Wednesday 29 April 2020

Book Review- Do You Dream Of Terra-Two

Title: Do You Dream of Terra-Two
Author: Temi Oh
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date: 7 Mar. 2019
ISBN-13: 978-1471171246

A century ago, scientists theorised that a habitable planet existed in a nearby solar system. Today, ten astronauts will leave a dying Earth to find it. Four are decorated veterans of the 20th century’s space-race. And six are teenagers, graduates of the exclusive Dalton Academy, who’ve been in training for this mission for most of their lives.
It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years spent in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong. And something always goes wrong. 

My Review
I am the first to admit that I am not particularly a fan of anything Science Fiction. So how did I com to have this book? I went to a training session at work that was focused on current YA trends. We had to pick a book at random (they were wrapped in brown paper) and sit and read for 15 minutes. I picked this one up and the second I unwrapped it I groaned and thought 'oh no', but I followed the rules and opened the book and started to read. In those 15 minutes I got to page 28 and I didn't want to put the book down. I begged to be allowed to keep reading because I had been hooked in by the opening chapters and desperately wanted to know what happened to Jesse and the others. I wasn't sure exactly where it was going to go, but I knew I wanted to find out. Luckily, the course tutors were very kind and said that I could take the book to finish and return it when I was done. 
That was a couple of months ago, life got super busy and I didn't find time to continue reading, this book got put in a bag and I pretty much forgot about it. When I was sorting through my work stuff the other day I found it and decided to make it my next read. I had to start again as I didn't really remember anything from those first few pages all those months ago, but once again I found myself drawn into the story and prepared myself for a surprisingly good read. 
The book follows 6 teenagers who attend Dalton Academy - they are training to be Astronauts and have spent most of their lives working towards a mission to a newly discovered planet 'Terra-Two'. The first couple of hundred of pages is set on earth, getting to know the teenagers and how they got selected from hundreds of possible applicants and the build up to the mission. This part of the book felt quite slow to me and there is a lot of set up information and background stuff to help set the scene and get you to 'know the characters'. There is just enough going on to keep you reading, but I did find myself skimming some of the pages to try and get somewhere faster.
Then you have the week of the launch, one of the 6 teenagers changes her mind and does some pretty drastic things, so Jesse who is on the 'reserve list' is called forward to join the crew the night before the launch. 
We then have the rest of the story which follows the crew into space. There are the 6 teens and 4 adults who are well known space veterans and know how to operate a space mission. We are told from the start that the mission will take 23 years to get to the planet, so I was expecting either a fairly slow story or a lot of time leaps. What actually occurred was a very slow story of basic teenage angst. The fact they were on a spaceship didn't seem to make any difference other than it was harder to avoid each other. One of them is depressed, one of them is a psycho, one is a bossy know it all, one feels isolated and like he doesn't belong, one is a loner etc. The chapters alter between each character narrating, but to me it was just 300 odd pages of them whining, moaning and having a go at each other, they were supposed to be a team and I know they experienced tragic events just before they left, but they should have dealt with it all a bit better, some of these 'teens' were almost 20 years old and should've behaved better, instead they came across like whiny little brats. I actually had to pause and check when it said that it was Poppy's 20th Birthday - i couldn't believe anyone who acted that way could be that old.
I think that was one of the main problems for me, there were 6 teenage characters, but they all kind of blurred into one entity, there was nothing striking or appealing about any of them. I wasn't rooting for any of them and I didn't really care about any of them. In fact I liked the adult characters a lot better and they hardly get a word in!
I persevered with the book because I wanted to see what would happen when they reached the new planet, but as the book progressed I realised that it wasn't going to happen. 
About 60 pages before the end, disaster strikes, the ship suffers severe damage and they have to either wait for help or escape back to earth in the escape shuttle - catch is it will only hold the 6 teens, so the adults would have to sacrifice themselves and stay behind to die. Unless they can get help. This really changed the pace of the book and things started to get more exciting, I was hoping for an epic build up to an exciting ending. But no, I was wrong again. The ship gets help from another space ship that is orbiting, and they have to decide whether to continue with their mission to Terra-Two or head back to earth. And that's it. The book leaves you with them just floating in space, with a half-hearted 'we've come this far' sort of speech. At this point they are LESS THAN A YEAR into their voyage, there is still 22 years to go. I read over 500 pages for the book to get absolutely NOWHERE!!! I don't know if this has been done so that a second book can be written and continue the journey, but there is no way I could sit through another one that sort of length and have no more real progress. 22 years of travel is an awfully long time to write about, the author should have saved herself some of this hassle and said it was 10 years away, or at least something more manageable.
Overall I found this book highly disappointing and actually felt let down by the fact it didn't have a proper ending. The little bit of space element you got made it a bit more interesting,and I was surprised by how much I looked forward to having more information about the shuttle and space, but most of it could have been set anywhere, instead of it being a YA Sci-Fi, it was mostly just a teenage angst book.
I hate giving negative reviews, but I would not recommend this book, much too slow with characters I just don't care about. 

