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Everything You Want Me to Be - Mindy Mejia

I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley and Quercus Books in return for an honest review.

This novel is a murder mystery set in a small Minnesota town. 17 year old Hattie was an inspiring actress who had plans to move to New York as soon as she could. However, when she is found murdered, its up to family friend and Sheriff Del Goodman to solve the murder.
This novel is told through three points of views. We follow Del as he solves the murder in the present day, and we also read Hattie and her English teacher's perspectives from the months leading up to her death. This split perspectives works well in this novel, the split timeline also leaves the puzzle unsolved for a long time, it takes a large part of the novel before all the pieces fit together.
This novel definitely has elements of the psychological thriller about it. The split perspectives, which create a tension and mystery in the novel, and the mystery around Hattie and her 'true' persona created this feel to the novel, and I have seen this novel compared to Gone Girl, and there are similarities, not in plot but in the thriller aspects.
Hattie is a fascinating main character, because she isn't honest to anyone you never know whether you are actually seeing the 'real' Hattie in her perspectives or not. This unreliable narrator adds another layer to the narrative as you have to take everything you are told with a pinch of salt! Mejia also deserves praise for her excellent writing of a 17 year old girl. Some authors struggle to accurately replicate the voice of a 17 year old, but I think Mejia has got it exactly right in this instance.
If you are looking for an exciting 'who-dunnit' this isn't the novel for you. There are very few suspects from the beginning of the novel, it is more about piecing the events together, and less about the big reveal of the murderer.
This novel also wasn't the quickest read, the first 70% or so was quite slow, the pace of the novel only picked up in the last 30%, and I was a little disappointed that I wasn't drawn further into the story than I was.
Overall I enjoyed this novel, it was an interesting story about a murder in a small town where everyone knows everyone, with some interesting twists and turns within. However it just didn't draw me in, it felt slow paced and laboured at parts.

Source: http://acascadeofbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/book-review-last-act-of-hattie-hoffman.html
The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon

I've owned this book for maybe three years, I bought it with a load of other books and just never got around to it. I finally decided to pick it up because I have the hardback version and it was taking up a lot of room on my TBR shelf! As this suggests, I wasn't overly eager to begin this novel, and if it hadn't been hardback I probably wouldn't have. 

Firstly, the problems I had with this novel. 

This novel is an info-dump. The author throws so much information at the reader that it got a little overwhelming in places. I understand this has to be done to set up the world, but even with the huge amount of information we were being given, parts of the world still didn't really make sense. That led me to feel that the information we were being bombarded with was a little pointless at times.

The author also uses so much slang words that the novel required a 10 page glossary at the end to list all the words. I'm not a huge fan of the over use of slang; I don't mind a bit, but there were so many that at times I didn't know what I was reading about. Obviously I could use said glossary, but I really can't be bothered to flick back and forth while I'm reading!!

This novel comes across as very predictable. It seems like a regurgitation of many other YA or fantasy novels. The whole storyline with 'Warden' was so predictable from the beginning, but when the inevitable did happen it seemed out of place and unsubstantiated from what had happened/how they acted previously. (This paragraph refers to one character falling in love with another, after initially hating each other. I kept it vague to try and reduce spoilers!)

The characters all felt predictable and recycled too. Paige is the main character, and there is very little to separate her from other YA heroines. Warder is every other 'dark, brooding' male character in YA, a paranormal being that starts bad and distant but ends up good! Even the minor characters are oddly developed. Some we are supposed to become attached to, but we never really find out much about. Some are mentioned and created only to further Paige's sob story. Even our antagonist is poorly developed, I'm not even really sure what her 'power' was, and I know nothing about her, but I'm sure she'll be a big character in the next book!

I actually felt quite detached from this novel. It's like I could see where I was supposed to feel sad about a character's misfortune or death, but I really felt nothing at all at any of those moments. I never felt attached to any of the characters, and I didn't really care what happened. 

I also really vehemently dislike the 'slave falling in love with master' trope that is so popular in YA novels. This master drugs her, physically hurts her, invades her memories without her knowledge, and 'feeds' on her mind or something. There is something inherently wrong about this behaviour, and the subsequent relationship they develop. I hate it. This really put me off this novel.

However, despite this overwhelmingly negative review so far, I did enjoy some aspects of this novel.

