Monday, 26 August 2013

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The story follows a couple narratives, the main one being Cassie, a 16 (ish, I think) year old girl. Cassie lives a normal life with her mum, dad and baby brother Sammy. She is invisible to the guy she has a crush on, worries about her hair and spends most of her time texting her best friend. Basically your standard teenager. However, her whole life gets flipped upside-down when the Mothership is seen orbiting Earth. Then the First Wave arrives - and there's no going back. We enter the story shortly after the Fourth Wave has ended. Cassie is camping in the woods, alone save for a teddy bear and a being in the dark.

When I first started reading this book I adored it. It was fast paced, exciting, you learn so much in such a short period of time and I raced through the first 60-100 pages. Cassie was a very real, down to earth character. Yancey does an excellent job of capturing the growth from girl to woman that Cassie is forced to prematurely experience (one line of the book mentions how she is worried that her supply of tampons will run out - which I loved as writers (especially male writers) tend to miss out).

I was surprised and a bit disappointed at first when the narrator changed, as it seemed a shame to move away from Cassie as she was becoming a fully fledged character. The other characters we follow aren't as well developed as Cassie initially, but they are engaging enough to sustain the plot, and I was looking forward to the point when the narratives collided.

However, I haven't only got praise for this book. One aspect of it very nearly put me off finishing it, mostly because I thought this book was better than the trope it used.

There will be sort of spoilers from this point on (concerning Cassie and Evan - both of whom the blurb of the book introduces), so read on at your peril if spoilers bother you.

-------- SPOILER WARNING ---------------------------------------------------------------

When Cassie first meets Evan, I'm ok with that. I understand that the author wanted to create a bit of romantic tension for his leading lady, and having her lusting after a guy who she's literally said a sentence to isn't the most engaging plot. When Evan kisses Cassie, that's when I get angry.

This kissing scene is described as a deeply romantic, sensual act. However, Evan essentially kisses Cassie against her will. We already know that he knows a lot more about Cassie than he's been letting on (and we later learn that he's been stalking her), and to add what can be described as sexual assault to this mix (and to portray it in a way which is meant to have teenage girls swooning) is disgusting and dangerous. I hate Evan and Cassies entire relationship - it's totally overdramatic and over the top. Whilst Zombie's relationship with Ringer is understated, natural and sweet, Evans and Cassie's is scary.

Not only this, but from the moment Cassie meets Evan most of her strength and conviction (her best and strongest personality traits) vanish, and she virtually regresses back into the teenage girl with a crush.From being such a strong female lead she turns into a girl who can't cope without her man. I thought this book was better than that, and Cassie's character was strong enough to sustain her part of the narrative. I understand why Evan was needed (from a knowledge point of view) but I don't understand why they had to be so overly 'romantic'.

This being said, the premise of the book was excellent and the execution (for the most part) was superb. I recommend reading it, so long as you can question the presentation you're given.

I gave it 3.5/5


Currently Reading: Vagina: a new biography by Naomi Wolf

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Fifteen year old Clary Fray has spent her whole life feeling normal - well as normal as any teenage girl ever can feel - until she becomes the sole witness to a murder. A murder performed by 3 teenagers who no-one else are able to see, and where the body of the victim vanishes. The murders turn out to be Shaddow Hunters, a race of humans to have 'The Sight' - the ability to see Downworlders (demons, vampires, werewolves etc) and kill them using magic. When Clary's mother is taken by demons, Clary gets sucked further into this mysterious world, and wants vengeance.

For the most part I was extremely underwhelmed by this book. I never felt anything more than annoyance for the main characters - ridiculously self-obsessed, know-it-all sixteen year olds that they were - and many of the plot lines were predictable and followed the standard 'ya fantasy' tropes. If I had read this during or just before my 'Twilight' era, I probably would have loved it, which might also be one of the reasons I was disappointed with this - it felt like something I had read before.

The main story, however, is an intriguing and interesting idea and some of the plot twists (whilst not being particularly well executed) were twisty enough that it kept me reading. If this book had tried to be a heavier read, I don't think I would have been able to sustain it till the end, however it was really easy to get through (for the most part, although the more difficult parts to read were the result of even worse writing rather than cleaver or more sophisticated writing).

I was really looking forward to reading this and seeing the film, but after this experience I'll probably just wait till it shows up on Sky Movies before I see it. Weirdly, I still want to read the second book in the series - I just really hope the writing style and the characters progress. Also, the last plot twist (whilst confusing, again due to the poor writing style) leaves some questions that, whilst they won't keep me up at night, are interesting enough that I'd like to see where Clare takes them.

