Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Review: Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen

Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen


Posing as one of Robin Hood's thieves to avoid the evil Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only her fellow outlaws, John Little, Much and Robin Hood know the truth - this agile thief is no boy but in fact a fearless young woman with a secret past. But Scarlet is torn between her desire to get as far from Lord Gisbourne as possible and a strong sense of responsibility to those who took her in when she was first on the run. As Gisbourne draws closer to Scarlet and puts innocent lives at risk, she must decide how much the people of Nottinghamshire mean to her, especially John Little and Robin, whose quick smiles and temper have the rare power to unsettle Scarlet. Full of exciting action, secrets and romance, this imaginative retelling of the classic tale will have readers following every move of Robin Hood and his band of thieves. 

Hey guys long time, no see! Sorry for the lack of reviews, college is demanding my attention, but I am back for a quick review of a book that I rather enjoyed!

I was so excited to read this book, the whole premise of it sounded amazing and as soon as I had money I bought it! Then when I was three or four pages in I realised that I didn't know a lot about the traditional Robin Hood story, but I soon caught on so if you don't know the Robin Hood story it doesn't really matter because Gaughen sets the story for us and you'll catch on soon enough! And just look at that cover, that is a pretty cover.
The setting in this book is amazing, I love stories set in the past anyway, but Scarlet was full of breaking into prisons, hiding out in the woods or caves and sneaking through crowded towns, whats not to love?! Add in Gaughen's well thought out characters with personal background stories and quirky personalities in with the setting and you've got yourself a well written, detailed and enjoyable story! Our main character Scarlet was likeable from the start, she has a big heart and is so thoughtful but also completely bad-ass when it comes to the bad guys, but I did find myself finding her a bit whiny sometimes which did make her a little annoying but her other redeemable characteristics made up for it. And of course Robin Hood, not much to say really, other than I think he's AWESOME but we don't need to go into detail about that!
The story itself was very well plotted, the start was a little slow for me at the start but after a while I was sucked into the story and couldn't put the book down. Every character had a story which made them more easy to understand and I found myself rooting for good things to happen to them. 
Overall I give Scarlet a 4 out of 5 stars as it was packed with action, politics, romance and friendship.

- Brodi

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show, " when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

The Cover: This isn't the same cover as my copy, but mine is the movie poster, hence my not using it in the blog. The two pictures in the corner is heartbreaking on first glance, but even more so once you read the story. The font is sprawling and covers the cover completely which, if we consider the saying that life is a blank canvas, becomes immediately more significant as you read on.

The Characters: Okay, I'll only talk about Charlie, Patrick and Sam because otherwise I'll end up writing pages and pages of basically 'fangirl' content. Charlie is the narrator and he's quiet and funny and really unprecedented. No-one acts as eccentric as he seems to in real life (not that I've come across anyway) and although it's normal to find such characters in books, none are portrayed in such a truly awkward light. He's often criticised by his peers and isolated and I think it's a fascinating way to look at a character. Patrick is hilarious. He's also the cement of the trio in my opinion, he's honest and he's a good person. he's not a saint or anything, but he's as good as any teenager can be. The best thing about the way Patrick is portrayed in this is that we see his darker moments and we (I certainly did) feel overwhelming empathy for him. I feel the same about Sam, really. The thing that sets her apart is the way she seriously challenges Charlie and won't accept any weak answers or anything less than his honest opinion on his worst character traits. The most interesting character in the book is actually the reader. We're adressed as 'friend' by Charlie, and we're told that we are someone that is kind and someone that will listen - which is a very good compliment.

The Setting: It's set in Pittsburgh, which I don't really know much about. The main places of the novel are Charlies house, the Big Boy and the Tunnel. The most extraordinary part of the book happens on the way to the Big Boy while they are going through the tunnel. I won't write what happens to keep it a surprise, but I will say that it made me feel a surge of reverence that I usually reserve for Looking for Alaska.

The Overall Story: The obvious overall story is about Charlie becoming more involved as he goes through a year in high school, but to me it's more about finding out what is wrong with Charlie. We know that he's a little bit off and a little weird, but as the novel progresses, we see that there really is something in the character that we need to uncover. I don't want to say too much to avoid spoilers, but it is heartbreaking. Truly, truly heartbreaking. But it's an incredible read that leaves you feeling hopeful and (beause of the constant compliments to you as a reader) feeling quite good about yourself.

Brilliant. I definitely recommend! 5 out of 5!

