49 Followers
60 Following
sunsetxcocktail

sunsetxcocktail

Currently reading

How to Make a Wish
Ashley Herring Blake
Progress: 112/336 pages
Dragonfly in Amber
Diana Gabaldon
Progress: 89/976 pages
The Fall of Butterflies
Andrea Portes
Progress: 155/386 pages
The Shadow Society
Marie Rutkoski
Progress: 100/416 pages
A Torch Against the Night
Sabaa Tahir
Progress: 103/464 pages
Mark of the Witch
Maggie Shayne
Progress: 82/394 pages
The Bourbon Kings
J.R. Ward
Progress: 33/400 pages
Something in Between
Melissa de la Cruz
Progress: 96/432 pages
Ever the Hunted
Erin Summerill
Progress: 9 %
The Bronze Key (Magisterium, Book 3)
Holly Black, Cassandra Clare

City of Saints and Thieves

City of Saints & Thieves - Natalie C. Anderson

I received a copy from Penguin's FirstoRead.com

 

The initial premise of this novel is nothing particularly original. Tina’s mother has been murdered, the police haven’t done anything and she’s hell bent on revenge. What gives this book an edge and makes it stand out in the YA mystery genre is its setting. The novel takes place in a city in Kenya and villages in the Congo. It’s raw, it’s violent and scary and incredibly well written.

 

Tina’s mother is a maid in the house of a very rich man who lives in Sangui City in Kenya. Tina lives there with her baby sister Kiki, and finds herself befriending the rich family’s son, Michael. When Tina’s mother is murdered, Tina runs away. Kiki is safe in a convent school, while Tina is on the streets and becomes part of the city’s most ruthless gang, the Goondas. Her quick thinking and small physique and some other talents make her a great thief and she toughens up, surviving in hard circumstances. The scary leader of the Goondas, a mysterious and very dangerous man, offers Tina the chance at revenge and blood against the man she believes murdered her mother.

 

As Tina puts her plan in motion, nothing is as it seems as she uncovers secrets and lies, and finds herself working with her old friend Michael – she believes it is his father who is responsible while Michael swears blind it’s not. Michael inserts himself into Tina’s investigation which yields more questions than answers, more danger and thing about Tina’s past and her mother come to light, things of course Tina never knew, which takes Tina, Michael and Tina’s technical whiz friend Boyboy who’s also helping out of Sangui City into the jungles of the unbelievably dangerous Congo.

 

It’s unflinching and brutal as Tina digs into her mother’s history. She’s smart, tough and wiry and never gives up no matter how hard or seemingly impossible everything looks. She’s just as brutal as the boys and men she has to work with, yet at the same time, she does have some softer moments. Just little things that make her human rather than just hell bent on revenge. Her resolve never really waivers until some really hard truths come to light about the truth of what happened to her mother in the villages in the Congo. There’s war and atrocities going on around them, and people who could be trusted may not be what they seem.

 

It’s very twisty turny, I never guessed who the killer was. I had several theories and all were wrong. Though in a way when the truth is revealed, you kind of find yourself thinking (or I certainly did) should have seen that one coming! but never did. It’s very harsh and not a comfortable mystery read at all.  But it’s so different in its setting and characters and it’s certainly a very compelling read. It did drag a bit in parts of the plot, and some of the characters weren’t as fleshed out as Tina was, but the slowness of the plot does pick up.

 

Lots of dark secrets and lots of emotional impact.  Tough, but very good.

 

Definitely an author I would love to read more from.

Review: Some Girls Are

Some Girls Are - Courtney Summers

This was one tough book to get through, but at the same time it’s really hard to put down once you get into it. It tells the story of fall from grace of mean girl Regina Afton. Trigger warnings for attempted rape (twice in the book) physical and emotional violence. This is bullying to the extreme. The problem with this book is Regina is a big bitch and flat out unlikeable. Part of a clique of rich pretty mean girls she’s engaged in bullying behaviour herself to the point of completely destroying other girls to the point of the victims attempting suicide. So when she finds herself with her best friend’s asshole boyfriend who doesn’t get no means no and makes the mistake of confiding in someone she shouldn’t have – it’s all over the school that she slept with the most popular girl's boyfriend, and Regina finds herself the subject of the same abuse she’s inflicted on other girls.

