Thursday, 27 June 2013

Review of Paper Towns by John Green

Paper TownsPages: 305
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: October 2008 (first published)

Plot: Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life - dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues - and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer Q gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew. (Goodreads)

Good Points: As you probably know a lot of the books that I read have some form of fantasy/ paranormal element to them so it was nice to read something a little more realistic for a change.
 Paper Towns starts of with the story of Quintin ('Q') and Margo as children who stumble upon a dead man in the park. Neither really speak to each other for the next few years, despite Q hopelessly falling in love with her from afar, until one night when Margo climbs through his bedroom window seeking help.
I've got to say, there was a LOT to love about this book. I loved the witty banter between Q and his friends  (Black santa's everybody...) and the way that Green manages to make even the most mundane thing sound somewhat poetic, such as the way Q describes Margo's full name. Everything he writes seems somehow raw. I guess you could say that this book is a sort of mystery. Margo is the mystery that must be solved and throughout the novel we see Q try to slowly piece together information about the girl he thought he knew.
There's definitely themes of expectations and discovery within Paper Towns and the more you read the book, the deeper you get tangled in the mystery of Margo. At times I found myself torn in two mindsets due to her character and her actions, but then I loved her free spirited personality and the development of her character overall throughout the book. One of the main things that I loved about Paper Towns was that despite Margo not physically being present throughout a large portion of the novel, her character still develops as she is explored by Q and his friends as they attempt to find her.

Things I didn't like... At times when I thought the writing and dialogue was just a little too poetic. I'm all for refreshing and thought provoking elements in books, but somehow I just don't think a little girl would look at a dead body and say 'Maybe all the strings inside of him broke'. As lovely and thought- provoking that statement is, I just felt it was a little forced on the character.

To Sum Up... I have to admit although I didn't love reading this as much as The Fault in our Stars, Paper Towns definitely drew me in. The plot I thought, was original and intriguing from start to finish and the mystery of Margo and where she could possibly be was one of the main factors that kept me reading. I'd definitely recommend anyone this book as overall it is a good story and I feel like I have gained something from reading it, one of them being I now know what a 'paper town' is.

Have you read Paper Towns? What did you think? Leave a comment below.

Monday, 3 June 2013

ARC Review of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Pages: 416
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
FangirlRelease: September 2013

Plot: Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be room mates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly room mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. (Goodreads)

Good Points: I didn't really know what to expect from this book having never read anything by this author before but I actually really enjoyed reading this.
The book's tag line 'A coming of age-tale of fan-fiction, family and first love' definitely intrigued me into reading it. I'm not exactly someone who reads much fan-fiction but I still managed to relate to the main character, Cather in multiple ways. Her love for writing and her obsession with the made- up 'Simon Snow' book series echoed my own experience with the Harry Potter franchise. The similarities between the two were uncanny however Rowell manages to make the series seem believable; crafting her own Wikipedia page and supplying multiple extracts from the books. This was one of the main things that stood out when I was reading 'Fangirl'. Rowell has this amazing and rare ability to successfully write in different styles believably. There were three main tones to the book- the main story of Cather and her tale of growing up and finding independence,  the extracts of the Simon Snow series written by the original author and finally Cath's own fan fiction of the series. Each could be easily identified in my opinion without stating so. Cath's fan-fiction was undeniably good yet sought of seeped more humour than the original Simon Snow extracts.
To be honest though I think Rainbow manages to capture the truth of what it really is to be a fangirl and she portrays the obsessive, sit-at-your-computer, slightly unsociable character extremely well.

Things I didn't like...  I did think that maybe the book was just slightly too long. However at no point did I get bored of reading about Cather, Levi and Simon Snow.

