Review – Angelfall by Susan Ee

THIS IS NOT A FAIRY TALE!

TITLE: Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days Book #1)
AUTHOR: Susan Ee
GENRE: Young Adult – Fantasy & Dystopian
PAGES: 283
REVIEWER: Nicole

BLURB:

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warriors angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister, Penryn, will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey towards the angels’s stronghold in San Francisco where Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister, and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for a chance to be made whole again.

REVIEW:

Susan Ee has delivered a captivating, creative, mind blowing debut novel Angelfall – Just wow!

Angelfall is written in first person through protagonist, Penryn Young, who finds herself solely responsible for taking care of her schizophrenic mother and her wheelchair bound seven year old sister Paige. While Penryn tries to relocate her sister and mother to safer grounds, they unintentionally get in the middle of an Angel fight, in which Penryn’s only option is to save the outnumbered Angel (Raffe) but as form of payback for doing this, an Angel who was fighting Raffe abducts Paige. Penryn is determined to get Paige back and since her mother deserted her, the only way to find out where Paige has been taken is to seek help from the bashed and broken Angel -Raffe.  Penryn and Raffe form an unheard of alliance and while it is clear they do not trust each other, they need each other’s help. On their travels they are constantly facing new challengers and enemies they must overcome before they arrive at their final destination where their biggest challenge yet is revealed.  Faced with new unexpected enemies they realize they need each other to survive.

This story is fast paced from beginning to end. It’s extremely well written, being very descriptive and visual – even quite grotesque with the details at times. It portrays a unique take on Angels, which if I am honest, I still don’t know how I feel about since morally I believe Angels are “good” and are there to look after human kind not destroy it.  So it sits a little unsettling for me but I am keeping an open mind for I believe there is a lot more to this story yet to come, especially since the Angels seem to be involved in a civil war? This is yet to be confirmed.

Angelfall leaves you wanting to know more, for a lot of questions are not answered in this book. The biggest and obvious ones being :  Why did the Angels come to earth to demolish the modern world? What did Raffe do to create these enemies? And you will have a lot more outstanding questions if you read the book and normally these outstanding questions frustrate me as the reader but in this book so much was happening you just know Ee is setting you up for a series that will be out of this world!  I felt somewhat satisfied with the information I do know from this book, BUT with the cliffhanger of an ending I am desperate to find out what is going to happen next with all these characters! It is OMG material!!

Penryn’s character is so strong and mature it makes her so likeable and real, you believe everything she is thinking and feeling and her morals and values towards her family are so admirable.  This is my favourite quote of the book and it sums Penryn’s character perfectly, “I knew from the start your loyalty would get you killed. I just never thought it would be your loyalty to me that would do it”.

The relationship between Penryn and Raffe is painful for me to observe for it’s like the forbidden fruit. You can feel the chemistry and the desire – everything you would want in a romantic build up between two characters but with who and what Raffe represents I don’t feel the readers will get a happy ending here, I could be wrong – but I highly doubt it for the repercussions are too great. I feel this is going to be a love from a distance relationship and for me the romantic – this is going to kill me to read…but I am going to do it anyway for I am that much of a sucker!

So now I am onto the sequel, World After  for I am biting my nails desperate for some answers!

lips grey 4.5

Review – The Hunger Games – Mocking Jay (book 3) by Suzanne Collins

ON FIRE!!!

Title – The Hunger Games – Mocking jay
Author – Suzanne Collins
Genre – Science Fiction
Pages – 455
Reviewer – Laura

****SOME spoilers alert****

BLURB:

” If we burn, you burn with us!”

Katniss Everdeen’s Final Battle Has Begun!

OPINION:

Well this definitely was not what I expected!  After loving the first 2 books in The Hunger Games Trilogy – I found I was a little disappointed with the concluding book.

First of all, I felt the book was lacking the action packed pace that was evident in the first 2 books, which made the reading process a little boring.

In the beginning, Katniss was not her normal strong, brave self. She just seemed lazy, selfish and depressed! Now, I understand that going through two hunger games would be quite horrific – especially with the ongoing threat from President Snow to murder her entire family – and I understand that these things would take some time to recover from but honestly it took forever for her to realize that she needed to wake up and do something!!! She seemed as though she was drained of the fire that she possessed in the first two installments, which is what made me so fond of her character in the first place.