- Elsie

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Rebel Hearts by Moira Young: Review

Rebel Heart (Dust lands #2) by Moira Young


It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting
Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion.

 I love Blood Red Road so much, it really surprised me! Rebel hearts is a fantastic sequel, I did enjoy Blood Red Road a little bit more, but I was still happy with what Moira Young created. Review time!

The cover: I love the simplicity of the cover! The yellow colour really stands out and gives a perfect sense of what the deserted dust land within the story is like. One of the main things I like about the cover is how well it goes with the first book, ahhhhhh they're both so gorgeous together! Thumbs up for the cover!

The setting: This story is set in a dystopian setting, with abandoned cities taken over by sand and wreckage left from technology made before the time the story is set. I loved the setting in Blood Red Road and Rebel Heart doesn't disappoint, I was thrown back into this harsh deserted land and really felt the struggles the characters had to go through. Unlike most dystopian books, this story takes place AFTER all of the advanced technology is created and AFTER the fall of civilisation. This gives the story a very unique setting to play with and I loved it!

The characters: The character development is so good, unlike some stories, the events that happened in the first book actually have an effect on the characters personalities. After the massive fight against the Tonton, the cage fighting and losing so many close friends, Saba becomes tormented with the events that have happened and loses part of herself. Although Saba is overcome with guilt and grief, she still holds onto the strength that she had in the first book which makes it so much more realistic! Lugh also has a slight change in personality and we get to see a clash in the two twins, whereas the first book was about Lugh and Saba's strong relationship, the second book concentrates more on the differences between them and highlights the true reality that they have to face. They can't be together like they used to be now that they are growing up and things are changing. And of course, we still get to see all of the old characters from Blood Red Road and we are introduced to a lot more! Oh, and of course we have Jack. Although he isn't seen a lot in the book, I still love him and the role that he plays.

The overall story: The story starts off a few months later than where we left off. Saba's heading west and Jack's headed to The Lost Cause before heading off to meet Saba. Simple? Oh no. So many things become obstacles and Saba and Jack's reunion seems far off. The story is full of so many twist and turns that made is unpredictable and I often had myself wondering what was going to happen and who was on what side. I loved the fact that we had different stories for each character. We see Saba in complete turmoil over all the people she had to fight in the cage and the deaths that are on her hands whilst trying to get back to Jack and we see Lugh's desperation to fix Saba but also create a life for him and his family. Tommo even gets his own little story on the side! We also have the Tonton, we get to see what they're doing amongst the lands but we also get to find out why they're doing it! Its so refreshing to have a sequel that actually wraps up all the questions I had in the story!

A brilliant sequel full of deserted lands, heartbreak and suspense! I give Rebel Hearts a 4 out of 5 stars. If you have read Blood Red Road then I recommend you to read Rebel hearts, and if you haven't then get your butt to a book shop or library and read it!

 - Brodi

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartmen.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartmen.

 The kingdom of Goredd is populated by humans and by dragons who fold themselves into a human form. Though they live alongside each other, the peace between them is uneasy.
But when a member of the royal family is murdered, and the crime appears to have been committed by a dragon the peace and treaty between both worlds is seriously threatened...
Into this comes Seraphina, a gifted musician who joins the royal court as the assistant to the court composer. She is soon drawn into the murder investigation and, as she uncovers hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace in Goredd for good, finds herself caught desperately in the middle of the tension.
For Seraphina hides a secret - the secret behind her musical gift - and if she is found out, her life is in serious danger...

Before I start my review, I would just like to fan-girl over this book for a moment. AHHHHHHH IT'S SO GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!! I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!!! okay, I'm done, now onto the review!

The cover: I'm not a fan of the UK cover so I bought the US cover instead because it is beautiful. The black and white colour scheme with a red mist throughout it all is so visually appealing! And the pencil like drawing of the town and the dragon is immensely gorgeous, but it also gives readers a perfect sense of what the book is about before going into the story, which I love! This cover has got to be one of my all time favourite covers!

The characters: Like a lot of fantasy novels, this book has quite a large cast with multiple Lords and Ladies, this can get a bit confusing as I often found myself having to remind myself on who's who. However, the large amount of characters does make the story more realistic as you truly get to feel like you're part of the busy city and castle, and truthfully I found it easy to remember the main characters names, it was just the side characters that I had trouble with so it's all good! Seraphina was a very likeable main character and I loved the fact that we were able to get to know her through her own past as flashbacks are involved in this story, so we get a much wider picture of who Seraphina is and why she takes certain paths throughout the story. The side characters were also loveable with their own quirks and stories which gives the book so much more life! And of course we have the dragons, they are perfectly described and I kind of just want to be a dragon now.

