Jessica Shirvington’s Between The Lives blew my mind

betweenthelivesBetween the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

Published: (this edition) August 2014 by Orchard Books 

Genre: Romance, Contemp/Fantasy

Format: eBook

Rating: An impressive gust! Four birdies

I received an ecopy of Between the Lives to review from Netgalley – this in no way effects my opinion

The perfect life or the perfect love. You choose.

For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she shifts to her ‘other’ life – a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she’s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she’s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.

With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments that bring her dangerously close to the life she’s always wanted. But if she can only have one life, which is the one she’ll choose?

A compelling psychological thriller about a girl who lives two parallel lives – this is Sliding Doors for the YA audience

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A book with heartfelt meaning, overflowing with messages and exploding with serious questions and concepts – I really loved this carefully plotted story

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Between the Lives was creepy, awesome, interesting and meaningful. This is my first read from Shirvington, and I’m impressed! I really enjoyed this book and its quirkiness. The only downside for me was that the romance was a little rushed, but otherwise, I have nothing but good to say!

Between the Lives follows Sabine, who literally lives a double life. She resides in two different realities, where she is the same, but her situation is not. She “shifts” every 24 hours at midnight into a her other life. The story takes place after Sabine realizes a difference in her lives that could change everything.

First up, I really loved the concept and I totally congratulate Shirvington for writing it so carefully. I love the idea of having lives in two different realities and being aware of them. I could see so many opportunities for plot holes and inconsistencies, except there weren’t any. Nope. They were carefully avoided or they were explained in detail. Which is awesome! My mind kept trying to pick at things, but it couldn’t. Leaving me to read in peace.

I really enjoyed the characters in Between the Lives, though some were a bit cliché. It’s hard for me to say if Sabine was developed or not, because, she was two different people. But then again, even though she was different, it was because she forced herself to be different, and it’s that underlying voice that we get a real picture of. She’s the same person with this ideal that she has to be a certain way in each world; not understanding that she can just be herself.

Meaning! This book was more than just your action packed, tell-a-story book, but it held meaning and depth which I just love. Life should be treasured is one meaning, whilst the other I saw was about being yourself. I thought both were explored and portrayed really well!

In saying this, I didn’t believe the romance in Between the Lives. It was there, but I think it was a little too rushed to have the depth it was meant to have. I almost believed it, but I needed a little more connection and a little slower/ more gradual climax for total impact.

Otherwise, Between the Lives had just enough description to satisfy my needs, and I liked how each world was complex, how everything wasn’t perfect or bad. Her journey to deciding which life is better is interesting and sets up some great questions!  I didn’t quite connect with the romance, though the plot, characters and messages the book explores are great! I definitely recommend Between the Lives!

  • The content in Between the Lives is explicit. I recommend for older teens and up.

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justbreezy!

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown blows me away!

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Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Genre: Contemporary, YA,

Published: May, 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Format: Paperback 

My Rating: 4 birdies

When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole — a handsome, funny, sports star who adores her — she can’t believe she’s finally found her soul mate . . . someone who truly loves and understands her.

At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy? As the months pass, though, Alex can no longer ignore Cole’s small put-downs, pinches, or increasingly violent threats.

As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose “love” she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose — between her “true love” and herself.

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If you read my goodreads comments while reading Bitter End, you would think I absolutely loath this book. But really, I’m sitting on the other end. I adored this book with all its frustrations. My hateful and frustrated comments show others reactions to real accounts of domestic violence. Combined with great characters, inner trauma and sub plots, I was brought on a very emotional journey that I recommend to everyone.

Bitter End used a combo of realism and idealism to really demonstrate the effect of domestic violence. This book covered not only the act itself, but everything such a relationship can effect in a young woman’s life; in school, at home, work and other relationships. I do feel as though some things were over-dramatized or cheesy, though they were in the minority.

An example of idealism to exaggerate the issue is the perfect friendship in the book. Three friends from childhood growing up together, practically inseparable and very close to eachother. It’s idealistic, what we all dream of having but rarely ever happens in real life. Our MC Alex has this, but it is damaged and broken through her abusive relationship with gorgeous Cole. The destruction of a perfect friendship really highlights the extensive effects of domestic violence. Though it makes things a little unrealistic, I enjoyed the exaggerations.

