Tuesday 30 October 2012

Time Between Us review

Time Between Us
Tamara Ireland Stone
October 25th 2012
Doubleday Children's

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett has the unique ability to travel through time and space, which brings him into Anna’s life, and with him a new world of adventure and possibility.

As their relationship deepens, the two face the reality that time may knock Bennett back to where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate, what consequences they can bear in order to stay together, and whether their love can stand the test of time.

Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, Time Between Us is a stunning, spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new voice in YA fiction.

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about Time Between Us when I first got it and started reading it, because as far as time travel is concerned, I generally prefer to be a bit more on the sci-fi side, but I think that's just because I've never read more contemp approach to it before. After reading this, though, I think I'm a lot more open minded, and I'm definitely thinking about giving The Time Traveller's Wife more of a chance. Though from what I hear about that book, this one definitely had a happier ending.

I really liked how Bennett's time travelling was handled, because it was timey-wimey enough without going to far for it to still be considered a contemp, and I think the fact that it was told from Anna's perspective really helped with that because it gave us the outsider's perspective on his power. I thought from first glance that it'd be told from Bennett's POV or from both of their perspectives, but I think it all being Anna's story really worked.

Anna was great, too. And yeah, I know I say that about basically everyone, but it's my blog and I'll say what I want. I think that her reaction to Bennett's ability and her relationship with Bennett and her reactions to some of the things that he'd done were all really realistic and I felt I could sympathise more with her that way than if she'd been more eager to forgive him for things that no one should do even if they have the power to do it. Then again, the exact same thing could be said about what he did for Emma, so the morals behind his timey-wimey powers are more nuanced than one might think. Still, I kind of think it's fundamentally wrong to change someone's timeline a) without their permission and b) for a reason any smaller than stopping them dying (though that could end EVEN MORE HORRIFICALLY  Just don't mess with time, guys. Don't do it. Never ends well.) I was really proud of her, though, when Bennett left (kind of not really a spoiler) and she carried on with her life after realising that this whole time had been the do-over of the first time she'd been with him (again, time - don't mess with it). I really admired he decision to start to move on.

I liked Bennett, too, and seeing how he dealt with his power. Though I enjoyed the focus on Anna and how Bennett had changed her life, I think I would've liked to have seen a bit from his perspective too, to see even more how she had changed his life. I think it was really important that they both gave each other what they wanted, for Anna, her life to become a 'daring adventure', and for Bennett, his life to be normal and to have a close knit group of family and friends who love him. To properly have a home. I think that the balance struck between those two in the book were done really well, and that they've both come to appreciate what they already have as well as the possibilities that being with each other could bring to them. I have no idea how they're going to make their relationship work long term, but I hope they do/did work it out.

The only thing that I had a slight problem with was that I didn't get the feeling that it was set in 1995 at all. Maybe that's just because I, well, didn't exist then and no idea what it was like, but apart from the occasional mention of a Walkman and a shit ton of Pearl Jam, I found myself forgetting that it wasn't set in the present. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but for a time travel book where the main problem is that she's from 1995 and he's from 2012, forgetting that's it's not 2012 could minorly get in the way. But I don't really know how she could've made it more 90's or anything, and it didn't bother me too much, I just had to occasionally remind myself when it was set, is all.

I really liked Time Between Us a lot, and it's definitely convinced me to have a more open mind about time travel and whether it can really fit well into a contemp style setting (and yes, it's not technically contemp, but I can't really think of any other way to describe it). Even if you don't think it sounds like your cup of tea, I still think you should give it a go, because it's just a really sweet love story with a tiny bit of time travel thrown in. Really, who's going to argue with that.

Monday 22 October 2012

Endlessly review

Kiersten White
July 24th 2012

Evie's paranormal past keeps coming back to haunt her. A new director at the International Paranormal Containment Agency wants to drag her back to headquarters. The Dark Faerie Queen is torturing humans in her poisonous realm. And supernatural creatures keep insisting that Evie is the only one who can save them from a mysterious, perilous fate.

The clock is ticking on the entire paranormal world. And its fate rests solely in Evie's hands.

So much for normal.

I'm going to miss this series. This is one of the first YA trilogies that I've ever really properly stuck with over the last couple of years, so I feel pretty sad about it having finished. It's why I was really reluctant to read it in the first place. Sure, I was a bit confused when I started it because I'd forgotten pretty much everything that had happened, but once I remembered, I just enjoyed myself the whole way through. And yes, it was bittersweet, but it was also a great ending to a great trilogy.