I liked the setting of this novel. I always like a novel set in London, and I thought the novel had a steampunk feel to it, like a sort of Victorian London but in the future; I thought this setting was used well by the author. 

I also like the amount of action in this novel, the plot was very fast paced, and although there was a lot of info dumping, there was also a lot going on. There was quite a lot of tension and excitement too, which meant this was actually quite a speedy read, although there was a lot going on.

Although I thought this novel was predictable and some elements of the plot put me off, I think there are encouraging signs for Shannon's future. This is only her first novel, and she is young, and I am sure that she will improve. Her imagination and story telling skills are something that will serve her well for further writing.

Overall, I thought this was an ok debut from Shannon, and first novel in the series. There were some good elements; the storytelling and setting were good, but I'm not sure if I will read any further in this series.

Source: http://acascadeofbooks.blogspot.com/2016/12/book-review-bone-season.html

Book Review- The Dry

The Dry - Jane Harper

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This is a mystery novel set in Australia about a Federal Agent called Falk who returns to his hometown to attend his best friend's funeral.
This is a great novel, it is well written and constructed. Harper cleverly and skilfully creates an atmospheric, brooding and tense tone to the novel, which she manages to keep up the whole way through the novel, in fact the novel gets more close and claustrophobic as the story progresses.
There are numerous strands running through this novel; a life changing event that occurred in Falk's childhood, and the "suicide" of his best friend in the present day. Falk tries to figure out the answer to both these puzzles through the novel, we as the reader puzzle over it with him.
The novel features a selection of great characters. Falk is our main character, and the character whose internal thoughts we follow through the novel, however there are a whole host of supporting characters that are very well crafted.
I enjoyed reading a novel set in Australia, it's a setting I don't read about enough, but I was extremely impressed with how well written the small town that the novel is set in was. The closely knit town is one where everyone knows everyone and there are no secrets. This oppressive and intrusive atmosphere was so tangible through the novel, it was a really intense feeling, which I thought Harper created brilliantly.
This novel uses flashbacks to show us the life changing event from Falk's childhood, and it becomes another puzzle that we have to figure out. The flashbacks really create the sense of mystery though, we are drip fed the answer to the mystery, and I thought Harper did a great job of creating the suspense, and juggling the two narratives in two different times.
I have seen some reviews of this novel which have been a little disappointed with the lack of romance in this novel, but I thought it was refreshing to not have very much romance. I think a romantic subplot would have distracted massively from the mystery and the intensity of the novel and actually there aren't any characters in my mind that would make a good romantic partnership anyway!
My only slight criticism of the novel was that the plot was a little slow moving. For a mystery novel I would have preferred a little more pace but the plot was interesting even if it wasn't the fastest moving!
Overall I really enjoyed this novel, it had an interesting setting, a very suspensive and intense tone, and some great twists towards the end!!

Source: http://acascadeofbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/book-review-dry.html

Book Review- Under a Pole Star

Under A Pole Star - Stef Penney

A short version of this review was completed for the LoveReading Reader Review Panel. My thanks to them for the copy of the novel. 

