Sunday 31 March 2013

Monthly Round-Up: March

You may be thinking, 'What is Cicely doing, starting a new series of monthly round-up posts in  March?!'. You may not be thinking anything at all. But I just wanted to start doing round ups at the end of every month because I think that I post a lot of reviews and read a lot of books that I feel sometimes don't get the attention they deserve and I want to highlight them again and also just to keep track of everything each month, you know? So hopefully I'll be doing a round up of what I've read/reviewed each month. I hope you enjoy! (Just give me a couple of months to figure out how I want to format it and what have you. Bare with me.)

Books read:

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Undone by Cat Clarke
Beauty by Robin McKinley
Out of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys
In The Hands of The Goddess by Tamora Pierce
Requiem by Lauren Oliver
Clockwork Princess by Cassie Clare
Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

Total: 9 (my best month so far this year!)

Book of the month:

Undone by Cat Clarke 

Books reviewed: 

I didn't really post anything of any importance that wasn't a review this month, but if I ever do then I'll be sure to mention them as well. Also, I'll try and make the next one look more visually interesting or something. I'm just kind of trying to figure out how I want to do this. If I was better at the tech-ier side of things than it'd look a lot better (then again, my whole blog would look a lot more fancypants.) So, yeah.

Also, unrelated, but who watched Doctor Who yesterday? I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed it, but I think that that was mainly because it reminded of me the David Tennant days back when I actually genuinely loved and cared about the show. I still have a lot of issues with Moffat's writing though.

And, I think more important than Doctor Who, Game of Thrones comes back! You guys have no idea how ridiculously excited I am about this. I've been rewatching the show in preparation and boy I can't believe how much I forgot how good it is. Honestly, it's one of the best things on telly (but seriously if you're under 16 IGNORE THIS PART I do not want to be held responsible for making people curious about a show that it completely inappropriate for them)

So yes. March has been pretty good!

Friday 29 March 2013

Requiem review

Lauren Oliver
March 21st 2013
Hodder & Stoughton

 Battling against a society in which love has been declared a disease, Lena now finds herself at the centre of a fierce revolution. But the Wilds are no longer the haven they once were as the government seeks to stamp out the rebels. And Lena's emotions are in turmoil following the dramatic return of someone she thought was lost forever...

Told from the alternating viewpoints of Lena and her best friend Hana, Requiem brings the Delirium trilogy to an exhilarating end and showcases Lauren Oliver at the height of her writing powers - emotionally powerful and utterly enthralling.

*This review will probably contain spoilers for the first two books in the trilogy, so read at your own risk!*

I know that a lot of people had problems with this book, particularly the ending, but I thought that it was fitting despite being slightly frustrating. Pandemonium is still my favourite book of the series, though.

Again, Requiem takes a different narrative style to the first two, with alternating chapters between Lena and Hana's perspective. When I first read that this was going to happen, I wasn't all that keen on it because I wasn't sure how it would all tie together and I thought that I would find Hana's perspective boring, especially after the ending of Pandemonium. However, as soon as I read Hana's first chapter I changed my mind. I think that it was the perfect way to end the series because it kind of brought it back full circle too the first book. In Pandemonium, there's about three mentions of Hana and Lena's life in Portland pre-Alex, so it was nice to get to see how they're all getting on, as well as seeing Lena's cousin, Grace, again. Though it wasn't all that nice because Hana isn't exactly in a great situation. She's been cured and paired to Fred Hargrove, soon-to-be Mayor of Portland and he is not a nice guy. I'll leave it there, but I really enjoyed Hana's perspective and I really liked getting to see that people don't turn bad or anything when they're cured. It was really important that we got to see the world from cured eyes because they're not all bad guys. 

I liked Lena in Requiem, but not quite as much as I did in Pandemonium, I think. On the one hand, we really get to see her start to become a leader and realize that is going to have to fight and fight hard with the Resistance to even start to take down the walls (hah, see what I did there, people who've read the book? YEAH.) On the other hand, it was more about Lena choosing between Alex and Julian. Not that I was particularly bothered by these parts - I wasn't. I think that it was important for Lena's emotional journey to come to terms with her feelings about them both. The main reason I didn't enjoy those parts as much were just because I love Alex and Julian both and I didn't want her to have to choose and have to decide that yes I do love that guy more than I love that guy. This was my main problem with the ending, really. 

