Saturday 2 November 2019

Book Review - Stars Above

Title: Stars Above
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles (Stories from)
Publisher: Square Fish
Release Date: 2 May 2017
ISBN-13: 978-1250106643

The enchantment continues....
The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?
With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

My Review
I absolutely devoured the Lunar CHronicles series in the summer and was desperate for more. When I found out that there was a collection of short stories based on the world and characters, I had to have it. Luckily my birthday was at the end of summer and I got this book as a present. With a new job as a trainee teacher, my schedule has been hectic since the start of September, but I've tried to sneak in some reading for pleasure around my course studies and lesson plans. I actually finished this about 2-3 weeks ago but this is the first chance I've had to come online and type up a review.
The book contains 9 short stories and delves further into the lives of the characters you have come to know and love, and some new added extras. 
The stories included are as follows:-  --
The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century...

I thnk my favourite stories were the final one that carried on from the series, it was a perfect continuation and just the tie up of events that I needed, and the story of how Scarlett came to live with her gran. However to be honest I loved all of them, it felt like catching up with old friends and finding out a bit more about them. They all fit in with the series so well and explained some of the unanswered questions that you may have been left with in the series. Meyer manages to capture each characters voice perfectly and the stories really do just add that extra dimension - bringing them even more alive than they were.
This will always remain as one of my all time favourite series and one I will be sure to re-read a number of times in the future. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone - but make sure you start with Cinder.

My Rating

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Book Review - Winter

Title: Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles (Book 4)
Publisher: Puffin; 01 edition
Release Date: 10 Nov. 2015
ISBN-13: 978-0141340241

Princess Winter is admired for her grace, kindness and beauty, despite the scars on her face. She's said to be even more breath-taking than her stepmother, Queen Levana...
When Winter develops feelings for the handsome palace guard, Jacin, she fears the evil Queen will crush their romance before it has a chance to begin.
But there are stirrings against the Queen across the land. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even find the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.
Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter claim their happily ever afters by defeating Levana once and for all?

My Review
I could not wait to get stuck into this book, After devouring book 3 I had to know how it all came to an end. This book is twice the size of the other books, at a whopping 820 pages it's quite big. I can sometimes be a bit daunted by such big books, but for this one I was pleased to see that it wouldn't just be a rushed ending, and even whilst reading it, the book didn't feel that long. I read it in 3 sittings, I managed to get 200 pages in the first day but then had to put it down to go out. The next day I read 400 pages in one big chunk and couldn't get enough, but again had to put it away, but I was so desperate to get back into it that I picked it up as soon as I could the next day and finished the last couple hundred pages. 
****This may contain spoilers for the previous books in the series ****
Cinder, Thorne, Cress, Scarlet and Wolf are still trying to bring down Queen Levana and stop Emperor Kai from having to marry her. The plots and plans are getting more dangerous, but something has to work. Kai is on the Rampion with the crew after being 'kidnapped' by Cinder. Jacin has betrayed them, but is re-united with his Winter and Scarlet is still being held captive on Lunar, treated like a pet by Winter, locked in a menagerie.

The best thing about these books, is that every time you think you can predict what is going to happen next, Meyer throws a curve ball at you and something else happens, but it's never a disappointment, its always exciting and nail-biting and make you want to read more and more. 
Cinder has really developed as a character and continues to develop further, she is a lot more likeable now and has really grown into her role. Kai is as charming as ever, a character you can't help but like, he always tries to do his best and clearly isn't perfect, and is actually rather insecure, but it just makes you like him all the more. 
there's some crazy stuff happening with Wolf, and you just want to bang Cress and Thorne's heads together and tell them to 'kiss already!!!'  

This book was the perfect conclusion to the series, the characters all have a satisfying ending, with hopes of a future. The book is concluded properly, but I feel like it's been left in a way that more could follow one day. 
I haven't found a series that has gripped me this much in quite a while. When I finished reading this book I actually found myself missing the characters and wishing I could hang out with them that little bit longer. I felt like I was saying goodbye to real friends, and I want to check up on them and see how they are doing. Meyer is clearly an amazing storyteller to be able to create characters that seem so real and relatable.