My Rating

Friday 24 April 2020

Book Review - Sisters Red

Title: Sisters Red
Author: Jackson Pearce
Series: Fairytale Retellings (Book 1)
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Release Date: 7 April 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1444900606

Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris — the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.
Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend — but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?

My Review
I bought this book years ago as I always have a bit of a soft spot for fairytale retellings and this was clearly a bit of a twist on Little Red Riding Hood. However it was another book I never got round to picking up at the time. I was looking for a quick read, so I grabbed this one, I didn't know it was part of a series, but I don't have the others so it was a stand-alone to me. (The series is different fairy tales so they don't directly link anyway).
The book follows sisters Scarlett and Rosie March, sisters who witnessed a horrible attack on their grandmother when they were kids, the grandma was killed and Scarlett got severely injured and lost an eye, but she managed to kill the wolf and protect her sister. Turns out the wolves are 'Fenris' a type of werewolf who can transform whenever they want and prey on young girls, enjoying the chase and creating fear before eating them. They operate in gangs and can be identified by small tattoos on their wrist - arrows, coins or bells are the main groups. There is a sort of rivalry between the groups as they fight to be the biggest and strongest group. But now there is a new 'Potential' - someone who can be transformed into one of them and the groups are coming together to find who it is so they can transform him during the new moon phase. 
Scarlett has now decided to dedicate her life to hunting and killing the Fenris, to her hunting them is everything, she doesn't have a job or any hobbies and certainly no relationships because hunting consumes her 24/7. The only person she cares about is her sister Rosie and she switches between wanting to protect her and keep her safe, to wanting Rosie to join the hunt and put herself at risk hunting the wolves. 
I found Scarlett a really annoying character, she is completely obsessed with the hunt and the world of the Fenris that she blocks out everything else, including normal human emotions. She also admits that she can't reveal the world of the Fenris to everyone as it would expose the danger and the 'fantasy secrets' (not entirely sure why it had to be a secret, other than its a fantasy setting and thats what they do), but she then commented on how stupid people were and at times almost hints that the girls deserve to be attacked because they entice the wolves/men - They are ignorant of what they are doing because they don't know the Fenris exist, but Scarlett blames them for being attacked. 
She is also very controlling over her sister. Rosie dropped out of school to help her hunt and isn't allowed any hobbies or dreams of her own. Rosie does not want to hunt, but feels obligated to her sister who constantly reminds her that it is her 'duty' to fight as she knows the truth. The poor girl just wanted a life of her own.
Then we have Silas, Scarlett's best friend from childhood, and her partner in the hunt, he had disappeared for a year but now he's back and ready to rejoin her and Rosie, but he also doesn't want to just hunt, he's happy to do it every now and then, but he wants a different life.
The group dynamic works quite well and i liked Silas as a character, but Scarlett just dominated everything with her one track mind. And the big 'reveal' about who the new 'Potential' would be - as soon as it mentioned there was one I knew immediately who it would be, it just took over 150 pages for the rest of them to work it out!
The actual storyline was ok, it developed well enough and moved at a reasonable pace, I read it in two short sittings and was interested enough to continue, but I wasn't blown away by it. I found most of it very predictable, Rosie was very weak and I kept waiting for her to step forward and fight for herself instead of for her sister. And Scarlett was self-absorbed and annoying. 
I liked the concept of the Fenris, but would have liked maybe a bit more information on how the groups worked and how the transformations were engineered. Also they are all going crazy for this new 'potential' because they all want to recruit more members, but the situation only comes round  at specific times - it has to be someone from a certain lineage who's birthday is a multiple of 7 during the specific moon phase that's happening. They've been hunting this 'potential' for the last 14 years! -  that's a long time with no new wolves - so you would think that they would have notices Scarlett, Silas and Rosie going round and killing members long before the  events of this book. Over the few years they have been hunting, Scarlett says she has killed 97 wolves and is upset that she hasn't managed more. But 97 is quite a big number when there is only one new one every 7 years!!! But they had never questioned disappearing members before now. Weird!
Overall, it's an okay read and fairly simple, but to me there are a lot of little problems and plot holes that don't quite add up and Scarlett was so unlikable, I kept reading because I quite liked Rosie and Silas and was interested enough to know what became of them. If you want an easy read and you like Fairy tale twists then you will probably enjoy this book. But it just didn't wow me. 