The plot was good - I liked the developments made, though I think after Pandemonium I wanted to read more about the DFA and the Scavengers and their corruptness, though I guess that to move the story on and start with Hana's perspective and it all come together, then the book had to be more focused on Portland instead. I think that some of the stuff that happened in the Wilds was really interesting as well, because we only saw a tiny amount of the sort of the brutality that the cureds used against the uncureds in Pandemonium, and now that they know that the threat is real and the the uncureds really do exist, we get to see a lot more of what they're capable of. It's important to remember, though that the uncureds are a threat to the cureds, too, and do acts of terrorism as well - which is why I liked Hana's perspective so much. Just because the cureds don't fell in the same way, doesn't mean that they're unfeeling robots who are just okay with killing and doing bad things to keep their lifestyle preserved.

Now, the ending. I won't say too much, but I don't think that it's too much of a spoiler to say that it's very open ended. Like, really open ended. But I didn't mind it as much as I thought I would. I thought that it was fitting because I didn't know how I wanted it to end, and I don't think that there was a way that it could've ended without a) pissing people off about whoever Lena was with at the end and b) completely escalating the plot to have the whole society sort of ended with a nice cosy epilogue a la Mockingjay. I think that, for me, it was probably the best way the book could've ended, though on reflection there definitely were certain plot threads that I would've liked to have been a bit more closed so that not everything was sort of indefinite. The very last part, though, that last section was really beautiful. I loved it, and I think it's one of my favourite parts of the whole trilogy. Usually I find those sorts of things cheesy, but it just worked, y'know? It was just... Right.

Requiem was a really great last book to a fantastic, beautifully written trilogy that has won it's place in my heart But beware that ending! You may love it, but it may piss you off and ruin the rest of the book for you like I've seen some people react. But don't let that put you off! I'm probably not helping here... Just read it. That's what I'm trying to really say here.

Monday 25 March 2013

Beauty review

Robin McKinley
25th October 1978 (this edition, January 6th 2011
David Fickling Books

When the family business collapses, Beauty and her two sisters are forced to leave the city and begin a new life in the countryside. However, when their father accepts hospitality from the elusive and magical Beast, he is forced to make a terrible promise - to send one daughter to the Beast's castle, with no guarantee that she will be seen again. Beauty accepts the challenge, and there begins an extraordinary story of magic and love that overcomes all boundaries. This is another spellbinding and emotional tale embroidered around a fairytale from Robin McKinley, an award-winning American author.

Beauty is kind of a weird one for me. I don't usually read books that are this old, and I don't read a lot of fairytale retellings, but I love Beauty and the Beast and I always hear great things about Robin Mckinley, so I thought this would be a good place to start. I enjoyed it a lot, but it's not become a favourite. I think I will read some more Robin McKinley books in the future, though.

The story takes a while to actually get into the Beauty and the Beast part of it, for the first part (about the first 100 pages) are all about Beauty's life, and her sister's and father's lives, up until Beauty agrees to go to the Beast. I'd read about this part in reviews and it did put me off reading it for a bit because I was in the mood for a quick read, but I didn't find it as boring as I thought that I would. I think that it was important to get to see Beauty's growth as a person from when she was about 12 (I think) to when she's 18 (when she meets the Beast.) What was the most interesting part for me was that even though Belle was still bookish, when her father's business did collapse and they had to move out to a remote northern town, she adjusted really well to the work. Now that I type it out, it seems pretty boring and insignificant, but I liked that when I was reading it. I also liked that even though (she thought) that her sisters were more beautiful than her, they were still really nice to her and they were a really strong family. Usually when you hear about pretty sisters (or pretty anyone) they're usually portrayed as being mean or petty, but here they were sisters.

I think that I found the parts with the Beast partially more interesting, but that's probably more because that's the part of the fairytale that I'm more familiar with. The Beast in this book was far gentler and more melancholy than the Beast from the Disney film (don't judge me- it's one of my favourites) and I'm not sure if I liked this or not. I mean, I'm not saying that I'd rather the Beast be, well, beastlier, but it was just weird is all. I think that it just sort of went with the tone of the rest of the book - fairly subdued and slow, but sweet. It wasn't fast-paced or exciting and there weren't any twists or turns that I wasn't expecting, but it was gentle and nice. It's a bit like when you ride on the kid's train at the zoo, trundling along looking at animals you've seen a million times before, but you enjoy the ride any way.