I love Evie. I really do. She's one of my favourite YA characters ever, but she did annoy me a little bit in this book. I don't really know what it was, but there were just a lot of times when she was so stubborn and blind to anyone but herself and her own problems that I kind of just wanted to shake some sense into her, but at the same time, it's understandable. Her whole life she's been pushed around by other people for her powers, and she's had this whole destiny thing thrust upon her and she never wanted any of it! She just wants to be with Lend and watch Easton Heights. I do like her stubbornness, so I don't mean to criticise her, but I think I just forgot how stubborn she could be, and how sometimes it could feel like too much.

One small criticism, though, would be that it felt like all of the problems were solved fairly easily, and it was like they all happened in a sequential order. I know, aren't books supposed to happen like that? But I don't know, it just felt like one problem cropped up and then they'd solve it 50 pages later and then there'd be a new thing and apart from the big 'needing to make a gate to let all the Paranormals through' storyline that was the whole book, it didn't feel like there was a smooth interweaving of subplots. But maybe that's just because I read it really slowly (for me. Seriously, how do people read 20 pages at a time like that? It's so confusing...) so I just wasn't as invested in it.

I really, really loved Reth in this book though. I feel like he's gotten a bad rep because we only get to Reth how Evie sees him, and I don't think he's that bad a guy, he's just got the whole Amoral Faerie thing going on. He only wants to do the best thing, he just doesn't always have the best way of doing it. I was really glad that we got to see a more positive side to him, especially considering how it ended. I was more glad that him and Evie (kind of) got to make peace with each other before the end. It was nice to see why he did everything he did, and even though some of his reasons were a bit dodge and Evie was still annoyed by him, I think he really did love her, or, well, find her interesting to be around, which for a Faerie is a lot.

Also, we got to make amends with everyone's favourite psychopaths Jack and Vivian! I don't really remember what I thought about Jack at the end of Supernaturally, but let's face it, it probably wasn't good, and I do like Vivian, but she was insane in the first book so it was nice to see her (kind of) get better. And Jack. He's a nice guy, really. Well, not a nice guy, but he's a lot better than he was in the last book! Nah, I did actually really like him this time around. He's just unhinged enough to still be interesting, but we actually get to see him with feelings here. When they were in the Faerie Realms dealing with the people that they'd stolen, that was when he really started to show himself as being more that just the crazy sarcastic psycho that he is. And I think he's going to turn out okay, in the end.

And about the end. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it. I know that I liked it, and I don't think it was too cheesy (which is what I was really worried about because I know I think I found the end of the first book to be a bit cheesy), but I don't know. It wasn't sad sad or anything, which I'm also glad about because they're not the kind of books that end sad sad, like cry your eyes out sad. As I said before, it just feels bittersweet, but also a bit like I'm ready to let this series go. It closed everything up well, but I just don't feel different now that I've finished it. *shrugs* It's not that big a deal, I don't feel different after most books/series that I finish, but y'know. Sometimes you just want a book to finish and you want the world to feel different afterwards and this wasn't one of those. The series never has been, for me, but I kind of expected something after I was done. I'm just rambling now, sorry.

Yeah, so, Endlessly. It was a really great ending to one of my favourite series, and despite it's flaws, it's still pretty freaking bleeping awesome.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Letterbox Love #20

Letterbox Love is the UK's version of IMM, hosted by the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking :)

For review:

Silent Saturday by Helen Grant (haven't heard much about this one, but I like the look of it! Thank you Random House)
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (*faints* Thank you Hodder!)

Wednesday 17 October 2012

The Assassin's Curse review

The Assassin's Curse
Cassandra Rose Clarke
October 2nd 2012
Strange Chemistry

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her. 

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

First things first, as a little side note, sorry (again) for not posting in, like, five days. I'm the worst, I know, but I've been reading a lot slower lately and don't have as much to review and I'm also really lazy so, you know. I'm going to try and post at least twice a week though, and get back into my usual routine.