My Rating

Saturday 18 April 2020

Book Review - Someone Else's Life

Title: Someone Else's Life
Author: Katie Dale
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
Release Date: 2 Feb. 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0857071415

When seventeen-year-old Rosie's mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington's disease, Rosie's pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty percent chance of inheriting the crippling illness. Only when Rosie tells her mother's best friend, "Aunt Sarah," that she is going to be tested for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie wasn't Rosie's mother after all. Rosie was swapped at birth with a sickly baby who was certain to die.
Devastated, Rosie decides to join her ex-boyfriend on his gap-year travels, leaving England to find her birth mother in America. But all does not go as planned. After Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonizing decision, one with heartbreaking and far-reaching consequences.
Readers will be gripped by this thrilling emotional roller-coaster ride as a web of family secrets is ripped apart, profoundly affecting lives on both sides of the Atlantic.

My Review
I remember when this book first came out, I was still working at the library and there was such a hype for it. Everyone was requesting it and talking about it. I added it to my 'to read' list but it was never really a priority. Then a few years ago I was in one of my local bookshops and they do a '3 for £5' deal on books and I spotted this one and remembered that I wanted to read it, so I picked it up. It has since sat on my shelf and not been picked up. Even thought everyone said it was good, I wasn't sure it would be my sort of read so I kept putting it off, then I admit that I totally forgot about it.
Anyway, seeing as we are in Lockdown I have a bit more time to read at the moment, I had a spare hour and was browsing my bookshelves when this caught my eye, I picked it up and felt like now was the time. Still not really sure what it would be about, I read the blurb and decided it sounded alright. 
I sat down and began to read and was instantly hooked! I seriously haven't had a book that has grabbed me so severely in a long time, I did not want to put it down and I was hungry for more. I was supposed to read for an hour then start dinner, but I didn't want to stop. Reluctantly I put it down and put dinner on, then raced back and sat down and picked it straight up again - to cries from my husband of 'i thought we were going to watch something together'. I agreed to finish my chapter then put it down whilst we ate and then watched some TV. My husband then asked me about the book and could tell how invested I was with it, and with a smile he told me to read some more! (I am the luckiest girl ever! My husband totally understands my book craziness) I then spent the next couple of hours reading and got 350 pages through the book before I conceded that we should go to bed as my eyes were getting blurry and i was yawning a lot. But i still didn't want to put it down. So this morning I was desperate to pick it back up and finish the story - i just had to know what happened to everyone.
The book follows Rosie, an 18 year old who has spent the last year and a half nursing her sick mother Trudie who has now just died from Huntington's Disease - I didn't really know anything about this disease so the book also helped to educate me a bit about this too. Rosie is terrified that she would have inherited the disease as it is a genetic disorder - she has a 50% chance of getting it in her future, desperate to know the answers she decides to be tested. But this decision changes more than she ever thought it would - her friend 'Aunt Sarah' tries to convince her it isn't necessary to know, and in an argument reveals that Rosie wasn't really Trudie's daughter - she was a baby, switched at birth. Now Rosie is on a mission to find her really family, and find out who she really is. This quest takes her to America with her boyfriend Andy who is going traveling, but she fails to reveal the real reason for her trip. All I can say is that Andy is a saint and she is so lucky to have him, Rosie constantly lies to him and acts rather selfishly, but he always stands by her and comes back to her. I didn't dislike Rosie though, she was raw, passionate, angry and totally selfish, but you could see why she was feeling this way and she never intends to hurt anyone, she just wants to find out the truth. She's actually a very likeable character and her mixed emotions and flaws just makes her that much more real.

The chapters are divided between Rosie and at first an unknown source - I thought I knew who this would be but I was wrong, great plot twist there! We are then introduced to Holly, the girl that Rosie was swapped with at birth, the baby that everyone thought would die - but somehow survived and lived the life Rosie should have had. I liked Holly at first, but then she becomes very irrational, jealous and a bit crazy at times. She thinks everyone is abandoning her, that Rosie is trying to steal her life and quite frankly she becomes a bit of a b****h, as the story progressed I was starting to get annoyed with her and wanted someone to just slap her and tell her to wake up. I didn't really care what happened to her because she annoyed me so much, but at the same time I couldn't look away and I had to know - it was like a car crash, you know you shouldn't look but you can't help but stare. 