 

It’s deep and emotional and horrible and the bullying goes from bad to worse and turns physical.  At the same time there’s a sort of morbid sense of glee seeing Regina getting her comeuppance (especially as a reader who has suffered at the hands mean girl bullying) even though it’s still horrible. She’s got no one to really turn to and finds herself trying to sit with one boy Michael who everyone has dismissed as weird and unlikeable – because of rumours Regina and her former friends spread about him. Despite everything this poor guy has suffered at their hands he still (sort of) gives her a second chance. Doesn’t make them friends or anything, but he’s definitely the bigger person. 

Even though she’s getting herself dragged through the mud Regina acts like she’s so above it all and better than everyone else (which makes her even more hateable) she’s done it to other girls, it’s sort of like so what? Doesn’t mean she deserves it (well, no she really didn’t deserve what the boy at the party tried to do, no one deserves that no matter how horrible they are as person).

 

 It’s complex because as I said she does deserve some sort of consequences for her actions in abusing others.  Her attitude doesn’t help endear her to anyone, and thankfully, it appears she’s not at all trying to be liked. She’s just getting through it as best she can. She wants to lash out and hurt the girl who’s responsible for spreading the rumour that knocked her off the top. (They have a less than pleasant history) and of course no one believes her about the attempted rape.

 

It is a tough, gut wrenching read and extremely uncomfortable in places. It did have a how on earth is this going to end tug pulling at me through the later parts of the book.  The violence gets worse, it doesn’t let up at all. The novel makes no apologies for characters’ behaviour either, it’s something that happens and it doesn’t always end well or tie up with a nice satisfying bow. It’s very open ended and that, on reflection, actually worked quite well.

 

It’s a very good book, just a difficult one with some tough topics to deal with.

Review: You Know Me Well

You Know Me Well - Nina LaCour, David Levithan

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

A delightful story focusing on two teens during Pride week in San Francisco. Mark is in love with his best friend Ryan while Kate’s best friend has set her up with a girl who she’s built up in her mind and finally gets to meet after hearing about her from other people. Only instead of going to the meeting Kate chickens out and winds up at the same club where Mark and Ryan are hanging out. A chance meeting and somehow a friendship forms as the night progresses between Kate and Mark.

 

Mark is trying not to be jealous while Ryan is out on the dance floor and having fun, Kate is trying not to freak over ditching out on meeting Violet, the girl she’s supposed to be meeting. Each chapter is told in a viewpoint of either Kate or Mark, both voices are likeable, and very believable. Mark as he tries to convince Ryan they should be together, and the effects this has on him when trying to work through as Ryan meets someone else. While Kate is struggling to understand why she’s friends with her best friend Lehna. She’s known Lehna forever, they’re both out and proud and a beacon for other gay kids at their school. Yet Lehna’s personality is very forward and brash and I found her character irritating and obnoxious. Violet, the girl Kate is supposed to be meeting is actually Lehna’s cousin, and Lehna has told her things about Kate that aren’t exactly true.

 

Though through meeting Mark at a club in San Francisco and winding up at a glamerous party somewhere later, Kate finds the stories Lehna told about her are actually, in a kind of unexpected way, turning out to come true. Out of the two storylines, Kate’s I found was more interesting when Violet finally turns up, Kate’s story I found as a reader I was able to identify with much more and therefore liked her character a lot more. And there was some pretty swoony romance.

 

While I liked Mark, his story was more angsty, and seemed to just be focused on I love Ryan, does he love me or this other guy he’s started seeing and wouldn’t have started seeing him if I hadn’t convinced him to go out that night? It does get a bit emotional, but I did find it kind of repetitive. Though together, the two stories actually did work pretty well.

 

There was one bit towards the end where Mark and Kate go to a poetry slam and some of their other friends are there, some of the poetry was a little lost on me, some of it was awful, while other pieces were incredibly powerful and very moving.

 

All in all a very good read that managed to smoothly go from quirky and funny to angst to emotional and switch back and forth provoking a range of different emotions. I liked this so much I bought a finished copy.

 

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

DNF: Moon Chosen

— feeling bad smell
Moon Chosen - P.C. Cast

No stars. Doesn't even deserve 1 star.

 

May be my quickest DNF ever. Barely 3 pages and I loathe this book. Stuck it out to 20 pages, but no more. I hate the characters and the world buildings is nonsense, the dialogue is ludicrous and the plot is awful. Big ass NO WAY am I wasting any more time on this rubbish.