I can't recommend this series enough, I fell in love with it and know it will be one that I revisit. I've even asked for the short story collection for my birthday - so I can't wait to get that, look out for my review in a couple of weeks.

My Rating

Saturday 3 August 2019

Book Review - Cress

Title: Cress
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles (Book 3)
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: 6 Feb. 2014
ISBN-13: 978-0141340159

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.
Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she's just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

My Review
So I've been totally absorbed by this series, and I couldn't wait to get into book 3 - in fact I finished book 2, ran upstairs to get this one and then read half of it in one sitting. I've heard rumours that many people think this is the best book in the series, and i would have to say that so far I agree. Cress is obviously supposed to be a Rapunzel figure - locked up in a satellite (not a tower) with long hair and a desperate need to be free. I loved the twist of her captivity and the fact that she actually had a purpose up there, something to focus on, and a desperate will to do the right thing. Her slightly devious nature is very endearing. She comes across as quite young for her age - but she has been locked on her own with no social interaction or chance to develop naturally with only her 'mistress' for guidance who visits every couple of weeks and takes blood samples.
As before, her story ties in with that of Cinder, Scarlet, Thorne and Wolf. Meyer is very good at weaving separate story-line together, they fall into place perfectly, as though they were always supposed to meet. Yet everyone still has their own individual personality, opinion and end goal. They all play their own parts and roles whilst fitting in with the others and I think it is quite masterful. 
Cress is probably my favourite character overall, I really liked her naivety yet strong-willed nature.
Cinder has really developed as a character and is becoming much more complex, she still has a steely determination to solve her own problems, but she's also starting to think about the needs of those around her and begins to work more with her companions and realise that they can help her too.
I absolutely love Iko as a ship, but also as an escort droid. - to be honest, I jsut love her eccentric personality. 
Thorne has really grown on me too, he's still a self-centered egotistical jerk at times, but also starts to reveal a more sensitive caring side.
This book brings together a lot of the storylines that have been stirring over the previous 2 books and it gets very exciting. 
I read this in just 2 sittings overall, and practically clawed my way through in my desperation to finish it and see what comes next. This has made me love the series all the more and I can't wait to see what comes next in the final book.

My Rating

Book Reviews - ReReads Cinder & Scarlet

Coming towards the end of the school term meant I had a little bit more time to read, I wasn't sure which of my books to pick up next, but one of the students in my form had been reading 'Cinder' by Marissa Meyer and we started talking about it. I read it over 7 years ago, but remembered liking it, however I never read the rest of the series (or so I thought - but more on that later).
Deciding it was about time, I found Cinder on my shelf and started to read.

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles (Book 1)
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: 5 Jan 2012 
ISBN-13: 978-0141340135

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the 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.

My Review
I remembered quite a lot of the story, which must mean it was good, as I read a lot of books and over 7 years I would have read thousands, so the fact that bits of this had stuck, means it must have resonated with me.
I stated to read and was instantly in Cinders world, I liked her character and personality and felt myself wanting her to succeed. I like Iko's sarcastic, self-absorbed personality and sweet little Peony is lovely, her step-mother is just despicable enough to make you dislike her, but still makes you kind of like her too (only a little bit mind). Meyer has taken the classic Cinderella tale and put a modern twist on it, a twist that will hook you in and make you believe every single bit. 
I think I enjoyed this a lot more this time round and found myself almost racing through, desperate to read the rest of the series, eager to know what would happen next. 
If you love fairy tale books - I would highly recommend that you give this series a go.

My Rating

  Title: Scarlet
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles (book 2)
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: 7 Feb 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0141340234

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic is 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.

My Review
I was just looking through my blog for my Cinder review - and a review for this popped up. I could have sworn to you that I had never read it before, so I was really surprised to see my thoughts on it, written 6 years ago. My review said that I really enjoyed it, so I'm surprised it hadn't stuck with me. But that means I can review it almost as new.

