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The Replacement
The Replacement
by Brenna Yovanoff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A Dark, Chilling Mystery, 30 May 2012
This review is from: The Replacement (Paperback)
The Replacement had a wonderfully dark, chilling tone and I think that was reflected perfectly in the setting and its description - Brenna Yovanoff captures Gentry perfectly. Gentry is a dreary, perennially raining and grey town full of secrets and I had a very specific and complete image of Gentry in my mind whilst I was reading, everything was in monotones, and I think this enhanced my reading experience.

Also, along the lines of description, I loved how Mackie's allergies to thing such as blood and iron were shown and how debilitating they would be, such as when you injure yourself or getting into a car or washing your clothes all of which would include touching something that was harmful to you - this highlighted how different Mackie was and made you realise how he doesn't fit into our world.

The protagonist, Mackie took some time to get used to, he's extremely detached from the world which I felt, made it hard to connect to him. Despite this he seemed like a real guy; you know sometimes when a woman is writing from a male perspective you can really tell and they kind of end up like the perfect guy. Mackie? Not so much but I liked that. This realism was reinforced with Mackie's passion for music, my specific example was Chapter Thirteen - `Applause', in which Mackie plays the local club, Starlight, for the first time. The gig was beautifully described, it really captured that feeling music creates inside of you, it was pure and raw and it showed you Mackie's passion. That chapter was probably my favourite part of the whole book.

Another plus point was that the characters, who would swear, did. I'm no big fan of swearing and personally don't use swear words often but I hate authors who skirt around the issue by not including them, especially when a character would so obviously swear - I mean I probably would be swearing a lot if I knew my sister had just been kidnapped and been replaced by this weird creature.

Speaking of creatures... The darker side to Gentry, the one full of dead girls and monsters was definitely intriguing but I feel like this wasn't used to its fullest potential. I don't know why, because I'm a complete scaredy cat, but I wanted more suspense and creepiness. I just found that that aspect was lacking somewhat - I think this was more to do with my heightened expectations.

However, something completely unexpected was the relationship between Mackie and his sister, Emma. It was sweet and incredibly endearing and the kind of sibling relationship that you don't see very often in YA.

The character I loved the most was Tate. Tate could be described as `Mackie's love interest' and whilst that is true I think she's so much more, not only is she this reminding presence of what Mackie wants to be fighting for but also just a symbol of strength. Tate was strong, independent and will definitely not suffer fools gladly. Mackie himself says, "She knew exactly who she was," and I think strong female characters, who are defiant and get angry and take the bull by the horns etc, are few and far between in YA.

However engaging I found The Replacement it wasn't completely engrossing, I wasn't compelled to read it in one sitting and it took me about a week to finish. Overall it was an entertaining read, a great story of a small town packed with secrets and mystery.

by Carrie Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy to read fantasy, 30 May 2012
This review is from: Need (Paperback)
The first thing I loved about reading Need was the length - it was short, snappy and to the point, it had one of those very focused plots that make it easy to get into and to finish. Another great stylistic feature was how each chapter was titled with a phobia that related to what is happening in the story - I really loved that.

Initially I found myself thinking that Need had a very `samey' storyline. It's about a girl who moves to a small, cold town where she misses the heat. She starts a new school where everyone already knows her because it's a small town. And two guys immediately like her - Sound familiar to anyone? Once the storyline got going it was different, I liked that once things started unravelling the pace picked up and continued to move fast. I hate when as a reader you know what the mysterious man is, a pixie, yet you have to wait 100 - 200 pages for the main character to figure it out and accept it. Not with Need, I think it was around the fifty page mark where she first hears about pixies, which was pretty refreshing.

As for the main character, I feel very conflicted about Zara, I liked her narration, it was very easy to read and I loved how passionate Zara was about Amnesty International but at certain points I found that her passion was kind of a token gesture. However I really loved that Zara was good at running and was actually looking forward to P.E. This is so unlike me but I found it refreshing because sometimes you wonder if authors are just writing characters that are more like their readers - bookish, uncoordinated girls like myself.

