Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

 

“Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.”

Goodreads Description

Thanks go to Bookbridgr and Hodder and Stoughton for the  copy! 🙂

After hearing so much about this January 2014 release, I was thrilled to get my hands on it. I read it in one day, so it definitely kept me hooked, but I was still kind of disappointed.

There were a few inconsistencies I spotted that irritated me and the only characters I really liked were Heather and Lily. Nat was the worst, but I felt proud of Nat by the end. I didn’t like the ending for one of the male characters. There are two main male characters, Dodge and Bishop. I didn’t like either of them. I won’t say anything else as I don’t want to spoil it. I really loved Heather though. A lot. One thing this book is good at is character development (for the girls, at least).

I really didn’t understand how the prize pot worked. I don’t see how they would have raised that much money, the way the town and some of the kids’ lives were described. The whole concept seemed weak and unbelievable, but if you overlook that, the book is still enjoyable.

I wasn’t blown away like I’d expected and wanted to be, but I did enjoy it. It was a little confusing – the writing style kind of threw me around a bit. I felt like I had to scramble to grasp things, but then the next thing was coming up, and I had to run to keep up. I think this actually worked with the book though, it’s just not something I enjoy, personally.

Spoiler Warning: The ending for Heather and Lily made no sense. It kind of wrote off the bulk of the book. Heather’s actions in the book were all for a particular reason and I wanted to see that resolved. I don’t understand why it wasn’t; that was the whole reason she did what she did. End of Spoiler.

If you like small-town America settings, thrills and danger, plenty of action, mystery, and great character development, I would recommend this to you.

Ratings

Quality of Writing: 2 out of 5

Enjoyment Level: 3 out of 5

Emotional Depth: 4 out of 5

[Goodreads Rating: 3 out of 5]

*Plus kudos for a main character I adore

Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott (Pure #1)

 

“We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost–how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.
Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked: Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss–maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.”

Goodreads Description

A new feature where I discuss post-apoc or apoc style fiction.

A new feature where I discuss post-apoc or apoc style fiction.

Thanks to BookBridgr and Headline for the copy! 🙂

I loved Pure, but it is definitely not an easy read. It’s very dark, very haunting, and there are things I will never, never forget about this book. One particular scene will stay with me forever. This book will stay with you for a very long time.

The main characters are Pressia and Partridge. Pressia was fabulous. Realistically damaged and wary which fit her world and the events in her life very well. She was incredibly mentally/emotionally strong and I loved her self-consciousness about her deformation. Partridge was well-done in that he was also realistic. He was a tad bit spoilt and naive, but you would expect that, given how and where he grew up. A little bit selfish, but again, you would expect that. He was annoying, but if he had been done differently, he wouldn’t have been real enough. I didn’t gel with Partridge much but I loved Pressia. I can’t stop thinking about Pressia and I finished Pure a few weeks ago.

The secondary characters were awesome too. I loved El Capitan and Helmud although they freaked me out a bit. Most of the fused people freaked me out a bit. (As I said, it really is not a book to go into lightly. It gets very, very dark, there are freaky, weird things and the world is just generally an incredibly harsh place to be.) Bradwell was awesome and his fusing issue is glued to my brain. I can’t stop thinking about that either. After Pressia, my favourite character was Lyda and I hope we get to see more of her in the next two books. That girl is STRONG. Her storyline made me hate Partridge. He could be so selfish at times.

That said, the worldbuilding was OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD. It may be dark and somewhat creepy at times, but the world in Pure is totally worth it.

The actual storyline was gripping and heart-wrenching at times. There was A LOT going on and plenty of action. You have to pay attention to this one. It did get a little confusing and because I loved Lyda so much I wanted to go back to her story quicker, but there were large gaps between her POV and the others’ sometimes.

I had some issues though, mainly that at the beginning, it felt kind of like the author knew how the plot was going and just jumped from plot point to plot point with no set-up. Partridge makes a very rash decision based on something that could have been nothing at all. It was a bit like the author skipped the part where Partridge works things out, makes plans… We didn’t get to see him making these decisions. He had this whole elaborate plan that appeared from nowhere. It just… rankled a bit.