It turns out that the end of school term is busier than expected and i ended up carrying this round in my bag for a good few weeks, digging into odd bits when I could, desperate to know what would happen to Cinder and intrigued by the whole Scarlet story. 
So Scarlet is basically little red riding hood - her grandmother is missing and she meets a man calling himself 'Wolf' who has some animalistic instincts, but seems to be on the good side - for now. 

I really liked Scarlet's fiery temper and her deep belief in fairness and what is right. She is desperate to find her grandmother and can't believe the injustice of her village - no one is willing to help, no one seems to care. Determined not to just sit back and wait, she starts her journey to Paris - the place her grandmother is rumoured to be. With Wolf by her side, she has some hope of finding her and bringing her home - but what would someone want with her grandma?

Cinder is escaping from prison, with another prisoner tagging along - Carswell Thorne has a ship and Cinder will need it to escape. They seem like an odd pair - but it works. Thorne is stuck up and self-important, with a serious case of sarcasm and an ego almost too big to fit in the space ship - but he's one of those characters that you can't help but like.

I couldn't decide about Wolf, I was suspicious of him all the way through but he's also quite endearing. Really keeps you on your toes.

I found the story exciting and fast-paced and I was desperate to know how it would end and how Scarlet and Wolf would meet up with Cinder and Thorne. 
I enjoyed this one better than book 1 and liked the development of the new characters.

My Rating

Book Reviews - Desolation & American Monsters

I haven't done this before, but I'm going to review 2 books in the same post. I actually read them a couple of months ago but didn't get round to writing the reviews. They are part of the same series so I thought I would do them together. So here are my reviews for Demon Road Books 2 & 3  by Derek Landy

Title: Desolation
Author: Derek Landy
Series: Demon Road (Book 2)
Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks
Release Date: 28 July 2016
ISBN-13: 978-0008156992

Book two in the mind-blowing new supernatural thriller from bestselling author DEREK LANDY, creator of international sensation Skulduggery Pleasant.
Reeling from their bloody encounter in New York City at the end of Demon Road, Amber and Milo flee north. On their trail are the Hounds of Hell – five demonic bikers who will stop at nothing to drag their quarries back to their unholy master.
Amber and Milo’s only hope lies within Desolation Hill – a small town with a big secret; a town with a darkness to it, where evil seeps through the very floorboards. Until, on one night every year, it spills over onto the streets and all hell breaks loose.
And that night is coming…

My Review
So after being quite disappointed with book 1 I wasn't expecting much from this one, but I was just curious enough to give it a try, and I love Derek Landy, so felt like I owed him the chance.
Amber, Milo and Glen are still on the run, but they have a location where they think they will be safe for a while - Desolation Hill. A small town with some secrets of its own. When they arrive, they aren't exactly welcomed, but manage to get a room and a few of the locals to make awkward conversation. 
The Hounds of Hell are kept out of the city by a sort of forcefield, so Amber and Milo have a bit of time to catch their breaths - until the town starts to unravel its secrets around them and the group find a whole new threat, this time from within.
Not expecting much after all, i kind of started to skim read this one, but did find myself getting more involved with it. I liked Desolation Hill and thought it was a great setting, I liked the new characters and the strange dynamics of the town. I actually found myself enjoying the book, I wanted to know what would happen and how they would get round the numerous problems that were bound to occur.  I found myself really starting to like Amber, she developed a lot as a character and I started to almost understand her more. Milo is by far my favourite character, and he maintained his charm and slightly sarcastic air. Glen continued to annoy me, but not as much.
The people of the town intrigued me and I enjoyed the side story lines. In fact, if the series could have continued with them, I think I would have rated the series higher overall. 
For me the book was still a bit slow but I didn't find it as annoying, I enjoyed learning about the town and its people, but then towards the end, Amber's parents returned, as did the Hounds and the whole chase me, escape, run, chase, escape run and repeat thing started again, and I immediately found myself losing interest. I clearly don't like her parents as characters - they are supposed to be dislikable but evil and cunning, but I just find them super irritating.
Overall, I enjoyed this book much more than the first, but wished they could have stayed in the town. I don't hold out much hope for Book 3, but I've come this far...