Despite the exaggerations, I thought the story was very real and covered all aspects of an abusive relationship. The whole process from beginning, to end and her recovery (with some minor cheesy moments) was believable.

I also found this book eye-opening. Before now, I’ve always thought that people suffering domestic violence were naïve to their situation. But Alex was very aware of what was happening to her, she was more concerned about ruining her relationship with Cole, because she loved him. She was also more concerned about what people would think of her if they knew, again delaying her from telling anyone.

Aside from the domestic violence aspect, I though the rest of the book was well thought out and the characters well developed. Although, there were quite a few characters in the book, leaving some as no more than names and a face. I loved Alex (even though I cursed her and called her an idiot multiple times) I liked her poetic nature and how this was explored. It got a bit stunted towards the end, though, and I wish the author followed through and drew upon her writing talents in the story. I thought the family situation was a bit much, even though it added to her relationship with Cole. You might as well add the she was also suffering from neglect.

I have no complaints with the writing. The story flowed really well, even though there were time lapses, the writing was easy to read. There were too many characters to fully develop them all, though I feel as though the major ones were covered. Though exaggerated and sometimes cheesy, I found Bitter End to be a very well-rounded, believable story that explores domestic violence extensively, portraying it’s exact effects to a young adolescent.

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justbreezy!

Sci-fi gone wild in Across the Universe by Beth Revis

9996290Across the Universe (#1) by Beth Revis

Genre: Sci-fi, YA

Format: e-book

Source: I bought my own copy from Sony. 

Rating: 4 birdies

Amy is a cryogenically frozen passenger aboard the spaceship Godspeed. She has left her boyfriend, friends–and planet–behind to join her parents as a member of Project Ark Ship. Amy and her parents believe they will wake on a new planet, Centauri-Earth, three hundred years in the future. But fifty years before “Godspeed'”s scheduled landing, cryo chamber 42 is mysteriously unplugged, and Amy is violently woken from her frozen slumber.
Someone tried to murder her.
Now, Amy is caught inside an enclosed world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed’s 2,312 passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader. And Elder, Eldest’s rebellious teenage heir, is both fascinated with Amy and eager to discover whether he has what it takes to lead. Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she put her faith in a boy who has never seen life outside the ship’s cold metal walls? All Amy knows is that she and Elder must race to unlock “Godspeed”‘s hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Across the Universe. The romance didn’t meet my expectations, but the world building, the descriptions and the mystery were excellent!

Across the Universe is about a 300 year journey to another life sustaining planet. It has what you expect – people being frozen for value, plus people on board the ship living lives. It follows a girl named Amy, who is frozen along with her parents. The story then fast forwards to the future, where we meet Elder in a strange version of life. This sudden immersion into nearly an entire, unknown culture is startling. Normally, I do not have a problem getting used to new worlds, but this one I had quite a lot of trouble understanding the new terms and realities. I didn’t take long for me to get into it, though I was constantly shocked by the difference of life-on-spacecraft.

Despite not understanding at first, I really liked the detail that went into creating futuristic space life. So much thought went into it that there was absolutely no room for a single plot hole (that I could detect, anyway). This detail went forward into the descriptions; I was always well aware of what the surroundings were in the story and had a clear picture. I also loved the details of things such as the “freezing” of human bodies. It made it feel so real and plausible.

This detail was also found in the characters – I thought all the main characters were well rounded and developed. I loved Amy’s conflicting emotions and confusion. Coming from a world much like ours, I felt as though I could relate to her the most. I definitely understood everything she went through, with being unfrozen too early and being immersed into some really strange world really quickly. Even though Elder was the oddity on the spaceship – being unlike the people around him, I still understood him and I really liked his character. He was flawed and naïve, though smart and more accepting than others on the ship.

The one problem I had was that I didn’t feel any real spark between Amy and Elder. There was a little attraction, though it didn’t make me feel anything. To be fair, there wasn’t a lot of movement in the love department, though the blurb hinted at it enough for me to want more.

Across the Universe included some adultish material that I wasn’t expecting. This was shocking at first, though I came to respect Revis for including it. At first it felt unnecessary,  but as the plot moved along it began to fit and make more sense.

