Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners (The Diviners #1)Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray
Series: The Diviners, #1
Pages: 592
Publisher: ATOM
Date of Publication: 18th September 2012
Source: Borrowed from Cicely*
Synopsis from Goodreads:
It's 1920s New York City. It's flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It's after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it's the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O'Neill, it's escape. She's never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she's shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she's always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn't about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren't crimes of passion. They're gruesome. They're planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can't solve them alone.

Evie wasn't just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer - if he doesn't catch her first.

My Thoughts:
This is going to be gushy, just warning you now!


Sorry, sorry, had to get that off my chest... *deep breath*

Libba Bray is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. I absolutely adored her Gemma Doyle trilogy, but I hate to admit that I haven't actually read Going Bovine or Beauty Queens, but I've heard they're awesome... She can still be one of my favourites if I've not read all her books, right? I will have soon, hopefully :P Anyyywayy...

I love the 1920s. I think it's my favourite period in history to read about - every book I've read that's set then I've loved. I don't what it is about it, but I just love it so much. I guess I love the idea of Flappers, and how girls are finally getting to let down their hair (or bob it) and aren't confined to the very strict society rules they've been expected to keep up before then, if that makes sense. It's exciting, glamorous and adventurous, and it just makes for really good reading. I love imagining the dresses and the hair styles, the speakeasies they all secretly attend, the music they dance to, and all of that. It just sounds so fun (though I'm pretty sure I'm not cut out for it)! Aghh, I love it anyway :)

I also loved that while a lot of it was the care-free partying that you'd expect from a book set in 1920s New York, it also had a much darker and rather creepy undertone, which was brilliant. There's a mysterious murderer on the loose, and Evie and her uncle, the curator of The Museum of Creepy Crawlies (that deals with all things supernatural) are roped in to help when the police realise they can't do it alone. I loved following the clues they find and trying to figure out the mystery with them. Libba Bray is an expert storyteller  - she effortlessly weaves hints and clues into the storyline as well as multiple subplots and other narratives, and it all comes together perfectly at the end.

It's not just fabulously thought out, but it's also really rather creepy. The gruesome murders are the stuff of nightmares, and more than once I had to put the book down because I was reading in the dark, late at night, in bed when I should have been sleeping, and being the wimp that I am I couldn't deal with it in those conditions... So yeah, keep your light on when you're reading :P I know it's not real and (I really hope) that it's not based on real rituals or cults or what have you (you should know what I mean if you've read it) but it really felt like it could have been, while I was reading!

Libba Bray is also brilliant at creating well fleshed out characters that you quickly come to love (or love to hate!). Evie was great, and I loved reading her story. She's funny, sarcastic and stubborn, and though she made some really stupid moves when she wasn't really thinking, she was determined to get to the bottom of the murders and save anyone who might have been in danger. Also, the banter between her and Sam was fantastic! They really did sound like real people, with their quick quips and comebacks... And then there was the whole cast of supporting characters, who were amazing too. Theta, Memphis, Mabel, Unc, T.S., Jericho... I have much love for all of them (well, nearly all of them, anyway). They all had their own story lines, and they weren't just wishy washy characters that just seem to be there to fill up space in the story. They were perfect.

The Diviners really is an amazing read. Despite it being nearly 600 pages, I flew through it in just a few days and if it weren't for school and revision, I could quite happily have sat and read it in just a couple of sittings. The writing's awesome, the characters are unforgettable, and the story is creepy and exciting and pos-i-tute-ly fabulous. If you just read one book this year, make it this one. It's been my favourite, and I really hope it'll be yours too!

*HUGE thanks to Cicely for lending this to me! 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Book Review: Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe (Breathe, #1)Title: Breathe
Author: Sarah Crossan
Series: Breathe, #1
Pages: 373
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Date of Publication: 11th October 2012
Source: Publisher*
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Inhale. Exhale.
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

has been stealing for a long time. She's a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she's never been caught before. If she's careful, it'll be easy. If she's careful.

should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it's also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn't every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they'd planned a trip together, the two of them, and she'd hoped he'd discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days' worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

My Thoughts:
Breathe is the first in a series that I think would be perfect for fans of YA dystopian fiction. Set in a world where there's only ever been no trees and it's all down to luck whether or not you have enough oxygen to live, it's difficult for Alina, Quinn and Bea to believe that everything they've believed their whole lives has been a lie.