My Rating
But bordering towards

Title: American Monsters
Author: Derek Landy
Series: Demon Road (Book 3)
Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks 
Release Date: 9 Mar. 2017
ISBN-13: 978-0008157111 

The epic conclusion in the mind-blowing supernatural thriller from bestselling author DEREK LANDY, creator of international sensation Skulduggery Pleasant.
Bigger, meaner, stronger, Amber closes in on her murderous parents as they make one last desperate play for power. Her own last hopes of salvation, however, rest beyond vengeance, beyond the abominable killers – living and dead – that she and Milo will have to face.
For Amber’s future lies in her family’s past, in the brother and sister she never knew, and the horrors beyond imagining that befell them.
My Review
Having enjoyed book 2, I was a little more hopeful for book 3, however I could see it falling back into the pattern of the first book, so it was with some trepidation that I started. Amber now has power - a lot more power than she had as 'just a demon' but now she's taken on a new role and the power is intense. 
The book starts off quite gory again, with some very vivid description of fingers being brutally broken and smashed, I almost stopped reading right then, but I was just curious enough to want to know how it all ended - plus I was at a theme park with my husband and had to wait for him to come off a rollercoaster and had nothing better to do whilst waiting for him - so I kept reading.
I liked that some of the characters from the previous book made another appearance, but Amber seemed to jump from one thing to another with no real in depth explanation, and the amount of characters that die was quite over-whelming, almost like loose ends just being tied up. But Amber is still trying to break the shining demon contract and yes - she is still trying to get back at her parents, or rather get rid of them.
There was a lot of action and gore, but nothing that really made me want to read more, I pretty much skimmed through the entire book, just wanting to know how it all finished, and I would have to say that overall, I was disappointed with the series.
I absolutely love Skulduggery Pleasant and continue to follow the series (I have the new one and am still hooked by it), but this series just left me feeling flat. I wouldn't ever re-read it. 

My Rating   
with hints of

Friday 3 May 2019

Book Review - Demon Road

Title: Demon Road
Author: Derek Landy
Series: Demon Road (Book 1)
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Release Date: 25 Feb. 2016
ISBN-13: 978-0008156923

For anyone who ever thought their parents were monsters… Amber Lamont is a normal sixteen-year-old. Smart but insecure, she spends most of her time online, where she can avoid her beautiful, aloof parents and their weird friends.
But when a shocking encounter reveals a horrifying secret, Amber is forced to go on the run. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers and red-skinned, horned demons – Amber hurtles from one threat to the next, revealing the terror woven into the very fabric of her life. As her parents close in behind her, Amber’s only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be…
Witty, action-packed and heart-stoppingly thrilling, Demon Road will take you on an epic road-trip across the supernatural landscape of America.