Something else that I loved? The mystery! I felt like we were in a sci-fi murder mystery! Something I haven’t actually come across before. I love guessing in books, and I loved being surprised. I was amazed at how many times I was surprised! There were only a couple of really guessable things.

However, another big thing that let the book down for me a little was some of the revelations and truths of these mysteries. There was some seriously strange behavior going on inside the ship, but when the reason for this came out? It was really unbelievable and almost too “out there”. It seemed like such a huge, extensive and pointless effort. It was complicated – and really, the more simple answers are sometimes better and more effective. I feel like this could have used some more common sense.

Other than feeling off at this point, and being disappointed at the romance, I still really enjoyed reading Across the Universe. I am such a sucker for that great description and detail, and I was honestly hooked from the beginning. So, I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt. Across the Universe can have a rating of four for hitting my weaknesses. However, I do warn younger readers. There are some parts in the book that seemed a bit much for anyone under 18.

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justbreezy!

Reboots kick ass in Rebel by Amy Tintera

rebelRebel by Amy Tintera

Genre: Dystopia, YA

Published: 1st June, 2014

Format: Paperback

Source: I was provided a copy of Rebel from Allen and Unwin.

Wren and Callum finally reach the Reboot Reservation, a safe haven from HARC, which controls the cities. But it isn’t the paradise they’d hoped for. As they learn more about Micah, the bloodthirsty Reboot who runs it, they discover that he’s been creating an army with one goal in mind: to kill the humans in the cities … ALL of them. Wren’s first instinct is to head out for new territory, but Callum can’t stand by and let his human family and everyone else be hunted down. With HARC on one side and Micah on the other, saving the innocent and forging a lasting peace between humans and Reboots is a nearly impossible task. But Wren and Callum have never let that stop them before. 

 

 

The sequel to Reboot was all I could have wanted in an ending! It was action-packed, hot and steamy and filled with characters and development. Rebel was very satisfying, though it sometimes fell flat, and I had a few problems with perspective changes, character recognition and connection.

Always start off with the good, yes? Amy Tintera sure knows how to write a killer action scene! There was so much of it in this book, it fed my craving for blood and warfare. I can certainly count on detail from Tintera.

Another MAJOR thumbs up from me is the character growth in Rebel – especially when it comes to Callum. I admit, I wasn’t Callums biggest fan In Reboot. I thought he was nothing more than the cute love interest – the catalyst to Wren’s change. But in Rebel, we see in Callum’s perspective. Not only do I understand him better, but this helped to illustrate his development as a character. He went from being whiny and annoying to helpful and using initiative to take charge of his situation. I now like him and believe he is someone worthy of Wren.

And of course, Wren continued on her path for change. She is practically an entire different person by the end of this book. I won’t give anything away, but it is truly excellent and probably my favourite thing about Rebel.

I was very absorbed by Rebel. The writing, characters and world is very easy to slip into. Sadly it was also easy to slip out of, as well. Though it was absorbing, I wasn’t captivated. This book didn’t have my undivided attention. Even though it was action packed, something just fell a little flat for me.

It may be because I wasn’t connected to the characters, nor the plot. I liked them, enjoyed their growth and reading their story, but I wasn’t distressed when something bad happened, nor overwhelmed when something good happened. It just didn’t evoke much emotion from me.

Sometimes, I had trouble with the dual perspective. Even though it states who’s perspective we’re in, and it’s consistent with swapping from person to person – they sometimes sounded familiar and I had to go back to the beginning of the chapter to re-check who I’m reading from.

Another problem I had was recognizing all the characters. There were so many of them, and all I had were names to connect with. I’m more of a visual girl, so it takes more description of traits, or even looks for me to make a connection with who they are. Sometimes a name would come up and I would be like; who the heck is that? What have they done? Do they have a trait, or looks or something I can actually visualize?

Other than that, I was very satisfied by the ending. Wren’s change, combined with what she wished for all along, nearly made me cry. It was close, but I managed to hold myself back. Despite my minor problems with character recognition and perspective confusion, I really enjoyed Rebel and thought it was a great conclusion to the first book. Connection issues aside; the development was great and I would highly recommend this series.

