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review 2017-07-13 11:54
Review: Blood Rose Rebellion
Blood Rose Rebellion - Rosalyn C. Eves

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I had pre ordered a finished hardcover, I put in a request on Netgalley, and 90% of my Random House requests are declined, so I was completely gobsmacked when I was actually approved for this one. So I wound up with a pretty white cover finished copy and a pretty blue cover copy for my kindle.

 

Though I don’t really know what to say on the actual story itself. It’s an interesting idea. In this alternative historical society the upper class wealthy people are magical users, Luminates. Various families have different magical traits. When they reach a certain age society children go through a test to see what magical affinity they are suited to. Only the elite class can become Luminates. There are rare instances where children like our heroine Anna, are barren with seemingly no magical talent whatsoever.

 

Anna’s best hope in society is marrying of equal wealth. Her older sister Catherine outshines her in every respect, magically and looks. Catherine is a snob. She has a younger brother who I got the impression was quite weak and sickly. Her mother is much of a snob as her sister, and her father seems quite passive. Debutant balls in this society require a display of magic. The novel starts with Catherine’s debutant ball and magical display. Anna is supposed to be out of the way with the younger brother but it doesn’t happen. She’s been seeing a wealthy boy, Freddy, whom she has a big crush on. She winds up crashing her sister’s ball and something goes drastically wrong when the magic collapses when Anna arrives in the ballroom.  Anna apparently has the ability to break magic apart.

 

Scandalised, her mother sends her off to Hungary with Anna’s grandmother to Grandmother’s home estate. Where Anna gets a lesson in Hungarian magic and politics. She inadvertently finds herself on the land of Hungarian Romani’s. Which sparks a love-hate relationship with a boy she meets. There’s also a rebellion going on she finds herself entwined with, a group of people who (understandably) hate the fact that only the aristocrats of society can use magic. They’ve spelled it to be so. Anna has the capability of bringing this to a collapse.

 

The biggest problem I had with this novel was that I found it quite repetitive. The magic and the rebellion were quite fascinating, Anna was a likeable enough heroine. But she finds herself in situations that are quite often morally ambiguous. She’s faced with some really tough choices in following her heart or following her own mind. Most of the situations she’s faced with are the sort where there is no clear right or wrong answer. Whatever decision she makes, someone will be hurt. And she goes back and forth over this in various situations throughout the novel.

 

Definitely a worthwhile read and after that ending I’m looking forward to the next instalment.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Children's for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-04-12 14:28
Review: The Edge of Everything
The Edge of Everything - Jeff Giles

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I think this was something I requested on a whim. It was quite some time ago, I remember only glancing at the synopsis on Netgalley. Admittedly I went into this one remembering nothing on what it was about. I had it in my mind for some reason it was a dystopian.

 

I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. Starts off with teen Zoe at home at the start of a snow storm looking for her younger brother who’s gone out to play with their two dogs. But he doesn’t appear to be answering her calls to come inside before the storm really gets going. The storm is getting worse by the minute so Zoe goes out looking for him. During her search Zoe stumbles into the path of nasty piece of work Stan who is robbing their neighbour’s house. The neighbours having died recently. The confrontation is bad. Warning – Stan really hurts the two dogs. It’s brutal and unpleasant.

 

Zoe and her brother are rescued by a mysterious figure who arrives and kicks the crap out of Stan. The mysterious benefactor is hell bent on destroying Stan for his evil deeds and seems to have some sort of superpowers. But of course nothing goes quite so smoothly. Not once he starts actually interacting with Zoe.

 

The figure, who later becomes known as X has come from a sort of hell dimension known as The Lowlands and is a bounty hunter sent to reap souls of evil doers. Stan is his target. Though Zoe’s interaction with him is brief, he learns something of mercy. Which sets in motion a big ass chain of events.

 

X has very little concept of how to interact with Zoe. Not completing his mission has left him in dire-straights and great pain until the job is done. He collapses in a nearby house –which just happens to be Zoe’s. With the help of Zoe, her mom and her younger brother they help X pull himself together.

X’s dialogue is quite stilted and almost boarding on cheesy, but there’s something quite fascinating about how he copes with Zoe. He’s grown up in this hell dimension with only other damaged souls to guide him, so has very little sense of morality or anything.

