Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Fire Country by David Estes

Fadeout by Christina J Adams

Will I continue reading this series:
Still Undecided

"In a changed world where the sky bleeds red, winter is hotter than hell and full of sandstorms, and summer's even hotter with raging fires that roam the desert-like country, the Heaters manage to survive, barely."

I received this book for free in return my honest review. As soon as I read the synopsis for Fire Country I had a feeling it was going to be completely unlike anything I had ever read before, and on uniqueness it did not disappoint. From the dystopian world all the way down to a whole new slew of slang, Fire country has you on your toes from page one.
Siena is the 15 year old daughter of Roan, the next in line to be Head Greynote, leader of her people. Her father is cold and ruthless and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Even if it means sacrificing everyone who gets in his way, Siena included. She is also just moths away from turning 16 and becoming what all the female heaters do, a bearer. As a bearer it will be her duty to help keep the ever dwindling population alive by having one child every three years with whomever is chosen to be her call. 

Siena follows the laws of her people without question because for as long as she can remember she has been taught to obey the laws, to do what is for the greater good of her people because it is the only way they can survive. But as the book progresses Siena is forced to look more deeply not only at herself, but everyone around her and starts to question if anything she has been lead to believe is true at all.
While at first I found the dialect and obscure terms used in Fire Country to be confusing and a little hard to read, it wasn't long before I got the hang of it all and found it actually fit in really well with the tone of the story. I loved the way Siena would randomly have imaginary conversations with herself or inanimate objects too. I don't really know why, I guess there is just something funny about a scene where a girl has a conversation with what is essentially a cactus.

I loved how both Siena and Circ were written, especially how their friendship blossoms into something more throughout the story without either of them realising exactly when they made the transition from best friends to so much more.
I thought for the most part the storyline was really well paced and held plenty of twists and turns to keep me turning page after page to find out what was happening next. Including one twist that came so completely out of nowhere I literally had no idea it was coming and immediately both hated to keep reading because of it, but just had to keep reading because of it too. And for anyone who has read Fire Country, I'm sure you know exactly which part I am talking about.
There were a couple of downsides for me though, first being the lack of description of the world. I would have loved to know more about what had happened to the world that it got to how it was,or about the world in general. I found myself and a few different points not quite understanding what the animal or thing was in front of her because it just wasn't explained. But most importantly I would have loved to know why they only lived to 30 or so before dyeing. You are told they get sick from constantly breathing in the heat etc. but I found myself wondering why? What exactly was it about the air that caused them all to get sick?

Also, and this one is purely just me being picky, but I couldn't help but cringe at the names for each race. Fire country where it's always hot, Ice country where it's always cold, Glass People live in their glass bubble. I just found it a little bit too cliche. But not enough to stop me from reading, just enough for me to kind of roll my eyes a little and giggle and then move on.

My final general spoiler free gripe would have to be that it felt like the ending was a little bit too rushed and too perfect. I felt like the entire book had been well thought out and detailed and then all of a sudden the whole ending was packed into one nice neat little package with a big red bow on top.

Okay first and foremost, the part where Circ dies, oh my... wow! I was literally gasping thinking NO! And then the eternal optimist in me was screaming no she didn't see the body maybe he's not dead, boy was I so glad that I was right on that one!

The end battle really had me confused. Not the actual scene, but what the point of it was. I mean I understand the whole tribe is of just women and they go to help the heaters only because they know that without them there is no future generation for them, and then the marked men show up. Call me crazy but I'm pretty sure it would have been way easier for them all to just walk away from the heaters and let them rot. One tribe of all women and another of all men would make for plenty of future generation in my book!

I really disliked the part where Siena's father dies. Not because he died, but because it just seemed so anti climactic. There was no big fight scene where she gets to stand up to him and beat him, there is a just a scene where for some reason you are never told he is on his deathbed and deciding to tell her Circ is still alive. I found it really un satisfying as an ending to that part of the story. 

I wasn't a big fan of how Circ is brought back into it. I just felt like it could have been more detailed, more believable than he agreed to fake his death and work out at confinement to save her life. I mean the town wasn't that big, surely the next time anyone was in confinement and went back to town they'd be able to mention that the dead guy was not in fact dead.

To sum up, I thought it was a great story line, the characters were fantastic and the twists and turns of the plot line up until the very end were anything but predictable. With the exception of the ending being a little rushed and too tidy I thought it was a really great read and definitely deserving of my 3.5 heart review.

I'm still undecided on whether or not I will continue reading the series, not because I didn't enjoy the first book but because the first book was finished so neatly I just don't have a reason to pick up the next book. There was no cliffhanger or big drama at the end of the first book that would usually guarantee me picking up the second to find out what happened next. The ending of book one felt almost like the ending of a stand alone novel so I almost feel like I could not read the rest of the series and it wouldn't be too horrible. But of course as always, you never know what will happen in a few months time, I may catch myself wondering exactly what will happen to Sienna next and reaching for book number two.