When Peeta finally gets rescued from District 13, he is brainwashed, goes crazy, and keeps trying to kill Katniss! I actually didn’t mind this part of the book as it was an unexpected direction for the plot, and I think that Peeta’s brutal honesty towards Katniss was quite a wake-up call for her.

I was really glad that Gale was given more page time! Anyone who has been following my Hunger Games reviews would know that I have been on team Gale all the way. It was weird to me that Gale seemed to be fighting for her in the last two books, yet in this one it’s like he just gave up! The resolution of the story seemed to mirror Gale’s actions, it felt like there had been so much effort put into the first two books that by the end the emotion had just run out.  While I realize this is a dystopian story, the genre did not prepare me for the ending, which seriously lacked the emotional punch of all that had come before.

I know most of this review seems quite negative as I’ve pointed out the parts that disappointed me the most, but while saying all of that I can’t deny that I really do love this series, and I did enjoy reading all of the books.

Whilst this book was the most disappointing out of the 3, the whole series put together is definitely one that I would recommend to anyone to read, if you haven’t already!

Obviously this story is about so much more than a boy and girl falling in love – it is about war, human tragedy, the importance of hope, and the fact that people will do anything for those that they love!

lips grey 3.5

Review- Allegiant (Divergent Series # 3) by Veronica Roth

allegiantuk[1]

I  SWEAR MY ALLEGIANCE!  

Title: Allegiant (Divergent Series # 3)
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Dystopian
Publication: HarperCollins
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 526
Reviewer: Kelly

Blurb:

The faction- based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered- fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties and painful memories. 

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature- and of herself- while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love.

Explanation:

Allegiant opens with the discontent people of Chicago hoping to make a stand against the Factionless. The discontent, become the Allegiant, a small group revolting against Evelyn Johnson, the new leader. The Allegiant want to find answers and resolve order to the city of Chicago. Tobias, Tris and their friends are chosen to go where no one else has gone before, outside the city limits into the world beyond. In leaving the city they enter a society they know nothing about.  Here they learn the truth about their home, and must decide what to do with this knowledge. The Allegiant have two choices- to assist the citizens of this strange new world and walk away from the only home they have known or to fight for the people they have left behind.

Opinion:

Every once in a while a book comes along that is so different, exhilarating and refreshing that it takes your breath away- Allegiant is one of those books! Veronica Roth elevated Allegiant from what could have potentially been a mediocre read to an EPIC novel, by creating a diverse and unpredictable plot. How do you make a book truly EPIC? You leave the reader reeling, with the most unsatisfied taste in their mouth after turning the last page! This feeling makes the reader ponder what could have been, long after the book was completed.

When I first began reading this book I did find it a bit ‘ho-hum’. It took me a week to get halfway through and I really wasn’t interested in getting to the end because I thought I knew exactly what was coming- oh how wrong I was! I think my reluctance to read the book too quickly was also because I didn’t like some of the earlier revelations in the book, and I didn’t want to know how anything else could damage these characters.  I preserved though and all I can say is wow, Veronica Roth, WOW!

Roth also did not do the one thing that turned Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Series into a mediocre read. She did not close every loose end up by the conclusion of the book. Now I am a fan of stories being completed properly, and I hate movies that leave you guessing. But Roth created her story without its neatly packed endings, which elevates this book to the beyond impressive level.

The dual perspective writing also gave more insight into both Tris and Tobias‘s thoughts and feelings. The previous two books in the Divergent Series are told only from Tris’s point of view. That sufficed for those books, but Allegiant very much needed the two viewpoints in order for the reader to understand the whole story. Tobias’s point of view allowed the reader to see how deeply he cared for Tris and how much his parents have impacted upon his life choices. Tris’s chapters were written in the same strong, determined and selfless voice of the heroine we know and love.

Summary:

Allegiant could have been just another nice, teen book series where the heroine always gets what they want. Instead Roth has turned it into a best seller. Allegiant was fantastic. The Divergent Series was amazing! The movies are going to be phenomenal! Kudos to Veronica Roth!

lips grey 5

Review – The Hunger Games – Catching Fire (Book 2) by Suzanne Collins

CAN’T GET ENOUGH!