This is the story of Flora, she was a Scottish scientist and explorer. She spent a large part of her childhood in the Arctic onboard her father's whaling boat, and as such she had developed a love of the Arctic and the native people that lived there. We follow Flora as she returned to the Arctic as an adult, and met the romantic interest in the novel; Jakob.
I gave this novel 3 stars, I thought it was ok. There were aspects of the novel I enjoyed, the author's descriptions of the Arctic were particularly impressive in this novel. Penney's use of emotive language very successfully conveyed the beauty of the landscape she was describing, but also the inherent danger of the place. There were whole passages that painted detailed pictures of the sun rising or the starry night sky.
I also really enjoyed the exploration aspect of this novel, I was intrigued by the idea of a female explorer at that time, and the struggles she would inevitably face. I also enjoyed learning how an expedition would be carried out in the late 19th century, just how much planning was involved etc. Many of the struggles Flora faced were tied up in her femininity, she faced a lot of prejudice as she tried to plan and lead her own expedition in a world filled with misogyny, and I enjoyed how the author described these, and how Flora battled past them all.
However, this novel is 600+ pages long, and it did not contain enough action or gripping enough characters to keep me intrigued throughout, and I found I had very little desire to pick the book up. 
I thought the characters had lots of promise, but unfortunately the author failed to shape them into fully developed characters, or in Flora's case she made her so cold and aloof that it was impossible to get to know her, and thus to care about her at all. Jakob and the whole cast of minor characters were so poorly developed that I wasn't invested in any of them, and at times I actually struggled to tell them apart. 
A large portion of the beginning of the novel was taken up with explaining Flora and Jakob's childhood and university experiences respectively. It added very little to the story, didn't really develop the underdeveloped characters, and was a serious struggle to wade through. I believe that this novel could have been improved by a bit of culling, removal of extra scenes that added very little to the story but took up far too much time to get through. This would have made the novel quicker to read, which may have allowed me to get more involved with the characters, and so enjoy the novel more.
The latter half of the novel is mostly about the romantic relationship between Flora and Jakob. There are quite a lot of graphic sex scenes in this novel, so if that is something that bothers you then I would be cautious about reading this novel. This didn't bother me, but due to the high number of sex scenes there was little else written about their relationship other than this. We weren't given an insight into their relationship in any way other than physically, which I find disappointing, as a relationship is built on a multitude of things, and for it to be believable to the reader it must have this evidence behind it.
Overall, this novel contains many beautiful descriptions of the Arctic, and is an ok story of the first explorers of the Arctic, but is sadly let down by poorly developed characters and limp and lifeless romance.

Thanks for reading!

Twitter | Goodreads

Source: http://acascadeofbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/book-review-under-pole-star.html

Book Review

Breathe - Sarah Crossan

I purchased this book last year, during my dystopian love affair, but somehow I never got around to reading it. I finally decided to pick it up this month, partially because the cover caught my eye when I was looking for something to read! Unfortunately, the story inside the book just doesn't live up to the stunning cover. 

My main emotion when I had finished this book was "meh", that was it. I didn't hate this novel, but I certainly didn't love it either. 

This is the story of Alina, Bea and Quinn, their chance meeting, and their journey in a dystopian world where all oxygen has to be bought. 

This novel is written in three point of views between our three main characters. I quite enjoyed this split P.O.V as it allowed us access into the characters, their situations, their thoughts and feelings, and their sides of the story. 

I also liked the fact that all three characters came from different social situations; poor/rich etc. which added an interesting dynamic to the story, especially when your oxygen supply depended on how much you could afford. 

Another aspect of this novel I really enjoyed was the writing style. Crossan has a lovely style of writing, very lyrical and expressive, and it was quite refreshing to read a YA novel that was written to such a high standard.

The main problem I had with this novel was the predictability of everything. The world was predictable, there was a government with a secret, and when our main characters discovered this secret they were changed and became revolutionaries too. When haven't we heard this plot line before? *sigh* 

I would have also liked more explanation about the world. I'm sure this will be explained in later books in the series, but I still need a basic knowledge of the world to fully understand the story, and I felt this was lacking. I don't fully know what caused the loss of oxygen, how they built the big dome thing they live in, and other such basic questions.

Another predictable aspect was the plot. I felt like I knew exactly what was going to happen, and how each character was going to react before any of it had happened.

I also disliked many of the characters in this novel, Alina is the rebel who is trying to escape the dome and return to her rebel friends, and ends up taking Quinn and Bea with her. I found her to be quite annoying, she was supposed to be this strong kickass character (think Katniss in The Hunger Games), but instead she just came across as cold and mean. 

I thought I could put up with Alina because Bea was such a great character in the beginning, she seemed kind and warm hearted, which contrasted nicely with Alina, they were polar opposites of each other. However she ended up being really frustrating as this kindness soon turned into her not having any opinions or spine, and becoming a huge pushover to the rest of the characters.

Quinn wasn't a great male protagonist either, the author made him out to be a handsome, generous, rich heart-throb but he just seemed like a huge douche to me. His fleeting crush on Alina was so superficial and he wouldn't leave her alone even after she said no, that never sits fine with me. 

Apart from the lacklustre characters, there were also quite a few inconsistencies and questionable plot lines that didn't really make sense to me. The whole plot strand with Abel made no sense, will it be solved in the next books or is it completely forgotten, it feels like its forgotten! Also a certain character's death (no spoilers!) seemed bizarre to say the least, for such a important character it was glazed over so quickly it didn't seem real.