A 'mundane', harmless little read, not worth paying full price for, but an interesting enough time filler to be picked up from a library.

I gave it 2/5 on Goodreads.


Currently Reading:
The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
Vagina: a new biography by Naomi Wolf

Friday, 9 August 2013

The First and Last tag

This tag as been floating around the booktubers for a while now, and it got me thinking about books I've read etc, so I thought I'd give it a go!

1. (I'm missing out the first question because it's about video)

2. First booktuber I ever watched: Rosianna got me into watching book related videos, but as she's mroe than just a booktuber, it'll either be Kayley or Lena?
    Last booktuber I watched: Kayley again!

3. First book I bought: I got a lot of books given to me when I was growing up, and spent hours in the library, so I haven't really started buying books till semi-recently. Maybe Emily the Strange: The Lost Days by Rob Reger or The Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine.
   Last book I bought: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. I read The Golden Compass (aka Northern Lights) just after the film came out and really didn't like it (I also didn't like the film), but the fella keeps bugging me to read them, so much so that he gave me a copy of The Subtle Knife so I thought I might as well have the whole set! Plus it was only 20p at a second hand sale. The last full priced book I bought was NW by Zadie Smith.

4. First novel I read: This is a hard one. I read everything I could lay my hands on when I was little and read on my own from a very very young age. The first books I remember loving (and I swear I almost read the entire set - or at least as many as the library could order in) were the Animal Ark series by Lucy Daniels.
   Last novel I read: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

5. First dystopian I read: When I first heard this I immediately jumped to The Hunger Games but then I thought about it and actually the first dystopian I read was probably Orwell's Animal Farm. It's not a traditional dystopian I guess, as it's an allegorical novel, but it's definitely about a world gone wrong, which is what defines dystopian in my mind.
   Last dystopian I read: Divergent by Veronica Roth.

6. First paranormal romance I read: Probably Twilight as I can't remember reading much romantic fiction before that.
   Last paranormal romance I read: Maybe one of the Morganville Vampires series, although I can't remember if I'd got bored of those by the time Breaking Dawn came out? Although, I've just flicked through GoodReads and I read Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, if that counts?

7. First time I cried over a book: I very rarely cry over books, so the first time I can remember crying over a book was probably Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine.
   Last time I cried over a book: Looking for Alaska by John Green. Maybe. I don't know. I remember books that a lot of people cried at that I didn't (the final Harry Potter and Now Is Good for example). I cry more at films or TV than books, I think because with a book I can close it, gather myself, and read on.

8. First series I completed: I think I've read all the Famous Five books? So maybe those? If not then the Switchers trilogy by Kate Thompson. I think I'm one of a rare few whose first series wasn't Harry Potter.
   Last series I completed: This is surprisingly difficult. I've read all the Uglies books by Scott Westerfeld that were in the original trilogy, but I think he released a forth book (Extras) but I've no idea if I ever finished it. I know I got a bit fed up with them. Oh, The Hunger Games. Obviously.

9. The first book I couldn't press myself to finish: I did eventually get round to reading this and LOVING it, which just shows how taste changes over time, but the first time round I simply could not push myself to finish The Hobbit.
    The last book I couldn't push myself to finish: Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. This book came so highly recommended but I just couldn't get into it. I got about 100 pages in and had to bail out. It's still sitting in my currently reading on GoodReads because they don't have an 'I abandoned this book' function as far as I can tell.

10. First and Last people you'll tag: If Maz or Meg are reading this, then you guys!

Hope you guys enjoyed this as much as I did! I might see if I can do more tags that I stumble upon...

Best Wishes,


Currently Reading: The Autograph Man  by Zadie Smith
Vagina: a new biography by Naomi Wolf

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

First off I'm going to apologise if these reviews are terrible nonsense. I had an 8 1/2 hour shift at work today (which meant getting up at the ungodly hour of 5.45am) and apparently I'm still awake enough to type. So here goes... I've had a super productive couple of reading days, and have managed to power through both of these books. They're both very light hearted, easy reads, aimed at a YA audience, but they are both VERY different.

Divergent by Veronica Roth is your classic dystopian novel. Set in the future, when humanity is trying to fix its flaws, humans have been dived into different factions based on which character traits they value the most (ie, honesty, self-less-ness, knowledge, bravery etc). In your sixteenth year, you get to decide which faction you are going to join - whether you stay with the faction you've grown up with or whether you leave behind everything and everyone you've known and start life in a new faction. This is the point at which we meet Beatrice, our main character. Beatrice feels like she isn't enough for her faction, but also doesn't know which faction she would fit into. Beatrice has one of the hardest decisions of her life to confront, whilst at the same time being aware of the stirrings of trouble in the stricture of humanity.