I'm not going to lie, but while I really liked the idea of the book (it made me want to read it, didn't it? :P) I did find it all a little bit ridiculous. I'm still trying to wrap my head around why anyone would get rid of trees?! Anyone who knows anything about plants knows that they release oxygen and take in the harmful carbon dioxide in the air... Right? I mean, even if someone was a crazy, super evil bad guy, they wouldn't be stupid enough to get rid of the trees, would they? I know it was explained - they needed more land space for crops and to house the population and stuff, but the crops would give out oxygen too, right? And there's no grass anywhere either? I just found it difficult to imagine a world literally without any plants or nature. Or maybe I'm wrong and misunderstood? I don't know. Sorry. I'll stop ranting now... *grumbles*

Once I'd got over my... slight annoyance... at the plot, I actually did really enjoy the story. I found that the plot was engaging and it really didn't take me very long to read once I was settled down and had half an hour or so to myself. Something was always happening to keep me interested, and the jumping from the different narratives kept me reading to make sure that a certain character would make it out alive, or would get together with another character, things like that, etc. There were a few slow parts, inevitably, but they weren't boring - they were good breaks from the action, if you like.

However, the different narratives... There were three - Alina, Bea and Quinn. And they were so confusing! I knew that the point of view switched every chapter, but I'd forget and start reading a chapter not realising that the point of view had changed and then get all confused. The voices weren't different enough to be three different people, and I couldn't really tell the difference between them. It literally took me about half the book to finally get my head around who was who once and for all. And then once I had, it didn't take me long to realise that I really didn't like Quinn. He was just a bit rubbish really, nothing remarkable about him at all. I liked Bea and Alina though - they were far more interesting :)

Breathe was actually a really good read, despite what I've said. If you take the time to work out who's who and ignore the strangeness of the idea (I don't know, maybe you don't find it weird, maybe that's just me...), I think you'll really enjoy it, if YA dystopian is your thing. It's intriguing, most definitely! If you're looking for something similar to The Hunger Games and Divergent, then you should go for this one, because it reminded me of those while still being able to stand on its own. Bare in mind that it does end in a massive cliffhanger - I've got a long year of waiting ahead of me!

*Thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me this in exchange for an honest review! In no way has this affected my opinion of the book.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Book Review: Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick

Finale (Hush, Hush, #4)Title: Finale 
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Series: Hush, Hush #4
Pages: 454
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books
Date of Publication: 25th October 2012
Source: Publisher*
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Will love conquer all?

Nora and Patch thought their troubles were behind them. Hank is gone and they should be able to put his ugly vendetta to rest. But in Hank's absence, Nora has become the unwitting head of the Nephilim and must finish what Hank began. Which ultimately means destroying the fallen angels - destroying Patch.

Nora will never let that happen, so she and Patch make a plan: lead everyone to believe they have broken up, and work the system from the inside. Nora will convince the Nephilim that they are making a mistake in fighting the fallen angels, and Patch will find out everything he can from the opposing side. They will end this war before it can even begin.

But the best-laid plans often go awry. Nora is put through the paces in her new role and finds herself drawn to an addictive power she never anticipated.

As the battle lines are drawn, Nora and Patch must confront the differences that have always been between them and either choose to ignore them or let them destroy the love they have always fought for.

My Thoughts:
If you've been following my blog for a while now, you may know that I am a huge fan of Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush series. I've been following it since the beginning, and I remember finishing Hush, Hush after being recommended it by a friend, and completely loving it. Now, having read all four books over the last three years, I'm sad to see it end, but I'm super glad that I saw it through, as it was brilliant.

I must admit, I don't really remember what happened in the first three books, but it was nothing that a quick visit to Wikipedia couldn't fix. I'd definitely recommend a reread of the first three books if you have the time! It took me a couple of chapters to get myself fully invested back into the story, but once I did I remembered exactly why I love the series so. The characters are great, the plot's exciting and well thought out, and the writing is so easy to read and get lost in.

I love Nora. Sure, she can be really annoying (Crescendo, anyone?), but I love reading about her and her story. However, in Finale she seems to return to her annoying ways... She's not as whiny as she could have been, but she does make some seriously stupid decisions that she knew were wrong, yet she still does them. She also gets jealous and has no faith in Patch, again, which is always frustrating because it's clear how much he loves her so why would he cheat? Eurgh. I love her to bits but damn is she infuriating sometimes! Anyway...

As always, the plot got started and then never stopped moving until the end. It kept me guessing with all the twists and turns, and while some of them were quite predictable, I could see how well they fit into the story and it was great to see all the little threads from previous books come together and wrap up nicely in the end. I did feel that some of the twists were a bit ludicrous and it made the story seem a little bit silly sometimes... But I forced myself to look over them and all was great at the end.

I don't really have that much more to say about this book. I don't want to sit gushing about the series to you for hours, but you really should read it! If you haven't started this series yet and paranormal romance is your thing, YOU MUST. With awesome characters, excellent writing and some super awesome fallen angels, it's definitely not one to miss and I cannot wait to read everything else Becca writes in the future.
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