Overall I wouldn't recommend this novel, there are plenty better dystopian novels out there, and chances are you're getting a bit sick of them anyway!! 

 

Source: http://acascadeofbooks.blogspot.co.uk

Book Review- Pure

Burn  - Julianna Baggott

Title: Burn

Author: Julianna Baggott

Published: February 4th 2014

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Pages: 418

Genre: Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic,

Series: Pure #3


Rating: 5/5

 

Inside the Dome, Patridge has taken his father's place as leader of the Pures. His struggle has led him here, intent upon bringing down the Dome from the inside, with the help of a secret resistance force. But things are not as simple from his new position of power and he finds himself tempted by his father's words: perhaps if the world is to survive it needs the Dome - and Partridge - to rule it...
As Partridge's resolve weakens, Pressia and Bradwell continue piecing together the clues left to them from the time before the Detonations. It is their hope that they will be able to heal the Wretches, and free them from their monstrous fusings and the Dome's oppression once and for all. But everything depends, too, on Partridge. Separated by distance and history, can they still trust their friend and ally? Or is the world doomed to an eternity of war and hardship?- Goodreads


This is a review of the final book in a trilogy. Although this is a spoiler free review, feel free to check out my review of the first book (Pure) here.


I received an ARC copy of this novel from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

This is the final book in the Pure trilogy and if you have been reading my posts for any length of time you may be aware that this is my favourite dystopian trilogy I have ever read. 

This was an amazing final novel for the trilogy, it didn't disappoint as some finales tend to do. The author gave the readers an ending with a sense of finality but with enough to keep us thinking. I liked this, it meant that there were still parts for me to mull over, and make my mind up on what happened next.

This novel picks up a little later from where Burn leaves off, this is a spoiler free review so I won't go into any specifics but the action and pace of the plot picks up immediately, with us wondering what's going to happen to the characters in their current situations.

The characters in this novel are some of the most diverse and unique that I have ever had the pleasure to read about. The relationship between Pressia and Bradwell is stretched in this novel after what happened in the end of Burn, (I have never wanted to force a couple to talk about their problems so much!!) but their paths force them to decide what their priorities and plans are. I still absolutely love Pressia, she's so strong and brave, but has a human need for perfection, and her wish to save the Wretches and her secret wish to become Pure made me love her even more. 

Another character that has a special place in my heart is El Capitan and Helmud. I love the combination of the two brothers, how they experience the same things, I always wondered if Helmud feels the same way El Capitan does, It was interesting to see El Capitan come to terms with the person he was in Pure, I wondered when this would happen, and what sort of effect it would have on him.

I also enjoyed seeing the different struggles and problems Partridge and Lyda faced in the dome, it contrasted with what the others were going through outside. Seeing Lyda's descent into something close to madness was heartbreaking, I wanted to see the Lyda from Burn, when she was kick ass. I also missed Partridge, the effect of being leader of the dome seemed to suck so much out of him. He seemed to start to doubt himself and become confused about his feelings and ideas on everything.

The author cleverly uses a changing P.O.V to keep track of the different strands of the story. It meant that I felt equally invested in every character,and caused lots of tension and suspense as you waited to read the conclusion of a certain characters struggle.

Baggott's creativity is some of the most diverse and brilliant I have ever come across. The ideas are unique but work so well and seem possible, this is one of my favourite aspects of the series in general.

I am completely in awe of Baggott's world building through-out this trilogy.The creatures and buildings have become so familiar to me and I will miss the gritty, sand-filled world and the characters that inhabited it now the series's over.

Book Review- Generation Dead

                                                                              

Title: Generation Dead

Author: Daniel Waters

Published: May 6th 2008

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (UK)

Pages: 392

Genre: Young Adult, Zombies, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance

Series: Generation Dead #1

 

Rating: 2.5/5

 

Phoebe Kendall is just your typical Goth girl with a crush. He’s strong and silent…and dead.