I also hated the chapter headings. They were labelled with the character whose point of view it was in and then given a title. These two headings were in scrambled cases. E.g pReSSiA. It REALLY irritated me and I didn’t see the need for it. If it was done to enhance the feel of a broken world, well the writing should (and did) be able to do that for itself. It shouldn’t need anything fancy to back it up. In my opinion it just didn’t need that. (Looking at the third book,  Burn, which I have out of the library, the headings are normal. I hope they are in Fuse too. I have it on order so I haven’t read Burn yet. I have a thing about reading things in order.)

In general, I loved Pure! I would recommend it if you want something really gritty and maybe a bit out there. Or if strong female protagonists are your thing.

Ratings

Quality of Writing: 4 out of 5

Enjoyment Level: 4 out of 5

Emotional Depth: 5 out of 5

[Goodreads Rating: 4 out of 5]

*Plus kudos for sticking to my brain long after I finished it

NB: I decided to change my Reading the Future feature to feature books, rather than discuss the content.

Review: Threats of Sky and Sea by Jennifer Ellision

 

Sixteen year-old Breena Perdit has spent her life as a barmaid, innocent to her father’s past and happily free from the Elemental gifts that would condemn her to a life in the Egrian King’s army. Until the day that three Elemental soldiers recognize her father as a traitor to the throne and Bree’s father is thrown in jail—along with the secrets from his last mission as the King’s assassin. Secrets that could help the King win a war. Secrets he refuses to share.

Desperate to escape before the King’s capricious whims prove her and her father’s downfall, Bree bargains with him: information for their lives. It’s a good trade. And she has faith she’ll get them both out of the King’s grasp with time.

But that was before the discovery that she’s the weapon the King’s been waiting for in his war.

Now, time is running out. To save her father’s life and understand her own, Bree must unravel the knot of her father’s past before the King takes his life– and uses her to bring a nation to its knees.”

Goodreads Description

Thanks to NetGalley and Createspace for the copy! 🙂

Firstly, I absolutely have to comment on the worldbuilding! It was amazing! I love love love the magic system, I love the world, the settings were awesome! It wasn’t bogged down in description, but what was there gave you such a vivid sense of the surroundings the characters were in.

The characters were very unique. It’s narrated by Breena, and her voice was refreshing and different. I’ve never read a protagonist like her. I wouldn’t say she was my favourite character in the world, but that’s just because she’s very different to me. She is definitely one of the best written characters I have read though.

The other characters were all well done too. They were well-developed and so distinctive. There was no confusing of characters in this book!

I also want to say: WHO EVER DESIGNED THE COVER HAS ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK!! For once. Breena’s haircut is right, the dress is right, the background is right… Brilliant!

Also, no insta-love!

I had one issue with the plot, but grew to love it in the end. I can’t go into it without spoiling you though, so let’s just say it did irritate me, but I still loved the book.

The writing was easy to sink into. The last line was epic (please don’t read it before you’ve actually finished the book, now I’ve said that!). When you’ve travelled with these characters and explored their world with them, that line is fantastic. I promise.

It seems likely there’s a sequel – and yes, I will be reading it the second I can get my grubby little mitts on it.

I recommend this if you like Shadow and Bone, magic based on the elements, political intrigue, fantasy worlds with a sort of Regency or Victorian feel, heroines and princesses that don’t whine, and taverns!

Ratings

Quality of Writing: 4 out of 5

Enjoyment Level: 4 out of 5

Emotional Depth: 4 out of 5

[Goodreads Rating: 4 out of 5]

*Plus kudos for an accurate (and beautiful) cover, and the brilliant lack of insta-love 🙂

Review: Serenade by Emily Kiebel

 

“Suddenly the voice she prized is now dangerously seductive…

Lorelei Clark’s only concern was her future as a classically trained soprano, that is, until the day her father was tragically killed. Shattered by his death, she hesitantly accepts an invitation from a mysterious aunt to visit her lavish oceanside home in Cape Cod. She quickly discovers that her aunt and the two women who live with her are harboring a frightening secret they are sirens, terrifying mythical creatures responsible for singing doomed sailors to their deaths. Even more astounding, Lorelei is one of them. In this new world where water comes alive at her touch and an ancient power pulses beneath the tide, the most important rule Lorelei must learn is that a siren never interferes with fate. When she breaks this rule by rescuing a handsome sailor who should have died at sea, the sirens vow she must finish the job or face grave consequences. Finding herself inexplicably attracted to him, she must fight to keep him safe from the others, even if it means risking her own life, and her heart, in the process.”