As for other characters I was very fond of Nick with his hero complex and constant need to protect others. However I wasn't too keen on Issie and Devyn. I liked Issie but she just seemed a little bit... unrealistic? I can't describe it, she was like a child on a constant sugar rush, the kind of person I've only seen in books. However she was kind of on the periphery and not very involved in the plot. She didn't get a lot of page time that would have allowed her character to be show cased better and more developed. I think she may grow on me after learning more about her character/background.

As for Devyn, I was glad to see a character in a wheelchair, I hate how under represented such characters are. However I just really disliked his character - one time Zara is rambling on about Amnesty International, he covers her mouth to shut her up and won't take it away until she agrees to stop. I had to try and refrain from throwing the book against the wall because this made me want to slap him. The thing that upset me most was that Zara thinks that it's okay. He also did this, or variations of this, to Issie, and it just frustrates me because it is not acceptable. This is even more frustrating since if it was a girl doing it to a guy he'd have a go at her but no, we females have got to sit there and listen to these alpha males apparently. Also the supreme irony of Devyn shutting Zara up about Amnesty, an organisation all about the freedom of speech.

While Need isn't my all time favourites series I think it is a simplistic, easy, fantasy series and is perfect for fans of fantasy or those first trying out the genre.

Forbidden Game Bind-up: The Hunter; The Chase; The Kill
Forbidden Game Bind-up: The Hunter; The Chase; The Kill
by L. J. Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three times the fun with this great easy read, 30 May 2012
I first read Dark Visions, another three - in - one book by L.J. Smith; and thoroughly enjoyed it. I went in search for more and found this great book. The Forbidden Game is about a girl, Jenny, who buys a board game from a very creepy shop and whilst playing with her friends they become trapped in the game - pandemonium and adventure ensues.

I love L.J. Smith's writing and the three part style of this series in one easy to read bind up. This allows the story to have a more complicated and in depth plot, but without the waiting for other books and it's always nice when after finishing one section you can go straight onto the next part - Which you will definitely want to do!

My favourite of the three was 'The Hunter', maybe because it introduced the characters and starts the story's ball rolling, showing the beginnings of this big adventure for this group of teenagers. The concept of creating people's nightmares into reality was intriguing even though it scared me at the thought of it, inside of the board game there were many scary scenes that kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat.

The story progressed steadily with this complex intertwining plot - even in the last part it still incorporated previous developments and events from the other two parts. To begin with the characters got on my nerves for falling into the obvious traps - Why play the creepy board game? Have you not seen any horror movies? - but by the last part, after learning more and seeing them suffer through the different trials and tribulations I couldn't help but admire their bravery and like them.

I also liked how the characters developed when dealing with what they'd learnt and seen within the game, this aspect - the aftermath - is something you don't always see so it was interesting how character grappled with this knowledge, without being able to tell anyone else for they could potentially be seen as insane.

The strangest thing about the book was when L.J. Smith was describing some things, such as how attractive Julian was, it didn't really work for me and other descriptive aspects of the story so I had to repeat, "Imagine you're in 1994" to myself and guys with ponytails and leather pants are the in thing.

Three times the fun with this great easy read.

by Megan Miranda
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A simply great standalone, 30 May 2012
This review is from: Fracture (Paperback)
Just one quick little rant that I have before I start the review - Delaney and Decker? I mean what were their parents smoking when they named their children? I know these aren't the weirdest names that YA fiction has to offer but maybe that's because they are American names, ones which I'm not used to.

Fracture is just one of those books that sends chills up your spine. I was describing certain scenes to my sister and it just gave me that thrilling feeling. One scene that literally gave me goosebumps was Delaney describing how many minutes she was underwater and also when they talk about your knowledge due to where you live - One thing people from Maine can do? Rescue people who have fallen through the ice.