While I did like the familiarity to it, I was expecting kind of a bigger twist on the fairy tale, you know? It felt a bit like it wasn't really a retelling as such as it's just a, well, telling. (And I know that that's probably not the right word for it, but what ever. I'm sure you understand.) Most fairytale retellings that I read have made a huge change in the setting or the time (Cinder, Scarlet, Sisters Red, Sweetly, ect), but Beauty was set in a sort of rural fantasy world, though I think it was more British-esque than France like in the original story (I don't really know, though), and it was set in what felt like sort of the same time period, though I think that B&tB is about 18th century and this felt like it was earlier than that. I think I'm getting too much into the specifics of it, but you get the point. It didn't feel like a refreshing new take, though after reading and seeing about all these books that are 'brand new takes' on classic stories, it is refreshing in a way to read one that isn't completely. 

I enjoyed Beauty a lot, though there were some aspects that I didn't like so much. It was nice to read a gentler book for once, though, that isn't all about the drama and the action. It's a bit like taking a refreshing country stroll after spending a long time in a busy city. Nice, relaxing, but you feel a bit like you want something faster-paced and action filled when you're done.

Saturday 23 March 2013

Letterbox Love #29


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

Just the one book this week, but a very fine book it is! 
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (I haven't read it yet, but it's next on my to-read pile, though depending on how much I enjoy it or not, it may be the end of my love affair with Cassie's books until she writes something not about Shadowhunters. I'm just not as bothered about them as I was before, I guess, which is sad because they were my gateway books back into reading. They've just lost that sense of wonder and amazement for me. Thank you Walker!)

Sorry for that bit of depressingness, and the short post! I should have a couple of reviews up next week.

What did you get in your letterbox?

Thursday 21 March 2013

Out of the Easy review

Out of the Easy
Ruta Sepetys
March 7th 2013
Puffin Books

Out of the Easy is set against the vivid backdrop of 1950s New Orleans. Written by New York Times bestselling author Ruth Sepetys, this novel has something for everyone: love, mystery, murder, blackmail and warmth.

Josie Moraine wants out of The Big Easy - she needs more than New Orleans can offer. Known locally as a brothel prostitute's daughter, she dreams of life at an elite college, far away from here.

But then a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie caught between her ambition and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans is luring Josie deeper in as she searches for the truth, and temptation beckons at every turn.

I feel a bit torn by this book, because on the one hand, I loved Josie's voice and the writing and the characters, but on the other hand, I never really felt like I knew where the book was going or why it was going there. The setting and the characters came alive with every page, though, so I feel like that kind of outweighs the problems that I did have with it, and I'll definitely be reading Between Shades of Grey at some point if the quality of writing is anywhere near Out of the Easy.

Josie was probably my favourite part about Out of The Easy. As I've said, her voice is so strong and it completely carries the story. I think it's fairly safe to say that Josie hasn't had a typically normal  life. Her mother's a prostitute who doesn't really care too much for her daughter, and as a result Josie's been living in a small apartment in a bookshop whilst cleaning the brothel in the mornings. Josie wants more than that, though - she's a strong, intelligent girl and she dreams of going off to college. However, life doesn't really turn out in her favor and there's just one of the most heartbreaking moments I've read in a book near the end. Not, like, crying heartbreak, but after you get to know Josie and you so want her to achieve her dreams and get out, and it's like as soon as you read those pages and you read those words your heart just drops because of how sad you feel for Josie. I'm getting a but cryptic here, but I just wanted to talk about that moment even though I can't tell you what it actually is. 

Josie's character arc is also pretty interesting, and I liked seeing her change with the circumstances, and just seeing how hard her life is. Well, I didn't *like* seeing her having a hard life, obviously, but it showed us a lot more about her motivation for getting out. A lot of the time when I was reading this, actually, it reminded me of A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly. I think it was the college think, and also because Mattie and Josie are fairly similar even though they're about 50 years and many states apart from each other.