The Assassin's Curse was actually a really great book, despite how difficult a title it is to spell (seriously, assassin is the worst word for keyboard typing). I wasn't too sure if I'd enjoy it that much (as, it seems, is always the case...) but I found that once I started reading it and got past the first fifty odd pages, I really couldn't put it down. Or, well, switch my laptop off because that's what I was reading it on (perhaps another testimony to its greatness! I hate reading books on here. It kills my eyes). It had a lot of my favourite fantasy plot tropes in it, like the whole Odd Couple Who End Up Inexplicably On A Quest Together And Will Undoubtedly Be Together By The End Of The Book/Series thing. Well, I guess that isn't really a thing, but it was in a lot of the manga that I used to read, so, I'm counting it.

I thought Ananna was a really cool character despite the fact that I didn't really like her name at first and found it pretty difficult to say. Though that isn't really a criticism of her character... Any way! I really admired her loyalty and bravery, even though it sometimes bordered on recklessness. Even though her and Naji didn't exactly start out on good terms with each other, I feel like they really came through for each other, not even in a romantic way, just as friends. She was tough, and even though (anyone esle keeping tabs on how often I can say even though in one paragraph?) the curse meant that Naji had to protect Ananna, she could and would look after herself, and save and protect Naji when the time(s) arose.

Naji was great too, and I thought that even though he was meant to be some amazing assassin, he could also be kind of a nice guy. Well, to Ananna anyway, very occasionally (more so in, like the second half of the book). but it was really cute sometimes getting to him in, well, any kind of social interaction because, let's face it, he wasn't really any good at it. He's more of the strong, silent, kill-you-in-your-sleep type, and assassins aren't exactly trained to have good people skills.

One thing that annoyed me at first with this book was all of the names, particularly those of the pirates, but I think that after a while, I found myself adjusting to the world and all of it, and after that I thought that the names really helped to build the world and expand upon the cultures of all the different kinds of people from the different kinds of places in this world, and even though I still think some of them sound a bit silly, I like them a lot more upon reflection.

My favourite part about this book, though, was how well she made the plot work out. As much as I love this kind of story, there is a fine line, and it can get really cheesy really fast, but this book never crossed into that territory. I was actually really glad that there wasn't any obvious romance in it. I do hope that there is one, because the tension between Ananna and Naji is pretty much through the roof, and I can't wait for Naji to realise that he so does have feelings for Ananna that are stronger than he'd ever want to admit, because we know that Ananna likes him. I can't wait to see them figure out how to do the three impossible tasks and see how it all works out for them, and I'm really looking forward to it! I've already seen a mock-up of the cover and I love it and I would like the book right now please thank you.

The Assassin's Curse was a book that I enjoyed way more that I ever thought I would, and I am really looking forward to seeing the next stage of Naji and Ananna's journey (and hey, it's only a duology, so I'm also looking forward to that ever evasive thing called 'closure').

Friday 12 October 2012

A Witch in Winter review

A Witch in Winter
Ruth Warburton
January 5th 2012
Hodder Children's

Anna Winterson doesn't know she's a witch and would probably mock you for believing in magic, but after moving to the small town of Winter with her father, she learns more than she ever wanted to about power. When Anna meets Seth, she is smitten, but when she enchants him to love her, she unwittingly amplifies a deadly conflict between two witch clans and splits her own heart in two. She wants to love Seth, to let him love her – but if it is her magic that's controlling his passion, then she is as monstrous as the witch clan who are trying to use her amazing powers for their own gain.

Although a perfect fit for the paranormal romance genre, A WITCH IN WINTER avoids fangs, excessive body hair and submissive female leads, and tells the heart-wrenching story of a couple meant to be together, but being forced apart. Seth is utterly irresistible and Anna is an empowered, proactive young woman with unimaginable magic inside her. This is fast-paced, sensuous writing with believable incantations inspired by Warburton's research into witchcraft legend and old English.

A Witch in Winter was a really great book. It took me a bit to get into, because I felt that there were points in the beginning that felt like it was perhaps going to turn into a bit of a boring paranormal, but it really brought itself back and I found myself really enjoying it. Despite the good reviews I'd read of it, I hadn't been entirely sure if it was my kind of thing, but I just bought it and read it anyway because why the hell not?! 

My main concern with this book was that the plot sounded a bit thin, and I wasn't sure how it was going to work if it was just about Anna accidentally making Seth fall in love with her. I think it's a great idea, but I didn't think it would work as being, like, the main plot, but it ended up being about a lot more, and I think that the whole Seth-Anna thing was resolved pretty quickly. Though imagine how much it would suck for her if he was still enchanted, eh? I don't know why I say these things. But I'm really interested to see what happens to them in the next book because there's no way they're staying together. If a couple ends up happily in book 1 then there are ALWAYS problems in book 2. Trouble in paradise, and all that.