 

While Zoe is your average teenager – she lives with her mom and younger brother and is struggling to cope with the recent death of her father. Zoe’s mom is one of the more likeable, believable adults of YA fiction. She’s involved without being over the top involved, and seems to know when to back off. The mom has some secrets which come out later on in the novel, while it’s not of the pleasant nature, it’s doesn’t actually make her any less likeable as a character, I thought the twists added dimension and believability to the mom character.

 

Zoe herself is an immensely likeable character, there was something delightful about the way she was written that made me as a reader connect with her immediately. I liked her tone of voice and her dialogue.

 

She handled the increasingly weird situation very well. Her relationship with X grows, and as they became equality fascinated and enamoured with each other can be described as instalovey, although the novel is so well written and both characters are so interesting – it’s instalove but instalove that actually works.

 

And they’re both smart enough to know there will be consequences for their actions. X has to deal with the Lowlands and the consequences of revealing his secrets and not completing his mission. There appears to be a hierarchy of demons or “Lords” who are the rulers and X has royally pissed off one of the worst who is determined to make an example of him. This particular Lord is a real asshole and his actions and dialogue is so over the top in the vain of I’m so evil and you’re so crap and you must suffer because I say so. It’s almost like a cartoon villain and kind of ridiculous but at the same time kind of amusing in a weird way.

 

Zoe learns some uncomfortable truths about her father’s past and certain things she was never meant to know. It’s quite emotional. Her dad was a caver and taught her how, and there’s an incredibly moving scene where she goes caving with a friend as a result of some of the secrets she learns. Exceptinonally moving and very tense in parts.

 

A wonderful mix of action and romance, a very unique plot and not at all what I was expecting. I really loved this one.  I loved this one so much I bought a finished hardback.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ).

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review 2016-12-13 11:41
Review: Heartless
Heartless - Marissa Meyer

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I adored the Lunar Chronicles so naturally have been very excited for another Marissa Meyer novel. I had already pre ordered before I was lucky enough to get a Netgalley copy of Heartless. Though more than a week after finishing I’m still not sure what to make of it. I generally like fairy tale retellings. Though admittedly, my knowledge of Alice in Wonderland is limited to the first Disney movie. I never read the original.

 

The biggest issue I had with this one, is it’s the origin story of the Queen of Hearts, so no matter what, you know something is going to go hideously hideously wrong. Catherine Pinkerton is actually a fairly nice girl when the novel starts, with dreams of opening her own bakery with her best friend, her maid Mary Anne. Catherine is a fabulous baker full of delightful ideas, and Mary Anne is the more practical minded one of the two, good with money and logical thinking. Though Catherine knows her parents would never approve. Her mother is overbearing and bossy though puts it all in a “mother knows best” context and wants to see Catherine settled down with a rich husband.

 

Catherine isn’t interested in a husband, and becomes distressed by the fact that the King of Hearts clearly has a huge crush on her. He’s a big fan of her baking, her parents are thrilled, Cath, not so much. The King of Hearts is much older, nice, but as dumb as a bucket of rocks. Cath knows that if she marries, she’ll never get her bakery. She’s quite an interesting character, clearly with brains and a bit of a sassy attitude at times. And also stubborn, she can be very stubborn.

 

Wonderland has a fantastic cast of colourful characters, though the talking animals are a little weird to get used to, mixed with human characters. The setting is delightfully done, it’s very whimsical, very creative, though because of the fanciful nature, I did find it rather hard to picture.

 

As Catherine schemes to find ways to open her bakery and convince her parents that’s what she wants, as well as ducking the attention of the King, dealing with dances and parties and high society life, she finds herself drawn to the charms of Jest, the Court Joker. They hit it off immediately.

 

Which of course sends warning bells, at least to me, because as I said early, it’s obvious that something is going to go wrong. And on top of Cath falling more and more for Jest, who introduces her to the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, and other Wonderland characters, there’s a beast attacking the land of Hearts, the Jabberwock, which seems to attack at large gatherings, and the King of Hearts doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it.

 

It did feel a little long winded and kind of repetitive. A circle of Cath trying to deal with her feelings for Jest as well as dealing with her mother pushing her towards the king, and trying to find ways to open this bakery when the parents just are not budging. With a Jabberwock thrown in for a few good battle scenes. Though it was nearly 75% in before it got to a have to know what happens next. It did get quite dark and somewhat twisted just before the end. Beautifully written, but something was missing for me.