Besides Josie, the side characters also made a lot of the book for me. I liked the two love interests individually, but for 2/3rds of the book I wasn't really sure what the point of them both really were.  Well, Patrick I can understand, but I didn't really get Jesse's role. That is, until certain things about Patrick are revealed, which I was kind of surprised I didn't realise earlier on! I liked that development, though, even though I think I would've preferred it if it had been more central to the story. Willie and Cokie, the brothel madame (I think?) and the driver, were my favourites after Josie. I loved Willie, I really did, and the ending really made me cry. Writing this now, I realise that there is so much that I can't say unless I spoil it all. But even though that ending was sad, it was also unexpected and felt kind of out of place, and it wasn't as emotional as I think it could have been. Cokie was just lovely, though. I just want to give him a big hug. I hope he's okay. 

There were some aspects of the plot that I really liked and possibly would have liked to have seen more of, like Patrick and Josie's mother - even though all that I did read of Josie's mother and Cincinatti, her scummy, intimidating boyfriend, made me want to take Josie away from her forever. She does some despicable things, and I still can't believe that Cincinatti would do all those things to her and her daughter and that she'd still pick him over her. My favourite parts were when Josie was in the bookshop that she works/lives in, just playing stupid games with Patrick. I also really liked Charlotte, the girl who makes Josie want to go to a good college in the first place! I wish we could have seen more of her too.

Overall, I really enjoyed Out of the Easy, but I felt that there were a lot of problems with the plot. The setting and writing was beautiful, and the characters came alive, though, so it's still worth a read if you like a vivid historical with a strong lead character.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Letterbox Love #28

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

For review:
The Hit by Melvin Burgess (Very intrigued by this one! Never read a Melvin Burgess book before. Thank you Chicken House!)
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (I love the sound of this! Thank you HarperCollins.)

In The Hands of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce (Tamora Pierce. 'Nuff said)

What did you get this week?

Saturday 16 March 2013

And on the Sixth Day, There Was News

I've probably titled this a bit inappropriately, but whatever. Book news! This isn't going to be a regular feature or anything, by the way, just feel like I should tell you that. There's just a bit of news about this week that I need to tell you about is all. If it was going to be a regular feature, I probably would've given it a better name...


First off, Marissa Meyer, author of the brilliant Cinder and Scarlet, will be making a brief stop in the UK in a week and a bit! How exciting is that! She'll be a doing a talk/Q&A/signing at Waterstone's Bromley on the 26th March, 6:00pm. I'm really upset that I won't be able to go to this one, actually. I would've loved to meet her, but even if you can't make it, she'll hopefully come back to the UK soon! And also, you can phone an order for a signed copy from the shop if you're desperate :)

Also, Laini Taylor of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and fame is hosting a trailer competition for its sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight - in which the winning entry will win $1000! Here's  the video which explains it all. :)

And this last this is less news and more me asking for help. Apparently Google Reader is shutting down, and for a blogger I know relatively little about the internet and the technological stuff, so if anyone wants to help me a)understand what the hell's going on and b)how to get a new platform for people to follow me and what not, it would be much welcomed!

That's all for today, I think!

Thursday 14 March 2013

The Madness Underneath review

The Madness Underneath (Name of the Star #2)
Maureen Johnson
28th March 2013
HarperCollins Children's Books

After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance. But Rory's brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she's become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades—the city's secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it's too late.

In this follow-up to the Edgar Award-nominated The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson adds another layer of spectacularly gruesome details to the streets of London that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

The Madness Underneath is, in my honest opinion, just as good (if not better) than its predecessor. Although I think that there were some problems, overall I really enjoyed it and I nearly died at that ending. Seriously. I was REELING.

When we meet Rory at the beginning of The Madness Underneath, she's not the same girl she was, and understandably so. I think that it's fair to say that she'd been through a tough time in The Name of the Star, but if you thought it was going to get any easier for her, you were wrong. There's much more trouble abound. (And yes, I am trying really freaking hard not to spoil anything for you here!)

I really liked Rory in this book. I liked the fact that she was still suffering (not in a weird way, but because it would be kind of weird if all of that stuff had happened and she was just fine and got straight on with life). I liked seeing her start to recover and grow. Plus, there was still a bit of snark from her. There's plenty of Jazz, Boo, Callum and Stephen in this book, too, and they're even better than they were in the first book. I just really love those guys, and I need to know what happens with them in the next book just for the sake of my mental health.

