Thursday, July 2, 2015

READING: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Publication date: May 26th, 2015
Published by: Dutton
Genre:Young Adult, Revenge, Mystery
Rating: 2/5
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I’m the daughter of murdered parents. I’m the friend of a dead girl. I’m the lover of my enemy. And I will have my revenge. In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.  
 What a disappointment! I was so looking forward to reading this because a)Carrie Ryan b)revenge, and I feel so let down and actually kinda sad.

 Plot holes in this book were the size of my head (and that says a lot!). Apart from the original back story which is completely non-believable by itself, there were other separate small parts that added even more to its unbelievability. First, why Frances changed her identity and became Libby? To save herself? Um Libby was on the ship as well. So what difference does it make if she is Frances or Libby? If the bad men coming after her was the problem, they would come after either Frances or Libby. Also, when Frances was saved everyone on the rescue team saw Cecil crying over his daughter's dead body. It didn't occur to either of them that so many people have been witnesses to the actual Libby dying? Lawwwww-gic!

 As far as the revenge part is concerned, let me clarify: there was none. What Frances wanted was to get back with Grey, a guy she met on the ship. She only knew him for 4 days (maybe less) but Frances felt an all consuming love for him, even though, according to her, he was responsible for the attack on the ship. But really, what do 300+ lives matter in the face of true love eh? We get to read about how Frances wanted him even after all these years and how excited she got when she felt him naked on the other side of a bathroom door (eye roll).
 Also, for a girl whose family was murdered and who is so hell bent on revenge preparing herself and doing extensive research for 4 years, she full on sucked at it. From the moment she returned from Europe she kept making these stupid mistakes in an effort to hide her true identity that you had to be really stupid not to notice. Important facts would come up and she would sound surprised that none of that came up on her research. Well, did you do any? Like, at all?

 There was absolutely no character development. Shepard and Cecil's character were like non existent, no point being in the book. We got no background on Senator's or Grey's lives and the "revelation" about some eco group something or other was ridiculous.

 I just can't believe that Carrie Ryan of The Forest of Hands and Teeth wrote this. Bummer.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

READING: Black Iris by Leah Raeder

Black Iris by Leah Raeder

Publication date: April 28th, 2015
Published by: Atria
Genre:New Adult
Rating: 3.5/5
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It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking around for. If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate. She's not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own. But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it's time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help. Which was the plan all along. Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true. She's going to show them all 

 This book is quite different than anything I've read before. I don't think it fits into any defined category: YA-impossible, New Adult-close but still no, Adult-not quite. So where does that leave Black Iris? Nowhere and everywhere.

 Black Iris was a really dark, sexy, intense book which I found myself thinking about long after I finished reading it. If I'm being honest, I didn't think I'll like it 100 pages in. I found the writing pretentious and over the top, only to realise later that that's exactly how it's supposed to be and that writing style fits this book perfectly. 
I must admit I found the different timelines a bit confusing, at the point where I had to write down the years and put the events in chronological order to make some sense of them. As for the writing, yes it was definitely over the top, but once you got used to it there were some scenes in the book that just left me breathless. And I'm not talking about the steamy sex scenes which were ridiculously well written.

 This book is about Laney's revenge against the people she thinks wronged her and their struggle (not hers) with her sexuality. Laney just couldn't understand why something that came so natural to her, was so hard for so many people she didn't even know to realise and accept and eventually it started eating away at her. All that rage and anger started to get hold of her mind and heart and led her actions. I know that part of Laney's struggle reflects Raeder's own personal experience as she explains in the Acknowledgments part of the book, so I don't think I have any right to criticize and express my opinion on what is basically someone's own soul and heart on the paper. I won't even pretend to understand what she went through so I'm finding it impossible to judge Laney's feelings and dark thoughts. 