 

 

Review: Fear the Drowning Deep

Fear the Drowning Deep - Sarah Glenn Marsh

I received a copy from Edelweiss

 

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with this one, it was a bit of coverlust more than anything about it that caught my attention and I snagged it as soon as I saw it on Edelweiss as a read it now. I’d forgotten what it was about by the time I finally got around to read it. Pleasantly surprised to find how unique this novel was and how much I enjoyed and how unexpected the plot was. It’s a turn of the century historical set in the Isle of Man.

 

The main character lives in small island village steeped mythology regarding the sea and the creatures within and the strange fairy folk (think more traditional type fairies, Little Folk, mysterious and hardly ever seen but a somewhat worrying presence).

 

Bridey, the main character, just wants to escape from the island and go experience London and the mainland. She has a close tightknit family of a number of siblings, a couple of best friends, though her male friend Lugh’s attention seem to be changing slightly towards her. The town even has a creepy old lady who lives, Morag, alone with a mysterious past known as the local witch.

 

Bridey is haunted by the mysterious death of her grandfather. She was there when it happened, the official cause is drowning, but she knows there’s more to it. Problem is no one believes her. Not helped when Bridey is looking for work and her mother sends her to go apprentice to Morag. Then girls start disappearing and turning up dead.

 

Along with the arrival of a strange boy washed up on the beach. The boy has horrible wounds and no memory of who he is. Bridey takes him home to help nurse him back to health, as he has no name, she names him Fynn.

 

Beautifully written, almost lyrical, and completely captivating, the mythology of the sea beasts and magic of the isle is woven in and it’s absolutely fascinating. The cast of characters is pretty incredible, from the stubborn townsfolk who can be at once giving and incredibly small minded, and of course there’s much more to local witch Morag than anyone thought to look at.

 

And the slow build of trust and friendship between Bridey and Fynn is very well done and believable. It’s not insta-love, it takes time and work. Coupled with the mystery of the disappearing girls it all mixes together and works incredibly well. It’s not just focused on Bridey and Fynn, I really liked the inclusion of Bridey’s family and her friends and how they all cope differently with the events in the novel as they unfold.

 

The plot has a few surprising twists and turns and it’s impossible to guess, and the end really threw me and was completely unexpected. Some of the ending was a little hard to follow, I had to go back and read some of the scenes twice to make sure I was following the plot correctly, but the initial twist at the end was still a big surprise.

 

All in all a fantastic read and definitely an author I look forward to reading more of.

Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge

My official sign up post for the Flights of Fantasy reading challenge from Alexa Loves Books

 

 

 

This is a new to me challenge I found on twitter, so as I read a lot of fantasy, why not give it a shot? 

 

My goal is going to be 20 fantasy books. 

Story Sprites Round Six

Story Sprites Round Six

 

 

 

 

Story Sprites is back at Great Imaginations so I'm signing up for Round Six. This one looks a bit tough, the Middle Grade with divorce I'm lost on so will be greatful for any suggestions on that one. The others I'm planning my books for.

 

 

Books of 2016: Best, Worst and Honorable Mentions

Best Books of 2016

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

The Woman in the Walls

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

Unrivalled by Alyson Noel

My Favourite Manson Girl by Alison Umminger

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barns

Paper Princess by Erin Watt

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

 

Honourable Mentions

Our Lady of the Ice by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Young Elites + The Rose Society by Marie Lu

Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Until Friday Night by Abby Glines

And I Darken by Kiersten White

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Wink Poppy Midnight b April Genevieve Tucholke

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann

The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

 

Worst Books

Stealing Snow by Danielle Page

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

The Devil’s Advocate by Andrew Neiderman

Sage’s Eyes by V.C Andrews

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Tell The Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Between Us and The Moon by Rebecca Maziel

The Girls by Emma Cline

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Mass

2016 In Review

A very Happy New Year to everyone. Thank you so much to all new followers and everyone who is still following my random musings and reviews. It always amazes me, (and  those little like post hearts always give me a happy) even though I'm a terrible social introvert and am dreadful at replying and commenting. (I really do appreciate it, though half the time never know what to say). So thank you again to everyone who reads these posts.

 

I read a grand total of 170 books this year. Bit of a step down from last years 200 plus, however, I realized that even though I read so many books in 2015 I barely remember any of them. So I took it a bit slower and made sure to enjoy what I read and be even quicker about DNFing the ones I don't like. 

 

I also hit a few slumps this year and did fewer challenges, I think I did two rounds of Story Sprites and a few rounds of Bookish Bingo. (Which are my favourite challenges) I found I struggle when mixing the two. I didn’t do a Goodreads challenge again this year and for some reason I find that always helps when I don’t set a set limit, go at my own pace with a mix of Netgalley books and owned stuff.

