Books reviews: Red Queen, Thirteen Reasons Why and The One Memory of Flora Banks.

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Publication: 10th February  2015 by HarperTeen
Genre: YAFantasy.

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge –  A book where one of the main characters is royalty.


This is a book that you’ve read before. Many times. It’s just a mash up of lots of popular books. This left it being highly predictable and, for me, disappointing.

There are Reds and Silvers. Silvers have special powers (think X-Men) and therefore rule the Reds and send them off to war at 17 to fight their battles. Throughout the book, the Reds do very little escape their living state.

And then Mare comes along. Like most YA heroines,  she is the reckless Saviour, who is unlike all the others and powers. Again, think any YA heroine, she is also sassy but makes silly choices. When she gets two love interests come along she thinks about them both obsessively. On the bright side, the love triangle isn’t dominating of the book.

I loved Queen Elara. Manipulative, ruthless and malicious, she was something fresh in the book as she provided twists. Although, again, the character was a lot like Cersei from Game of Thrones as she had a fierce love for her children and was ruthless in getting them, and herself, power.

For me, the major saving grace of this book was the ending.

I know lots of people loved this book and they can get over the fact that it’s basically a mash up of other books because they get investing in the characters but for me it was too similar to other books, making it predictable and lacking in originality.

3-stars

Thirteen Reasons Why

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Series: N/A
Publication: 18th October 2007 by Razorbill
Genre: YA

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – An epistolary fiction


Wow.

I read this book just after the TV series had been released on Netflix. I went in knowing nothing other than it was about suicide. I was completely hooked.

This is Hannah’s story, even though she has already killed herself. Before she committed suicide, she recorded 13 cassette tapes which are passed on to 13 people to say how they had an impact her decision to end her life.

I was so captivated by what Hannah was saying. It was just so eerie and powerful. I sped read Clay’s bits, as really he was just a mediator as he listens to the tapes, just so I could listen to what she was saying.

Whether you like the book or not, it still has a powerful message which really makes you think about how our words and actions have an impact on other’s lives.

5-stars

The One Memory of Flora Banks

Title: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Series: N/A
Publication: 12th January 2017 by Penguin
Genre: YA

Around the World in 52 Books Challenge – A book written or set in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland)


This review contains some minor spoilers

I received a few chapters of this book in one of my Illumicrate boxes. Then I started seeing it everywhere. So when it came down to being 99p on kindle, I had to buy it. I’m glad it was only 99p.

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day, and writes things on her arm to help her remember. Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t have and the next day she begins remembering things for the first time since she was ten. Then the boy is gone. She thinks he’s moved to the Arctic…

I haven’t read many books about anterograde amnesia but all the ones I have read have the same “twist” that someone is not telling them something. So when the twist came up, it wasn’t a surprise, it was a groan that emerged from me.

This whole book just screamed unbelievable to me. Not only the twist but her making her way to Norway on her own without raising any suspicion.

The one thing I did like is that the synopsis suggested that her amnesia could be cured by the kiss, but luckily (for the plot) it wasn’t.

2-stars


Have you read, or are you going to read, any of these books? What did you think?

Us by David Nicolls

Us

Title: Us
Author: David Nicolls
Series: N/A
Publication: 30th September 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Fiction.

Around the Year in 52 Book Challenge – A book with a one word title

Synopsis (Goodreads

Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen-year-old son, Albie; then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway. Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage and might even help him bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger.

My Thoughts

Us is the story of a man who likes to be in control of situations, who suddenly finds himself in one – well, more than more – that he cannot control. Connie decides that she want to end their relationship, but not until and unspecified date after their family traveling around Europe.Douglas is determined to salvage their relationship, and his one with his son.

Douglas is a scientist, a bit of a nerd and the sort of person who laminates timed itineraries.

And I do read a great deal of non-fiction, which has always seemed to me a better use of words than the made-up conversations of people who have never existed.

The book is solely narrated from Douglas’ perspective; we hear how he feels and we can see how others feel, although Douglas finds it hard to pick up on his own and other people’s emotions. This reminded me slightly of Don from The Rosie Project. Although this could be frustrating, especially as some of the things he says makes him come across as such an arse, the book was also very funny.

I was looking forward to us growing old together. Me and you, growing old and dying together.