SPOILER those that hurt Laney did not kill her mom. They did not force her to take the pills. They did not force her to change her mom's medication. That was all Laney. She did it for semi selfish reasons (she did it for her brother too, so she was not entirely selfish) and because there was something innately wrong with her. She hang around with her worst enemy, who she asked to get her the pills to use on her mom and then almost beat him to death because it was somehow his fault. I'm not saying Z was innocent, far from it. And I know that Laney admits that what happened to her mom was her fault but does she really believes it? Or is she so wrapped into "everyone hates" me world that she thinks that whatever happens to her is always someone else's fault? SPOILER END 

 That's what I didn't like about the book. How Laney continued to live in a world of hate even after everything that happened to her and even after she started to feel love from someone she loved herself. Unfortunately, that did not quenched her thirst for violence and hurt not even a little. She said from the beginning that she is "no heroine" and "fuck forgiveness". See, I am not ok with that. Violence against violence is never the solution no matter how much you have been wronged and no matter how much your whole body wants to hurt someone bad. That much hate will only leave you hallow and destroyed, and in the end there will be nothing left. Apparently, that doesn't bother Laney at all or Blythe for that matter. But if we are not to care for the main character what was the point of the story with her mom and her lovely brother if not to feel even a little bit of sympathy for Laney, some hope? I particularly disliked how very appealing and exciting this "eye for an eye" way of dealing with things was presented, like as long as we can get away with it, we'll hunt down and mess up any mother *ucker that hurt us. Nope, completely opposed to that.

 I recommend Black Iris to readers bored of the same cookie cutter NA college reads, who want something completely different, fresh and exciting. For those that have read Unteachable and want to read something similar, this is not the book for you.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

READING: Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

Publication date: May 1st, 2012
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Historical Romance
Rating: 2/5
It’s 1912, and the Darlingtons of Wentworth Hall have more than just the extensive grounds to maintain. As one of Britain’s most elite families, they need to keep up appearances that things are as they have always been…even as their carefully constructed faƇade rapidly comes undone.  Maggie has a secret. And she’s not the only one…the handsome groom Michael, the beautiful new French nanny Therese, the Darlingtons’ teenage houseguests Teddy and Jessica, and even Maggie’s younger sister Lila are all hiding something. Passion, betrayal, heartache, and whispered declarations of love take place under the Darlingtons’ massive roof. And one of these secrets has the power to ruin the Darlingtons forever.  When scandalous satires start appearing in the newspaper with details that closely mirror the lives of the Darlingtons, everyone is looking over their shoulder, worrying their scandal will be next. Because at Wentworth Hall, nothing stays secret for long.
Um…you guys! Where is the rest of the book?? You know, the one with all the character development and the not ridiculous plot line? Because I can't seem to find it anywhere and what I read just didn't cut it.

Wentworth Hall is a YA historical fiction, so it was only natural that as soon as I got my hands on it I would read it immediately, no question. I have read so few YA historical, that I immediately jump at the chance when one comes out and I really thought Wentworth Hall would be the one. It wasn't, though. It didn't even come close.

Grahame did an OK job as far as the writing goes (just OK though), but unfortunately failed at everything else. The characters were not likable at all, not even one, and in 276 pages they had no time to change being busy doing whatever mundane stuff they were doing throughout the whole book. I found it impossible to relate to any of the characters and I didn't believe their relationships for a second. For example, the great romance between the stable boy and the Lord's daughter was laughable, at best. There was no background story to back it up, nor could the reader detect the character's feelings at all. It was like they were actors pushed into a role they hated and they played it badly. Also, why have Maggie's mother help with the baby situation only to have Maggie describe her as a cold and detached parent later? It doesn't make any sense!

As for the plot, it had enormous gaps. What happened with Therese and Wes? What happened to the twins? What went on with Ian and Lila? And most importantly what happened to Wentworth Hall?? I kept thinking there has got to be a book 2 but it turns out there isn't and I don't think there will be one in the future (shocking!).

Granted, Wentworth Hall is readable and a really quick read, if you're interested in something like that. Even if you only want to pass the time though, I suggest you look elsewhere. This is only gonna bring you pain, suffering and frustration!
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

READING: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Publication date: December 11, 2012
Published by: Razorbill
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Fantasy YA
Rating: 5/5
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:    Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.   Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.   Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.   Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...   The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
I know it took me over a month to finish Falling Kingdoms but that has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the book. I was going through some personal stuff, moving overseas, blah blah. But even when I wasn't reading, weirdly enough I always had Falling Kingdoms in the back of mind wandering what happens next. And even after such a long period, when I finally got back to it, I realised that I was still hooked and excited to get into it again. If that's not an indicator of Falling Kingdoms being an amazing book, I don't know what is!