To Sum Up... Although it's unlikely that I'll read this book again, I have to admit that I did enjoy it. There were moments within 'Fangirl' where the writing style reminded me of John Green's books which is always a good thing and even after I had finished reading I was stuck in the world that Rainbow had created. Although some may not like the ending because it does leave a couple of things unsolved I thought it worked really well and reflected that not everything in life will end up with a happy ending. I'm trying really hard not to give a spoiler here so I apologise if I sound cryptic.
Basically I would reccomend anyone to read this book especially if you think a.) You are a fangirl and you love fan-fiction, b.) You're heading off to Uni/ College soon or c.) You just really want a good book to become absorbed in for the next couple of days.
I'll definitely be checking more of the books by this author ( Eleanor & Park) and Fangirl is out later this year (September 2013)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Review of The Summer I Became A Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

Pages: 326
The Summer I Became a NerdPublisher: Entangled Teen
Released: May 2013

Plot: On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favourite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn't just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.

Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever. (Goodreads)

Good Points:
I actually really loved this book! The plot was basically a sort of coming-of-age tale mixed in with tons of nerdy references like the FACT that Voldemort would totally beat Vader in a death match because of Avada Kedavra and of course the ultimate question: Which is better? Marvel or DC.
The main character Maddie however is poisoned by the belief that if people at school knew about her love for comic books and sci-fi marathons with her dad then her life as the popular cheerleader would vanish quicker than she could even say 'Comic-Con', which to some might be a ridiculous concept because who cares, right? But I guess this book addresses the social standings within high school in an arguably stereotypical yet possibly honest way.
 As the book develops however the reader gets to see Maddie grow more comfortable in herself and you eventually see her for the awesome character she is. The plot has pretty much everything covered that you could want in terms of mystery, romance (with 'Awesome Logan'), comedy and even a little action when Maddie starts LARP-ing (live action role playing) and of course what every book needs- a pretty cool ending.
The plot also succeeds in keeping the majority of the supporting characters interesting which some YA novels fail to do. Both Maddie and Logan's parents/siblings/friends have strong roles within the book, making regular appearances and adding to make the plot more realistic. This is something I love to see in YA books as I've pretty much got to the point of screaming 'Where are your parents??' at those teen based novels where the parents only ever make a brief appearance in the first book just to let you know that they are in fact real. The Summer I Became a Nerd didn't do this though. The majority of the main characters parents made multiple appearances and even had active roles within the plot and Maddie's development.

What I didn't like...
Okay so Maddie isn't perfect but that's okay. Yes, she can be selfish and a little too obsessed with what others think about her, I mean come on, she even hides from her friends when she's out on a date with Logan. But to be honest I kind of think she redeems herself as the book goes on. She proves that everyone has faults and makes mistakes yet shows they can be amended (just in this case amended during a cool LARP battle), which basically reinforces the whole message or moral that runs throughout the novel- Be yourself. Be the person you want to be and be the person that makes you happy. So not really a bad point after all...

To Sum Up... 
I'd definitely recommend people to pick this up and give it a try. It's an easy read as the dialogue flows smoothly and there's a few humorous moments in there too, mainly from Logan's slightly foul mouthed best friend 'Dan'. Overall though its a cute fun read that kept me hooked until the end. Pick up/ download a copy today :)

Like this book? Leave a comment below?

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

ARC Review of The Elite by Kiera Cass (The Selection book 2)

The Elite (The Selection, #2)Pages: 336
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release: April 23rd 2013

Plot: Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending. (Goodreads)

Good Points:
I cannot tell you how much I have wanted this book after finishing The Selection around a year ago. The last book left so abruptly that it had me hanging on for more so you can imagine my excitement at receiving my review copy a couple of days ago.
Firstly, I have read The Prince so I went into this book already with a different outlook of some of the characters, namely the king than that I had received from reading the first book.

The Elite continues basically where we left off in The Selection with only six girls remaining including our main protagonist America Singer (whose name to be honest still frustrates me).
 The tension increases with this book as you'd imagine as the competition draws ever closer to its conclusion which I am sure we will eventually see in the next and final book to the trilogy which has yet to be titled. There is also an increased tension as we see America switch between Prince Maxon and Aspen, the boy from her past, and this is a theme that is consistent throughout the series, more so in this book as the reader gains a clear understanding into not only America's confused emotions but also the difficult choice that will pave the path to her future, ultimately the question of who will she choose?
America's secret meetings with Aspen are also proven even more dangerous as we see the consequences of what happens to those who do not abide by the rules.