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justbreezy!

Why I only gave The Faults in Our Stars 4 stars

thefaultsinourstarsThere probably hasn’t been a day since the beginning of this year that I have not heard of the amazingness that is John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Not one day.

Nearly all of my GR buddies having given TFiOS a five. Nearly everyone I talk to cannot fathom this book as anything but perfection. And okay, it was pretty good, but I didn’t think it was THAT good.

So today is my turn to share my perspective of TFiOS, and to be frank, this won’t be a fangirling post. Be warned if you are a die hard TFiOS fan, because I may say some things that you will strongly and passionately object too.

Everywhere I look, I see words such as “amazing” and “pure perfection” to describe TFiOS. But I disagree, because I certainly had some issues with this book, therefore not making my list of 5 star perfection.

This won’t be a proper review – there are literally thousands and thousands of reviews for this book. I’m just listing the reasons why this isn’t my definition of “amazing”.

Okay, well there are two reasons. But they are big reasons!

1. The writing.

I’ll agree, it’s different, brilliant and blunt. But it made me feel stupid. Maybe that’s petty. But reading is all about the experience, right? About how it made you feel? Well it made me feel stupid and illiterate. There were so many words I couldn’t pronounce, let alone knew existed. And all the metaphors and hidden messages, combined with this language and intricate way of wording? I had serious trouble understanding them and I had to re-read passages over and over again with a creased forehead. There. I said it. Considering most people love The Fault in Our Stars, I’m guessing most people could understand them, or at least appreciated the new way of approaching them. I didn’t, because it made me feel as if I hadn’t just spent 12 years of my life at school.

2. It didn’t hold a meaning for me

This is a big one – when I finally turned the last page, my reaction was “That’s it? What was the point of writing this?” That’s a really bad sign, especially for a contemp. If I get to the end and I can’t see a reasoning or message, then it feels as though I’ve wasted my time. Maybe the point was to demonstrate the cancer, death, ect is just ugly and meaningless, or something. But really, Hazel made that blindingly obvious from the very beginning. I never had an “Oh!” moment or a moment of crystal clear realization. It all ended a bit flat for me.

That’s it! Two things. Two things that affect me hugely and seriously made me wonder why people love this so the heck much.

I mean, I did like it. Love it, even. I gave it a rating of 4. Which means really good, but missing something. The book was most certainly refreshing from your normal cancer/deathbed books. The writing, (though confusing) was unique. The characters were smart, witty and developed and Augustus was such a sweetie. It was brutal, honest, beautiful blah blah and all the rest.

Point blank, it made me feel stupid and held no meaning for me.

I do admit though, John Green is a genius. Even though I didn’t know what he was saying a quarter of the time, I definitely admire his style, and well, smartness. He’s totally unique, and I appreciated that. He is probably one of the only author’s I DON’T want to meet, because I feel like a conversation with him would leave me feeling overwhelmed and idiotic. In this case, I will happily admire from afar.

justbreezy!

Burn Mark by Laura Powell

Burn Mark by Laura Powell

Genre: YA, paranormal (witchcraft)

Published: June, 2012 by Bloomsbury

I bought my own paperback copy of Burn Mark

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In a modern world where witches are hunted down and burned at the stake, two lives intersect. Glory is from a family of witches, and is desperate to develop her ‘Fae’ powers and become a witch herself, though witch-activity carries a threat of being burned at the stake. Lucas is the son of the Chief Prosecutor for the Inquisition with a privileged life very different from the witches he is being trained to prosecute. And then one day, both Glory and Lucas develop the Fae. In one fell stroke, their lives are inextricably bound together.

 

 

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I was surprised by Burn Mark, in a good way! I thought it was a very original take on witchcraft in the modern world. I thoroughly enjoyed the two perspectives portrayed and the difference witchcraft makes to society. My biggest concern was that there could’ve been more clarity in the plot line.

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A great thing about Burn Mark was the world it created. It has taken the burnings of the middle ages and brought it forth into the modern world. I like how the author has taken into consideration how witchcraft would change our current world, including socio economic status, jobs, crime management and discriminatory and moral issues.

