30 June 2015

Planet Urth - Jennifer and Christopher Martucci

Typical YA fare with a teenage girl and her young sister are trying to survive in a pitiless post-apocalyptic world where everyone is out to get them.

The Good:
  • Some awesomely creepy creatures involved
  • Excellent imagining of how life might actually be when you're scared out of your whits and trying to live in the wild
  • Great characterisation with Avery and her sister, June, and their relationship is wonderful
  • Interesting ideas where the families are involved, makes you think about how you and your family would react to this kind of thing
  • Nice beginning to a romance. Shame it completely clouds the Avery's judgement, as she's such a strong character

The Bad:
  • Obvious storyline that goes exactly how you thought it would
  • Slow to start
  • No complexity of plot
  • No character arc or facets in the characters
  • Avery, the protagonist, is a little bit too perfect for me. Pretty, good survival skills, excellent fighter, caring... the list goes on. She only doubts herself a little bit when it comes to her sister
  • No promise of something bigger in the next book
It's a middle of the pack story, part of a series that I may or may not pick up again, depending on if I see the second one about for a good price. While it was enjoyable, there was nothing in the book that excited me enough to pick up the next one. I could already imagine what was going to happen, or what was likely to. While there was a promise of some sort of rebellion for the MC, there was no solid evidence that it was likely to happen on a larger scale.

3/5 for fun factor and readability, but didn't quite live up to my expectations.

Planet Urth on Goodreads


19 June 2015

Book review: Angelfall - Susan Ee

It's been six weeks since the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world as we know it. Only pockets of humanity remain. 

Savage street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night.

When angels fly away with a helpless girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back...

This is a different kind of story than what I am used to. This time the angels are the bad guys, tearing up our world and wreaking havoc on all humans. Thing is, they are even worse than I thought, and we get some pretty nasty surprises nearing the end of the book.

A great apocalypse story, told with a perfect atmosphere where you are never quite safe. There is cynicism leaping off of Penryn in waves, an awful brutality to all of the humans, and a huge amount of fear and distrust. The backdrop of a completely broken world makes it bleak and almost hopeless.

The love story is cute, and completely, inevitably obvious. Nevertheless, I liked that it happened. I liked Penryn and Raffe's relationship; the initial distrust, the constant sniping, the grudging appreciation, the slow acceptance and the underlying attraction. It was all great, and totally by the book. Sometimes I wished it wasn't quite so obvious, but most of the time I didn't care.

This book deals with some big issues too; its not just a love story set in the apocalypse, you know. It makes you think about mental illness, disabilities, religion, humanity and family. It makes you think about how you would respond to all of this. Would you toughen up like Penryn? Would you risk it all to save your family? Would you still essentially be you after a huge otherworldy attack? I certainly thought about these things, and I am still not sure I would have had the guts and courage that Penryn had throughout this book.

Penryn as a character is truly great. She's believeable, still a girl who values her family, but she's had some tough choices to make, and those include leaving her mother to fend for herself. I loved seeing her point of view throughout, and loved how seeing everything through her eyes made it horribly real for me, particularly her thoughts on her mother. I found those thoughts really interesting, and scary if my predictions are correct.

Speaking of scary, there are some pretty nasty things happening in this world, as well as a lot of mysterious involving angel politics. All of that was really intriguing, so I can't wait to read the next book and find out more. The book left me with a lot of questions, but the ones that bug me are these: Why was Raffe attacked in the first place, really? What they heck did they do with those things that are eating people? What do the Nephilim look like? What happened to the angel's wives? Are those demon wings, or something worse?

Oh, so many questions.

Overall, this was a great book that I found extremely difficult to put down. The story was told in perfect detail and was ideal for a YA audience. I can definitely see this one being optioned for a film, and being made into a great one.


Angelfall on Goodreads

15 June 2015

Review: The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton

"There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . ."

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office—leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist—an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand—and fear—the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Honestly. I couldn't have put it better myself, hence why you have pretty much the entire blurb in front of you now.

I picked up this book because A. the cover is gorgeous and B. miniatures that seem to magically mirror their counterparts are awesome in every way. I was not disappointed, in fact, I was far from it. What I never took away from the blurb is that the miniaturist only has a small, but significant, part to play. They are on the sidelines, looking in and commenting in the same way we would, but knowing far more.

No, this book is about far more than a little but of magic. This book is about the harsh reality of living in this era, in this city. There was so much more to this book than I originally thought. It talks about real issues that are still lingering in our world today: arranged marriage, racism, sexism and being gay. It talks about a world where we must keep secrets from others to have a better social standing, and to become rich; a completely ridiculous and unfair world, and yet there are still people today who are sexist or homophobic.

Although I thought the book was very slow to start, where it was trying to give plenty of background and atmosphere, the rest of it passed by in a blur as more and more interesting things happened. There is some absolutely brilliant storytelling, and not one of the characters felt unrealistic to me. I loves each character and their quirks that made them unique. They are real people to me, and that made it very special.

I did have a couple of issues though. I would have loved to have the miniaturist playing a much larger role, being more like a puppet master. We never really see what's going on with this character, and it would have been great to get a bit more out of them, because they are extremely intriguing. Maybe they really can tell the future and could have helped but decided not to. We never knew the real purpose of them being there, and in some ways their existence failed to move the plot along at all - life did that by its-self.

And another; Nella is very quick to change her ideas. She doesn't seem to really care about certain things that happen to her where others would have given a punch to the face. She needed more balls, in my opinion. I know that's not particularly realistic, but I need my characters to have a bit of fire!

It was a very abrupt kind of ending, and one that really left me wanting more, like the book never truly closed on that last page. I am somewhat of a fantasist so was very disappointed that the other-worldliness and magic of the miniaturist was never actually addressed, and even more so seeming as they are the title of the book.

Nonetheless, it was a great read and very engrossing. I simply had to know what happened.

3.5 / 5

Phew! That was a long one!

The Miniaturist on Goodreads.

11 June 2015

Press Release! Alice Takes Back Wonderland - David D. Hammons

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You guys.... just look at this gorgeousness! I am in love with this cover and in love with the idea of this story. I hope you need to read it as much as I do!

On the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Lewis Carroll’s beloved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Curiosity Quills Press announces the publication of David D. Hammons’ debut novel, a retelling of the classic story with many more beloved fairy tale characters joining Alice in Wonderland. The book will be released September 28, 2015 in the US.

The Ace of Spades has taken over Wonderland and is systematically dismantling all that makes it wonderful. After the White Rabbit brings her back to the world she thought was just a childhood delusion, teenage Alice refuses to allow Ace to ruin this magical place. But she is just Alice, and can't stop Ace alone. Alice travels across the stars to unite a fairy tale army. She must help Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White, Robin Hood, Cinderella and more complete their own stories. Through adventure, romance, danger, and deception, Alice may find the strength she needs to defeat Ace and take back Wonderland.

David D. Hammons has recently married a woman who calls him her “Prince Charming” and started working as a full-time author and editor after traveling the world selling black walnuts. He is an adjunct professor of Logistics at Missouri State University and lives in his hometown of Springfield, Missouri. 

I sincerely want to request this book, but I have soo many to read! My TBR pile is pretty extensive, and recently I've been pretty rubbish at reading things quickly.