Goodreads Description

Thanks to NetGalley and SparkPress (a BookSparks imprint) for the copy! 🙂

Before I start, I just want to say that I LOVED this book by the end and would still recommend it. But…

To start with I didn’t like it that much. It was slow and overburdened with too many unnecessary details. Things like kitchen tasks and how the characters moved around. I don’t want to know that Lorelei picked up her mail, opened her bag, put the mail inside etc. The writing needed tightening up and the book would’ve read much better if I wasn’t jilted out of the story all the time with these mundane details. For the first 30% or so, I was relatively bored. I considered whether or not I would  DNF it at one point if it wasn’t a review book, but decided I wouldn’t.

I am so glad I read this book. You have to bear with it, the first 30 – 35% was slow and I was bored, like I said, but – it got better! By the end I was giving it a four-star rating and labelling it a favourite!

I loved the layer of a regular world that peeled away to reveal Lorelei’s new world. I liked the characters although I didn’t connect with Lorelei or her emotions that much. I loved Deirdre/Dee and Helen. They were good characters, I just didn’t gel with Lorelei.

However, the whole siren thing was awesome! I loved the descriptions of them and their powers. I had a great feel for settings and scenes in general whilst reading Serenade. I was absorbed in the book and it felt like a quick read after that first third.

The ending was brilliant but now I need the sequel!! I haven’t finished a book and needed the sequel, like, right now, for a long time. Until Serenade.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars – bear with it; a personal favourite

Library Trip (Oops, I Got More Books!)

 

 

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Yup, I went to the library again. I only meant to pick up two reservations, but their New Books shelf was right in front of me and, um… Strategic shelf-placing really works!!!

 

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: Everyone and their cat is raving about this. It’s also the Little Book Group‘s August pick. (This was one of my reservations).

Fireborn by Keri Arthur: The synopsis looked so cool, and it’s new. I hate the cover (it’s the creepy girl. She doesn’t look right at all. The hair/eyes are weird, but I guess it’s accurate to the book?), but new book!

Peas and Queues by Sandi Toksvig: I LOVE Sandi Toksvig, particularly when she’s on QI. I picked this up without caring what it was even about. Now I’ve read the synopsis I’m a bit iffy, but I’ll give it a go anyway.

Sea Legs by Guy Grieve: This looked like an awesome summer read. I’m not sure if it’s fiction or not though. (This isn’t the cover I have. The cover I have looks a bit like the Alias Hook cover.)

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne: Another raved about book, and the other one I’d reserved. I reserved this one for my Reading the Future feature in August. (This month’s pick is Pure by Julianna Baggott). Should I read Dress Your Marines in White (Monument 14 #0.5) before this book or after? Some prequels are better read before, some after. Which is this one?

Burn by Julianna Baggott: [Goodreads link will spoil previous books.] The final book in the Pure trilogy. (I’ll be reviewing the first one on Monday). I love how this is a naked hardcover. They seem to be making more and more hardcovers without jackets. However, I hate that it doesn’t match the first two books. WHY MUST THEY DO THIS TO US?!!! I need to get Fuse first, so I reserved that, but brought this home with me anyway because it’s such a nice hardcover, despite being naked and me panicking that I’ve lost the jacket somewhere. (If you’re interested, I read hardcovers naked for comfort.  This means I panic a lot when the book isn’t mine and I can’t find the jacket.) :p (Even if said jacket doesn’t actually exist!)

So that’s my library doings for today! I keep staring at the copy of Burn, partly because it came without a jacket (this is very new to me. Hardcovers are nowhere near as popular in Britain as they are in the USA. Most books don’t even get produced in hardcover. Especially not debut authors. So this new naked hardcover thing probably won’t be as big a thing here which is why I’m so excited about Burn). But also because it just is a really nice shape, size, feel. I just like the aesthetics of it. I don’t like the cover because it doesn’t match Pure and Fuse AND THIS ANNOYS ME SO MUCH!!

 

 

Am I weird or do the aesthetics of a book please anyone else?