 

I also discovered grown up colouring books this year, and have a bunch of them, which I find incredibly relaxing, so I’ve been diving personal time between that and books (and cuddling with my beloved kitty of course). Had a bit of a blogging slump as well, not been reviewing much other than Netgalley stuff. It also occurred to me the other day I’ve been doing this blogging thing since 2012.

 

I was also contacted by an author this year (I think for the first time) with a review offer – so thank you Audrey Greathouse! (I’m a very small blog presence, I’ve had one or two publishers contact me ((and I shamefully still haven’t read the book yet)) so this always amazes me as well that an author can do it directly).

 

And since then I’ve found so many different blogs and reviewers to follow and the difference of opinion is always absolutely fascinating. Also it really helps to find new books and authors I would never consider looking at otherwise.

 

I usually set a goal to finish a series, one that has more than five books either a reread or an unfinished one. I didn’t manage that this year (I didn’t even reread Harry Potter or Throne of Glass this year and usually do that at least twice, I think I only read The Shining once this year and usually read that at least three times a year).  I don’t think I even finished any trilogies.

 

That’s going to be my goal for 2017. Finish a series with more than 5 books, and finish more trilogies. I also started a lot of things that were abandoned or put on hold (usually because I started a new challenge and wanted to find books to fit that) at some point next year I want to finish all those books.

 

As usual, read more of my Netgalley books (as these are the only review books I get other than the occasional Read It Now books on Edelweiss.)

 

I finally read and finished Outlander after starting it March, probably my most favourite book this year. (I’ve already gone and purchased every book in the series. It is now going to be my goal to read all the books in this series, some of them are huge! This will probably take me forever but this is my new obsession.

 

Also, review more. Pretty Deadly Reviews ran a Backlist Books challenge last year part of which included a condition that all books must be reviewed. If that’s run again in 2017 I’ll be doing that one.

 

I’m also signing up for Flights of Fantasy from Alexa Loves Books blog. I read a lot of fantasy novels, this is a fantasy novel challenge. I’m going to set myself an initial goal of 20 fantasy books to read.

 

And I will be doing my favourite Story Sprites from Great Imaginations blog and Bookish Bingo from Pretty Deadly Reviews.

 

Maybe this year I will find a Booklikes Bingo card to do, these cards looks like so much fun every post I read for these.  (Romance Bingo really isn’t my thing, but maybe next card, too many squares for things that I don’t like reading). But I still really want to try Booklikes Bingo.

 

Probably enough rambling at this point. Thank you again to anyone still reading.  

 

Next up my Best and Worst  books of 2016.

Redoing the Booklikes TBR list

After browsing through my never ending TBR list on Booklikes once the site was working again last week I noticed so many duplicates and things I'm never going to get round to reading, after trying to go through and remove the duplicates, I finally decided what the hell - I removed the whole thing and am going to redo it completely. I usually use the booklikes list for books I own.

 

(At some point I'm probably going to be kicking myself and wondering what possessed me to do this, but hell, it's my blog, I'll whine if I want to)

 

So be warned, there may be a fair amount of want to read things coming up over the next few days.

One Was Lost

One Was Lost - Natalie D. Richards

I received a copy from Netgalley.

The premise of this one sounded interesting enough, a group of teens on a senior field trip wind up stranded in the woods, spooky things start happening, teachers go missing and they're being stalked by an unknown figure who writes strange things on the arms of four of the kids. Dangerous. Darling. Damaged. Deceptive. With no clue what's happening, stranded from their classmates by bad weather, and suspicions mounting, the kids must pull together and figure a way to get to help and safety.

Kind of reads like a cheesy teen survival movie. It's certainly got all the right elements, and the plot was fairly fast paced. Only once it got to the reveal it was more eye rolling than shocking, at least for me anyway. The other problem I had with it was there are no depth to any of the characters. The main character Sera is sensible enough with a snarky tone, and clearly has some sort of a past with one of the boys on the trip, Lucas. Rich boy Jude has a clear attitude problem, ditzy Melanie and Hayley seem to be into drama, and quiet Emily doesn't seem to say much at all.

But there's no real reasons explained for anyone's attitude. We get a little insight into Jude as the novel progresses and there are a few flashbacks as to what happened with Sera and Lucas, some sort of a potential romance that didn't go very far, and Sera backed off. All that's mentioned is something to do with her mother and not wanting to repeat her mistakes.