Sunday, 11 August 2013

The best type of distraction!

Okay so I had another review planned a couple of weeks ago and then in true book addict fashion I got well and truly sidetracked by a new book series. And by sidetracked I mean someone please help me I need an intervention because I can't keep going to sleep at 4am! just a little distracted.

What has gotten me so sidetracked? The absolutely fantastic Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost

Friday, 26 July 2013

Behind the Scenes...

I'll be doing some behind the scenes work on the blog today so please bare with me while posts disappear and re appear and things change a little. Stay tuned later this week for another review or maybe two!


Saturday, 20 July 2013

Fadeout by Christina J Adams

Fadeout by Christina J Adams
Will I continue reading this series:

"Thirteen-year-old Silas fears the day when guards come and remove his memories leaving him an empty shell. He is trapped in the Cartiam, a human farm, and knows escape is not possible, but he can’t stop thinking about it."

As a child I used to love watching movies; any type, I loved them all. But I had a rule, no movies under 90 minutes. I'm not sure where I came up with this rule but somewhere along the way I decided that any movie that was less than 90 minutes long would be awful and I was usually right. I have a similar rule for books. No books under 250 pages; anything less is probably going to end up being a rushed, under detailed mess, and I'm usually right on that too. So when I was given a free copy of Fadeout to review and saw that it was only 126 pages long I instantly had reservations. But I'm very happy to confess that Fadeout is most definitely a new exception to the rule.

From the moment you start reading you are sucked in to the world of Silas, a 13 year old boy struggling to live in a world where his people the Carillians (cars) are the lowest of the low. From birth they are told they aren't even people, their only value in life is how much money can be made from their memories when they are literally sucked from their brains leaving them empty walking shells. They live at the Cartiam, the human farm, in fear of one rule: stay in line or go to the machine.

Jamar, the spoilt only child of the Cartiam owner is sick of being pushed around by other children his age and ignored by his father. As a Tirean he knows he is above all the other races and longs for the respect his breeding deserves and the love his father never shows him. When he arrives at the Cartiam with his father Jamar hand picks Silas to be his personal entertainment, someone he can boss around who has no choice but to do everything he says, someone he thinks is too stupid to ever be anything but a plaything. But as he spends more time with Silas, Jamar comes to realise that there is more to the Carillian than he was made to believe and this makes him question not only himself but everything about his way of life. 

Where do I begin, I can honestly say I loved almost everything about this book. I thought the storyline was unique and really well thought out. It was nothing I've ever seen before and from the very beginning I found myself turning page after page wanting to know more about the world, what was happening and where everyone fit in. This was one of those books where once you start reading you can't put it down until it is finished.

I thought that both Silas and Jamar were written really well but Jamar would have to be my favorite character from this book. I love the way he begins as the typical spoilt child thinking he deserves the world. At first you find yourself feeling sorry for him because he's been brought up to believe the lies his people have taught him and the most important thing in his mind is people respecting him. Then as the book progresses you see him struggling between wanting his fathers love and doing what he is coming to believe is right. From start to finish Jamar has you sucked in and hoping he'll end up being the good guy.

The only negative I have for this book is that I would have loved some of the story and back stories to have gone into more detail. I would have loved to see more of Silas and Malina's history together, how exactly she protected him as the synopsis mentions. Similarly I would have loved to have learned more about Jamar and his family. Why wasn't he with his mother instead of traveling with his father or why his mother thought everyone was beneath her. I also would have liked to hear more about the world like how e-mems are actually used for energy or what the process was for the upper classes to receive their medallions and what the point of them was besides just as a badge of honor for those who did well. 

I thought the ending was a little rushed but it was fantastic. Malina on the machine literally had me gasping and hoping Jamar would step up and intervene. When Jamar finally realises his mistake and breaks Silas and Malina out I love the way that he and Silas go from tentative friends to enemies because Jamar is so desperate for someone to want him that he mistakes Silas' self loathing for rejection and it pushes him over the edge. I would have liked to have seen more of an argument escalate between them though before he went from helpful to I'm going to kill you, but that is just me being picky.

All in all I think Fadeout was a really enthralling read. It had me riveted from start to finish and left me wanting more when it was over. Book two will definitely be on my "to read" list. 

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Will I continue reading this series:

Yes, Absolutely!

"The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…"

Okay I have a confession to make. I am not a fan of books written in this time period (unless they were literally written in this time period). No that isn't even accurate, I would almost go as far as to say I hate them, almost. I really dislike the "helpless damsel" main character, but even more so I hate characters that are too strong, outspoken and unrealistic to the time period. So when I read the above line at the start of this book's blurb I held about as much hope of enjoying it as I do for Orlando Bloom to come knocking on my door so we can run away together.