Title – The Hunger Games – Catching Fire (Book 2)
Author – Suzanne Collins
Genre – Science Fiction
Pages – 472
Reviewer – Laura

Blurb:

Katniss Everdeen survived the Hunger Games, Now the Capital wants Revenge….

Review:

Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The story continues in the world of Panem, and follows Katniss Everdeen’s journey after she and Peeta Mellark win the 74th annual Hunger Games as “star crossed lovers”.

Without their knowledge, this has caused all twelve districts to see their win as a symbol of hope, and start to rebel, causing an uprising against the much hated Capitol.

This year is a special Hunger Games that the Capitol calls a “Quarter Quell”, and Katniss and Peeta find themselves selected as Tributes once again, to be thrown into the arena to fight for their lives against other previous winners of the games!

With an uprising they apparently ‘caused’ and another Hunger Games to survive, Katniss and Peeta begin another life or death adventure to desperately try to keep each other, and their loved ones, alive!

Opinion:

I felt that this book started off extremely slow and took me ages to get into. It actually didn’t get exciting at all until chapter 12, when the announcement was made about the rules of the Quarter Quell for the 75th Hunger Games.

I admit that when I got to this part of the story, I felt it would be very similar to book one and didn’t think it could possibly be as good.  While I wouldn’t say that I was mistaken, as it was quite similar, I still loved it and couldn’t put it down! I loved the fact that it was a different take on the games with the previous Victors having to fight again. I guess I found it a lot easier to read when it was not young children getting murdered.

I can definitely see how the braveness and determination in Katniss– even after all the blame president Snow has put on her shoulders – brings hope and inspiration to all the districts!

Her character in this book did annoy me a little this time though especially with the love triangle!

I was disappointed how the love triangle eventuated as I was expecting it to be much more intense.  Katniss just seemed very confused, one minute she likes Gale, next minute she likes Peeta, then she loves Gale, then she starts to fall in love with Peeta … Argh – I just wanted to scream at her to make up her mind!!

When we get to games however – that’s when everything I loved about Book 1 came through, and was present in Catching Fire! The secrets of the Arena set up and theme were very clever, and once the action started to intensify, I really started to enjoy the book a lot more! 

All in all this explosive series is a great read, and again, I would recommend this book to anybody who has not read it yet!!

lips grey 3

Review- Fire Country by David Estes

Fire Country by David Estes book one[1]

THIS BOOK IS ON FIRE!

Title: Fire Country (A Dwellers Saga Sister Novel, Book #1 of the Country Saga)
Author: David Estes
Genre: Dystopian
Publication: Createspace Independent Publishing
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 261
Reviewer: Kelly

***Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy***

Explanation:
Fire Country is a story told through the eyes of fifteen year old youngling Siena. Siena and her people are called Heaters, and they occupy this hot, dry and futuristic land. The Heaters have limited life expectancies, due to the overbearing heat, with only a few reaching beyond their thirtieth birthday. The ruler of the Heaters is Greynote Shiva, as at thirty-five years old he is currently the oldest surviving male. Siena’s father is one of the top-ten Greynote leaders, and the next in line to be their ruler as he is thirty-two years old.

Siena is a day-dreamer and is constantly scolded by her teachers at school. She is frequently ridiculed by the other students who see her as weak. He father often beats her for embarrassing their family. Siena’s one true friend is her fellow Youngling Circ. Circ has been her friend since they were Totters, then Midders and now as Younglings. Circ is a Hunter who is strong, an exceptional athlete and handsome too. He always protects Siena at all costs.

Siena and Circ are both about to turn sixteen. It is stated in Heater Law that at the age of sixteen all females will have to become Bearers. That means for Siena that at the upcoming Calling ceremony she will be matched with an eighteen year old boy, so as to bear his children and continue on the Heater race. Circ will continue honing his Hunter skills and providing food and protection for the Heaters, until he turns eighteen and becomes part of the Call.

Amongst the Heaters there are some that are not happy with the structured regime of their people. The Law that does not allow people to decide upon their own destiny, has created a rebellious group known as the Wild Ones. The Wild Ones have run away from their families, the village and the Law to live as they please. The Wild Ones are feared by the Greynotes, despised by the villagers and secretly envied by the defiant few.