This sounds like a heavy topic, but at it's heart this story is a YA read. Whilst it does deal with some tough themes (most importantly, especially in YA, the idea of growing up and becoming your own person and being comfortable in your own skin), it's also got romance and (I hate to say it) a bit of cliche thrown it to make it a really easy read.

I really enjoyed this book, it was faced paced, with just the right amount of world setting and I can 't wait to read the sequel and watch the film. However, I am a little disappointed about the way the romance was done in the book. Without spoiling things, it becomes obvious to the reader (although of course Beatrice is oblivious) that there are two guys who like her, and when she finally realises, she has to reject one etc etc. Now, I don't mind a love triangle situation, but it kind of felt like there was a love triangle for love triangles sake.

That being said, I do think the eventual romance is important to the story, although the family ties/ personal growth should have been more of a driving force through the novel, rather than just the beginning. I gave it 4/5 though, and powered through it in a couple of days despite it being nearly 500 pages long (the quickest I've read a book of that length since Potter I think - high praise indeed)

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - as I said in my TBR, I picked this up in lieu of there not being Eleanor and Park, and when I started reading it I was a bit disappointed. However, the tables quickly turned, and I soon found it hard to put down.

Again this was a super light and easy read, lighter than Divergent even though it is aimed at the slightly older spectrum of YA. I say this because the usual YA trope is to have the 16/17/18/19 year old character who has to learn something important about themselves, whereas this book featured adults as the main characters, with jobs and established identities. It's 1999, the internet is just becoming established and we're following Lincoln: a 29 year old IT technician who still lives with his mum and works the night shifts at a newspaper company, monitoring the new in-company email system. It's his job to send warnings to any users who are sending non-work related emails. Beth and Jennifer's emails appear in his filter a lot. But he never sends them a warning and instead becomes engrossed in their lives.

This is a lovely little love story. Funny and romantic, the female characters are believable (ie. they don't just talk about men, although men do get spoken about) and Lincoln in endearing. The fact that this story is about adults is really what elevates it from the traditional YA love story - it somehow feels more real when the people falling head over heals have had long term serious relationships beforehand.

I gave this 3/5 on goodreads, but to be honest it's more of a 3.5/5. I can't wait to pick up Eleanor and Park now, and I'd really like to see how Rowell's writing will have progressed, and if she can capture the same sense of believability with younger characters.

Writing all of that has actually made me sleepy (result!), so,

Goodnight and TTFN


Currently Reading: Vagina: a new biography by Naomi Wolf

Monday, 5 August 2013

Review: The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of A Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

I read this book back in June, and I know I've been promising a review since then, so here it finally is!! Sorry it's a little short, but it's one of those books that you can't really explore without spoiling it.

It's Tuesday May 2nd 2005 and Allan Karlsson is hours away from celebrating his 100th birthday when he steps out of his bedroom window and runs away. He makes his way to the nearest bus stop where he is asked by a young man to look after a rather large and rather heavy suitcase. When his bus arrives and the man has not returned, Allan steps on, suitcase and all, and sets off on an adventure. However, this is not the first adventure Allan has (somewhat accidentally) embarked upon during his 100 year time upon the earth. The story follows Allan in this newest adventure whilst recounting his previous ones and the elevctic people he's met over the years.

I picked this book up almost as much on a whim as Allan picks up his various adventures - that is to say when I saw it was only 20p on Kindle I thought 'This has been on Waterstones best seller shelves for a while, might as well give it a go!' and boy was it worth it!

Allan is an extremely endearing character. He is very matter of fact, polite and generally nice guy who enjoys a good vodka almost as much as he enjoys his sleep, and the friends he encounters on his adventures are equally likable, even with their somewhat dubious pasts. The adventures he goes on a wildly dramatic for such a sweet, quiet man and in a way he is very much like Forest Gump, if Forest Gump preferred a nap to a run.

I laughed a hell of a lot through this book at all the absurd situations that Allan and his friends find themselves in. I would love to go into detail about some of my favourite moments, but I wouldn't want to spoil them as what makes them so incredible is how unexpected they are. Entertaining, easy to read and wonderfully written, I would highly recommend this book. Five stars!

Happy Reading!


Currently Reading: Attatchments by Rainbow Rowell
Vagina: a new biography
 by Naomi Wolf