Imagine my surprise when I found myself not only liking it but loving it. Okay yes, it took a little while to get there, at the 75 - 80 page mark I remember hoping it would get more interesting because I found myself struggling through the pages. But before I knew it I was turning page after page eager to know what would happen next. So like a few other books that shall not be named, Something Strange and Deadly has fallen victim to what I like to call "The Little Engine That Could Syndrome" but it is well worth sticking with until the end.

Since my last review was pretty much all negatives I think I'll start this review off with some positives. First and my absolute favorite positive for this book, it is not based almost entirely on a love story. More importantly there is no ridiculously over done love triangle to be seen. Don't get me wrong, I love a good love triangle as much as the next girl but there is only so many times you can read the same old thing before you can just about quote it. It was refreshing to find a story that had enough going on to keep me reading without having to rely on the love triangle cliche. Their was two boys in Eleanor's life but it is established fairly quickly that she is not at all interested in one, and it wasn't until the very end she finally figures out that she might have more than just friendship in mind for the other. Even then, there is none of the ridiculous falling madly and completely in love with the boy you've just met, it is much more believable.

I also really enjoyed how Eleanor's character was written and how she grows throughout her journey in the story. In the beginning she is exactly how you would imagine a girl in the 1870's to be but with her own flair. Right from the beginning you can tell how much she longs to be free of her role in the world, even before she realises herself. By the end of the story she has well and truly broken the mold of the "proper young lady" and is well on her way to becoming a head strong, independent young woman. I am very much looking forward to seeing how her character grows in the rest of the series.

In general I really liked the storyline. It was a nice break from the over done girl doesn't realise she is really a vampire/werewolf/hybrid/some other super awesome superstar and then she miraculously is perfect at everything. I like that for the majority of the story Eleanor is simply a normal girl trying to figure out her place in the world and struggling to keep her family afloat while she does whatever is in her power to find and save her brother. It isn't until right near the end it occurs to her that she might have a bigger part to play than she first imagined.

I actually only have one big negative for this story and the rest are little nit picky things that aren't really that important, but enough for me to be hesitant in giving Something Strange and Deadly a 5 heart review. My one big negative is that the world building was a little lacking and at some points really confusing. I really love stories that paint the environment so well that you feel like you are really there. Unfortunately Something Strange and Deadly falls short and on more than one occasion I found myself re reading a passage 3 or 4 times and still not understanding what I was meant to be "looking at".

The same went for the character descriptions, I found that even towards the end of the book I still had no clue what some of the characters looked like and was forced to come up with my own ideas. While I'm not totally against leaving something to the reader's imagination I think there needs to be at least something to work with.


Okay the nit picky things I mentioned earlier are hard to get in to without a few spoilers but I'll try my best to keep them not too detailed.

Firstly, there were a couple of parts to the story line that were very predictable. I think it was about page 3 or 4 and I already knew that Elijah was the necromancer. The moment one of the zombies (controlled by the necromancer) handed Eleanor the note from her brother it was obvious. And the fact that no one, not even the Spirit - Hunters could figure that out sort of annoyed me. 

Similarly I didn't like that when in one scene a couple of boys mention knowing Elijah from school and she automatically questions if they were the bullies that made his life hell only to figure out that the boys were in the next year below her brother not above like his bullies. Yet only a few chapters later when Clarence lets slip that he lied about knowing Elijah and is acting guilty and fumbling over the fact that he was a year ahead of Elijah, Eleanor simply brushes it off without a second thought. Not surprisingly you find out later that Clarence was one of the bullies.

The last little nit picky negative was during the scene where zombies first attack Eleanor, Daniel, Joseph and Jie. Not only does Eleanor not faint at the sight of a zombie attack (which less face it, any woman wearing a corset who was just running should have, regardless of how bad ass they are about zombies) but she manages to bust out some zombie killing moves right away despite not having any experience. I found that a little bit too convenient.

Okay this last one isn't a negative but since it contained spoilers I had to put it here. I absolutely love, love, LOVED the last chapter. When I read that they amputated her hand I thought it was a fantastic twist and all I could think of was all the interesting ways it will come up in the next book. I loved that Eleanor chooses to stay at home and "face the music" so to speak instead of running away and leaving her mother alone. I can't wait to see what the repercussions of her actions will be in the next book. I'm really curious also to see how Eleanor's relationship grows with Mary in the next book now that she is breaking away from her role as a lady, I predict Mary joining Eleanor and the two becoming close friends. And the way things were left between Eleanor and Daniel was perfect! No admissions of undying love, even a denial of love, but you just know it's not the end to their story. I loved it!

All in all I think Something Strange and Deadly is definitely worth reading, and although there were a few negatives the positives greatly out weigh them so I'd say it's very deserving of the 4.5 hearts I've given it. Book two in the series is on my list of books to look out for and I can't wait to see where the story will go to next. 

Have you read Something Strange and Deadly? If you have I'd love to hear what you thought of it! 

Also, since I've officially decided that maybe not all books set in this time period are all bad it got me to thinking what other books similar to this are out there that I might enjoy? If you have a suggestion let me know!