My Review
I have always been a fan of Derek Landy, I have met him a number of times and read the Skulduggery Pleasant series more than once. I even dressed as the main character the last time I went to the London Film, Comic and Literature Convention. He is by far one of my all time favourite authors!
I bought this book when it first came out in Hardback but for some reason didn't find time to read it. I then found out it was a trilogy and so waited for all 3 to come out so I could read them together. But then I never seemed to get round to it. I think that because I am so much of a SP fan, I was nervous this wouldn't be as good.
However, last week we were looking up some book lists at work, and this one came up as a recommended read, one of my colleagues was going to read it so I thought I would try too so we could have a discussion. So I picked it up.
The premise of the story sounded quite intriguing, a young girl named Amber, just turned 16 - discovers that she is a Demon by birth. Both of her parents and their close friends are Demons too, but when an unexpected event occurs- Amber finds out the horrific truth - that her parents want to eat her so that they can absorb her power. And apparently she isn't the first of their children that they've devoured. Fearing the craziness and horror, Amber makes a run for it. Teaming up with a mysterious man named Milo who has one heck of a killer car.
All sounds great so far, right! Well that unfortunately was as good as it got for me. I don't know what it is but something just fell a bit short for me with this story. 
I found Amber to be rather annoying, very naive and a bit pathetic at times, she gets herself into far more trouble that I ever thought was possible and most of the time it's for the most stupid of reasons. I thought it was good that she wasn't the typical pretty, kick ass heroin - in fact as a human she is quite dumpy and unattractive, but this was also ruined somewhat by the fact that when she turns into her demon form she is of course absolutely breath-takingly gorgeous and sexy. I just couldn't get myself to like her and I really struggle to connect to her or even care about her problem.
Milo on the other hand was a different story, you don't really know much about him for at least the first half of the book and then slowly more information about him is trickled in. I liked the mystery and also his sense of humour which was very dry. 
Then we have Glen who is one annoying human being. Sometimes he can come across as sweet and goofy - a bit like an excited puppy, but other times he just seems to get in the way. 
I felt the book was a little slow for me - it started off quite exciting and got me interested in reading more, but it seemed to follow a bit of a pattern. They would drive somewhere looking for answers, they would unearth something dark and un-natural that threatened wither them or the town/village/city they were in. They would then overcome the threat and drive to the next location - where it would all happen again. They are faced with Vampires, Witches and Serial Killers. 
Skulduggery Pleasant is filled with fast talking dialogue, endless humour that literally makes me burst out laughing, and super kick ass characters - which was what I was also hoping for in Demon Road, but it didn't have the same magic or charm. There are a few attempts at humour and banter -but it falls short, i didn't find myself laughing once. 
Then there's the gore... After reading SP - I am used to a bit more nasty surprises, but Demon Road went a bit beyond. Towards the end there was one particular gory description that actually made me feel quite ill and I nearly shut the book and refused to finish, but I was just curious enough to want to know what would happen, that I just skimmed that part and carried on. It was just a little bit too gross for me.

I was so disappointed that I didn't like this book, I wanted it to be another series that I could fall in love and rave about. I'm not entirely sure I want to read the next one in the series, but I have it on my shelf so for old times sake, I'm going to give it a try and hope it brings back the greatest that I have come to know, love and expect from Landy.

My Rating


Monday 22 April 2019

Book Review - The Darkest Legacy

Title: The Darkest Legacy
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds (Book 4)
Publisher: Quercus Children's Books
Release Date: 2nd August 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1786540614

Five years after the destruction of the so-called rehabilitation camps that imprisoned her and countless other Psi kids, seventeen-year-old Suzume "Zu" Kimura has assumed the role of spokesperson for the interim government, fighting for the rights of Psi kids against a growing tide of misinformation and prejudice. But when she is accused of committing a horrifying act, she is forced to go on the run once more in order to stay alive.
Determined to clear her name, Zu finds herself in an uncomfortable alliance with Roman and Priyanka, two mysterious Psi who could either help her prove her innocence or betray her before she gets the chance. But as they travel in search of safety and answers, and Zu grows closer to the people she knows she shouldn't trust, they uncover even darker things roiling beneath the veneer of the country's recovery. With her future-and the future of all Psi-on the line, Zu must use her powerful voice to fight back against forces that seek to drive the Psi into the shadows and save the friends who were once her protectors.

My Review
So, I have been totally addicted to this series over the last couple of weeks. The books were originally released as a trilogy and the third book had a nice conclusion but I still wanted more, therefore I was pleased to hear that there was in fact a fourth book released in the series. I then found out that it is set 5 years after the end of book 3 and is told from Zu's point of view - not Ruby's. At first I was a little bit nervous about this - not that i don't love Zu, because I do. But she hasn't got the same strength of voice as Ruby and I've come to know and love Ruby's narrative. But my doubts were wiped away withing the first couple of pages. Zu is not that shy, quiet kid anymore, she has grown up and now has a voice. She just has to decide if it's her opinions she is sharing or just following the rules of others. 
Then all hell breaks loose at a Press Conference and she is accused of committing some horrible crimes, she has to run for her life but try to find a way to clear her name.
On the way she meets two strange Psi's - Priya and Roman, but she doesn't know who she can trust, these two characters star off quite small but become a huge part of the story and I liked that even as readers we aren't sure whether or not to trust them, we see them develop just as Zu does. 
And don't worry - we still have Chubs and Liam in the story, and in a way Ruby too.
This book is written so well, that you're never sure what is going to happen next. I literally read this in 2 sittings, I would have done it in 1 if I was able. I just could not put it down, I had to know what would happen and I found myself gripping the edge of my seat, biting my nails and gasping, laughing, crying, smiling - pretty much a whole host of emotions. This was actually my favourite book in the entire series, it made me feel so much and swept me along with Zu and all she has to face. 
Alexandra Bracken is a magnificent storyteller and I am definitely going to be looking up her other series as well. 
I cannot recommend these books enough - you have to dive right in!

