Saturday 26 January 2013

Review: The Back Door of Midnight by Elizabeth Chandler

Summary (from Goodreads):

Psychic...or psychotic? 

Anna knows her family is crazy. But when she goes to visit her aunt and uncle for the summer and learns that her uncle’s charred body has been found, her life reaches a new level of insanity. Her erratic aunt’s “psychic” abilities are exaggerated by her grief, and have become borderline violent. Alone in an unfamiliar town, Anna struggles to pick up the pieces and establish any sense of normalcy. She desperately wants to trust Zack, the cute boy next door, but even he might know more about the incident than he is letting on. 

But when Anna starts feeling an inexplicable pull to the site of her uncle’s murder, she begins to believe that her family’s supernatural gifts are real after all. Torn between loyalty and suspicion, Anna is certain of only one thing: she must discover who killed her uncle or she could be next....

There are different reasons for reading books, sometimes to simply appreciate the beauty of the writing, sometimes to learn something, sometimes to open your mind to new ideas... there are tons of reasons. My reason for reading this one was pretty simple, I needed an escape, all I was doing for weeks was revising and needed a book that I could read for a couple of minutes a day and feel relief, escape.

I wanted fluff. Complete and utter fluff. Nothing that would make me think too hard but also, nothing stupid, sexist or damn annoying which would make me very, very angry. The Back Door of Midnight ticked all the boxes, Chandler is a great Young Adult author and I would definitely recommend this book if you're in dire need of escape or if you just enjoy a cute book because... that's just it: The Back Door of Midnight is a cute mystery with a slightly dark feel and a touch of romance thrown in for good measure.

Anna is a likeable protagonist who goes through a lot but is still able to work through her problems with a clear head. It was a little strange how little the death of Anna's uncle affected her but if Anna was a real person, I would totally be okay with talking to her and being friends (I have now decided I'm putting female protagonists into one of two categories when I read a book, either yes, we could be friends or no, she should just remain a fictional character forever). The romance is a little underdeveloped and the love interest, Zack, is a bit of a douche if I'm being perfectly honest.

However, the plot makes up for the slightly disappointing love story, it was fun to guess who the murderer was and how all the characters were connected. It was shocking when the killer was revealed! This could be because I really wasn't thinking too much when reading The Back Door of Midnight or because I haven't had much experience in reading mysteries but whatever the reasoning behind why I was shocked, I was shocked all the same.

If I had read this book at a different time I probably would've automatically disliked The Back Door of Midnight for the lack of character development and disappointing romance however not being completely invested in the characters made putting down the book more easy to do when I really needed to revise. You would think that it would be hard to pick up the book again for the same reason but I thoroughly enjoyed the plot and the overall feel of the book is pretty original; both fluffy and dark at the same time.

In one sentence? The Back Door of Midnight is an entertaining read.

Music choice:  This is probably a very shocking pick but I think it works, The Back Door of Midnight isn't as light as this song but nevertheless, this song.. Shocked by Kylie Minogue. :) 

Saturday 19 January 2013

Review: A Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso

Summary (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Rayna sees angels, and has the medication and weekly therapy sessions to prove it. Now, in remission, Rayna starts fresh at a new school, lands a new job, and desperately tries for normalcy. She ignores signs that she may be slipping into the world she has tried so hard to climb out of. But these days, it’s more than just hallucinations that keep Rayna up at night. Students are dying, and she may be the only one who can stop it. Can she keep her job, her sanity, and her friends from dying at the hands of angels she can't admit to seeing?

It's not easy to write a YA adult book about angels that's fresh and hasn't been done many a times before and, although there were elements of originality in A Shimmer of Angels, overall there isn't a great deal about the novel that makes it stand out against all the other angel books out there.

The writing is probably the best part of A Shimmer of Angels, it's easy to read, and while it isn't amazing literature that brought be tears it is light and fitting to the genre of the book. It's the sort of writing that made me want to carry on reading and find out what happened next story line wise.