Opinion:
David Estes has created another great novel! Fire Country had me intrigued from its opening statement:

Article 56

 A Bearer shall, upon reaching the appropriate age of sixteen years old, be Called to a man, no younger than eighteen years old, to Bear children, immediately and every three years thereafter.

This is the LAW.

The feminist in me was outraged that this was Law. I could not think of anything worse than being told that for the rest of my life I would just be bearing someone’s children! Someone, who I didn’t like or even get to choose. The fact that this was going to happen to sixteen year old girls was also very hard to swallow. Thus this opening statement had me rapidly reading the whole book! I read the book in two days as I was so infuriated with the Law that I had to find out the outcome immediately!

This novel reminded me somewhat of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. That book is also set in a dystopian world where certain women are forced to become Handmaids, who bear the children for the future. I despised the concept of that novel so much that I, unfortunately, didn’t finish the novel. The difference with Fire Country was that Estes paints Siena as the down-trodden, underdog who unfortunately is going to be turning sixteen. Unlike Atwood, who wrote the Handmaid, Offred, as a detached and inaccessible character, Estes has written Siena as a character the reader could easily sympathise. She has that idealistic personality where she can see the bigger picture. She is not someone who is happy with her life being mapped out for her and she can see a brighter future elsewhere. As a reader you are intrigued to see where her ideals lead her.

Now this is me with my teacher hat on; my one criticism of this book was the dialogue. I know it is a futuristic world and the characters speak differently, but sometimes it was difficult to appreciate that the characters were intellectual people when they are using slang, shortening words and not pronouncing the endings of words. Given my profession I despise bad grammar and poor pronunciation of words.

Summary:
Overall, Estes wrote another fantastic story. It was new and refreshing and left you reeling for more. I cannot wait to read Book Two in the Country Saga- Ice Country.

lips grey 4

Review – Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

X MARKS THE SPOT!

Title: Gameboard of the Gods (Book #1 to the Age of X Series)
Author: Richelle Mead
Pages: 448
Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopia / Urban Fantasy
Reviewer: Nicole

Blurb:

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March is a former investigator of religious groups who was sent into exile after a failed job, a fate that has left the brilliant servitor bitter and free to indulge his addictive personality. Suddenly, Justin is sent home to the Republic of United North America (RUNA) with a peculiar assignment – to solve a string of ritualistic murders steeped in seemingly unexplainable phenomena.

Justin’s unexpected return comes with an even bigger shock: his new partner and bodyguard, Mae, is a praetorian, one of the elite and deadly supersoldiers of the RUNA. Her inexplicably perfect beauty and aristocratic upbringing pique Justin’s avid curiosity – and his desire – though her true nature holds more danger than anyone realizes.

As their investigation unfolds, Justin and Mae find themselves in the path of terrible danger. Mysterious enemies and powers greater than they can imagine have begun to assemble in the shadows, preparing to reclaim a world where humans are merely gamepieces on their board.

Review:

After I finished Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead, I was left thinking for quite a few days as to how I felt about this book and where I think this series is heading.   Now, having processed the complexity of this book and the direction I think this series will lead, I have decided I really like this book and feel the Age of X Series holds a lot of promise.

Gameboard of the Gods is set in the future after Earth experiences a “Decline” mainly due to religious organizations getting out of control. Now all religious organizations are strictly controlled by the state RUNA. Exiled religious sect inspector Dr Justin March is approached by RUNA and offered an opportunity back into the state if he catches a rogue serial killer before he strikes again. Due to the dangers of this assignment he is assigned a Supersolider, Mae Koskinen, for protection. What Justin and Mae discover along the way, both about the case and themselves, is that change is coming and together they might be the key that will make the difference.

Like any first book of a series, the first half of the book contains a lot of information and world building information I was trying to process, especially since this series is set in future Earth. Just the names they called certain groups of people and what they call certain places and items took a while for me to absorb and understand. The complexity of the overall plot and the personal history of the main characters made for a very detailed introduction to the Age of X Series but once I got my head around the details I really quite enjoyed the read.

