest, and I could see a lot of myself in her, I still found myself getting irritated at her for a lot of the decisions she made. I mean, I understand that she's got the best intentions at heart, but she was written as smart and cunning and clever, yet she made these stupid and rash decisions that just had me so frustrated. 

And just how convenient was this book? I don't want to spoil anything for anyone, but I was just shaking my head, wishing for a crazy plot twist that would make me rethink everything but nope. She wants to do something? Well, there is this one way and it's crazy convenient and anything will be fine. She doesn't want to be somewhere? it's okay! There's someone here who sees who she really is and is going to make sure she's safe. I'm working myself up even thinking about it.

I felt like this book was, and I know i'm going to get a lot of hate for saying this, but I felt that it was a little juvenile. It didn't know what it was, and I don't think that it knows what it is even now. It felt like too much, and the writing was too simple. Had the writing been more complex or had the book been a bit longer, I think it would have been better.

I'm giving this one a 2 stars because while it was entertaining and fast paced, I thought that it was overhyped and nothing to rave about. It was just Meh for me.

2/5 Stars.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

ARC Review: Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark

Book: Finding Mr. Brightside 

Author: Jay Clark

Publisher: Raincoast Books

Publication Date: March 24th, 2015

Pages: 224 Pages

Format: ARC provided by the publisher

Source: Raincoast Books

Abram and Juliette know each other. They’ve lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don’t really know each other—at least, not until Juliette’s mom and Abram’s dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don’t speak.

Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a few months later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite her to Taco Bell. To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins.

It's not often that I find myself utterly surprised by a contemporary. I picked up Finding Mr. Brightside because I honestly thought that it would be mindless fluff - something to pull me out of my reading slump with its cuteness. But that wasn't the case. This book has such amazing and developed characters, and because of them, I found myself really invested in the story. And when I finished this? I came away thinking that this was so much more than a summer contemporary.

One of the things that got me hooked so early on, was the relationship between Abram and Juliette. They're such great characters that stand up on their own, and have their best aspects enhanced by the other. It's not often that you find characters that fit each other so well, while still maintaining their sense of self, and their individual identities. Juliette and Abram definitely have some things that need to work out on their own, but this book doesn't dwell on that fact. Instead of focusing on the fact that they're both popping pills like it's no one's business, Jay Clark focuses on the fact that they're teenagers, who are just looking for someone who understands. He wrote a book about two weird and outcasted teenagers that fall in love at a Taco Bell. He does so well of not defining these characters by their traumas, but instead, by who they are despite them.

Jay Clark did a great job writing this. I was invested in the plot, and in the lives of the characters, but for some reason, this book felt a bit incomplete. It was a short read, only about 200 pages, but it fell right in that weird range. I felt like this was both too long, and too short. As if the place where it ended didn't make sense, and left me wanting more, but angry that I had to want it. Does that make any sense? I hope so. If not then i'm just rambling. 

If you're looking for a great, quick read for this summer, I'd definitely give you Finding Mr. Brightside. I really loved these characters, and I'm so looking forward to reading more by Jay Clark. 4/5 Stars.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Book: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1

Author: Laini Taylor

Publisher: Litte, Brown

Pages: 418 Pages

Format: Hardcover

Source: Received as a gift

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hairactually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

After hearing so many mixed things about this book, I was super hesitant to read it. But when Sara, from Just Another Story gifted me the box set of this series, I knew I had to give it a go. But, I was still hesitant. Hesitant enough that I only brought the first one to school with me - a decision that i wholeheartedly regret.

Needless to say, I loved this story. I've found myself shying away from paranormal romance novels, just because I felt like they're so cliche and overdone, and I don't feel like sifting through tons of mediocre stories to get one good one. But this one surprised me. I fell in love with Karou and Akiva and their world and the angels and demons of the story. I loved it all so much that I know this review won't do it justice. 

I think the world in Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of my absolute favourite worlds that i've ever read. I was simply blown away by the detail of the world, and the history behind it, and the integration with our own world. I could see every detail so clearly and I loved getting to learn about the history of Karou's world, especially when it involved Brimstone and the Demon's world.

While the world was amazing, Karou was the shining light in this book. Karou really surprised me, and I think it was because she's so different. She was so very real to me, and I found myself relating to her in so many ways. I, about half way through the novel, realized how defensive and protective I had become of her. I just wanted to hold her and feed her cake and tell her that it's all going to be okay.

Another thing I loved, which I wasn't sure I was going to, was the last part of the book. VAGUE SPOILERS AHEAD!!! I loved the final section of the book, and getting to learn about the history of the characters, and finally being able to see how everything fits together. As soon as I realized that that is how the book will end, more or less, I was a tad disappointed. But when I finished reading, I knew that I should have trusted Laini Taylor, because it was AMAZING.

Okay, Spoilers over. :D 

I honestly cannot wait until I get to read the next book, so that I can spend time with Karou and Akiva again. And I can't wait to finish the series, because I'm desperately hoping for a happy ending. Laini Taylor's writing blew me away, as she crafted a story filled with equal parts desperation and wonder, completing captivating me.

5/5 Stars.