Douglas, who in their right mind would look forward to that?

The book switches between past and present, which I love. We see how when they first met, Connie was impulsive and creative but has settled down as the years have passed. We see his relationship with his son, Albie, now and why he was younger and how much it has changed. The now was definitely my favourite, seeing all of the locations over Europe and seeing Douglas change his character in attempt to save his relationship with his family.

This really was a wonderful book to read, with a focus on love and family. It was  poignant, funny and moving. It’s definitely worth a read, and not just for women.

Mr Rating

4-stars

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

accident season.jpg

Title: The Accident Season
Author: Moira Fowley-Doyle
Series: N/A
Publication:  18th August 2015 by Corgi Children’s
Genre: YA Fiction.

52 Book Challenge category –  A book by an author you haven’t read before

Synopsis (Goodreads)

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

My Thoughts

I finished this book late at night. I’m not sure if it was my tiredness or the abstract prose but I’m not really sure how this book ended.

The story is about a girl called Cara and her family. In October, her family begin to wrap themselves up in extra clothing to protect themselves as they become more accident prone – the time they call the accident season. The book begins with Cara noticing a childhood friend, who she rarely speaks to any more – Elsie – appearing in all her pictures. Sometimes it’s her hair, others her elbow but she appears in every photo.

The book is full of a lot of strange bits, often seemingly random, about witches and mermaids. The first 3/4 of the book was quite slow, obviously building up to some twist. I almost put the book down within the first half as I found the plot to be going no where. So when I finally read the last quarter, I was confused with the explanation of the accidents and Elsie, among other things.

Due to the revelations and twists at the end of the book, it’s really hard to delve into character’s and why I liked/disliked them. I found Bea’s personality off putting. She’s a tarot  reader and has the a flare for creating strange tales. I found her tales unusual, out of place and in a few instances went on for a while. On the other hand, I really liked Alice and found her realistic.

As my first read of 2017 it was a very unusual and strange book.

My Rating

2star

My 2017 Reading Challenges

Last year I set myself some challenges. I met some of them but not all.

The ones I didn’t complete are going to be rolled over to 2017

Continued targets:

  • To read my pre-ordered books.
  • To get above 70% on NetGallery
  • To complete The Sherlock Holmes Collection

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)If I Fall, If I DieThe Complete Sherlock Holmes

My new targets:

  • To read more pages in total than the 2016 total. To beat 2014 would be brilliant!
2016 – 15,715 pages (58 books)
2015 – 13,220 pages (49 books)
2014 – 17,002 pages (51 books)

I’ve decided not to set myself a number of books challenge as otherwise I feel guilty about adding children’s picture books and making it look like I’ve read more than I have – this is why I’ve set the pages challenge!

Grimm's Fairy StoriesThe DiabolicThe Graces (The Graces, #1)Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)

So far the books I intend on reading next yearbased on the books I intend to read for the Around the Year in 52 Books, are:

  • Rebel of the Sands Alwyn Hamilton (own)
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (own)
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (own)
  • The Graces by  Laure Eve (own)
  • The Diabolic by S.J.Kincaid (own)
  • The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle (own)
  • Game of Thrones series by George R R Martin (own)
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (own)
  • Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (own)
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (own)
  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  • When God Was a Rabbit
  • The Last Falcon by Colleen Ruttan
  • Spirit of Thieves by Morgan Rhodes (own)
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (own)
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman (own)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (own)
  • Good Omens by Terry Prattchet
  • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (own)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (own)
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas (own)
  • Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson (own)
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (own)
  • The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four by Geroge Orwell
  • Happy by Derren Brown (own)
  • Vampire Academyby Richelle Mead (own)
  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler (own)
  • Dracular by Bram Stoker (own)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin  by Lionel Shriver (own)
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  • It by Stephen King
  • The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
  • Night Angel by Brent Weeks
  • The Reluctant Mage by Karen Miller
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (own)
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  •  Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (own)

What are your challenges?
Can you recommend me any books I’ll enjoy?
Which book on my list should I begin with?

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Scrappy Little Nobody

Title: Scrappy Little Nobody
Author: Anna Kendrick
Series: N/A
Publication:  15th November 2016 by Touchstone
Genre: Autobiography, Humour.

Synopsis (Goodreads)

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”

At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.