I'm going to quickly say this now, but I don't think that the actual ghost plot worked out that well in this book. That's not to say that I thought it was bad, because it wasn't, but it wasn't as good as The Name of the Star in my opinion. I didn't feel like it was as creepy or that there was as much of a threat, that being said I think that might have been because there was a lot more concentration on Rory as she tried to deal with what had happened to her. Still, I do hope that in the next one shit will go down, and that it will be more creepy and ghostly than ever.

There are many other interesting developments that happen over the course of this book, though, I must say. I can't say too much, but you should really look out on the romance front when reading this, because Maureen made something happen that I didn't even realise I needed to happen until it happened and then the book ends and it's EVIL. I realise that none of that really made any sense, but as soon as you read it you will know exactly what I mean. Just, THAN ENDING. I will never be over it. Unless the next book as an even more evil ending, which would just be cruel. 

Sorry that this has been a bit short and vague, but it's really hard to talk about without saying too much! What I will say is: READ THESE BOOKS.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Letterbox Love #27

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

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Not read one of her books, so I'm looking forward to this! Thanks Puffin.)
A Face Like Glass by Francis Hardinge (I have no idea about this book, but I like the cover! Thanks Macmillan.)
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch (Really intrigued by the sound of this book. Thanks Indigo!)

Beauty by Robin McKinley (Bought this because I watched Beauty and The Beast the other weekend and felt in the mood for it. Might read some of her other books after this!)

What did you get this week?

Saturday 9 March 2013

Undone review

Cat Clarke
31st January 2013

Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she's learning to live with it. 

Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online ... and he kills himself.

Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down. 

A searing story of love, revenge and betrayal from a bestselling author.

Cat Clarke has done it again. Undone broke me more so that both of her previous books combined. I don't know what it is about her books, but they're just so real and this book in particular was pretty brutal to read. A lot of the time I did feel that Jem was very difficult to relate to and to like, but even though I couldn't empathise with her, I could sympathise with her even if I didn't agree with a lot (or anything) that she was doing. 

This is not one of those contemporaries that's about grief and love and overcoming it and learning to move on. Undone is like the complete opposite of that. Well, it's still about grief and love, but it is not a happy story. It is a not a book that you will read and feel happy and uplifted and cry happy tears after reading. It is a book that will make you ugly cry (or at least it made me ugly cry.) I just feel like I should warn you of this. I won't spoil anything that happens for you, but you should just know that while it's very difficult to put down, I personally found it quite hard to read. Like, punch in the gut painful.

One of the main reasons for this was Kai. You may be thinking, but he's dead! Well, you'd be correct, but he leaves Jem 12 letters, one to read on the 23rd of every month after he killed himself. These letters were probably my favourite part of the book, and they broke my heart the most. I don't think that they would've had half the emotional impact, though, if they hadn't have actually been handwritten in the book. For some reason, this just made them so much more real as they gave Kai a solid identity not just by the content, but by how they looked. The sentences he started to write but then crossed out, the way the words became more hastily written and angry as he wrote how he was really feeling. His whole thought process before he killed himself written out month after month for Jem to read. At first they were fairly light hearted, and he would leave Jem these little things to do, like dye her hair blonde or buy a new top. Then, we got to see his doubts. The crossed out sentences were the worst, though. I can't explain why, but they just made me tear up every time. Call me pathetic, but I have a tear in my eye now just writing about them, so I'm going to stop. 

While I couldn't relate to or really empathise with Jem, I did think she was a really interesting, really real character to read about, as I've found with Cat Clarke's other books (namely Grace from Entangled.) She takes an interesting emotional journey as a character throughout the book, going from being devastated about Kai's death and not knowing how to deal with it to becoming obsessed with getting revenged for her beloved best friend. It takes a while to actually get to this point, but once we finally get there, she completely drops off the moral scale. Well, she doesn't actually kill anyone or anything, but what she does do is pretty bad. This is the point at which she lost me, and also the point at which I could not put the book down for the last 300 pages and had to stay up until late to finish reading it against my better judgement. I won't say much else about Jem, but by the end I think I did feel quite sorry for her, and the last sentence was just one of the worst, and by that I mean actually one of the best. Completely evil, though, and completely heartbreaking. 