 

I didn’t love it, I liked it. A little predictable in parts, but still left an - ah, so that’s how it happened.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for approving my request to view the title.

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text 2016-08-12 17:24
DNF: A Court of Mist and Fury
A Court of Mist and Fury - Sarah J. Maas

I made it to 400 pages and I'm now at the point where I'm cringing when I look at my paperback because I STILL have another 200 pages plus to finish. Not happening, its long winded and boring and I'm starting to loathe the main character. Calling it quits on this series. 

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review 2016-07-04 11:50
Review: Flawed
Flawed - Cecelia Ahern

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Initially I got a copy of this from one of those feed your reader emails with a  read it now for the first 250 members. I also purchased a hard cover copy when I saw it in the book section of my local supermarket.

 

A reasonably interesting UK based dystopia which was in parts surprisingly brutal. The system of government was a little hard to wrap my head around. It seemed that bad decisions by the UK government brought the country to the blink of collapse so a whole new system was instigated. Something to do with moral decision making. People are branded Flawed - literally branded with an F seared into your skin if you break a rule. However many brandings you receive depends on how deep your infraction is. The heroine of the story Celestine comes from a “perfect” family.

 

Mum is a model, Dad does something for the local news station. She’s got a younger sister, and a younger brother. She’s dating the son of the most important judge on the Flawed council. The Judge – Judge Craven is seen by everyone else as a strict tyrant – but he’s more like a normal friendly dad figure to Celestine.

 

 

This image starts detoriating rapidly. The reader is introduced to the Flawed system right off. Celestine, her boyfriend Art, and Judge Craven and Celestine’s family are supposed to be having dinner with their neighbours. One of the neighbours is arrested and taken away for a Flawed infraction. It’s swift and disturbing and raises an interesting moral point. The infraction is for assisted suicide. Illegal in the UK but not in other countries. The neighbour took her dying mother to another country to help her die with dignity. But arriving home the Flawed people strike harshly.[/spoiler]

 

 

The people branded Flawed live outside of polite society and have to live by a set of harsh rules enforced by strict people called Whistleblowers who keep track of them to make sure they adhere by the rules or else there can be extreme consequences – and not just for the flawed, their family can be made to suffer too. And the head of all these decision, supposedly with two other Judges on the council, but Judge Craven seems to be behind it all with an iron fist. (There are of course, reasons, which are explained later on in the novel)

 

 

[spoiler]

Celestine’s perfect existence comes crashing down around her when she makes a decision to help a Flawed person, which is strictly against the rules. Everything changes as she knows it. She’s punished in a way she never thought she would be, she’s made an example of. She made a split decision to help someone and everything changed for the worst for her. Her punishment is very harsh and was actually shocking and disturbing to read.

 

 

 

She keeps thinking she will get out of it, but it’s a hard hit to adjust to her new circumstances. School changes, her sibling’s attitude change, the boyfriend disappears. The worst Whistleblower imaginable takes charge of her. Despite all of this, Celestine handles it all fairly strongly for a girl whose world has been thrown into chaos.

(spoiler show)

 

 

 

The story progresses as some of the things that happen to her are not standard protocol for punishment. What is done to her is completely against the rules. And when people start finding out, she gets involved inadvertently with another political party who want to change the Flawed system. The end is a big ass cliff hanger set for the next one.

 

It’s a little slow in the middle, and there was a potential love triangle, which wasn’t explored much but I can see it happening in the next one.

 

The novel raises some fairly interesting points in morality without being overly preachy about it.

 

Celestine is not abandoned completely, though she has some nasty incidents with the kids in her school class, she has the support of her mom, and when a famous reporter gets involved, she manages to turn the tables to get the woman to listen and use her platform for a better purpose. Not without drawbacks and drama of its own, of course. And this plotline does have its own little twists and turn.  After the first bit with the first introduction to the Flawed, and Celestine’s incident, there is not a whole lot that happens until right towards the end.

(spoiler show)

 

 

It started off quite well, maybe not fast paced and action filled, but interesting characters and a strange government system that was not entirely comfortable to read about. (Who decides it was a good idea to give these government people the right to say who’s moral or not when their own morals are often questionable?!) It was fairly obvious where it was going after about the half way point. It did have a fairly good little twist towards the end.

 

A fairly good, reasonably unique dystopian read. I’m looking forward to seeing where this series is going.

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