My Rating

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Book Review - In the Afterlight

Title: In The Afterlight
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds (Book 3)
Publisher: Quercus Children's Books
Release Date: 17 Nov. 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1786540201

Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.
They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.
Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

My Review
Having raced through book 1 and 2, I was desperate to get straight into the third book. Especially with how book 2 ended - talk about cliffhangers! I had to know what would happen to Ruby and her friends, especially after the horrific death (i can't say who as I don't want to give spoilers!) This book picks up just where the last book left off, we are straight back into the heart of the action and wondering what Ruby is going to do next. 
The group have very few options left, they are constantly in danger and not sure who to trust. They have a few plans to try and change their destinies but with obstacles in their way everywhere they turn, you know it's not going to be easy.
This book focuses much more on Ruby and Cole - the growing relationship of them as leaders with the odd hint of romance, though you know the only one for her is Liam! They are volatile and opinionated but work well together and the growing tension between Ruby and her other friends creates a tense atmosphere. 
I read the first half fairly quickly then struggled to find time to read, this may combine with a slightly slower pace towards the middle of the book, but I found myself beginning to drag my feet with reading it. I lost a bit of passion for the story and felt like I wanted things to just move a little quicker. I found myself in a bit of a lull with the book. There is a lot of discussions and planning what will happen, but not much action so the pace really does slow down. However I persevered with it and quickly enough the story started to pick up again. Bracken throws in some twists and turns just at the right moment to reignite your passion. At one point I was shouting at the book - I couldn't believe she would do that!!!
The ending rises in climax and gets very exciting again, I read the last 150 pages very quickly. Overall it is a perfect conclusion to the trilogy and everything comes together nicely without everything being tied up. There is hope for the future for the characters we have come to love and yet enough to make it a satisfying ending.
Though I am very excited to find out there is an extra book that follows told from Zu's point of view.
If you haven't read this series, I would highly recommend it. This series will take you by the horns and shake you up. I have really enjoyed it and will be sorry to say goodbye to these characters. 

My Rating

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Book Review - Never Fade

Title: Never Fade
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds (Book 2)
Publisher: Quercus Children's Books
Release Date: 17 Nov. 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1786540225

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.
When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.
As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

My Review
If you think I read book 1 quickly, it's got nothing on this one. As soon as I finished book 1, I dived straight into this one and was once more swept up into Ruby's world and carried through a mix of exciting adventures, heartbreaking moments and shocking discoveries. I read this book in about 2 days - I just couldn't leave it alone (sorry for the delay in the review, just haven't had a chance to jump online).
We are back with Ruby, but this time she is working for the Children's League, Chubs is off - hopefully recovering from his injuries, and Liam doesn't know that Ruby even exists. We still don't know where Zu is, but my god do we hope she is alive. We now have a new team around Ruby - Jude who is so sweet and tries way too hard and then we have the sarcastic, rather aggressive Vida who you can't help but hate but rather admire all at the same time. It was weird without the original group and I wasn't sure I liked it at first, but I soon found myself loving the new dynamic, even whilst wishing the others were there too. Ruby then finds out that Liam holds the key to a possible 'cure' for their powers so she has to track him down again. 
This book had so many twists and turns that I felt myself being carried along with it in a swirl of emotions but I couldn't step away. I loved the change of pace and setting and felt that this book was so much more exciting than the first - and I didn't think that was going to be possible. 
Seeing the two different teams mix was briliiant, and Bracken handled the merge perfectly. I really can't push this series enough right now - Bracken is a legend. These books have really rekindled my passion for reading and I can't thank her enough for that. I am desperate to start the next book and see what happens next. 
If you haven't read any of this series - you have to start with book 1, but I suggest you find yourselves a copy and get stuck in - you won't regret it!

