The Vanishing Game, Kate Kae Myers

Warning! This Review contains spoilers!

vanishing game

Synopsis:

The bond between twins is unmistakable. For Jocelyn and Jack, that bond was all they had. But now Jack is dead. Then Jocelyn receives a letter from Jason December-the code name Jack used when they were children. Only one other person knows about Jason December: Noah, Jocelyn’s childhood crush. But Noah isn’t the one contacting Jocelyn. Together they decide to return to Seale House, the frightening foster home where all three of them lived together. Seal House has more secrets than they could have ever imagined. And it suddenly seems possible that Jack faked his death, that the letter and the riddles that follow are cryptic clues leading to his real whereabouts. But someone else is looking for him-someone dangerous. Jocelyn and Noah must race to find Jason December. That is, if he’s alive.

Review:

I did not like this book. Don’t get me wrong, it had promise, and I’m sure there are people out there that will really enjoy it. But I had so many problems with it.
I don’t know where to start with this.
So…
In the start of the book, main character Jocelyn is grieving for her brother, her twin that died three weeks ago.
I have not lost a twin, but I have lost someone I adored, and in the grand scheme of things, three weeks is nothing. Especially for a teenager. Three weeks in, you will still be seeing them out the corner of your eye. You will be tempted to chase that stranger down the street because, god, they looked just like the one you will never see again. You will be convinced that you heard their voice outside, and stare at the door expecting them to walk in.
And when you remember, it breaks you even more.
Okay, I know everyone is different and people deal with things in different ways, but right from the start, I never got any of this off Jocelyn. There were lines about how much she missed Jack and how she could not cope without him, but to me, they didn’t feel real. Because then she would go off and and…be fine?
I think part of this problem, however, was that I could not connect with the characters. They felt flat, 2D, and no matter how much I did want to enjoy this and like this book, the characters never came to life.

Jocelyn just irritated me.
Take this as a reason why. Close your eyes (after finishing reading my instructions, of course) and imagine that you had been chased out of a building by someone wanting to kill you. Not once, but five or six times in a few days. You almost get blown up and no where is safe.
How does this make you feel? Are you scared? Do you feel like you should get, oh, I don’t know, the police involved? (okay, now you may close your eyes and imagine. Then carry on reading)
If that was me, I would be pretty scared. I would be going straight to the people that could keep me safe.
But Jocelyn? Oh no, even though someone breaks into her room and strangles her, she doesn’t do anything. And then she basically forgets it. None of it fazes her. Seriously, like no one would be that calm.

Then you have Noah. Jacks best friend from childhood and some sort of computer genius. Who kinda accepts all this strange stuff like its all normal (sidenote, that big twist at the end? He’s meant to be a computer whiz, how did he work out all the clues and not work out that?). The problem I have with him is that, although yeah, he helps Jocelyn a bit, he is there a) so there is more than one character in the whole book b)the ‘just add water’ romance c) so Jocelyn has someone to argue with.

And the ‘romance’ also felt flat. It’s like ‘oh look you liked this character as a child of course you can kiss him’. ‘Just add water’ Romance is the type of romance that authors stuff into books (mostly Young Adult books) because they think that every book should have this relationship even though sometimes, it does not work.

Despite all of this, I really REALLY wanted to enjoy this book. The idea was good, and actually most of the twist at the end was good- I was not expecting that.
But it just felt dragged out. There were so many clues they had to find and so many ‘dodgy’ characters and so many twists that by the end…it didn’t matter that finally, it was working.
Cut down on the ‘shock what’ type twists in the middle that we didn’t need, cut down on the clues that just got…repetitive, and this could have been more enjoyable to read.

The Arcana Chronicles, Kresley Cole

kresley

Warning! This Review Does Contains Spoilers!
(a sum up for those that have not read the first book. READ IT.)

Synosis (for the first book):

She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen-year-old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side.

Review:

I love this series. Granted, it’s not the best written, and some of it really annoys me, but its fun. Isn’t that what reading is all about, enjoying it? This series makes me laugh and makes me want to read it all at once. (I read three books in two days, I think that proves how much I wanted to read it).

So lets talk the first book.

You get thrown into the story straight away, with the prologue, written in the voice of a…slightly odd character. He’s interviewing Evie, our main character of the series, about her life before and after The Flash.

And then we get to her story, starting a week before this Flash happens. It’s a bit of a stereotype start; our blonde cheerleader with the perfect boyfriend. They are loved at school and everything- until three new kids start. A girl the perfect boyfriend stares at and a boy that seems to want Evie himself. But there’s another problem with these kids. They come from the ‘lower class’ of the town, they were Cajun. Automatically hated because of what they were- and how they acted.