With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”

Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious)

My Thoughts

I’m not a big fan of autobiographies – having only read about 3 in total to date. I picked this one up because it was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Humour. I’m personally not a fan of the winner (Amy Schumer) so I thought I’d go the wonderful runner up.

I really enjoyed this book. It was funny, making me chuckle numerous times and audibly laugh out loud on more than one occasion.It was such an easy read, it was like having a one-sided conversation with that friend who never shuts up, before I knew it, I would be halfway through the book with the room darkening and no lights on. What was wonderful about reading it was how humble and self aware Anna Kendrick was. It wasn’t a showy “look how hard my life is” or “look how wonderful my life it” at best it was “this is how I got to where I am and I’m still completely baffled as to how I got here, please don’t send me back”.It was very frank, with parts about her laziness, anxiety, success, feats, obsessions and (sort of) sexual history.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and it may even tempt me into picking up more autobiographies in future.

My Rating

4-stars

Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern

Love, Rosie

Title: Love, Rosie.
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Series: N/A
Publication: 1st November 2004 by Harper.
Genre: Romance.

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Best friends since forever, Rosie and Alex have shared their hopes, dreams – and firsts. But one awkward moment at eighteen, one missed opportunity, and life sends them hurtling in different directions. Although they stay in touch, misunderstandings, circumstances and sheer bad luck seem to be conspiring to keep them apart. Can they gamble everything – even their friendship – on true love?

 

My Thoughts

I loved PS I Love You, it still is one of my all time favourite books that never fails to make me cry,  so this was a must buy when I saw it. This was the best book I’ve read in a long time. It had me laughing, wanting to cry and very, very happy.

Love, Rosie covers the lives of Rosie and Sam from ages 5 to 50 through a series of correspondences, mainly letters, emails, IMs and postcards. At times it was difficult to figure out who was writing, in what form, or how much time had passed. However, it meant you felt really connected to the characters, especially as there was a lot of dramatic irony, particularly when it came to Sam and Rosie.

I remained interested in the story the entire time. The writing style meant that I was hooked right from the beginning. I wanted to reach in and hit each of them a various points, or bang their heads together, for being so stupid. However, the choices they were making were so human it meant I was even more invested in the characters.

I absolutely loved this book, I read it all in one evening and wanted to re-read it straight away. I can’t wait to re-watch the film now!

My Rating

5-stars

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On

Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Series: N/A
Publication: 6th October 2015 by Macmillan Publishers
Genre: YA, Fantasy.

ARC provided by Macmillan Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

My Thoughts

This is book is something special. After being on a reading slump for a long time this book turned out to be my medicine – it contained everything that I needed; magic, mystery and lots of kissing. I was up until 1am to finish it, I just couldn’t put it down.

The book was really easy to get into. If you’ve read Rainbow’s book Fangirl you will have already have been introduced to the characters through Cath’s fanfiction of the Simon Snow books by Gemma T. Leisle in her world. That doesn’t mean you have to have read Fangirl to understand this one, as Carry On is a stand alone book written from, and by, Rainbow. In her own words…

After I finished writing Fangirl, I kept thinking about Simon and Baz and the World of Mages … I wanted to write more about them, but I didn’t want to write the full series GTL-style. And I also didn’t want to write through Cath’s hands and brain.

I wanted to explore what would do with this world and these characters.

So, even though I’m writing a book that was inspired by fictional fanfiction of a fictional series …

… I think what I’m writing now is canon.

The Simon Snow books in Cath’s world resemble the Harry Potter series but they’re not Harry Potter as her world also references Harry Potter by name. In the note at the end Rainbow says she has always loved books about Chosen Ones and that is what this book is, how she would write her own chosen one. Yes, it has a lot of ties to Harry Potter, which may frustrate a lot of people, but it also has a lot of ties to other books with the same idea at it’s core – Where are Frodo’s parent’s or most Disney princess’ parents?  There is a prophesy of a Chosen one in Star Wars  and an old guy in robes who helps him. The Worst Witch, Mildred, also attends a magical school. These ideas are not unique to just Harry Potter. There are also lots of unique qualities and the book has different themes and focuses.

The story follows Simon, a prophesied powerful saviour, and his friends. He knows his destiny is destroy the evil creature of the world, something he has been doing for years already. He’s expected to do this whilst sharing a room with Baz, his worst enemy and the one most likely to kill him.