I really, really liked all the witch stuff, though (which, considering its title, is probably a good thing), and I really want to find out more about them. Especially the Ealdwittan, which by the end we didn't really learn anything about! Or why they even wanted Anna in the first place (which was probably the only thing that really annoyed me about this book). I think it will be touched on more in the next two books, though, because I figure that it has a lot to do with Anna's mother, and if we go through a whole trilogy without finding anything out about her? Well that would just stink.

Anna was really cool too, actually. Not that I wasn't expecting her to be! But it's just that like I said at the start, I wasn't too sure if I was going to like her because there were some points at the beginning in which she was, I don't know... Not annoying, but a but dull, maybe? They were few and far apart, though, so don't be put off by the way I'm putting it! She was really cool, and I really want to know why she's so powerful as well as really see her harness that power. As well as that, I really admired her strength and courage to do things that she really didn't want to do for the sake of the greater good.

I thought that Emmaline and Maya were brilliant, too. What is it with side characters? Why are they always the best? I feel like I could probably relate to Emmaline most, for obvious reasons (and no, I'm not a witch, much to my great disappointment.) I'm also pretty curious about Abe, and I really hope that there isn't going to be a love triangle there because as nice as Abe seems now, I don't trust him *gives him the stink eye*. There's just something not quite right about that man, is all. I was kind of annoyed that Anna's first friends from her new school just faded out of the picture, though, without much reason. I guess she has Emmaline and Seth now, but still.

A Witch in Winter is a really good first book in what I'm hoping is going to be a really great trilogy, and I'm really excited about reading the next one (as soon as I get around to buying it, that is.)

Monday 8 October 2012

Heist Society review

Heist Society
Ally Carter
February 9th 2010
Disney Hyperion/Orchard Books

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her to the Louvre...to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria...to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own--scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster's art collection has been stolen, and he wants it returned. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s (very crooked) history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

There may be a point in the future when the next review I post isn't for an Ally Carter book, but that probably won't be for at least another week. Jeez, it's like Sarah Dessen all over again! I just enjoy her books so much it's probably not good for me. Especially seeing as I only have 3 left to read and then there will be NONE for a VERY LONG TIME and I'll be miserable about it like I am about the fact that I have to wait until 2013 for Sarah Dessen's next book.

I have to admit, I think I may have liked this book more the the GG books that I've read so far. I don't know, maybe I just have more a thing for thieves than I do spies. I do think it has a very different feel to the GG books, even though at first I was like aren't spies and thieves kind of almost the same thing with the gadgets and the missions, but it was a very different story. Well, of course there were similarities in places, but there wasn't ever a point where I was sitting there thinking this scene could've been taken straight out of a GG book, you know? 

Kat was really cool. Seriously freaking cool. She kind of makes me wish I'd been born into fictional family  of infamous art thieves. I would be terrible at it, of course, but think of all the fun you could have! I was really glad that we met her at the point that we did, though, because we got to see her and her doubts about staying in the family business without having her actually leave, because that all happened before the actual story takes place. It means we can get into the action a whole lot quicker, which was something I was really eager for because we didn't get that as much with GG.

Surprisingly (for me) I actually liked that there wasn't a definite romance in it.  There are definitely a couple of love interests going around, but nothing really predominant. Like, there isn't a guy who Kat just keeps on thinking about every 5 pages, making comments about their biceps or their eyes. It really is amazing just how much more you can fit into a book without that. I just really liked that Hale and Kat were really good friends, and that there was a lot of trust and loyalty there, and there is romantic tension between them, but it's not being laid on so thick that it feels like I'm being slapped in the face with it. It was a really good balance. Though I do hope her and Hale start to have a thing by the end of the series (anyone know how many books there are going to be?)

And the rest of Kat's crew! I really liked all of them, as well. Ally Carter has this thing in her books where she sets characters up to sound like they're going to be mean and the ends up making them be your favourite character (Macey and Gabrielle) and I'm still not sure if I like this or not, because it's awesome that she does this, but it seriously depresses me that I'm still the kind of person that assumes because a person has straighter hair or bigger boobs or nicer legs than the main character, then they must be a bitch. That's pretty screwed up. Maybe I should write an ill thought up discussion post about it to make up for the lack of activity over the past few weeks... Anyway. I really want to see more of the crew, too, and find out more about their childhood together or something, because they've all known each other for a long time. I guess I'll just have to read Uncommon Criminals. Right now.