 The characters did develop in some aspects it could be argued as we discover and begin to sympathise with characters that didn't really get a massive look-in in The Selection, and of course there is also the increasing worry and fear of the rebels which attacks grow more frequent and chosen targets prove fatal for some. However it did feel that something was missing from this book that I craved.

What I didn't like...
As much as I hate to admit it I didn't really think there was much of a plot to the book. There were moments where I got excited expecting something to happen only discover that it didn't.
The Elite in my opinion is more of a filler book, where basically you get the opportunity to discover more about the lives, emotions and thoughts of the characters yet they don't really seem to get anywhere with anything.

Yes, we do see a couple of the characters stand up and defend themselves and there are moments where we discover certain truths about them, however these just lead on (I hope) to the final instalment to the series. I understand that the final book is the revealing book where everything comes to light and we see whether the character we invested so much time into gets her happy ending, however I would have liked just a little more action or just something to make this book stand out a little more and I think especially the sub-plot of the rebels could have been introduced a little more firmly than it was.

To Sum Up:
Overall, yes, I didn't think it was as good as The Selection however it wasn't a bad book.
 The Elite lives up to some of my expectations and I know I must have liked it after reading it in only a couple of sittings.

I recently watched one of the authors Youtube videos where Kiera Cass is describing her books and I think she sums it up pretty well and in a food orientated way. Her books are like comfort food, namely mac and cheese which I love! They're easy to read, yet loveable and you always find yourself going back for more.
Don't let my negatives about this book stop you form picking it because ultimately its only one side to the story and only my opinion. With every book there is good points and bad points and I have faith that the next book will deliver everything that is promised (hypothetically, of course) in a concluding novel of a series.
Kiera Cass, I need more comfort food from you but until then I'll just have to re-read the series so far.

Thanks for reading and I'd love to hear what you thought of the book!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Review of The Prince by Kiera Cass

Pages: 59
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release: March 2013

The Prince (The Selection, #0.5)
Plot: Before thirty-five girls were chosen to compete in the Selection...
Before Aspen broke America's heart...
There was another girl in Prince Maxon's life...

Don't miss this thrilling 128-page original novella set in the world of the New York Times bestselling novel The Selection. Also features a teaser to The Elite, Kiera Cass's hotly anticipated sequel to The Selection. (Goodreads)

Thoughts... Its been a long wait but I finally read the novella to the Selection series by Kiera Cass and just like her first book The Selection, The Prince continues to strengthen my love for this series.

Within this short e-book we see the story told in the perspective of Maxon in the lead up and briefly during the arrival of the 35 girls taking part in the competition. We also discover that there was another girl in Maxon's life before the competition named Daphne, the daughter of the King of France and we get to explore Maxon's relationship both with her and his father.
 The relationship between Maxon and his parents, the King and Queen however is in my opinion defined in The Prince a lot better than I thought it was in The Selection as the reader get's to the chance to explore Maxon's views and relationship with how his parents treat him.
The Selection (The Selection, #1) I'd definitely say that the King especially is put forward in a much more negative light as we are introduced further to the idea that the Selection has possibly been meddled with by the King and that he is actually rather unpleasant towards his son.
My opinion of the Queen has also changed and my suspicions have grown that there is possibly about her character. The quote "I couldn't imagine a circumstance that would dim my absolute adoration of her (The Queen)" that Maxon speaks of within the book about his mother immediately jumps out as a huge opening to the story that almost begs for his view of her to be challenged and possibly a truth may arise about her character soon that would change this. Just a theory though...
To conclude, if you haven't already read The Selection I highly recommend you read that before the novella as I think you get a broader understanding of what is happening within this story.
 The sequel,The Elite, is out later this year however I have just received my Review copy of it and am literally dancing around my room with excitement, so the review for that shouldn't be too far away if I read this one as quickly as I managed to devour the first book to the series.
Thanks for reading and I'd love to hear what you think about the series so far!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

ARC Review of Ink by Amanda Sun

Pages: 377
Ink (Paper Gods, #1)Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release: June 25th 2013

Plot: On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive. (Goodreads)