There is a lot going on in this book, lots of dramatic events, twists, turns and surprises, but it was perfect to keep up the pace and make you want to read more. Even though there was a lot going on, I was never confused, I just felt like I was being carried along on a boat riding through choppy waves but thoroughly enjoying the ride. This book is raw and exciting, and honestly one of the best books I have read in a long time. Katie Dale takes a difficult subject and presents it in a fantastic story that will make you truly feel for the characters. 
This was a book that I literally could not put down and had to know what happens. Katie Dale wove the story perfectly and I feel like she has re-invigorated my passion and hunger for reading. 
I honestly would highly recommend this book, it's got everything - Drama, Romance, Adventure, Suspense and characters that you can really connect with. 

My Rating

Monday 13 April 2020

Book Review - Happy Girl Lucky

Title: Happy Girl Lucky
Author: Holly Smale
Series: The Valentines (Book 1)
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Release Date: 7th February 2019
ISBN13: 9780008254148

Introducing The Valentines. Fame – It Runs in the Family!

Sisters Hope, Faith and Mercy have everything: fame, success, money and beauty. But what Hope wants most of all is love, and it doesn’t matter how far she has to go to find it.

Except real-life isn't like the movies. Even if you're a Valentine...

My Review
I absolutely loved the Geek Girl series and I met Holly Smale at LFCC a couple of years ago. I definitely class myself as a fan, Harriet is the lovable geek that reminded me of me at times and I love Smale's writing which just hooked me in and carried me away. 
I got this book when it first came out and managed to get it signed by Holly, but i didn't get round to reading it straight away. In fact it's sat on my shelf for the last year. As we are currently in lock down due to Corona Virus, I have a little bit more time to sit and read (around working from home, course study and housework). I wanted something that was fairly easy but would hook me in so I picked this book up. 
Hope is a fifteen year old girl, daughter of famous film star mother and award winning director father, she has 3 older siblings who are all enjoying the lime light too. A family rule dictates that no member of the Valentine family will be exposed to the movie business before they turn 16 so Hope is desperately counting down the days until she is thrust into the world of fame and fortune. Hope loves the movies and sees everyday as action playing out, she often narrates her story like a film script, pausing and re-writing if something doesn't quite go her way.
Within the first couple of pages I already didn't like Hope, she is so over dramatic, self obsessed and just annoying. Although she is supposed to be 15 years old, she seems a lot younger to me - she is so immature and whiny that I would never have pictured her as old enough to be prepping for GCSE"s. Her parents have kept her at home, hiring a private tutor who she rarely pays attention to and her siblings ignore her a lot of the time- too busy with their own lives and issues, so Hope has had to find other ways to entertain herself. However a 15 year old with imaginary friends just seemed a bit juvenile to me, surely with all the advances in modern technology, she would at least be the member of some online forums or groups and have virtual friends.
The actual story line wasn't bad, I liked the idea of a privileged family and the youngest daughter trying to find her mark on the world whilst desperately looking for love and dealing with the split of her parents. However I found the 'scripts' that Hope act out really annoying and within a few chapters I started to skip them and just read the main body of the story. 
The main plot of this book is Hope finding love for the first time, she meets Jamie on a London train, just like the horoscopes said she would and they have a whirlwind romance over the next week. He seems to be the perfect boy, and you know what they say, if something seems to perfect - it's probably not real. Jamie then leaves to go back to LA, but Hope has ways of making things work, her dad is currently shooting a movie in LA - so she jets off to save her own romance and her parents. 
The love story was very predictable, very easy to work out what was coming next and what would happen. Jamie to me felt very superficial and way too 'nice' to be true, and I was shouting at Hope to wake up and see the reality. 
I think my main issue was that i didn't like Hope as a character, she was just too self obsessed and such an airhead, never listening to anyone else and focusing more on clothes and make up than her family falling apart around her. I liked her siblings, the short snippets we got showed different personalities and some developed characters. I have found out that the next book is about Faith, which makes me torn, as she was my favourite out of all the family and I would love to read more about her. 
I sometimes start to wonder if I am too old to read some teen fiction, i am more cynical and a lot of the plot lines seem too predictable and the characters too shallow - but I'm not a teenager anymore, although hair, make up, celebrities and boys were never a focus for me, so maybe it's just not my cup of tea.
If you are a fan of Holly or you want a nice easy read to escape for a couple of hours, then this could be the book for you. But for me, I just wanted to slap Hope an tell her to grow up. 

My Rating