Jackson seems to be fixated on Evie, and tries to annoy her at every turn, including on her sixteenth birthday party.

Arguments happen, the police appear and Evie ends up walking back to her house with Jackson.

That’s pretty much it for the ‘before Flash’.

It then skips like, 7 months, and the fun starts.

No, really. Fun. Jacksons back and he and Evie start a journey to try and find her grandmother…

But its dangerous, what with bagman (who want to suck your blood), Cannibals, and other kids like Evie, who seem to have strange powers.

Evie has potential to be a fantastic character. Shes sassy, sarcastic, smart and protective. Her arguments with Jackson can have you in such laughter. She’s also got another side that’s pretty much evil, and wants to kill everyone.
But I have this huge problem with her. (more in the second and third book than the first.) Like, its the end of the world. She is in huge danger and every day is a fight of survival but she doesn’t seem to care when Jacksons around. Boys boys boys in her head.

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, but if I were in that situation, guys would not be the first thing in my mind.

Jackson…I don’t know now. Like, I love him in the first book. He’s so protective and lovely, but at the same time you sometimes want to hit him. But as the books go on, he becomes a less favourite character to me.
Don’t get me wrong, he has fantastic character development throughout the series and by the end of the third book, he is more of a man than the angry boy we started with.

But there are other characters as we move through the series.

Lets talk about Death.
We see Death in the first book, though Evies dreams and as he talks to her. He threatens her, wants to kill her, hates her, but we never know why.
Pretty much, he is just a shadow in the first book.
Ahh, but the second book.
I think Death is a really interesting character. He makes a comment about it in the second book but I think its overlooked. A comment about the games being there to drive people mad- the fool being the smartest person, and giving the boy who never wanted to kill the name Death.
Seriously overlooked line.
Like, people hate Death. Because he is Death, he kills. But everyone does in this book, to stay save, to survive. But because Death is seen as evil…that is what he has become. Even though he hates it.
He is such a lonely character, full of hate for everything, but can you blame him?
I have serious feels for Death. I wish I could wrap him up in a blanket and hug him (Don’t know how well he would react to that though)

Matthew, the fool, is an interesting character. In the first book, when they first find him, there is a line about how he is wearing a tag with ‘autistic’ written on it. (I like how Evie throws this away before anyone else can judge him). He can remember everything about the past and helps Evie through things, in a riddle filled, round-a-bout type of way. But actually, you never know what side he is on, or even if he is on a side. He helps Evie but also helps her enemy, and in the last book…just….yeah, he left me speechless.
With a lot of questions.

Finally, one thing that does grate on my nerves about this series. It’s Young Adult, and like in many YA books, it does have that ‘love triangle’ thing. I hate this. Yeah, it makes a good dilemma, but its so overdone.

Like, just choose a guy and get it over with.

In fact, Just choose Death. Please?

Over all, this is a wonderful read. I will not say it is perfect, but it is well thought out with so many twists and ‘gasp’ moments that keeps you wanting to read. It’s characters are compelling and amazing with complete back-stories that will leave you reeling.

Oh.
And
LOTS OF CLIFFHANGERS.

I now have to wait another year just for book four.

If you like supernatural, post-apocalyptic, romances you really should read this.

All The Bright Places, Jennifer Niven

all the brigt

Synopsis

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

Review

Firstly, let me explain how I got my hands on this book. My Penguin rep at work knows that I love and adore the book ‘The Fault in our Stars’. Its been a favourite since I first read it two years ago. So when he got some early copies of this book, he brought one into work for me.

“This will be the next John Green!” He said.

So of course, I had to read it, just to prove that it would not be. (I hate books that are ‘the next old big series’ Because it shouldn’t be compared, they are different books and authors)
I honestly started out wanting to hate it, just because of the comparison, but I was pleasantly surprised.
More than that.
I loved this book.

Finch and Violet are both struggling with life. Violet cannot wait for school to finish so she can escape. Finch…he just wants to escape life, but can never take the last step towards ending it.

And when they meet, it gives them a chance for something to live for.
But this isn’t just a love story.
What I loved about this book was that it opens your eyes to mental illness.