I really liked how the two main characters, Glory and Lucas, embody this and show two different sides of the spectrum. Lucas grew up wealthy and has strong beliefs when it comes to witchcraft – thinking that it is dirty and wrong. While Glory is the last in line of a family of powerful witches, and has grown up in a place the puts witchcraft on a pedestal to be honored. Though this also puts her in the family business of crime, secrecy and sometimes poverty.

I thought these two characters were really well developed. I like how their opposite upbringing creates a clash of morals and beliefs. I could see how they have grown from their background and how the exposure to other lives and perceptions brings about strength and change.

I didn’t necessarily connect with these characters. However, I did find myself shipping for them. Nothing much happens between them in this book, but there are some signs of a spark, which really makes me want to read the next book!

I did think this story started a bit slow, because the introduction took a long time to detail the world. It did this without info-dumping, though. Another problem I had was that there were so many different characters, names and relationships to remember! This is okay for such a long book, but it lead to some issues concerning the plot.

I liked how there was a plot to push the story along, but I found it hard to keep up and understand the plot with so many different characters and sub plots and mystery’s. It did come together towards the end, though there were still some loose strings that could have been tidied up.

On the other hand, THANK YOU to Powell for taking the time to explain magic! I feel like this aspect in books is sorta skimmed over – not very detailed, vague and mysterious. I just love how Burn Mark really fleshes out the magic bit; it’s brilliant! Plot issues aside, I really enjoyed Burn Mark and will be reading the next one!

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justbreezy!

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr

Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr

Genre: YA, paranormal (faeries) 

Published: January 2011, by Harper

I bought my own personal copy of Darkest Mercy to read

darkest mercy

The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey.

Aislinn tends to the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life.

Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict, some will win…and some will lose everything.

From Goodreads 

 

 

Warning: may contain spoilers from previous books.

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I’m left feeling satisfied, though a little mediocre about the final instalment of the Wicked Lovely series. Darkest Mercy was everything I wanted it to be, but also not (if that makes sense). I feel like there was too much talk, not enough doing. Though I did love the ending

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A big problem I had with some of the other books is that there is a lot of talking, a lot of thinking, heaps of scheming and pondering, but not a lot of doing. This book was half and half. First, there was a fair bit of nothing much but figuring out where each character stands in all this mess.

Then, there was heaps of action and actual decision making. Finally!

The 5th and final book in the wicked lovely series, Darkest Mercy, focuses back onto Aislynne, Keenan, Seth, Donia – putting an end to this epic love mess. Plus Niall, Iriall and Bananach – putting an end to this court war mess. There is also a small show of Socha, Devlin, and Leslie – though I would have liked more of them.

So basically, this story is a complex combination of romance issues, court relationships, consequences and war. So of course, how could we not go half the book without serious discussion as to where everybody stands?

So anyway, despite the beginning, when things began rolling, it really tumbled.

We finally, FINALLY get a conclusion to the summer / winter love fiasco that had me captured from the beginning. Melissa really had to drag it out, hey?

But having a conclusion to this really brought me back to the first book, and I couldn’t help but compare the two. I was captured by summer and winter, this curse, the search for the summer queen and supposed love of Keenan’s life. I also couldn’t help but notice a difference in the writing from then to now. Marr has changed her style since then, and I can’t help but prefer the old style to now.

She used to go into descriptive depth about her character’s, surroundings and life – but now it still has depth, but it focusses on more-so on fairy court politics, and lets the court shape the person. I guess that can’t be helped, it’s the nature of faeries. I just can’t help but feel let down.

Anyway, I’m glad we got another happy ending (two in a row, Melissa!). I loved the action and drama that started, and snowballed into this terrific ending that was so ironic, it was funny. I’m not entirely fanatic about this book, but I did feel satisfied and happy by the end. So long, Wicked Lovely!

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justbreezy!

Reboot by Amy Tintera

Reboot by Amy Tintera

Genre: dystopia, YA, 

Published: May 2013, Harper TEEN

I bought a personal e-copy of Reboot

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‘5 years ago, I died. 178 minutes later, I woke up.’

In this post-apocalyptic thriller a deadly virus mutation sees teenagers raised from the dead and trained to be vicious soldiers until Wren, the deadliest Reboot, joins forces with Callum, the most innocent, to try to overthrow the organisation that has corrupted their world.