The book follows three main characters, Dr Justin March, Mae Koskinen and Tessa. I really liked the characters of Dr Justin March and Mae Koskinen and I think their future character development will be very interesting.  I am also interested in seeing the chemistry build up between these two characters grow and I only hope Mead doesn’t drag that out for too long.   I found the character of Tessa difficult to warm up to since her purpose in the series has not come to light at this point.  No doubt she has an important role in the future of the series since she was introduced in the first place, but her purpose isn’t very evident at this point.

Richelle Meads is without a doubt a brilliant author and I have read all her books to date, but I think this platform may be difficult for her Vampire Academy fans to warm up to.  I know I went into the read expecting the genre to be very mythology based but it felt more like a “Dystopian” genre, of which I am not a huge fan.  I am hoping the Mythology side of the story will expand greatly in the upcoming books.

Gameboard of the Gods is Mead’s first book/series written in third person and to be honest I don’t prefer this point of view.  I felt the brilliant emotional connection and chemistry Mead has created between her main characters in Vampire Academy and Bloodlines is lacking in this book so far, I hope this changes in the forthcoming installments in this series.

Now that this complex world has been established, I look forward to the next book in this series.  I am hoping it jumps straight into the next challenge Dr Justin March and Mae have yet to face!

lips grey 4

Review – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

AMAZING, AWESOME, CAPTIVATING… 

Title – The Hunger Games
Author – Suzanne Collins
Genre – Science Fiction
Pages – 384
Reviewer – Laura

Blurb:

Winning means fame and fortune.
Losing means certain death.

The Hunger Games have begun.

In the ruins of a place known as North America, lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. the Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them to all send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen year old Katniss regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sisters place in the Games. but Katniss has been close to death before – and survival, for her, is second nature. without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. but if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity an life against love.

Review:

Each year for the last 74 years the Hunger games have been held in a country called Panam, which has been divided into 12 districts that are ruled by the Capitol, which defeated them all in a tragic war.

The residents of the Capitol live in luxury, with beautiful dishes available anytime they choose, while the unkempt people of the districts struggle to put food on the table. In order to keep the 12 districts in line, every year the Capitol requires each to provide two tributes, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 – 18, which are selected at random in what is called a reaping. Both are then groomed and trained and then sent into an arena to fight and kill each other until only one of the 24 remains alive.

Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12, and has been providing food for her family ever since the untimely death of her father. She does this by illegally hunting animals with her bow and arrow skills, and her ability to track and snare rabbits and squirrels. She also helps them to survive by signing up for the tessera, a ration of grain that is given in exchange for placing your name in the reaping.

This year, Katniss has volunteered for the games in place of her younger sister Primrose, who was chosen as the original tribute, along with the baker’s son, Peeta.  Both are then taken to the capitol, where they meet their trainer Haymitch. After weeks of eating amazing food, being made beautiful, and hard training sessions, both are ready to fight in the Arena, and so the Hunger Games begin!

Opinion:

The Hunger Games is the first book in the Hunger Games series, which last year was made into a movie!

I know I’m a few years behind in reading this book, as it never sparked my interest, however once the movie came out and received such an amazing response, I decided to give the book a go before seeing the film. Needless to say I was interested from the first page and couldn’t put it down! I’m so glad that I made this decision as it is a truly amazing and captivating story!  I was also pleasantly surprised when I discovered there was a love story behind all the action!

In regards to the characters I love Katniss!!! She is such a strong protagonist and the use of her assets – her bravery, her determination to see her family again, and to fight for what is right – is what helps her survive the competition and eventually win the Games!

Peeta I thought was a bit of a “sissy” that I found I was always feeling sorry for but ultimately his character was likable enough.

Gale – Katniss’s best friend – appearing only at the beginning of the first installment definitely seems like he will become more of a main character and I’m excited to see what will eventuate between these two. Whatever is to come, it certainly feels like it has the makings of a major love triangle!

There were some parts of the story that were extremely sad and heartbreaking. The fact that 12 year old’s were made to participate in the games, as well as the fact that these young children are made to murder each other – some with no mercy at all – gave me that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach whilst reading.  For that reason I don’t believe it should be classified as children’s book, but more of a YA book.

All in all it was a great read, and the movie definitely did not disappoint either! I would recommend this book to anybody who has not read it yet, and I can’t wait to read the second installment Catching Fire – before the movie of course!

lips grey 5