Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

I was really excited to read this book as I had heard so many amazing things about it. To a certain extent, it met all of my expectations, but there were some things that I didn't like and didn't really expect to come across.

I liked the story, but I felt it was a little disjointed. I think that the all over the place nature of the book does help in places to represent Mara's chaotic mind-set, but at times I actually found it hard to follow because there were so many random events that were thrust into the story out of the blue and then never really referred to again. This book is pretty long at around 450 pages, and I felt like the story could have been nicely wrapped up in 100 less.

Before reading this book, I gauged from the back that it would be about Mara coming to terms with what had happened to her and discovering along the way that something abnormal was going on. Even though this was a big part of the story, I felt that sometimes everything that was going on with Noah overshadowed what I thought would be the main theme in the book, and at times bringing up creepy and disturbing visions that Mara kept having just felt a little odd.

Noah, the love interest, was everything you'd expect; typical bad boy but when you scratch beneath the surface he's not really that awful, straight A student without paying attention and rich beyond imagination. He forms an attachment to Mara when she doesn't take to him like other girls, and then takes to pretty much stalking her everywhere. I think that could have been taken further, but it felt like the story edged around the beginning of their relationship until boom, they're practically married.

I'm focusing on the bad here, but I did really enjoy this book. The writing was good, if a little awkward at times, and gave a good voice for Mara's story. The characters were well built, even if we didn't get to see enough of some of them, and the story itself was very intriguing and I'm excited to see what happens next.

Overall, 3/5 stars. Recommended.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Weekly Wrap Up #1

As I can't film any videos at the moment, I thought that I would do my Weekly Wrap Up over on my blog for this week. It wasn't a great reading week, and April hasn't really been a great reading month, but I finished one and have a few planned to read next week.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)
As I said, I only finished one book this week and that was The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. Although this book took a long time to get through, I did really enjoy it and will be posting my full review later this week.
Currently Reading
Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)
I've put Lolita aside for the moment because it was a little too heavy for my mood and instead I'm reading Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. This book is amazing so far, and I think I might get the chance to finish it later today as it's really quick to get through!
That was my Weekly Wrap Up for this week, let me know what you've been reading in the comments!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Sisters Red (Fairytale Retellings, #1)
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?

I don't really have all that much to say about this book as it was one of those in between books that was neither good nor bad, so it's hard to decide what to include in this review.

The basic premise of the story was good - I liked the idea of the Fenris and about how Red Riding Hood becomes the hunter and not the victim - I thought that idea was great, in fact. I liked how the Fenris were in packs and how the world was solidly built, and how fast and frequent the action scenes were - but that was about all I liked.

First of all, I didn't think that enough back story was given on the Fenris - why were they called Fenris? Where did they come from? What do the packs mean? There were so many questions that were left unanswered that I found it hard to get into the book without really understanding the reasons behind everything.

Second, the characters were some of the most boring characters that I have ever read about. I preferred Rosie to Scarlett, but that doesn't mean I particularly liked her. Scarlett tried to force her opinions on everyone all the time and didn't understand that not everyone was like her, and Rosie was too weak to try and tell her sister otherwise, which annoyed me. Silas was okay - not great, but okay. The romance was irritating and superfluous to the story; it didn't exactly add anything and it didn't exactly take anything away. It was just there, with no build up or aftermath to it.

The plot line was boring for most of the way through; it started off well but lost momentum almost instantly and never really recovered. I thought the big mystery was obvious and the ending fell flat, which sucked the fun out of the read. I also didn't think the writing style was all that great either; it wasn't descriptive and nothing was ever really developed.

Overall, a 3/5 stars.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

(A Late) Top Ten Words

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish Blog.
This weeks theme was a rewind - a revisit to an older post or one that you missed. Seem as this is my first Top Ten, it was perfect for me!
I decided to go with a post from a few years ago - My Top Ten Words. I love words, but I love some more than others, so I though this would be fun post to share with you all!
1. Exacerbate  - I like to make things worse.
2. Discombobulate - Just because.
3. Ostensibly - It just makes me feel so posh that I can't help saying it.
4. Lackadaisical - I'm just too lazy to use this word, but I do love it. (harharrrrr)
5. Phobophobia - Don't judge my fears.
6. Evitable - Purely because inevitable is used so much more.
7. Asphyxiate - I need one word on this list I can't pronounce.
8. Magnanimous - I have no reasoning for this one. It is just there.
9. Juxtaposition - Analysing Shakespeare nearly killed this word for me. But only nearly. I STILL LOVE IT.
10. Totalitarianism - I RULE ALL.
Those are my Top Ten Words! Let me know some of yours below.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem (Delirium, #3)They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.

But we are still here.

And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.

Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.

But we have chosen a different road.

And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.

I want to start off this review by saying that I thought this book was the best in the entire trilogy. Like the other books, it still had its flaws, but the many great parts of the book made up for everything that was wrong with it.

The plot picks up right after where Pandemonium left off, and I just want to say that if you haven't read Pandemonium and especially if you haven't read Delirium, there will be spoilers for both those books in this review.

I found that the plot was faster paced than either of the other two books and for me the story never once lost momentum; the characters were always moving around and the tension between Alex and Lena really added to and developed the plot line. I also liked how it was written from both Lena's and Hana's point of view; I felt the contrasting characters added to the build up towards the end and the different perspectives on certain events made the read a lot more exciting.

The writing, as always, was exquisite; Lauren Oliver's writing style is one of the most elegant and descriptive that I have ever experienced within the YA genre. This descriptiveness aided the plot line well, but I also felt as if it was a little less developed than Delirium, which was a good thing; as I mentioned in my review of Delirium, five pages focusing on a bike ride isn't always a good thing.

I found Lena a little more bearable in this book than in the others; during Delirium she really irritated me, during Pandemonium she got a little better, and in this one she improved a little as well. I wouldn't say she was one of the strongest protagonists that I have read about, but she had come a long way from the whinging in Delirium. I loved Julian throughout this book; he was so helpful and supportive and never once got angry at Lena even when she was treating him like dirt. I absolutely detested Alex throughout this book; he was so selfish and arrogant that every time he came up in the story I found myself wanting to scream at him. He never once gave Lena or Julian a chance to speak, and was constantly making snide comments that just weren't necessary.

The ending, as everyone has said, was a disappointment. I wouldn't say that it was left too open; to me, it was obvious who she ends up with, and was obvious from the start of the book. I wasn't happy with her choice, but I won't go too much into detail for fear of spoilers. I also felt that the wider ending was a little anti-climactic; all the way through the book, there is a big build up to this major event, and when it actually happened I felt it fell a little flat. There is also a scene with Hana that there is a build up to as well, but as I had already read the short story Hana, I knew what happened and that took the tension and suspense out of a big part of the story.

Overall, this book was amazing and I loved it right up to the end. If you haven't started this series yet - and you shouldn't be here if you haven't! - then you definitely should just for the action and fast paced plot in Requiem.

4/5 stars.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Stacking the Shelves (1)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
This is only a small haul because I am supposed to be on a book buying ban, but it's not really going too well. I bought 3 books, was gifted one and got the odd ones for review!
Going Out by Scarlett Thomas - Reading this one at the moment, and loving it so far! It's a wacky retelling of the Wizard of Oz and it's just as hilarious as the other books I have read by her.
Bright Young Things by Scarlett Thomas - This one sounds like a modern version of Lord of the Flies. I'm really looking forward to it!

PopCo by Scarlett Thomas - Yeah, I went on a bit of a Scarlett Thomas spree. This one sounds really weirdly amazing, like all of her other stuff, and JUST LOOK AT THAT COVER.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer - My mum bought me this book after I had been going on about wanting to read it for ages (thanks, Mum!) I'm really looking forward to it, but it is a HUUGE book!
Arabelle's Shadows by Fleur Gaskin - Don't know too much about this one, but it looks pretty good and the cover is amazing!
Those are all the books I got, but I'm sure there'll be some more soon. Let me know what you thought of any of them below!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Geek GirlHarriet Manners knows a lot of things.

She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn't quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she's spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did.

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

The premise of Geek Girl was one that both intruiged and frightened me; it could either be everything I was looking for in a good contemporary, or fall completely flat. So, with unexpected reluctance, I read the first page and realised that my doubts had been completely ill founded.

Holly Smale's writing style is one that is so fluid and effortless that this book was one that I didn't put down once; I read it back to back in a few hours because it was just that addictive. It conveys the main character's geeky thought processes so well that I often found myself laughing at the obscure facts that she somehow manages to include in conversations.

The book is fast paced; the characters are never in the same place or doing the same thing for too long, so the plot never dies out or gets boring. The other characters aside from Harriet, such as Toby and Nat, are hilarious and each add to the plot in their own ways, which I loved.

I also liked that Harriet's home life wasn't perfect; I felt that her struggles with her parents really added to the story and helped to develop her character.

The insight into the modeling world was something else that I enjoyed throughout this book; that Holly Smale has a background in modeling is evident, and definitely made the story more believable.

The only problem I had with this book was the romance. It's not that I didn't want it to happen (I did, I really did), it was just that the way it happened felt a little too rushed and there was little development between the two characters. Aside from that though, I thought the book was perfect and can't wait for the next books in the series!

4/5 stars.