The plot is pretty different actually. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that A Shimmer of Angels didn't have a completely generic story line. It was really quite enthralling the way Basso weaved in students' suicides with your typical demon-angel-fallen-angel plot. Together with interesting family dynamics and a teenage girl that everybody thinks is completely crazy and you've got yourself a plot that incites the reader successfully.

I liked Rayna, she isn't the best protagonist but she's a likable one that made me sympathise with her situation and care for her.. even though there were moments where I rolled my eyes at her judgemental ways (calling girls slutty for wearing skimpy clothing on Halloween.. Do you know them Rayna? Do you?). Anyways, yes, she's a little whiny and discloses information at bad times I would say (is it that hard to keep a secret when your safety is on the line?) but I didn't have a problem reading from her point of view.

The characters, on a whole, aren't that well developed, the parts about Rayna's best friend are sweet but he wasn't in the book enough for me to get a solid picture of him in my mind, there wasn't any layers to the character, just a nerdy guy who likes Doctor Who. We are told he's the best friend and that's just about it.

The same can be said for the love triangle. Honestly, the love triangle is what really ruined the book for me, it's written with Rayna spending substantially more time with one of the love interests, sharing more thoughts and fears with the same love interest so it would make sense if she fell for this guy, yes? No. Apparently, having an instant connection (although he leaves her when she really needs him) at the beginning of the book and spending next to no time with them ends with you professing your love to them by the end. That makes complete sense(!)

Speaking of sense, Rayna being locked away for three years for seeing angels a couple times doesn't really make sense either... but I'm being picky now. Yes, there were a couple of plot holes, yes, the love triangle irritated me to no end but I liked reading A Shimmer of Angels (as hard as that may be to believe) and I look forward to reading the sequel.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Music choice: I watched Raise Your Voice the other day (again) because I'm a sucker for cheesy chick-flick-romancey movies (don't judge me) and I remember the song that Hilary Duff sings at the end and I think it fits perfectly with this book. 
'Seen that ray of light
And it's shining on my destiny'

'It doesn't matter what people say
And it doesn't matter how long it takes
Believe in yourself and you'll fly high
And it only matters how true you are
Be true to yourself and follow your heart'

This is Someone's Watching Over Me by Hilary Duff.

Sunday 6 January 2013

Review: The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen

Summary (from Goodreads):
There are those who don’t get luck handed to them on a shiny platter, who end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, who don’t get saved.

Luck was not on Callie’s side the day of her twelfth birthday when everything was stolen from her. After it’s all over, she locks up her feelings and vows never to tell anyone what happened. Six years later her painful past consumes her life and most days it’s a struggle just to breathe.

For as long as Kayden can remember, suffering in silence was the only way to survive life. As long as he did what he was told, everything was okay. One night, after making a terrible mistake, it seems like his life might be over. Luck was on his side, though, when Callie coincidentally is in the right place at the right time and saves him.

Now he can’t stop thinking about the girl he saw at school, but never really knew. When he ends up at the same college as Callie, he does everything he can to try to get to know her. But Callie is reserved and closed off. The more he tries to be part of her life, the more he realizes Callie might need to be saved. 

I liked it.

I liked it and Haymitch obviously liked it.. ;) 

The characters on a whole are awesome and they all go through a helluva lot, Sorensen does a good job of creating these characters with all their problems and dark memories. In contemporary New Adult books like this one I tend to remember the male character more than the female character simply because I get all fangirl-y but in this book? I liked Callie from the very beginning and if there's a character I'll most likely remember, it's Callie. She changes a great deal from the beginning of the novel compared to the end, it was really quite inspiring (and it made me strangely happy!) reading about her slowly growing and breaking down the walls she had built around her.

The chemistry between Callie and Kayden is very believable and I enjoyed reading how their relationship developed. The book being written from both Kayden and Callie's point of view made it easy to see how both of the characters felt for the other and it was also interesting to read about how they felt about their separate pasts.