More questions than answers. Once the spooky things started happening, the suspicion and tension builds fairly quickly, though it seems everyone is quick to point figures without much evidence. And while they're trying to figure things out with scary shit going down Sera and Lucas seem to be inexplicably drawn to each other. Cue more eye rolling from the reader. The romance felt forced and unnecessary, though in a way I can understand wanting someone to cling to in an increasingly dangerous situation.

There is a fair bit of background on Lucas's character, but almost nothing on Sera herself. Though to be fair, stupid romance decisions that can be blamed on teen hormones aside, Sera is pretty logical and fairly sensible for the most part.

Spoilers, but these bits really irritated me

 

There was one stupid scene where she hears something at night whilst in the tent and thinks it might be bears in their camp. And she goes OUTSIDE in the pitch DARK to see what's going on. Leaving her tent-mate Emily asleep inside the tent. For fuck's sake.

 

One teacher is missing, presumed dead after an icky find and the other is alive but appears ill, and all they want is a grownup who can help get them sorted, so it becomes all about waking the teacher and getting him on his feet. Sensible, no? Though once the teacher is awake enough to get his bearings and not being sick, once he doesn't immediately believe every word they tell him they start thinking he's the one responsible.

(show spoiler)

 

There's also a story about a girl who died in the woods many years ago on a trip similar to theirs.  Deemed an accident when kids went partying in the woods, but there are hints there may be more to the story. Never really explored until the end.

Which in typical teen horror movie fashion, turned completely stupid. At least, it did for me.

Kind of a blah read for me in the end. Interesting premise, not so great execution. Would have liked some more character depth and background info filtered into the story.

Thank you Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for approving my request to view the title.

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.

DNF: Cast in Angelfire

Cast in Angelfire: An Urban Fantasy Romance (The Mage Craft Series Book 1) - SM Reine

I received a copy from Netgalley.

Since I can't find an approval request email (I always save those so I can thank the publisher when I finish) I wonder if I got this one as a read it now. I really can't remember.

Unfortunately, this is one for the DNF list. Didn't capture my attention at all and after 21% I don't really have any desire to go back and finish it. The world building is confusing, it seems to be dystopia mixed with urban fantasy. For starts there's confusion around the heroine's age, it states in the blurb she's eighteen, but there are several references to the start of the book that peg her as seventeen. This could be because she's got no memory and no one really seems to be able to identify her. But it still didn't sit right with me that the text says one thing and the blurb says another, though I'm not interested in the actual plot enough to find out one way or another.

The novel starts with the premise of two assassins hunting a girl with a huge bounty on her head. Paranormal creatures are clearly part of the every day norm for the world this book is set in. The girl kicks their asses easily with some sort of super powers. Then the next thing we know she's waking up in hospital with no memory of how she got there.

Another thing I found confusing is that the heroine claims at one point when she wakes up in hospital that she only speaks French, and the doctor who helps her uses a translator app to speak to her. Smart! Though she seems to develop a very quick attachment to this doctor. She won't let the nurses help or take any blood or do any of her lab work - this one doctor only! She seems very blunt for someone with no memory and seems to think she can order people about. The doctors and nurses are clearly used to treating paranormal beings.  I just didn't like this girl. There's clearly still a bounty on her, the cute doctor helps her escape and unless I missed something (which is entirely possible because this novel annoyed me so much I didn't pay that much attention to it) she and the doctor seem to be conversing in English. One minute she can only speak French and then suddenly English?

Don't buy it. And don't have any interest in picking this one up again.

Thank you Netgalley and Red Iris Books, but this one wasn't for me.

Review: Caraval

Caraval - Stephanie G. Garber

I received a copy from Netgalley.

I’m really not sure what to make of this book. In a word? Weird. But at the same time completely absorbing and fascinating.

This is a strange case for me as I didn’t particularly like any of the characters, I found the main character Scarlett to be incredibly timid and dull, the sister she was willing to give up everything for was obnoxious, selfish and a big brat. The potential of the love interest Julian was interesting but there were too many questions surrounding his character - good or bad? It’s impossible to tell for definite. So many questions and very few answers, that didn’t turn into completely different twists.

The story itself was brilliant, the world building of Caraval was one of the most unique fantasy novels I’ve come across in a long time. Scarlett lives on a tiny island with her sister Donatella under the iron fist of their horrible abusive father. When one is caught doing wrong, the other is punished and punished violently. Which is shown right off in the first few chapters. It was horrible.