The whole way through the book, you know there is something Finch struggles with. He had a bad childhood, and that has shadowed him as he grew up. And it has also shadowed him more because it seems no one cares. He is just Finch, the strange and eccentric boy who wants to die. No one ever bothers to look past that.
But between this, he is a wonderful, brilliant character. I think the thing I love about him is that he never knows who he is, so each week, he tries out a ‘different Finch’. From the British Finch to the badass Finch, he is doing what every young person is trying to do.
And that is why he is so relatable to teenagers. (not that everyone dresses up to find themselves, but its still the same idea. People go ‘searching’ for themselves…)

Violet lost her sister and is struggling with grief. I know first had how difficult that is, and all those clichés like ‘it will get better with time’, they are good in speech but useless when you have to wade through each day without the person you care about.
Violet loved to write, and she used to write with her sister, but now she cannot. Even at school, she struggles.

Both the characters are so beautifully written and I honestly wish I could wrap both of them in a hug.

So, the mental illness part. This was really clever- in the whole book, although you know something is wrong, words like depression are never used. Why? Because Finch hates labels. I mean, who doesn’t? But he doesn’t want to be just another teenager with a problem, so he almost…buries his head in the sand about it.
(Side note; it was in mine, and I believe it is in other editions, but at the end there is information about suicide and mental illness.)

Not going to lie about this- The end destroyed me. The whole book is amazingly written and I would not change any of it, but it broke me completely.

This is the kind of book that stays with you, long after you read it. You can put it on the shelf and not look at it for months, but the characters and their lives and love will stay in your head forever.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series, Laini Taylor

daughter

Synopsis (for the first book):

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought. 

Review (warning, may contain spoilers):

I do not know where to start with this. I finished the last book in the series 2 hours ago and all I want to do is pick them all back up, read them and then hug them, hide them from the world. Some books are so good you don’t want anyone else reading it, and that is, for me, what this book is. (then why, I head you say, are you writing a review? Because I also love it so much EVERYONE IN THE WORLD should read it.)

Okay. Let’s start with the writing.

People say magic doesn’t exist. I refuse to accept this, after reading the magic Laini crafts while writing. Its beautiful and descriptive and just…wonderful.

Examples, I hear you cry?

Of course

“Karou wished she could be the kind of girl who was complete unto herself, comfortable in solitude, serene. But she wasn’t. She was lonely, and she feared the missingness within her as if it might expand and… cancel her. She craved a presence beside her, solid. Fingertips light at the nape of her neck and a voice meeting hers in the dark. Someone who would wait with an umbrella to walk her home in the rain, and smile like sunshine when he saw her coming. Who would dance with her on her balcony, keep his promises and know her secrets, and make a tiny world wherever he was, with just her and his arms and his whisper and her trust.”

and

“She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing.”

also

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living—one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.
Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel—a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.
This was not that world.”

Its so simple yet so wonderful, and each word draws you into this strange world inside.

Secondly, the characters.

Each character is so beautifully made that you want to pluck them from the pages and wrap them in a blanket just to protect them (yes, even though they are meant to be angles and demons, you just want to protect them)

Firstly, Karou, our blue haired girl, who has a strange, hidden family. The same family that has secrets and mysteries that could change the world. Karou is a brilliant character. She’s a girl that’s not afraid of anything; and she grows as the series goes on.

Her best friend, Zuzana, is fearsome and loyal and everything anyone would ever wish for. (wish. *snigger*)

Akiva, the beautiful person whose duty is everything to him…until something bigger than a war turns up.

And those are just the main three from the first book. You meet more and more characters in the whole series, some you feel a burning rage for, others you just want to steal for yourself. (mine? Ziri, who you meet in the second book.)

And, as always, with characters, there are relationships. What I love about this series is, even though its a ‘romantic’ series, its not you are thinking about right now. You know the type, where characters realise after only glancing at each other, that they should be together and for the whole book, entire chapters are about them just locking lips? THIS IS NOT THAT BOOK. It was so refreshing to not have a book like that, even though a main part of it is about love.

This is a book about love, hope, war and life. Its a book full of twists and turns and heart wrenching emotions. One that will keep you up late into the night and almost crying when you close the last page.

This is a book every fantasy lover should get their hands on.

“Once upon a time, an angel lay dying in the mist.
And a devil knelt over him and smiled.”

Hello!

I love reading. Anything really, from children’s books to general fiction to fantasy to Young Adult. Put a book in front of me and I will start it before you have  even turned around.
But why just read a book when you can try to get someone else to read it (Or avoid it)? Why sit with thoughts running round your head but never put them down on paper?

So here, I will write short reviews of books I read over the next…well, years, hopefully.

But before I start, who am I?
I am a twenty year old who sells books for a living. I teach teenagers to kayak in summer, and used to sail around the UK when I could. I have a musical brain, but never have a chance to use it, so I stick to writing poetry.

I have a weakness for fairytales.
And Harry Potter.