However, the plot and also, the "surprise" of Callie's past was a little predictable for my liking. I kind of always knew what Callie was hiding and keeping to herself which made me want to skip some angst filled parts of the novel. I would say the whole book is pretty predictable.. until the very end.

I wasn't expecting the ending at all, I thought The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden, like many other novels similar to it, was a stand alone. I thought, very ignorantly, that this book would end with all the questions answered and all the problems solved. I could not have been more wrong.

I'm usually okay with cliffhangers, it makes me super excited for the sequel but with this book I feel like there shouldn't have been a need for an ending like that or a sequel at all. Obviously now, a sequel is needed, a book can't end the way this does and not have one. I just don't know if I'm actually read the next one..  the way The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden was going, it could have ended without the plot twist and need for another book.

In three very simple sentences, this review summed up: I loved the characters. I liked the plot. I disliked the ending.

Music choice: Most people seem to be completely entranced by the love story but for me, the best thing about The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden is Callie's growth as a character and her need to finally be free.
'To act and damn the consequence
How I wish it could be that easy
But fear surrounds me like a fence
I wanna break free'
This is Wild Horses by Natasha Bedingfield...

itunes link:

Thursday 3 January 2013

Review: Sister Assassin by Kiersten White

Summary (from Goodreads):
She never chose her deadly gift but now she’s forced to use it. How far would you go to protect the only family you have left?

Annie is beset by fleeting strange visions and a guilty conscience. Blind and orphaned, she struggles to care for her feisty younger sister Fia, but things look up when both sisters are offered a place at Kessler School for Exceptional Girls.

Born with flawless intuition, Fia immediately knows that something’s wrong, but bites her tongue… until it’s too late. For Fia is the perfect weapon to carry out criminal plans and there are those at Kessler who will do anything to ensure her co-operation.

With Annie trapped in Kessler’s sinister clutches, instincts keep Fia from killing an innocent guy and everything unravels. Is manipulative James the key to the sisters’ freedom or an even darker prison? And how can Fia atone for the blood on her hands?

For all of you not residing in the UK you will know Sister Assassin as Mind Games (you know the one, the book with the awesome cover with all the pretty colours and super intense eyes).
I thought I'd mention that these two books are one and the same because I can't be the only one who assumed that they had nothing to do with each other at first glance! If I am then I'm worried for my brain.

Moving on from my own stupidity (I also assumed the sisters were twins until Annie referred to Fia as her little sister), White is known for her originality. Paranormalcy, the first book I read by this author, definitely stands out against most YA books for its unique plot and characters, so although I'm not the biggest fan of the Paranormalcy series, I can still appreciate the authors imagination. The same can be said for Sister Assassin. The inspired plot is probably my favourite part of the book, I really like how White creates a plot that I haven't read before - yes, a higher power controlling a school of specially gifted teenagers has been done, but not in this particular way - which made me want to carry on reading despite not being completely invested in the characters.

As much as I liked the story line, the characters didn't quite hit the mark for me. It's true that they are incredibly unlike most characters in current day YA books (I LOVE that one of the protagonists, Annie, is blind.. it's a nice change to the completely perfect main characters that dominate popular fiction) but simply being different doesn't make for a successful character. To be honest, and a little blunt, I didn't like Fia. She's the younger of the two sisters with the "flawless instincts", I tried to understand her because of the many, horrific things that happen to her but I couldn't bring myself, unlike everybody else in the book, to blame her sickening thoughts and malicious actions on her experiences and "broken" mind. (Actually, I might have been able to accept this "broken" mind justification if Fia hadn't stopped herself from killing her mark because he saved a puppy and looked "too real to end".) Annie, in my opinion, is the better protagonist, she was easier to relate to, her joy at being able to "see" and her love for her sister is understandable but she wasn't as interesting to read about.