I found the book a little slow to begin with. The blurb mentioned his room mate Baz, who was missing and we heard nothing from for the first quarter of the book. It mentioned his girlfriend breaking up with him, which took a very long time. However, when things did get moving, it was gripping. The book was written from different character’s perspectives. I personally loved Baz, finding him the most interesting character, and I really enjoyed his relationship with Simon. I loved that all his feeling were laid out from the beginning. There were some perspectives that I found less interesting, especially Agatha’s.

I thought the magic was interesting – you just have to say a common phrase to cast the spell. These were sometimes songs, book quotes or proverbs eg. Cats got your tongue. Hammer time. Be our guest. It was an interesting take something that commonly occurs in books.

I think what people like about Rowell’s books so much are her characters. She manages to write real characters with situations and emotions the reader can relate to. In this case we have Baz who is “Yes, I’m gay, I’ve known for a long time” while Simon is like “hmmm, excellent question. I’ve never really thought about it”. Their relationship was natural and wasn’t used as a plot twist in any way.

What I liked most about the book is the ending. I loved that I thought I knew who sent the Vampires half way through the book and was all set up to be disappointed that I guessed it so easily. Then BAM it wasn’t what I expected.

So, whatever you’re doing to keep us hooked, Rainbow, Carry On!

My Rating

5-stars

Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new top ten list and invite everyone to share their answers. It’s a great way to learn more about the bloggers you follow and to find lots of new books. This week’s topic is a choice one in which we can choose any topic we have missed. I have chosen “Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects.”

Adult Books

Room by Emma Donoghue – A mother and her 5 year-old child have been held captive in a room for 7 seven years.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult – About a child who was born just to undergo multiple surgeries to help her older sister fight leukemia.

PS. I Love You by – This film and book always make me bawl like a baby. About the death of her husband.

RoomMy Sister's Keeper

Teen / YA Books

Lets Get Lost by Sarra Manning – It mainly deals with grief of a close relative and the feelings of guilt. It also touches on bullying.

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma – Incest. It’s a really interesting and incredibly written book from the children’s perspective.

The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey – About death and suicide of a sibling. It also deals with grief, drugs, sex and friendship issues. (my review)

   Let's Get LostForbiddenThe Sister Pact

Children’s Books

The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside – Encourages children to share their anxieties and fears instead of hiding them away.

Harry and the Dinosaurs Go to School by Ian Whybrow – About Harry’s first day at school, he’s scared at first but ends up loving it.

Top Ten Books I’d Buy Right Now.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new top ten list and invite everyone to share their answers. It’s a great way to learn more about the bloggers you follow and to find lots of new books. This week’s topic is “Ten Books You’d Buy Right This Second If Someone Handed You A Fully Loaded Gift Card.”

Emily’s Choices

  • The new Harry Potter hardback collection with the pretty stars under the covers.
  • Hollow World by Michael J Sullivan
  • All of the Penguin Classics hardback booksDaz’s Choices
  • The Witcher Graphic Novels
  • All of the Sword Art Online books
  • The hardback versions of Terry Pratchet’s Discworld. We already have Hogfather.

Alex’s Choices

  • The Marvel Annihilation Conquest Omnibus
  • All of the Fables comics
  • Hardback collection of Game of Thrones
  • King Lear –  Oxford Classics Edition.

What would you buy?

My Top Ten Most Recent 5* Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new top ten list and invite everyone to share their answers. This week’s topic is  “Top Ten Most Recent 5* Reads”

The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr Seuss – My class LOVE Dr Seuss books.

The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside – another children’s book about not keeping your worries to yourself.

Zog, The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson – We went through a period of reading Julia Donaldson Books in class. These are some of my favourite ones.

One by Sarah Crossan – about conjoined twins who live life together, yet separately.

The Selection by Kiera Cass – My guilty pleasure.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – God, I cried!

OneThe Selection (The Selection, #1)Me Before You

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes – amazing psychological thriller.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Solitude of a Birdcage by Brielle Skye.

Into the Darkest CornerImage

Turns out I don’t give 5* very often!

Edit: Completed early this morning The Death of Dulgath by Michael J Sullivan is my first 5* of 2016!

What are your 5* books?