Another thing that I really liked was the popular in crowd that Jem infiltrates for her revenge (I don't feel like this is too spoilery) because they were actually likeable. We're set up to hate them from the beginning because Jem hates them, but they're actually nice. Well, some of them are. They're all real, though. I think, actually, that Sasha was probably the least realistic of them all despite her being one of the most likeable. I didn't buy a lot of what she was doing for Jem and I wonder if that's because Jem didn't trust her or just because I'm a cynic, but she was so genuinely nice. What happened to her at the end completely threw me though! I had no idea where that came from and I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but it was a complete twist in the tail! And Lucas Mahoney. Oh, man. That's about all I'm going to say about that so you can all have the chance of reading about that spoiler free.

Undone was interesting to me as well because it was pretty different from Cat's other books. I mean, they're still the same sort of thing, but usually there's some sort of ambiguous supernatural/paranormal thing going on that you're not really sure about whether it's real or not real, and there's usually an ambiguous heartbreaking ending. Undone definitely had the heartbreaking part down to a t, as I've said about nine million times over the course of this review, but apart from that it didn't have any of the other bits. I think this is partially what makes this one of my favourite books from her, as you sort of know what's actually going on and the only voice from the grave is coming from Kai's letters. Also, it feels a bit more like she's finally settling into her voice completely in that I think this is her strongest book to date, though I did love Torn. I don't really know what I'm saying here. I think this is me trying to be clever about books and writers and stuff, but I think you get the gist. Also, is it true that Undone is going to be the first of her books to get published in the states? Because if so, they better prepare themselves. I just hope that they get it, because it seems that with a lot of British books they don't really seem to get them that much over there in the way that we get American books.

Undone was just amazing, really, is what I've been trying to say. Cruel and difficult and gripping and heart destroying and amazing. Cat Clarke is just masterful at writing these kinds of books, and I hope she continues to destroy my soul even more with her next book, whenever/whatever it happens to be.

Thursday 7 March 2013

Perfect Scoundrels review

Perfect Scoundrels
Ally Carter
February 7th 2013
Orchard Books

Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it’s that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting—or stealing—whatever they want.

No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale’s family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother’s billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there’s no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won’t let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother’s will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company’s fortune. So instead of being the heir—this time, Hale might be the mark. 

Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she’s willing to save her boyfriend’s company if it means losing the boy.

I know I always go on about Ally Carter, but guys, seriously, ALLY FREAKING CARTER. I don't know how she keeps on getting better, but she does and every book she writes is better than the last. I was also under the impression that this was going to be the last book in this series, but I was wrong (I think!) So even though we might be saying goodbye to Cammie in the next year, we've still got Kat and Hale to keep up going.

Perfect Scoundrels has started to take a more serious turn, though. It's still fun and exciting and action-packed, but there was also some stuff going on between Hale and Kat, and it was the first time the case that they're on has directly affected someone in the crew. I was glad that it took a turn for the slightly-more-serious, though, because as much as I love the frivolity and fun of reading about art thieves and con-men and what have you, it is always a good thing to see the characters you love develop from the things that have happened to them. I feel like because of this change in tone, though, that we're getting closer to end with series too. I hope Ally Carter will have another series starting soon because I don't  think I can deal with just one a year! The only reason I don't think this is the last book is because we still haven't found out what the W.W in W.W Hale stands for yet! Also, I figured that the last book would have a thing that affected Kat more that Hale.

As I've just said, Kat, Hale, Gabrielle and the rest of the grew have all grown since the beginning of the series. They're growing older and changing, but not without completely losing who they were at the start (does that make sense, or am I just contradicting myself again...?). Gabrielle and Kat are still close and I still love this because (and I will keep on saying this) GIRLS CAN BE PRETTY AND NOT BE BITCHES. *Coughs* Okay, that's my rant for the day over. It's not even a problem anymore, really, but still. Grrr. We also get a bigger insight into Kat and Hale's relationship. Not just the romantic side, because there's a lot of drama going on there this time around, but their friendship, and how they became friends. I loved getting to see this too because, y'know, backstory. 