 

 

 

 

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Reboot gives a new meaning to zombies. I absolutely loved how Amy Tinterra has turned something so stereotypical into her own, unique thing. I thought the plot was non-existent until about half way, and the male love interest could not have annoyed me more.  But otherwise, I really enjoyed this.

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Reboot is not your normal post-apocalyptic story. I actually wasn’t even aware this was after all hell broke loose on earth until about a quarter of the way in. I think this is because of the way Tintera has written her story. She doesn’t focus on the before all that much. It’s all the here and now, how she has made the reality seem so real.

The story takes place after a disease breaks, causing it’s victims to “reboot” or come alive again, after death. These Reboots are more powerful, stronger and appear to be emotionless. Our main girl, Wren, was dead for 178 minutes before rebooting. This makes her one of the most powerful and, believably, brainless and emotionless of her kind. Her life is based around taking orders and being a machine for destruction and death – until her life changes when our number 22, or adorably cute love interest Callum, turns her upside down.

I absolutely love the way this story was written. All in Wren’s perspective, there was barely a moment without action. There was always something happening, something to worry about, something to realize, something to figure out, and something to plan. I was never bored by Reboot. Not once.

Tintera also wastes little time in telling us anything. One problem I had was that I had trouble understanding the world we are literally thrust in to. This led a lot of confusion in the beginning of the story, but I soon worked it out and everything was dandy.

Another thing I didn’t understand was the insistence the Wren is an absolute emotionless monster like being. Okay, so she enjoyed killing a little bit, but for some reason I understood that (yeah, weird).

That’s beside the point. Everywhere you look, it’s 178 is emotionless. Monster. Killing machine. Lacks empathy. Cruel. Brainless. Loveless. But you know what? I never got that vibe from her. Not once. Maybe that was the whole point – to show that she never was like that in the first place. But I would have liked more of a reason to think she was actually emotionless, therefore I could see more growth in her.

So, on the emotion side, I don’t think she develops much. Maybe she just realizes how to show it more, or something. But I can see a development and change in her. I think the problem for her is that she believes she is a killing, mindless thing – and in the end she realizes that she has a choice over her actions, that she doesn’t have to be this thing that she has been told she is ever since she rebooted.

We can thank Callum for this. Ah, he’s so cute. Sickeningly so, actually. I found him to be really annoying and weak at times, but I still liked him. He was a cool contrast between kickass Wren, who we see is actually really passionate, smart and brave.

Other things I could mention is that I felt the book lacked plot until halfway, but that was never a problem since I was always interested. I absolutely love Wren, and I think Callum is cool despite his annoyingness. I loved the complexities this disease creates on the world. How there is depth in character development, society, social/economic circumstances, the choice to be humane or monster-like. To follow orders or ask questions, what love is worth and what’s worth risking yourself for.

I just really enjoyed Reboot and I’m glad I took the chance to read it. I love how it ended, and I’m so excited for Rebel’s upcoming release!
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justbreezy!

 

Review: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Touch of Power by Mariah V. Snyder

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Published: December 20th, 2011 by Mira

My Rating: 4 thumbs up!

I was given a copy of Touch of Power by my bookish friend, Chiara over at Books for a Delicate Eternity 

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Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honoured for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince, the leader of a campaign against her people.

As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for

Synopsis from Goodreads

My Thoughts 

I never thought I would like a Maria V. Snyder book! I really disliked one of her novel’s so much, that I stopped reading three chapters into it. I guess that doesn’t leave me much to go by, but I have stayed clear of her since. Now I am so glad I gave Touch of Power a chance, because I thoroughly enjoyed this novel!

I would class Touch of Power as a High fantasy novel, that followers Avery, a Healer, in a world that has been crippled by a plague. As the last of her kind, she is highly sought after – for both death and personal use. I really liked the characters and development, its pace, themes and mystery. I liked the way it evoked a strong emotional response from me. The only real negative I have to say is that I wish it included more description and world building.