What have you borrowed/bought/received recently?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters You’d Want With You On A Deserted Island

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish brokeandbookish.com

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish brokeandbookish.com

So I’m on a deserted island… And I can pick ten book characters to have with me… I think my number one is obvious.

1. Katniss Everdeen! Her ability to survive is just amazing. She is absolutely determined to LIVE no matter what. I need me some of that. Plus, her food know-how would be essential. How else am I going to survive on berries and roots? Knowing me, I’d pick the most lethal thing going in a wood full of harmless things.

[Katniss is from The Hunger Games]

2.  Frost. Ain’t nobody gonna mess with us with Frost in camp! Seriously, she’s possessed by a wolf and she’s a whizz at axe-wielding. She often wields said axe while possessed by said wolf. WATCH. OUT.

[Frost is from Frostfire (which can be read as a standalone)]

3. Alexia Tarrabotti. Because I’d need someone to talk to for hours on end and also because she is is really smart. If anyone can get us off the island, it’s Alexia.

[Alexia is from The Parasol Protectorate]

4.  Hermione Granger. For the same reasons as Alexia. Conversation and the smarts.

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[Hermione is from the Harry Potter series]

5.  Cinder. We’d need someone with a good head for technical things. And all the computerisation in her brain would come in handy.

[Cinder is from the Lunar Chronicles]

6. Rose Hathaway. Because another person who knows how to fight and survive can’t hurt, right?

[Rose is from Vampire Academy]

7. Lissa Dragomir. Because of her healing, and her use of compulsion to smooth arguments over…

[Lissa is from Vampire Academy]

8. Isabella Trent. I’d want Isabella around because of her knowledge of nature, as well as for someone to chat with.

[Isabella is from A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent]

9. Tris Prior. Because Dauntless. And I’m sure she’d know how to have fun whilst we’re stranded.

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[Tris is from Divergent]

10.  Clary Fray. I love Clary because even when the world throws massive issues at her, she just rises to meet it. Nothing fazes her; she just deals with it.

[Clary is from The Mortal Instruments]

Who is in your bookish desert island dream team?

Discussion: What Makes A Favourite Book?

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I was thinking recently, what makes us label a book as a favourite? I have favourites that I’ve rated three stars. So why are they my favourites? Surely if I like them that much, they should have higher ratings?

Well, no, not really. Sometimes I add a book to my list of favourites because the series is my favourite and it just happened that one of the books was only a three-star. Sometimes, I am such a total fangirl over the author that I’ll add everything I’ve read by them to my favourites list, because the author is my favourite. Other times, the book itself is my favourite, but I didn’t think it was a well-written book.

Some people rate books by how good they are, some people rate books by their own personal enjoyment level, some people (like me), rate their books by both of those things.

I might give a four star rating to books like The Camelot Code where the book isn’t an amazingly written book, and it didn’t blow me away either, but I had a good time reading it. It was cheesey, yes, but it was also fun. It became a favourite because I had a good time reading it.

Then you have my five star ratings. These are books I adored completely, but again, it might be one of four things:

1. It was fantastically written.

2. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

3. The emotions it led me through were profound.

4. Two or more of the above.

I guess I don’t have a real reason for what makes a favourite book for me. It may even be a favourite purely because it was a part of my childhood.

I wish I had some other way of rating, although I imagine it would be hideously complicated. Unless I had a rating system such as (using my most recent read, A Heart Bent Out Of Shape as an example):

Quality of Writing: 5 out of 5

Enjoyment Level: 5 out of 5

Emotional Depth: 5 out of 5

Total: 15 out of 15 Strongest Point: Quality of Writing/Enjoyment Level/Emotional Depth

But I can’t do that on Goodreads… I wish I was able to say via a rating alone, this book is a favourite for fun, or for beautiful writing etc. I guess I’ll have to save this for my blog and my own knowledge.

What makes a favourite book for me? I like emotionally deep, fantastically written books; I also like the odd fun, silly, cheesey novel; and, I like fantasy and worldbuilding. I guess I’ll always have an eclectic collection of favourites! 🙂

What makes a book a favourite for you? Are you like me – do you look for numerous things in books; often in different places? How do you rate your books? Would you like to see my new ratings method on my reviews, or would you prefer a simple ?? out of 5 stars, like I’ve been doing so far?