Fracture as a concept was a good one, it's one where you don't know what to expect, will it be paranormal? psychological? I liked that it leant both ways making you question everything that Delaney was thinking. It was an incredibly short, conciese read that went by without you realising. I love that there were some more creepy/ eerie moments due to Delaney's 'power' or attraction to those who are dying, those scenes had a scary feel, but in a good way.

I also felt that the plot kind of stopped and started, the pace slowing and then speeding up suddenly. It made it hard to get used to but then it set the tone for those sections; such as the slower section were normally the creepy ones that just added to the suspense.

Fracture is a great standalone that'll you'll find simple, enjoyable but utterly thrilling.

by Jennifer Donnelly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Read!, 30 May 2012
This review is from: Revolution (Paperback)
Revolution is something special. Something else. Not only was it completely different from what I was expecting it to be but the story also surpassed my expectations considerably.

I loved the writing style, it's incredibly unique and enthralling and I found that Andi's narrative voice was a darker cross between Juno and Olive Penderghast - both of whom I love. Along this line there were some great word play used throughout the story, all of which I found hilarious, such as Boredoisie, the Shamptons and many to do with Vijay's mum - Vietmom, Atom mom, Momsoon, Momshell, Flesh eating Mombie - the list goes on!

Speaking of Vijay's mum there was also great secondary characters that seemed realistic and essential to the enjoyment of the story, who although you didn't see character development added an extra dimension to the plot. My favourites were Vijay's mum and Jimmy Shoes.

The majority of the book is set in Paris, I loved how it was presented through Andi's eyes; as someone who could speak fluent French and immersed herself in the artist culture of the city. (This aspect was probably enhanced because whilst I was reading it the French elections were going on and the day I finished it was the day Francois Hollande won) I also found it hilarious the frequent references to striking. In Paris she meets Virgil, a French rap artist; I loved his relationship with Andi, especially their phones calls. Its gradual progression made it sweet and endearing and also I loved the emphasis that having a romantic relationship with someone is so much more than making out or sleeping with them. Whilst there was this relationship it definitely was not one of the key parts to the story and its understated nature made me appreciate it more.

A major part of the plot was Andi and her obsession with music, especially Amadé Malherbeau. I loved her passionate reverence for it and you could tell how much she truly appreciated it. There's nothing I hate more then when a character apparently has some hobby or favourite thing yet it is never shown. Not Andi - her fervent and fanatical love for music was apparent, "Because there's nothing I love more than a good, freaky tritone," and how she used music as an escape, like most people do, using it as a coping mechanism. The music helped her get by, "One note at a time,"

Another thing I loved was that Revolution had a great balance between light and dark in both plot and humour. Whilst the plot has many dark sides - Andi's brother has died and she has gained another obsession, a dead girl's diary from the French Revolution - but this only enhanced Andi's journey for me. I couldn't help but feel compelled to hope the best for her whilst Donnelly presented her hardships in one of the best manners I've ever seen. Andi's pain felt tangible and real - the realist pain, anger and heartache I've read in a long time.

I would say now, something I know I didn't expect and some might find off putting, Andi travels back in time to the French revolution. We, as readers, never know if this was real or was just in Andi's drugged mind but I think that's important to know if you are going to read this story. I found myself enjoying this part of the story. It is an incredibly interesting period of history that I'd love to learn more about. Going back in time emphasised Andi's relationship with Alexandrine, the girl from the diary. This regression or vision helped Andi move forwards and with it gained an insight into all that she was suffering from - I loved the message and moral of the story. Also the balance between present day and the historical part of the novel was very well executed and you didn't feel like you had too much of either.

How to sum up Revolution? It made me laugh, cry and left me smiling and feeling grateful that I took the time to read this. Revolution is a brilliant and worthwhile read that I believe has something for everyone.

Graceling: 1
Graceling: 1
by Kristin Cashore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Fantasy, 30 May 2012
This review is from: Graceling: 1 (Paperback)
It's been an incredibly long time since I've read a high fantasy, especially a good one. With high fantasy I think there is a fine line between it becoming overly complex and difficult to read to being an utterly fantastic and intricately woven story - thankfully Graceling falls into the latter.