Another thing that set this book apart from the series was that there wasn't really a big heist that they were working towards to at the end. Well, there might have been a bit of heist. I'll be honest, I cant remember exactly everything that happened in Perfect Scoundrels, but I do remember the ending. The big shocking ending that was even more shocking than you thought after you read the first big shock. It's shocking, is the point I'm trying to get across here. And great. And clever. And I won't say anything more because I don't want to spoil this book for you.

Perfect Scoundrels is a great addition to the series and is probably my favourite (or at least a close second with Heist Society). If you have never read an Ally Carter book before and you regularly read my blog, then the only question is WHY THE HELL NOT? Get to it. You will not regret it!

Also, it's World Book Day in the UK today! A whole day for books! Who could imagine such a thing?! ;)

Sunday 3 March 2013

Pandemonium review

Lauren Oliver
28th February 2012
Hodder & Stoughton

The eagerly anticipated sequel to the international bestseller DELIRIUM, one of the most addictive books of last year. Unflinching, heartbreaking and totally addictive, this novel will push your emotions to the limit. 

Lena's been to the very edge. She's questioned love and the life-changing and agonising choices that come with it. She's made her decision. But can she survive the consequences? PANDEMONIUM is the explosive sequel to the critically acclaimed and bestselling DELIRIUM.

*There will probably be spoilers for Delirium and possibly Pandemonium in this review. You have been warned* 

Pandemonium was amazing. I wasn't too certain how I would I feel about it because it's been about two years since I read Delirium, and ever since an English teacher stole my copy of it I've not had a chance to read it again (I'm holding out for the new UK paperback that matches this Pandemonium cover), so I sort forgot a lot about what happened. What I did remember, though, was the massive amount of crying that I partook in after I read the last page. As such, I wasn't too certain how I'd feel about some the new developments made in this book, but I think now that it was a perfect second book, and I cannot wait to read Requiem (and I'm seriously glad I waited until it was close to it's release after THAT ending!)

It's always a treat reading a Lauren Oliver book because her writing is just so beautiful all the goddamned time. For some reason I always expect trilogies/series to be written less well than standalone (don't ask me why), so it weirds me out a little to read these books and have them be so stunningly written. I think I need to get over my series prejudice because a story spanning over more than one book doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be of a lesser quality than any other kind of story.

Also interesting about Pandemonium is the way it was told. Delirium was told all the way through in just one timeline, but Pandemonium splits into two: Then, and Now. What was especially interesting about this to me was that we got to see Lena go on two different emotional journey's side by side. On the one hand Lena is learning to cope with Alex's death and adjusting to life in the Wild, hardening herself against her grief and becoming the 'new' Lena. On the other hand, in the Now timeline, we see Lena start to soften again, and even though she is by no stretch the person she was Delirium, we see her start to fall in love again.

Even though I am by no means a fan of the love triangle, in this capacity I think it works really well. In other ways it is completely the most evil thing ever because I love Alex, but I love Julian, too. I've been trying to dedicate less space in my reviews to the boys in them because I never really say anything new about them, but since this is more about the love triangle, I figure that it's okay. The thing with Alex and Julian is that so far there's been a book for each, so it's not like it's been happening simultaneously. Also, Lena thinks that Alex is dead! She's allowed to move on with her life. And Lena's changed now, largely due to Alex and the impact he had on her life, so I feel like it also represents this new stage in her life to a degree. Requiem is going to be horrible, though. I have no idea how this series is going to end romance-wise because there's no obvious choice. It will make for interesting reading, though!

The other thing that I like a lot about these books is that they work. I have a lot problems with dystopia because it usually feels really fake to me, and the premise and the world-building are jarring and that detracts a lot from my enjoyment of them. Delirium was another one of those that I thought I just wouldn't buy into, you know? Love, a disease? Ridiculous! But it works. I think that, for me, this has a lot to do with the fact that the books don't feel all that dystopian. Obviously, with the rise of the resistance and the DFA and the beginnings of a revolution, it has started to feel more so, but a lot of the book took place either in the Wilds or in the Tunnels so it still felt more grounded than other dystopians I've read.

If you haven't read this series yet (and you've read this review and I've spoilt it all...) then you definitely should, even if you don't think that dystopian is your thing. This is one of the few second books I've read that doesn't suffer from ye olde Second Book Syndrome, and I cannot wait to read the last one, even though I don't want this series to end.
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