Good Points: One of the major things that stood out for me when I read this book was the obvious love the author has for Japan. The description of the people, traditions and scenery all helped beautifully create a vivid image for the reader right from page one which I absolutely loved. The use of the Japanese language throughout for me worked really well also, as at times a character would say something and you wouldn't necessarily find out what they had actually said, only what they had implied, and I thought this fitted into the book really well as the reader gains some understanding and a brief insight into the humongous challenge that Katie has of being placed in an environment where she doesn't really know the language yet. I thought this was a nice touch to the story.
Also every now and then there's a little drawing that's relevant to the scene which was nice seeing as though its a book involving drawings coming to life and for a moment I did look at the pictures on my Kindle and expect them to move -_- Just saying... 
Continuing with the Japanese setting in the book, traditional Japanese mythology is used to create the paranormal element to the story and explain the strange things that Katie is sure she is seeing such as the moving drawings that she catches staring at her.
Overall though the book did get slightly better the more I read on though I think the first half ruined it a little for me in the end and that's why I'd probably only give it 2, maybe 3 stars if I was rating it. 

What I didn't like: I really wanted to love this book but I just didn't. I saw INK a couple of months ago on Goodreads before I received the ARC and it sounded really interesting with its plot being set in Japan where a girl see's drawings come alive. Sounds pretty good, right? But instead I guess you could say that I just felt a little let down.

Firstly I would have loved for the book to deal a little more with Katie starting out in Japan rather than jumping dramatically to the point where she meets Tomohiro and seemingly falls in love with him pretty much from the start. This is reflected in her infatuation with her following him despite his cries of 'Get away from me, I'm dangerous!" which I have to admit had me rolling my eyes. I don't know, maybe I'm finally getting tired of this sort of stuff cropping up in YA books. Yes, the whole drawings to life and Japanese culture playing a key role within the book were unique I give it that, but the sub-plot wasn't. It was you're typical bad yet mysterious boy falling for the new girl at school who is being sought after by that other guy and they somehow get caught up in danger. 

To Sum Up.... I wouldn't completely rule this book out because I know some people will really love it but for me it just wasn't my cup of tea. 
The book hit shelves June 25th this year so look out for it! 

Friday, 5 April 2013

Review of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)Pages: 375
Publisher: Puffin Books
Released: 2005

Plot: After getting expelled from yet another school for yet another clash with mythological monsters only he can see, twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is taken to Camp Half-Blood, where he finally learns the truth about his unique abilities: He is a demigod, half human, half immortal. Even more stunning: His father is the Greek god Poseidon, ruler of the sea, making Percy one of the most powerful demigods alive. There's little time to process this news. All too soon, a cryptic prophecy from the Oracle sends Percy on his first quest, a mission to the Underworld to prevent a war among the gods of Olympus. (Goodreads)

The Review... People have been recommending me to read these books for a while now and so I thought it was about time I gave them a try. I watched the film with Logan Lerman a couple of years ago and thought it was okay but I have to admit after reading the book I finally understand what everyone in the Percy Jackson fandom were arguing about. The book is so much better. Honestly you can barely recognise that the film even came from the book there's so many differences to it.
The main character Percy was introduced well. He has all the characteristics of a likeable character loyal, caring and at times funny which add to the book being a fun read alongside the adventure Percy, Annabeth and Grover embark on, of finding Zeus's stolen lightning bolt.
Basically I'm going to keep this review short and sweet. I was a little bit sceptical about reading the book to begin with because of the hype surrounding them and I have to hold my hands up to this when I saw Percy was a 12 year old boy I immediately thought kids book. But DON'T BE FOOLED! The book was fantastic! It was fast paced and the plot moved smoothly yet never got boring. To be honest, I kind of forgot that Percy was 12 after a while due to his smart mouthed and outgoing character that took charge in going to find not only the lightening bolt and his mother but also taking on the Gods as well.
Overall I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone of any age, the story's great, there's five books in the series and it centre's around Greek mythology. Honestly, what more could you want?
Reviews of the next books in the series to come!

Seen the trailer for Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters movie? Any thoughts? Leave them in the comments below :)

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