With the release of Bitterblue (the final instalment of this series, released in May this year) I've been hearing a lot of great things about this trilogy and I wasn't let down. What surprised me reading Graceling was that this was Kristen Cashore's debut! It astounded me that such a complex story, with excellent world building was her first published work.

Katsa was amazing - a strong, resilient character battling with the darker power of her grace - the ability to kill and injure so easily. Her strength was incredibly empowering not just physically but mentally, when she stands up to those who have been pushing her down and her continuation in the face of so many trials and tribulations made me admire her immensely. She was also a no nonsense sort of character who knew what she was capable of. Katsa's power and strength came from her self - awareness, she knew she didn't need anyone to do the things she could do for herself.

The concept of Graces was incredibly interested, something that gives a person a super ability made me wish I had one. I also loved how the identifier between those with Graces and those without were having two different coloured eyes, an image that makes that person seem striking and unique.

Another big positive I have for Graceling is the pacing and speed at which the plot progressed, it was fantastic and there were no pointless `filler' scenes, nothing was included that wasn't necessary which made me appreciate the narration. The narrative style as a whole was excellent; the third person narration from Katsa's perspective allowed Cashore to have showcase a great social commentary of the time in which Graceling is set; such as how girls, the most vulnerable at the time, were taught nothing in self - defence. The plot was complex without being overwhelming, it was incredibly nuanced with so many twists and turns that I didn't see coming - which I always love.

Now for Po (I may or may not be a little in love with him) his character was just warm and welcoming and his relationship with Katsa, and it's development, was beautiful - I also loved how this was given the time it needed in the story without completely taking it over. I also loved Raffin, Bitterblue, Oll - almost everyone, they had such great characterization and development that made them seem real.

Graceling was also genuinely funny, none of those forced jokes that you feel were put in amidst all the troubles that the characters are going through. The funny scenes and jokes that were used felt natural and legitimately hilarious.

However it did take me a little while to get into it (I even took notes to begin with, of the information we were given, so I wouldn't get confused!) but once you get into it, Graceling will amaze you. I loved the ending, it was finite yet open and hopeful and I will definitely be reading Fire as soon as I can!

I'd recommend Graceling to anyone who loves a good fantasy story or anyone whose loves great writing, characters and a plot that'll keep you guessing.

Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem (Penguin Modern Classics)
Death of a Salesman: Certain Private Conversations in Two Acts and a Requiem (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Arthur Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A poignant look at the futility of the American Dream, 10 May 2012
Well I read this play for my English Literature class. Our unit was simply titled `Tragedy' and that pretty much sums up the play in a single word. It is one of those titles that is definitely what it says on the tin.

Death of a Salesman is a play about Willy Loman, a failing and aging salesman who cannot come to terms that he is not the man he used to be. The plays shows us Willy's emotional breakdown through flashback which blur his perception of reality and memories. It also talks about his family - his wife Linda and her struggle to keep Willy happy and of their two sons Biff and (I'm not making this up) Happy.

First off let's just congratulate Arthur Miller for picking two great names for Willy's children. I know Happy is just a nickname but it is the one which his lines are referred to as. That's probably the only funny thing in the play and also an ironic device used to show how Happy actually isn't happy and all that jazz.

I really loved Death of a Salesman, it is incredibly short yet powerful and moving. Arthur Miller makes us question what truly makes us happy. Do we appreciate the great things in life like family? Or are we, like Willy, still obcessed with achieving the American Dream.

A communist at heart Miller hated the American Dream and used this play to highlight how destructive and futile the capitalist dream is and how capitalist society uses and abuses people before throwing them away without a second glance. However some people still say that it is a worthy or even achievable goal. I say read Death of a Salesman followed by The Great Gatsby and Of Mice and Men and then see whether you still believe and aspire to the dream. Miller also wanted to show how the common man could be considered a tragic hero which went against previous classic conceptions, first stated by Aristotle.