The setting: I'm a sucker for settings like the ones in Seraphina! It is set mainly in a castle of sorts, with servants bustling about and the royal family socialising in fancy halls, what's not to love?! But the town outside is also amazing, with churches, inns, forests and taverns where not only humans love to go! I usually find it quite hard to imagine settings in fantasy novels but Seraphina gave such a detailed description that I found the images easily being made in my head.

The overall story: As I said at the start, I loved Seraphina so much! With such a unique premise, I'm surprised I found it so believable in a way, I understood all of Seraphina's worries about the dragon kind, even though they are mythical creatures and don't exist. I often find myself becoming bored with stories that are very descriptive but this was not the case with Seraphina, I was sucked into this richly described world full of dragons and royal families that I never felt myself getting bored with it! The romance in this story doesn't play a big part, it's only really mentioned after you get halfway through. However, I liked the fact that it didn't play a big part because we got to see Seraphina form a friendship with the love interest instead of diving head first into love. Plus, it gave me a chance to think about the main plot line more instead of just being interested with whether or not she will end up with him, and with a story full of suspicion, tension, heartbreak and deceits it wasn't hard to become interested with the plot line at all! There's so many more amazing things about this book but I shall leave them for you guys to find!

A beautifully written tale of dragons, friendship, love and politics, Seraphina easily gets a 5 out of 5 stars from me! I recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

 - Brodi.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

"Grace," I whispered. "This isn't how it ends."
Sam has always loved Grace. As a wolf, he watched her from afar. As a boy, he held her in his arms.
Now facing the possibility of a life without her, he will do anything to keep her safe. Even if it means facing his demons. Even if it risks everything he has. Anything, as long as their love can survive.

The Cover: You probably can't tell from the picture, but the cover is super shiny! I think this is important because it immortalises the story in a way, like, it's almost like metal which is clearly more durable and memorable than simply black or white. Also, the rain is ominous but it has always and probably will always rain. Maybe a teeny tiny hint at the nature of the love between Sam and Grace?

The Characters: Amazing as ever. The most interesting evolutions of the characters are Sam and Cole. Sam goes from being fairly passive, not really a fan of facing situations; and he doesn't turn into a complete opposite, but you see him trying...or wanting to try at least. And it's for Grace and his pack, which makes it oh so cute. And then there's Cole who (in my opinion) was so lost in Linger and at the beginning of this book, that by the end of the book (and probably one of my top three book moments) I was overjoyed to see him really care for something that wasn't annihilating himself.

The Setting: I don't really have much more to say about the setting than I have already said in my previous reviews. It's gorgeous. I will say this though: The imagery and the pace of the last chunk of the book (I'm trying to stay away from spoilers) was almost other-worldly.

The Overall Story: The perfect ending to the story. I love that the characters go above and beyond for each other when they're forced into action. I love the relationship between Cole and Isabel. I love Cole and Sam's relationship. I love Isabel and Grace's relationship. I love the ambiguity of the ending. I think the ending is a good measure-er of what you took from the book. Like, I thought it was a happy ending, so I feel that the book gave me enough hope and faith in the characters to deal with the ambiguity in a positive way. I love love love the chase towards the end*. I give Forever a 5 out of 5.

- Elsie


Okay, the thing I love about the chase other than the imagery and the on-the-edge-of-your-seat pace of it all was the fact that Cole St Clair ran (as a human, mind you) with the wolves. Isabel puts it perfectly as she describes how small Cole looks, but how big his shadow is. I think it shows in the best way that Cole cares and that he isn't lost anymore.)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Review: Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris

Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris
24 meets the X Files in the biggest teen blockbuster of the summer…
Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.
And killed.
Then Ben Michaels, resident stoner, is leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows Ben somehow brought her back to life…
Meanwhile, Janelle’s father, a special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device – one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.
That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process…

I was extremely excited to read this book as I had heard so many great things but I was a little bit disappointed with it. Lets move on to the review!

The cover: I like the cover, the mysteriousness of it and the sleek white background it has, but it doesn't blow me away. If I saw the cover in a shop and didn't know anything about the story I probably wouldn't pick it up. However, the tag line 'stop the countdown, save the world' is very eye catching and lets be honest, it sounds awesome!

