Thursday, 26 July 2012

Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater

Grace is fascinated by the wolves in the woods behind her house; one yellow-eyed wolf in particular. Every winter, she watches him, but every summer, he disappears. Sam leads two lives. In winter, he stays in the frozen woods, with the protection of the pack. In summer, he has a few precious months to be human ...until the cold makes him shift back again. When Grace and Sam finally meet, they realize they can't bear to be apart. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human - or risk losing himself, and Grace, for ever.

The Cover: The cover is really pretty, but I think that there's not much else to it. I mean, it's set in the woods, so it's not completely irrelevant and it doesn't have any obvious connections to the wolf-y side of the plot which I think is a good thing, but that's all really. I think the best thing about the cover of Shiver is its relationship with the covers of the rest of the trilogy.

The Characters: The story is told through Sam and Grace's point of views - which is done really well. Sam is sensitive, thoughtful, and turns a lot of his experiences into song lyrics (I can't decide whether I like this personality trait or not); whereas Grace is logical, independent, and loves the woods and the wolves. I prefer Grace's personality and her narrative voice to Sam's overall - however, the chapters in Sam's POV when he's a wolf are spectacular. The other main character is Isabel Culpeper, who seems not very nice at all, and she probably isn't, but I love her bluntness and her brutal honesty. I really dislike Grace's parents, mainly because they basically ignore her, and I feel like her friends Rachel and Olivia don't pay much attention to her either.

The Setting: Breath-taking. The imagery of the woods, especially in winter is one of the best things about the book. You feel transported every time Grace steps out onto her deck and I love that. The description of Beck's house is fantastic as well, especially in Sam's point of view.

The Overall Story: Out of the trilogy, I don't think Shiver is the best. I love the beginning and how Stiefvater sets the foundations for the characters and leaves hints for the reader to pick up and use to piece together the puzzle we're faced with as the story progresses; but the middle section moved a bit too slowly for my taste. It's greatly improved at the end of the book, however, when the characters are forced into action. I also think that while the dual narrative is good, I prefer the use of Cole (who isn't introduced until Linger) and Isabel's perspective as well as Sam and Grace's.

A great starting point for an interesting and fresh take on the werewolf myth. I give Shiver 3.5 out of 5 stars.

- Elsie

Friday, 20 July 2012

Review: Allison Hewitt is trapped by Madeleine Roux

Allison Hewitt is trapped by Madeleine Roux.

 Allison Hewitt is trapped. In the storeroom of Brookes & Peabody's. In a world swarming with the Undead, the Doomed, the Infected.

Locked away with an oddball collection of colleagues and under siege, Allison takes advantage of a surviving internet connection and blogs. She writes, as the food runs out and panic sets in, as relationships develop and friends die, and as zombies claw at the door, all in the hope of connecting with other survivors out there. But as she reads the replies to her posts, Allison begins to comprehend the horrifying scale of the damage. And when no one comes to the group's rescue, they are forced to leave the safety of their room and risk a journey across the city; streets that crawl with zombies, and worse - fellow humans competing for survival. 

I love a good zombie novel and Allison Hewitt is trapped was full of the fast paced action that makes these novels so good! Now onto the review...

The cover: I love this cover so much! Its perfect for the story as you can tell just by looking at it that the book will be full of action and horror. The axe pictured on the front is also amazing as it has meaning to the story so its not just a random object they decided to put on it. The one thing that may be a flaw to this book is the title, Allison Hewitt is trapped, as it leads people to believe that the whole novel will be centred around Allison being trapped in one place throughout the novel when, in fact, she isn't. However it is a striking title and did attract me to buy this book so I’ll let it slide!

The characters: The main character, Allison, is amazing and had everything I loved a main character to have. She's sarcastic, strong willed but also like your average human, which is so good because it adds a sense of realism to her character but also makes the story humorous as she throws in some snarky remarks now and then. A lot of side characters are featured in this book and some are described very well and I felt myself becoming attached to them as well (Ted!) but because so many characters leave the story throughout the novel, we don't get to know them as well. However, making so many characters leave the story did make it more realistic as in a zombie apocalypse, im pretty sure many people will split up, get killed or go missing, so even if the characters aren't described that well, it makes the story that much more realistic.

The setting: The story begins in a book store which immediately makes me love the setting, but I did love the fact that the setting kept changing throughout the novel as readers get to see different sides to a zombie apocalypse. We get to see survival camps, a book store's staff room with zombies trying to find their way in, enemy camps, and characters driving throughout the abandoned streets, what's not to love?!

The overall story: The story is very fast paced and full of action which makes it such a good zombie apocalypse novel, but the fact that its written in blog posts gives this novel a unique viewpoint and gives it a sense of realism. You get to see different aspects of a zombie apocalypse through Allison's different experiences but also through the people that comment on her blog posts! The romance in this book wasn't brilliant and I didn't find myself pining for them to be together, but the romance only played a small part in this story so it didn't really effect my view on the storyline.

Allison Hewitt is trapped was a very exciting read and gives a frightening and realistic view of a zombie apocalypse but also adds humour to it to not make it so heavy and dark. Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars!


Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Girls by Lori Lansens review

In twent-nine years, Rose Darlen has never spent a moment apart from her twin sister Ruby. She has never gone for a solitary walk or had a private conversation. Yet, in all that time, she has never once looked into Ruby's eyes. Joined at the head, "The Girls" (as they are known in their small town) attempt to lead a normal life, but can't help being extraordinary. Now almost thirty, Rose and Ruby are on the verge of becoming the oldest living craniopagus twins in history, but they are remarkable for a lot more than their unusual sisterly bond.

The Cover: When I first saw this cover, it told me a lot about the book before I had read the blurb. Really, the essence of the story is the sister relationship of the two narrators and the image of two pairs of bare feet dangling into water really encapsulates that relationship. The cover also ties in to the setting, although not that significantly, I don't think.

The Characters: Rose longs to be a writer, and her passion for books leapt of the page. It was so realistic, and the way she writes is the way a budding writer would. She also leaves the revealing of massive secrets and plot points to her sister, Ruby, who only writes a few chapters. I think this really shows how much Rose relies on Ruby, even though it's often portrayed as the other way round in the book. Ruby is hilarious. I love her voice in the novel. She doesn't take it as seriously as Rose does, she has digs at Rose's expense but she's so loving towards her, the digs don't really matter.The other two characters I love in this book are Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash. I think that Lansens really hit the nail on the head when creating such loving parents.

The Setting: The only part of the book I can fault, although I'm not sure it's due to Lansens writing. I had absolutely no idea where this was set until about page 200, but that's probably because I'm not that good at geography. The description and imagery of the farmhouse and the bridge over the creek was superb though.

The Overalll Story: Beautiful and heartbreaking. The writing itself is elegant and the relationship between the two girls is so real and just brilliant. You find out about loads of secrets and little funny mishaps as you are carried along their story, but their accounts of their past runs parallel to their present life and present struggles, which really puts it all into perspective, like you have inhabited their heads and you're watching their memories roll by. Also, the ending made me cry. Just saying.

I give this book a 5 out of 5.

- Elsie

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Fateful by Claudia Gray: Review

Fateful by Claudia Gray

A tragic tale about falling in love on the world’s most infamous ill-fated sea voyage as heroine, Tess, discovers darker secrets that lie beneath the doomed crossing… and a hidden brotherhood that threaten to tear her lover from her forever.

The RMS Titanic is the most luxurious ship ever built, but for eighteen-year-old Tess Davies it’s a prison. Travelling as a maid for the family she has served for years, Tess is trapped in their employ amid painful memories and family secrets.

When she meets Alec, a handsome upper class passenger, Tess falls helplessly in love. But Alec has secrets of his own… and soon Tess is entangled in a dangerous game. A sinister brotherhood that will do anything to induct Alec into their mystical order has followed him on board. And Tess is now their most powerful pawn.

Tess and Alec fight the dark forces threatening to tear them apart, never realising that they will have to face an even greater peril before the journey is over…

When I heard that this story was about werewolves on the Titanic, I thought that people were kind of running out of idea of stories to write and that this would be a very random book. Oh how I was wrong! This book surprised me so much and I fell in love with it within the first few pages!

The cover: I wasn't sure of the cover at first, but the more I looked at it the more I loved it. Its simple, gives the readers the perfect sense on what this story is like and actually has meaning to what happens within the pages!

The characters: The main character, Tess, was very likeable to me. She's loyal to the ones she loves, she's intelligent and knows when to step back from dangerous situations (though sometimes these situations find her) and she's also a really strong character. One of the other things I love about the characters is their back stories, we get to find out more about not only Tess but also the people she knows and meets along the way, which adds a lot more depth to each character. And of course there is Alec. You can't complain about Alec.

The setting: The story takes place on the Titanic, which in itself is amazing! But we get to see the main character go to and from first class to third class, so the readers get to see both sides of the Titanic. We get to see the rich side of it from the family that Tess works for, with luxurious rooms and a grand deck. Then we get to see the poorer side of it through Tess and the friends she makes, with tiny rooms and crowded corridors. The way Claudia Gray writes about the differences in each classes experiences makes it a lot more realistic, and a lot more heartbreaking.

The overall story: Although the premise of this story may seem completely random, Claudia Gray manages to make werewolves on the Titanic seem understandable and you start to think to yourself 'It makes sense for them all to be on the ship'. Every character has a legitimate reason to be on the Titanic and the way she intertwines each characters lives together is brilliant! The story is so fast paced as well, that I didn't find myself getting bored in places. Also, one of the main reasons I loved this book is, I became so wrapped up in Tess' life that I forgot what happened to the Titanic in real life, so when it happened in the book I felt a lot more heartbroken! This pretty much was what I was thinking near the ending of the book 'MOVE! Awww thats sweet! NO WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! OMG WHAT?! Noooooooo. AHHHH OMG YES!!' so all in all, I loved this book.

Claudia Gray creates a story of love, betrayals, friendship, guilt and heartbreak. I was probably the most surprised with this book out of my whole bookcase! Everything about this book was amazing, from the detailed characters and their stories, to the detailed surroundings of the Titanic. So I award this book with 5 out of 5 stars, because I fell in love with it when I was only a couple of pages into the story.