Death of a Salesman received criticism for this harsh outlook on such a patriotic dream but like so many authors he spoke the truth, showing the world, and our capitalist society, for what it truly is - brutal and uncaring.

Willy struggles to hold onto his sanity while battling the memories of his past that continue to plague him. We see how he has continually believed in the dream at the expense of so much - his happiness with Linda, his influence on Happy and Biff that they must be rich to succeed and so much more.

I would definitely recommend everyone to pick up and read a copy of Death of a Salesman - it is an incredibly story of love, loss and misguided dreams.

Take Me There
Take Me There
by Susane Colasanti
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Captivating Contemporary, 7 May 2012
This review is from: Take Me There (Paperback)
Question: Why haven't I read a Susane Colasanti book before now? (A little reference for all of y'all who haven't read this yet - P.S. Go read it now!)

Everything about Take Me There ticks all my boxes, alternative perspectives, realistic characters and wonderful writing. It's moreish and addictive and I think a perfect example of a great contemporary book. Contemporary in general is underestimated. I, like many people am guilty of underestimating it but when something like Take Me There comes along it just changes my whole perspective on the genre.

Take Me There is a far cry from most contemporary books I have read, I loved that it was set in New York which gave it a distinctly different feel (I'm sorry to say I'm a little bit bored of small towns) and I cannot recall reading one a contemporary that has been set in there.

As I mentioned before the book has alternating perspective, which is one of my favourite things, I love hearing from both sides of the story, but what was more unique about Take Me There was that it was set over one week with each character going through what happened on those days. You may be thinking that that isn't all too interesting or might slow the plot down - it doesn't, it fills in all the blanks right at the very last minute. I found myself devouring Take Me There all in one sitting. Also aesthetics wise I loved how each character's section had a different font and had a symbol, reflective of them, that was used instead of an asterisk, small style details such as this just enhance your experience as a reader.

One of the greatest things about this book is the realistic teenage voice, all three teenagers , Nicole, Rhiannon and James, had unique styles but also how the writing was less like prose and more like normal speech. I know that some people find that to be a turn off but, like I usually do, but this was different and more subtle than usual. Just little things like the characters saying `she was like' so it felt more like they were telling you the story not filtered to sound totally out of character.

Despite them sounding more like real teenagers they didn't lose some of the profoundness that characters normally have in YA, that you question to be only the writer's imaginings of teenagers - I myself hate when teenagers are dumbed down because people think they wouldn't be capable of creating a well thought out arguments or questioning more important things than the latest goings on in their favourite celebrity's life. So the look on karmic retribution was something I found really interesting; we've all wished `what comes around goes around' to be true towards our enemies.

Like I said before Take Me There is just incredibly realistic, Eames academy, their school, with it's beat up feel, lack of chairs and money for photocopies felt real and more plausible than most high school used in YA that seem only to serve as a setting in which the writer can place their characters, not much thought is usually put into it's description. Also I loved that the characters talked about and interacted with other students - another incredibly annoying thing that happens in YA is how the main protagonist only ever speaks to either one or maybe two other people. This made these secondary characters seem more than just plot devices - I found myself cheering for Danny or thinking how we all know a Jackson or a Gloria.

So I cannot stress how authentic all these touches made these characters and it was this believability that made it so enjoyable, it made me hopeful for the characters and really care what happened to them; a thoroughly realistic and enjoyable standalone that is definitely worth the read.

So in conclusion,
Question: What are you waiting for? Go read Take Me There right now!

by R J Anderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Psychological Sci - fi, 6 May 2012
This review is from: Ultraviolet (Paperback)
As I've been trying to write this review I've found it hard to put into words what my opinion of Ultraviolet was. I just feel incredibly mixed. I'd wanted to read it for quite a long time and felt it sounded incredibly interesting and unique, I mean `Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her.' How more enticing can you get?

I loved the concept and thought the writing was brilliant, Alison has a very rare condition, called synesthesia, where she can taste sounds and hear emotions and so much more. It was an incredibly unique description tool that enabled you to not only picture what was happening even more clearly than usual description but it gave you a better insight into Alison's mind. I loved that and I also loved the internal struggle Alison was having, wondering whether she deserved to be in the mental institute and whether she was truly insane.