Snyder has done a wonderful job at making me love the characters. This in part has to do with character development. We got a real sense of Avery’s position and how her past has made her into the person she is. Same goes for Kerrick and his stone cold, flat personality- which I totally understood (eventually) and loved watching it break. What I liked most though, was the side characters. Namely the group of male travellers who finally capture Avery. As readers, we really begin to fall in love with them. I especially fell for “poppa bear” and Flea. I like how this group set about a change in Avery again, and how she begins to see a reason in life.

A major positive is the themes. I like how Snyder sets about the question of “what’s worth dying for?” This is taken literally in Avery’s case, since her power has the ability to also kill her. In the damaged world she lives in, all characters must make a decision on who to stand by, who to believe and who is worth the sacrifice. It adds another layer to the already intriguing plot.

Touch of Power really sets a pace, as well. The fast, to the point adventure really sets a good mood for high fantasy. I’m normally not keen on overly fast paced novels, but it worked well in this case. I also really enjoyed the mystery. There is constant mystery surrounding the plague, death lilies and the healer’s power. I feel as though it has only scratched the surface, really making me want to continue on with the rest of the series.

I would have liked more description and world building in Touch of Power. It’s just a personal preference, but in a fantasy book like this, I need description to really get a sense of the world they are in. I also would have liked further descriptions into the politics of the world, plus where religions resonate from (ie- “The Creator”) and where they believe they get there powers from. These sorts of things were missing from the book, which I need to properly connect with the story. Or maybe I’m just a logic person with a crazy I-must-know-everything attitude.

I really believe this book could have been enhanced with some more description and world building, but I still enjoyed what Snyder has created – which I never thought I’d say. She has definitely left me with some lasting characters and some emotions I might have to sit on for a few days. I recommend Touch of Power to all fantasy lovers! Maybe not high fantasy enthusiasts, though.

4 thumbs up

Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn of the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee

Genre: YA, Dystopia, Fantasy

Published: May 2011, by Feral Dream 

My Rating: 4 thumbs up! 

I bought my own personal e-copy of Angelfall

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It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Synopsis from Goodreads

My Thoughts

I’ve been told so many times to read Angelfall – So. Many. Times. Why did I not listen earlier? It was brilliant! I love the setting. I love the characters. I love the plot. The pace. The tension. The mystery. The writing. I just loved it all.

The dystopia setting for Angelfall is so original! It mixes up so many genres! When I started reading, I was really wondering how angels fitted into all of it. Then when it finally became clear, I had an OMG moment. So clever!

Another great aspect of Angelfall was the amount of interesting characters. From the blunt Penryn to mysterious, cocky Raffe to whacky, insane mum to red head spy twins that for some reason remind me of the Weasely twins. Not only were they interesting, but the important characters were developed to a standard that suited the book. We were never told anything – simply shown in the odd light Susan gives her story.

I loved the way Susan told her story. It’s slightly humorous and witty, but still has a serious, helpless undertone throughout. It was also really easy to read – I find that some books are difficult to read; they give you a headache, it’s boring, disjointed, clumsy, overly descripted/not descriptive enough, to fast, to slow – you get the point. There wasn’t a single second where I felt these emotions in Angelfall. Susan Ee has the simple, easy to read, balanced writing that is so close to perfection – I can’t recall the last time a story has captured and held me, simple because I could dip straight into the writing as if it were a warm, bubbled spa in winter.

Even though it was easy to read, I did have a moment of confusion in the first chapter or two. I had a little trouble adjusting to the world in this book. I think it may be because it was so original and different. But I soon adjusted and was fine.

Everyone was right about Raffe. He is so completely swoon worthy. He was mysterious, witty, withdrawn though still let his emotions control him. I just really liked him. And Penryn – she was the most developed and understandable character in the whole story. I love how they both have goals that pushes the story and helps us understand them.

Which leads to my one major problem in Angelfall – Raffe was not developed enough for me. I feel like we were only just beginning to get an idea of who is towards the end. His actions are still confusing and he has way too much mystery surrounding him. I think I have a pretty good idea of why he acts like he does, but it needs more evidence before the clouds disappear.

I guess that means one thing – I have to read Worldafter. I have to read it soon. I have to understand Raffe or I might go crazy. He has to give me something that makes me love him more, because I really want to. I recommend Angelfall 100%!

4 thumbs up