I still can't believe that there was a time when I looked at Ally Carter's books and thought, you know what, I'm just not going to like these at all. Just proves how bad I am at judging my own taste.

Sunday 7 October 2012

Letterbox Love #19

Letterbox Love is the UK's version of IMM, hosted by the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking :)

A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton (been meaning to get this since it came out! Finally bought it today so that I have something for her to sign at the YA Halloween Foyle's thing later on in the month.)

For review:
Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black (sounds... interesting. Not 100 percent sure I'll enjoy it, but I'll give it a go and see what I think. Thank you Bloomsbury!)
The Feathered Man by Jeremy de Quidt (Never read any of his before, but I've had a copy of the Toymaker since I was about 10! Thank you Random House!)
Hold On by Alan Gibbons 
Red Glove by Holly Black (REALLY looking forward to reading this. I loved White Cat. Thank you Indigo for these two!)

Thursday 4 October 2012

Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover review

Don't Judge a Girl By Her Cover
Ally Carter
June 9th 2009
Orchard Books

When Cammie "The Chameleon" Morgan visits her roommate Macey in Boston, she thinks she's in for an exciting end to her summer break. After all, she's there to watch Macey's father accept the nomination for vice president of the United States. But when you go to the world's best school (for spies), "exciting" and "deadly" are never far apart. Cammie and Macey soon find themselves trapped in a kidnappers' plot, with only their espionage skills to save them. 
As her junior year begins, Cammie can't shake the memory of what happened in Boston, and even the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women doesn't feel like the safe haven it once did. Shocking secrets and old flames seem to lurk around every one of the mansion's corners as Cammie and her friends struggle to answer the questions, Who is after Macey? And how can the Gallagher Girls keep her safe? 
Soon Cammie is joining Bex and Liz as Macey's private security team on the campaign trail. The girls must use their spy training at every turn as the stakes are raised, and Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth...

Sorry for not having posted anything all week - I know, I'm awful, but I've just been busy lately. Like, actually busy. I know, I was shocked as well.

Don't Judge a Girl By Her Cover is the best Gallagher Girls book so far. It's really shaping up to be one of my favourites, which has surprised me because I thought I just wouldn't be that into them. They're just so much fun! And SO addicting.I just want to read them all right now, but I'm pacing myself because I have no idea how long we're going to have to wait until book 6. I do have the Heist Society books to read in the meantime, though...

The main reason why I loved this one more than the first two is because it's where we actually start to have a threat that isn't just a test. There is proper, serious kidnapping attempts in this one (though really, what is it with all of the kidnappings?!), and an actual bad guy. Well, we don't know exactly who the bad guy is, but we know about the Circle, so that's close enough for me. I really want to know about why they tried to take Cammie, though. I think I'm going to have to read the next books in fairly close proximity just so I can find out what the heck is going on.

Zach wasn't in this book as much, though, and that kind of made me sad, but at the same time, it just made all of the moments that he was in the book for even better. I did like the fact that there was less of a focus on there being a new interest, though, because I think that that's what a lot of the second book was. It's good to properly get into the plot, finally. Though I really hope that Zach is in it more. I just really like him, and I want to know if we can actually trust him or not, because at the minute I'm not entirely sure. I like to think that we can, but we never know with these spy types. Plus there's something so dodgy about Blackthorn. 

One of the best things about this series for me is the huge focus on Cammie, Bex, Liz and Macey. You don't see too many YA series out there that are more about friendship than romance, and I know that sounds a bit, well, cheesy, but you get my point. I like the fact that there's a really strong balance between the two. I also really liked their determination to protect Macey when they thought that she was the one being targeted, even though she already had the secret service and an ex-Gallgher Girl on her back. It was sweet.

I never really know what to say about books in a series. It's kind of difficult to keep on talking about them around the same time because I always feel like I'm going to end up repeating myself, so I'll just leave it here for now. Don't Judge A Girl By Her Cover is a really great addition to the series, and I can't wait to read the next one! Though I'll have to give myself some time between them all.
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