I always have a hard time reading stories where a character is sectioned or accused of being insane, or if they are forced to undergo treatment and take medication - I feel incredibly defensive for that character (I'm always in the frame of mind that they're sane. But once I'd got over this I was enjoying where the story was going.

Then the twist happened, it wasn't that it was a bad twist it was just not what I was expecting, it was a very abrupt and violent swerve in a completely different direction from the rest of the book. So I think anyone who is potentially thinking about reading what sounds like a thrilling physiological tale, I'd say yes it is but then it turns more sci - fi than physiological.

However I loved, loved, loved! (that's how much) that Ultraviolet didn't have a huge romantic story arc. Don't get me wrong, I love a good romance, but it seems every single book that is released in YA has a romance (or heaven forbid a love triangle! I don't mind them but think they are terribly overdone) no matter what the subject of the story is there is some big chunk dedicated to this romance. While Alison does have what could be called a `love interest' it is the smallest part of the storyline and this always gives me a little glimmer of hope.

Despite the twist I loved the ending, it was very open and I always favour those kind of endings to the ones where everything is finite.

Overall I'd say I found it distinctive and unlike anything I've ever read, I'd even just say read it for the insight it gives you into synesthesia which is fascinating, and the highlighting of mental illness. I'd say be warned of the extreme twist but definitely give it a try.

The White Cat (Curse Workers, Book 1)
The White Cat (Curse Workers, Book 1)
by Holly Black
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A unique and enthralling read, 6 May 2012
The Curse Worker trilogy has just recently finished with the April release of the final instalment, Black Heart. I had seen many people say great things about the series but it was just one of those that I never got round to reading.

White Cat was definitely not what I expected, reading the blurb or hearing summaries using the word `magic' does not really capture what this story is about, it's more to do with curses, ones that can potentially back fire. What was really interesting was how it changed society - to perform curse work you have to touch someone with your bare hands and therefore everyone goes around wearing gloves and it's seen as taboo to have bare hands - that was a really interesting concept. I found it to be an incredibly new take on magic in general, I liked that they couldn't just get away with doing these evil things without having something happen to them in return - Karmic retribution if you will.

I also really loved that it's set in our world but with an alternative history - everything is the same as our world but with curse workers, all the historical events happened such as the Wall Street Crash in 1929 but also the ban on curse working; which as a history nerd I found to be a really cool idea. I also loved that it's kind of has a mafia/ old school gangster feel going on with families and initiations and big parties and also organized crime and killings - it was fascinating and not something I've ever read before.

However it took quite some time to get into White Cat, I can't explain why but it wasn't one of those books that I had to devour all in one sitting. I think the story took quite some time to develop and to pick up speed. I loved the ending, the twist was great and I did not expect it! 100 points to Holly Black for being completely sneaky. I loved the double - crossing kind of aspect of the plot and how you don't really know whose on which side.

As for the characters I loved all the `evil' ones! It's so very rare in YA that you get believable `villains' that have done legitimately bad things, instead of nasty blonde popular girls saying horrible things it was murder, so I really loved all the characters that were involved in the darker side of the family and all of it's dodgy dealings. Cassel seemed very believable I liked how he was struggling to be an outsider, how he learnt about himself throughout the story and realised that he wasn't actually who he thought he was in more ways than one. My favourite discovery was that he thought he was an amazing con - artist and liar and I found it really intriguing to see him trying to discover if he truly was and whether he wanted to be. Also he kind of wrestled with the idea of what was right and wrong about that, especially since from a young age - lying and stealing and all things that are traditionally seen as morally corrupt were the norm to him.

I liked White Cat and would definitely recommend it to anyone who, like me, hasn't gotten around to reading it - it is a truly unique read. I'm definitely going to give Red Glove, the second in the trilogy, a shot as soon as I can get my hands on it.

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