My Rating

Saturday 30 March 2019

Book Review - The Darkest Minds

Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: Darkest Minds (Book 1)
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: 18th Dec 2012
ISBN13: 9781423157373

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

My Review
I missed this series when it first came out, then i saw the trailers for the movie but wasn't overly enthralled by it. But then my parents bought the DVD when it came out and offered to lend it to me. If there is a book behind the movie, I always have to read the book first, so I ordered a copy from the library to give it a go. 
I wasn't really expecting much from the series, but it sounded interesting enough. I started to read and from the first few pages I was hooked. I read this book so quickly, it was so good to just lose myself in a story again, and this book swept me up and carried me away. 
We meet Ruby at 10 years old, there is a new threat that is hitting all the children. Many of them are dying and if they weren't dead, they were developing strange powers. Then Ruby feels a change within her, and suddenly her parents don't recognize her, and she is being collected and taken to Thurmond - a camp designed to 'cure' the children, but really its more look army prison camp. 
The story has an interesting set up and really gets you wanting to know more, it then fast-forwards to Ruby at 16 years old. Having spent 6 years getting used to camp life, she's not sure what else there is anymore, but something it changing, something big. Ruby escapes from the camp and meets up with Liam, Chubs and Zu - an unlikely group of friends who are trying to get to East River, a so called 'safe-haven'.
I loved the change of pace and scenery. It was great to see different people too and how Ruby interacted with them. Liam was by far my favourite character, funny, witty and a bit of a pain in the bum! Chubs is full of personality and a total bookworm like myself. Zu was cute and a little odd, but altogether full of life and a bit crazy. 
Bracken has a real way with words and can weave a fabulous story so effortlessly. Every single moment of the book kept me hooked and every setting was a picture perfectly clear in my mind. 
I can't believe how much I enjoyed this book, and I have the second one to dive straight into.
This was one of the best books I had read in a long time and I am so glad I finally got a chance to read it. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, it was so amazing!!!

My Rating

Wednesday 13 February 2019

Book Review - Labyrinth of Spirits

Title: The Labyrinth of Spirits
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books (Book 4)
Publisher: W&N
Release Date: 18 Sept. 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1474606189

As a child, Daniel Sempere discovered among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books an extraordinary novel that would change the course of his life. Now a young man in the Barcelona of the late 1950s, Daniel runs the Sempere & Sons bookshop and enjoys a seemingly fulfilling life with his loving wife and son. Yet the mystery surrounding the death of his mother continues to plague his soul despite the moving efforts of his wife Bea and his faithful friend Fermin to save him.
Just when Daniel believes he is close to solving this enigma, a conspiracy more sinister than he could have imagined spreads its tentacles from the hellish regime. That is when Alicia Gris appears, a soul born out of the nightmare of the war.
She is the one who will lead Daniel to the edge of the abyss and reveal the secret history of his family, although at a terrifying price.