The main problem of Annie, Fia and also, the more minor characters was that they weren't developed enough. This could be because of the fairly short length of the novel or the fact that this is only the first book of the series but I would've liked to have seen more depth in the characters and more layers to their personalities. As well as depth, the characters also lacked growth, this is most probably because of the present day story line taking place over a couple of days maximum but seeing at least a little change in the mind set of Fia would have made my Sister Assassin reading experience a more fulfilling one.

A side note to the people who hate flashbacks, you may want to stay clear of this particular book as it's pretty jam packed with them. I actually really enjoyed the flashbacks (I don't usually!) because they made you understand the relationships and dynamics between many of the characters but... there are quite a few of them!

Overall, Sister Assassin/Mind Games (whatever you choose to call it) has the potential to grow into a great series but everything is a little under developed at the moment. There are hints as to what is to come - a very clear love triangle for one... eek - and I can see myself really enjoying the series if the sequel shows some real character growth (for most, if not all the characters!) and White continues to deliver a good story.

This book is expected to be published on the 19th February 2013. Thank you to HaperCollins for sending me this e-galley via Netgalley - love you! 

Music choice: I think, for this one, I had to pick something intense, bordering on angry because of Fia. This song depicts the anger and also, the deep loyalty between Fia and Annie. 
'All because of you,
I haven't slept in so long.
When I do I dream of drowning in the ocean,
Longing for the shore where I can lay my head down,
I'll follow your voice,
All you have to do is shout it out.'
This is The Good Left Undone by Rise Against.. 

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Meme: "Waiting On" Wednesday #7 - Premeditated

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming novels that we're all eagerly anticipating.

I think it's been quite a while since I've done a "Waiting on Wednesday" but here you go, my friends, this week, a book I am dying (not being dramatic or anything) to read... 

Series: Pretty sure this is a stand alone novel! :) 
Expected publication: October 1st 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Summary (from Goodreads): 
A week ago, Dinah’s cousin Claire cut her wrists.

Five days ago, Dinah found Claire’s diary and discovered why.

Three days ago, Dinah stopped crying and came up with a plan.

Two days ago, she ditched her piercings and bleached the black dye from her hair.

Yesterday, knee socks and uniform plaid became a predator’s camouflage.

Today, she’ll find the boy who broke Claire.

By tomorrow, he’ll wish he were dead.

That cover. That blurb. 

I want this book right now. I have never been so hooked simply by a cover and a blurb. 

There isn't much I can say other than the fact that I'm so excited about somebody avenging their friend's death. I've just never read a book like this before, it's something new and my expectations are so high that if this book is anything less than perfect I will probably be disappointed! I'm sorry! 

Do you like the idea of this book? Are you as excited as I am? Please do comment below with the title and author of the book you're most anticipating or a link to your own "Waiting on" Wednesday... I want to find more books I can be crazily excited about! :) 

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Meme: Teaser Tuesdays #8 - Sister Assassin

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser Tuesday! I'm currently reading a book that was provided by HarperCollins via Netgalley and although I'm not very far into it, I think I may like it! I seem to be creating a pattern in the books I've been reading recently, I only just finished reading another assassin book, Throne of Glass, and now a book called Sister Assassin... well.. 

"I turn to find the boy from the line. He's shouting something. I don't care what he has to say. He leans closer and shouts again. 
page 115, (eARC) Sister Assassin (Mind Games #1) by Kiersten White 

This book is known as Mind Games in the US.. 
I don't know which cover I like better but I do prefer the UK title, Sister Assassin is different to most of the popular teen books nowadays while Mind Games is a little generic for my liking. But which do you like better? 

Also, what is your teaser this week? Please do post your teasers or links to your own Teaser Tuesdays in the comments below... I'd love to see them! 

Until next time... HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you achieve all you can from 2013 and... I hope the books you read are especially awesome. ;) 
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