The characters: There's quite a lot of characters in this book but I feel like I got to know each one and were able to distinguish each character by their personality. Janelle was a very likeable character and I always agreed with every decision she made, which is quite rare for me. I loved the relationship Janelle had with her father, brother and her best friend, the relationships felt very real which did make certain aspects of the story very heartbreaking! (I'm not going to say anything more, I don't want to spoil it!). The love interested, Ben, was also very good, he was sweet and I did become attached to him but I didn't find myself rooting for them until the very end of the book.

The setting: I think the setting was one of my favourite aspects to unravelling, I loved the beach, the motorcycle shop and I loved the fact that Janelle's house was adjacent to her best friend's house (I mean, who doesn't want to live next door to their best friend?!) but I also loved the sci-fi element to the setting. Again, I wont go that much into the sci-fi element as I don't want to spoil it for you guys!

The overall story: I have to say, this book was extremely unpredictable which is very rare for me to think, I usually am able to guess the ending but Unravelling had me guessing right until the end! I don't read a lot of sci-fi so I found this book to be very unique and I did find it really interesting, I also liked the fact that the romance aspect of the book blended really well with the sci-fi aspect of it! However, a lot of the things that happened during the book did feel very far fetched, I doubt that an FBI agent would just leave his top secret files out in the open for his daughter to read! Also, I felt like the beginning and the middle of the book was basically Janelle coming up with theories about what was happening and then the end was like 'NOPE YOU WERE WRONG, THIS WAS HAPPENING AND NOW EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT, THE END!' The ending was good and it was very creative but I felt like I didn't get to find out more about what was going on.

Unravelling is a very face paced, creative and suspenseful sci-fi read that will leave you guessing until the very end. However, because of the hype surrounding this book and the high expectations I had when going into it, I was a little bit disappointed. Overall I give Unravelling 3.5 out of 5 stars, I liked it but it didn't blow me away.

 - Brodi

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Once Grace and Sam have found each other, they know they must fight to stay together. For Sam, this means a reckoning with his werewolf past. For Grace, it means facing a future that is less and less certain.  Into their world comes a new wolf named Cole, whose past is full of hurt and danger. He is wrestling with his own demons, embracing the life of a wolf while denying the ties of a human. For Grace, Sam, and Cole, life is a constant struggle between two forces--wolf and human--with love baring its two sides as well. It is harrowing and euphoric, freeing and entrapping, enticing and alarming. As their world falls apart, love is what lingers. But will it be enough?

The Cover: As I said in my last review, the thing I love most about these covers is how they relate to the covers of the other books in the series. The inverse of the Shiver cover is really something that becomes more resonant as the book goes on. The reverse represents the reverse of who is more vulnerable in the Sam-Grace relationship. The heart shaped leaf in the corner of the Shiver has transformed into a red paw print - another detail that I think highlights one of the main parts of the struggle in all of the characters (which is, in short, how dangerously intertwined love and the wolves are).

The Characters: Sam and Grace have more depth in this novel, which I love. Sam's relationship with his parents and the pack are explored deliciously - the stark contrast being the thing that really makes it stick in your mind. The chill of the bathroom tiles as opposed to the warmth of the reds and browns of Beck's house. Grace also enters into newer territory as well, with the sudden friction between her and her up-til-now absentee parents. Grace's parents are interesting characters - I don't like them as characters, but they add to the story and the realism of it. Isabel's perspective in this novel makes it even greater. I love her character even though she can be a nasty piece of work. And then there's Cole. Cole St Clair - frontman of NARKOTIKA and all round pain in the butt. I love his longing to lose himself, his humour and his exchanges with Isabel. I sometimes got frustrated with his inability to take much seriously, but that's part of the character so I don't mind so much.

The Setting: Flawless, as ever. The woods and Beck's house remain to be characters in themselves - they even overshadow the characters in the forefront - but I'm a sucker for settings, so I may be biased.

The Overall Story: I love it! The scientific element of the 'werewolf toxin' (to borrow a phrase from Mr St Clair) gives the mythological elements more logic and realism. I love the switch-a-roo of vulnerable characters (I'm being vague to avoid spoilers) and the evolution of the characters that were in Shiver (Sam, Grace and Isabel, mainly) and Cole.

And it only gets better in the third and final installment of the series (which I'll be reviewing next time). I give Linger a 4 out of 5.

- Elsie