All over the country, a strange phenomenon is occurring. Some teenagers who die aren't staying dead. But when they come back to life, they are no longer the same. Feared and misunderstood, they are doing their best to blend into a society that doesn’t want them. The administration at Oakvale High attempts to be more welcoming of the “differently biotic." But the students don’t want to take classes or eat in the cafeteria next to someone who isn’t breathing. And there are no laws that exist to protect the “living impaired” from the people who want them to disappear—for good. When Phoebe falls for Tommy Williams, the leader of the dead kids, no one can believe it; not her best friend, Margi, and especially not her neighbor, Adam, the star of the football team. Adam has feelings for Phoebe that run much deeper than just friendship; he would do anything for her. But what if protecting Tommy is the one thing that would make her happy?-Goodreads

 

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I love zombies. Although I wouldn't particularly like to meet one, I really enjoy reading about them!! This book has always featured fairly high on most people's list of zombie novels (especially YA)and I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately it really let me down :(

Firstly the characters; Phoebe was a pretty cliché character, a Goth who wrote deep and meaningful poetry and wore a lot of black. She seemed to be a Goth for no other reason than to be something "different" in YA. She really had very little interesting or original to say, I was pretty disappointed by her as a main character.

Her love interest is a zombie called Tommy, who was a pretty limp character, he wasn't particularly fleshed out (excuse the pun!).

The other minor characters in the novel include Adam, who fills the clichéd role of the best friend who is in love with our main character, and Margi the other best friend, who Phoebe tries to convince that zombies aren't all bad.

I also had a problem with the zombies themselves in this novel. They were the weakest and most pathetic zombies I've ever read about. They did nothing even remotely zombie, I understand that they're trying to be integrated back into society, but if they're so like humans, why is everyone creating such a fuss? I also would've liked a bit more information on exactly why these teenagers were coming back as zombies, absolutely nothing was explained about this at all. I understand it's a series, but c'mon!

The author also used some weird language throughout the novel, including very lengthy descriptions of things, that frankly didn't need to be explained. For example "Phoebe's breath preceded her, puffs of vapour like spirits dancing in the light of the moon." There was no reason for all the dancing spirit stuff, we all know how our breaths appear when it's cold!

There were also some just plain weird descriptions, like this one; "Phoebe just looked at her beautiful egg salad sandwich and wished that she had any desire left to eat it." A "beautiful egg sandwich"? Seriously!

The story also had a weird point of view, which changed from a third person POV to jumping between many different characters POVs with very little warning. It all meant a rather confusing time for the reader,

Overall I really didn't enjoy this novel, if you hadn't noticed!! I had such high expectations for it and it really disappointed me.

Source: http://acascadeofbooks.blogspot.com
Reblogged from Bookivorous:

The Hunt- Book Review

Title: The Hunt

Author: Andrew Fukuda

Published: May 8th 2012

Publisher: St Martin's Griffin

Pages: 293

Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Series: The Hunt #1

 

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Don’t Sweat.  Don’t Laugh.  Don’t draw attention to yourself.  And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.
Gene is different from everyone else around him.  He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood.  Gene is a human, and he knows the rules.  Keep the truth a secret.  It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.
When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him.  He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?-Goodreads
I bought this book from The Book People on a whim, after reading the description, even though I had never heard of it before. I love that moment, when you find a little known book that turns out to be an absolute cracker! This definitely happened to me with The Hunt.

The plot to this novel revolves around a boy called Gene, who is a human trying to blend in to a world overrun by vampires. Not your Twilight sparkly vampires but your blood-sucking evil vampires!! Suddenly he finds himself a winner of a once in a lifetime chance to hunt the last remaining humans with a small group of vampires.

The plot is very fast paced, I was so nervous for Gene the whole way through the novel, and the tension the author creates when Gene is pretending to be human made me literally sweat with nerves myself!

The only thing that stopped this novel from getting 5 stars was the ending, it didn't really seem to have an ending at all. It didn't have a cliffhanger either, it just sort-of ended, rather abruptly.

The main character in this novel is Gene, and the story is told from his point of view. It's rare (for me anyway) to find a YA novel that's narrated by a male protagonist, but I really enjoy them! Gene was clever to survive among the vampires for so long, he was also brave and caring.

Ashley June is the "love interest" in this novel and I really liked her character as well. She begins the novel as quite snooty and dislikeable, but her development throughout the book meant by the end of the novel I had warmed to her considerably.

The other minor characters in the book were pretty good, the diverse group that were the other contestants in the hunt and the humans that they were hunting.

Overall I really enjoyed this novel, and I have the second book, which I'm really looking forward to reading!