First and foremost I would like to address the George Martin issue. I fully acknowledge and respect the fact that Rhodes (aka Michelle Rowen) has been inspired, if you will, by Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. I think it's pretty apparent, no need to deny it. I have come across myriads of books that were really similar to others or that their authors have "borrowed" (by no means stole) bits and pieces from other books. I usually don't like that in a book, because readers in general want to always read original material and not something they have read again and again.
That being said, I have come to eat my words as far as some of these books are concerned, because I ended up liking them and I feel that the real struggle for their authors is not just to utilise similar stories or characters from other books, but to make them their own and give them their own significant voice and style, and eventually produce an amazing result that is, in its own way, unique. I think that's what happened with Falling Kingdoms and I am really really glad I did not take bad reviews into account and decided to read it after all.

I haven't read any books by Michelle Rowen so I didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the writing, which was amazing, as I am fully aware how difficult it is to write a fantasy novel. I loved the descriptions of the different kingdoms and in general her edgy and clever style of writing. The story was exciting, kept you on your toes the whole time. There was romance, sword fighting, magic, what's not to like?

What made Falling Kingdoms so special for me were the characters. I notice a lot of readers struggled with the characters and I honestly have no idea why. For instance, I don't think Cleo come across as a selfish brat but for argument's sake, let's say she did. Isn't it understandable? She is the princess of a very wealthy kingdom. She has led a sheltered life with servants at her beg and call so yeah, she may be a little spoiled (which again, I did not get from her). I have seen alleged "heroines" in YA acting way worse than Cleo. The majority of them, actually. So even if she was acting like a brat at the beginning, in the end I think everyone will agree that she grows by leaps and bounds while trying to save herself, the people she loves and her land. I think Cleo is a very misunderstood character and it really upsets me when people bash her. I would have liked to see the romance between her and Theon (thank you Martin for totally ruining that name for me, by the way!) showcased a little bit better. I didn't quite get where all this undying love came from and that made me not care for their romantic relationship as much as I would have wanted to. Now Magnus I fell in love with. He was my ultimate favorite. Jonas was right there with him at some point, but Magnus won in the end. I loved everything about Magnus. He was the most well written character in my opinion. I liked how his mind worked, how he had so many issues it's not even funny, how he alternated between having a superiority complex and an inferiority complex at the same time, how he was so emotionally confused, how he was a total wreck. What can I say? I love a tortured soul! And especially one that doesn't have or even deserve a happy ending, one that not only didn't learn from his mistakes but drowned in them, put simply, a fantastically flawed, freaking awesome character! I just loved every word coming out of his mouth and I just couldn't wait for a Limeros chapter just so that I could read about Magnus.
What I would have liked though was maybe Lucia appearing more in the book. Rhodes made us believe she is a very important character who plays a crucial part in the story, only to keep her in hiding, so to speak. Hopefully we get to see more of her in the sequel.

Jonas was great also, with an amazing back story: who doesn't like a scorned poor guy seeking revenge? Again though, it is not that simple with Rhodes. Jonas is not the great guy who has been treated unfairly and wants to right the wrongs done to him. Well on paper he does, but he is going at it the wrong way, even making him the bad guy at some point, destroying every hero stereotype along the way. That's what makes Rhodes' characters so intriguing and different, in my opinion: their twisted sense of right and wrong.

All in all, Falling Kingdoms hit it out of the park for me. It was dark and captivating-just the way I like them. Some say that a lot of the stuff in there are inappropriate for Young Adults. I can't argue with that, to each its own. I read Stephen King when I was a Young Adult so I wouldn't mind reading Falling Kingdoms at that age. Also, it's a fantasy novel, so let's just take it down a notch with the overreacting, shall we?

Bottom line is this: Falling Kingdoms is awesome, go buy it! That's all you need to know!
Book 2 in the series "Rebel Spring" coming out 2013. Sign me up!

*This book has been given to me by Penguin Australia via NetGalley
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