My Review
When I heard this book was being released I was so excited, I am a massive fan of the series and couldn't wait to get my hands on this one. I had to wait to get through a request list at the library but finally my copy came in. 
I got stuck in straight away and it was like i'd never been away, I was immediately transported back into the world of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. It was at once comforting and exciting, I was ready to find out where Zafon would take me next. 
Due to being crazy busy at work etc, I have only been able to read in small snatches, so whilst I wanted to read this in a couple of big chunks, it ended up taking me closer to 6 weeks to read, this did dampen my experience a bit as with massive gaps between reading times I often had to remind myself what was happening and who each of the characters were. But this isn't going to change my opinion of the books, I am still totally enamored by the entire world.
This book is a mass web of intrigue, we follow Alicia Gris as she tries to solve a disappearance case, she has a past that is far more complicated than first expected, but she is amazing at her job. We are of course reunited with Daniel, Bea, and Fermin who are as flamboyant and dramatic as ever. 
Daniel wants to find out more about his mother who died when he was a child, but this is far more complicated than we ever could ever imagine and an entire web of intrigue begins to spread. We then get plunged into a wild web that spreads across characters and places. We have the minister Valls who is missing, corrupt Police officers, friendly helpers and a host of other people who you will have to decide which side they are on. 
This page is over 800 pages long but it doesn't feel that long when reading it. I would have raced through it if I could have and I thoroughly enjoyed every twist and turn. Fermin is definitely still my favourite character, i love his sarcasm and easy going humour. 
I would highly recommend this book and the entire series to anyone and everyone. I love Carlos Ruiz Zafon's style of writing - he is a true storyteller.

My Rating

Thursday 3 January 2019

Book Review - The Burning Maze

Title: The Burning Maze
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: The Trials of Apollo (Book 3)
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: 1 May 2018
ISBN-13: 978-0141363998

I was a god, once. Until I was cast out by my father, Zeus.
Now I'm an awkward mortal teenager called Lester. Bound to a difficult and dangerous demigod called Meg. Thanks a lot, Dad.
My way out? A series of scary and dangerous trials, of course. For my third mission I must:
Journey to the Labyrinth to free an Oracle who only speaks in riddles.
Defeat a vicious and bloodthirsty Roman emperor - the most vicious of three very vicious and bloodthirsty Roman emperors.
Is that all? No, I have to do everything without the help of any of my godly powers. Wonderful. Looks like I'll be needing all the help I can get. From friends new and old ...

My Review
I was actually quite hesitant about reading this book. I absolutely loved the original Percy Jackson series, I really liked the Heroes of Olympus series, but so far I have been rather underwhelmed by the tales of Apollo in his human form of Lester. I realized that my biggest issue was that I really don't like Apollo - and when the book centers on someone you don't like or particularly care for, it makes it harder to read. 
However, I was determined to read this latest installment and hopeful that it would captivate me again.
The book starts of right in the center of the action with Lester, Meg and Grover trying to escape the Maze whilst being chased by strixes - demon birds intent on killing the group. Add in some fire and various other dangers and it looks like our heroes are doomed.
But it gets so much more dangerous and developed. I found it hard to get into at first but I think this was because of my preconceptions about Apollo. 
I read about 80 pages in my first sitting and although I wasn't massively excited, I was intrigued as to what was going to happen next, enough that I picked the book up again the very next day.
To my surprise I actually started to like Apollo a bit more, he's still cocky and arrogant as he's meant to be, but I didn't find it as annoying and he also seemed to have a more human side to him. Maybe the longer he spends time as Lester and less as Apollo, he becomes more humanized. I think it also helped that we got to see more of Meg and the two of them together. I've always liked Grover and his sense of humour actually does make me laugh. 
The story really picked up however when we got Piper involved again. I think she is my favourite character and I was glad to see her involved again. 
The book has a number of villains, all working together and yet still deviously back-stabbing. We have Medea, Caligula and a talking horse. It took me a while to understand who was who and who was working for who, but overall it made for many exciting twists and turns. 
I ended up finishing this in just 2 days. I found myself really starting to get into it and whilst Apollo is still not my favourite character, I did start to like him. The addition of Jason Grace back into the group also helped, and the chemistry between him an Piper was almost radiating off the page.
There is a massive shock moment about 3/4 of the way through the book. I won't give any details at all, but I can't believe Riordan did it! I know fans of the series like me will be massively shocked and heartbroken by the events of the book. But this is what gets you more hooked, you have to keep reading, to see if its true, to see what happens next. 
Still not my favourite series, but I am certainly excited about the next book in the series and I can't wait to get hold of it. This is certainly my favourite book in this series so far.

My Rating