Scarlett’s dream has been to be invited to the magical game of Caraval, intrigued by it’s Master, a man known only as Legend. Her letters have gone unanswered for years, so she gives up. On the final letter, she tells Legend she's now engaged. And she gets her invitation.

There’s a handsome sailor who comes to the island, Julian who’s flirty with the sister, and before long, Donatella vanishes. Shortly after Scarlett has told her about the Caraval invite arrives, which is actually for Scarlett and her new fiancé. Whom Scarlett has never actually met as it’s an arranged marriage. She sees it as her chance to escape her father (which all becomes a big part of the plot later on in the novel).

Scarlett is torn between staying for the wedding and giving up on her dreams of Caraval, but she can’t abandon her sister, and with the help of Julian, Scarlett decides she can go rescue her sister and get back in time to meet the Count she is engaged to and get married.

Arriving in Caraval is not an easy thing. It’s one disaster after another and one mysterious twist after another. This is what makes the novel so engaging. Even if I did find the characters very dull, the mystery and whimsy of Caraval is pretty damn amazing.

Scarlett is warned nothing is as it seems and not to get too swept away into the game, there can be deadly consequences. She must decipher clues to win the game and win the grand prize. Of course everything unravels very quickly as Scarlett is caught up in the game.

My biggest problem with Scarlett was she came across to me as deeply, deeply dull and ridiculously timid. She’s wanted to go to Caraval most of her life - she’s there and she’s so obsessed with her sister, she can’t even seem to enjoy the wonder surrounding her. She’s scared of so much and seems to have very little regard as to her own needs and desires, other than saving her sister and marrying a man she’s never met arranged by a father she’s terrified of. Given the fear and violence she grew up in in a way it’s understandable why she’s so timid, but it did get a tad bit repetitive and annoying after a while.

It’s impossible to guess what’s going to happen in this novel, and that’s really what kept me interested, just when you think you know what’s going on, bam! plot twists and every perception changes. Lots and lots of twists and turns in the plot, right up to the very end.

I’m very very intrigued to know where this is going. Though I can actually see myself reading this one again. I will definitely be getting a finished copy of this one.

Thank you Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for approving my request to view the title.

DNF: Blame

Blame - Simon Mayo

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

This was a case of it sounded like a good idea at the time. I do actually like dystopias, though they are very samey in terms of basic plot and characters. The plot is usually some horrible form of government has taken over a broken world with hard, harsh rules and a headstrong heroine who will take them all on and bring it down. Some work well, some don't. Unfortunately, this particular title didn't work for me at all.

 

For starters, there's a long list of slang words at the front of the book, which immediately annoys me. Made up words can either work or don't, depending on the book and the context, but a huge list at the front of the book? That's an immediate eye roll and a nope for me. I did give it a try.

 

The idea of this particular dystopian is a society where the children are blamed for the crimes of their parents. This must have sounded interesting when I requested the book, but on actually starting to read it, it didn't sound particularly interesting at all. The heroine is doling out her own form of justice to some bullies in the first scene, and its made clear that she's doing something against the rules and has to be back wherever she's got to be ASAP. She lives in some sort of prison with her adorable brother and her adoptive parents. There's a horrible guard who seems to have it out for this particular girl.

 

I made it to 9% but I know already this one is not for me and I have no desire to finish it.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House UK Children’s for the opportunity.  

DNF: The Fifth Petal

The Fifth Petal: A Novel - Brunonia Barry

I received a copy from Penguin's First to Read site.

 

This is a murder mystery set in Salem. The premise was a fairly interesting one, 20 or so odd years ago three women were murdered on Halloween night during what appears to be some sort of ritual, there were two survivors, a little girl and another older woman. The older woman turned slightly nutty, the little girl remembered nothing and was shipped off to an orphanage run by nuns.

 

Now in 2014 something has happened involving the surviving lady Rose, from the original case, someone is dead under weird circumstances, Rose has gone rather loopy. A detective who has dealt with Rose before comes into the picture to investigate, and the little girl, who survived, Callie, all grown up now, comes back to town. There's a connection to the ancestors of the original Salem people who were accused of witchcraft and executed, something to do with the hanging tree and the real location, and missing bodies, consecrating the ground.

 

It's definitely an interesting idea, however, 84 pages in and it's very boring and long winded. This one is just not getting my attention and I'm not all that interested in anymore really. One for the DNF list, unfortunately. Not for me at all.