Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Review: Paper Towns

Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Publisher: Bloomsbury (UK) | Penguin (USA)
Publication: May 2010 (UK) | 22 Sep 2009 (USA)
Format: Paperback | 320 pages
Genre: YA

 Who is the real Margo?
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life - dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues - and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew...

My thoughts:
Paper Towns  follows Quentin who is just an average guy about to graduate from high school. After an exciting night out during which he helps execute Margo Roth Spiegelman's perfectly planned stages of revenge against her high school enemies, Quentin finds himself following a trail of breadcrumbs to find the love of his life before she disappears entirely. 

When I started to get into the story I never thought it would turn out the way it did. It began with a series of fun high school pranks but quickly turned into John Green's usual expressive and eloquent writing when Quentin starts on his emotional journey to discover more about himself and the girl he loves.

John Green has this way of writing that almost coerces me into reading certain paragraphs over and over again and sometimes even find a different way of understanding it every time I do. This book was no exception and I loved it for that very reason. In fact, I'm starting to believe that every book John ever writes deserves to be read just for the reason that his writing is pure brilliance - you can never tire of it.

The book is in no way as simple as the premise is. Most of it is about discovering yourself and other people. It has this unbelievable depth to it that will leave you thinking about life itself and how you see others for a while after finishing. It's pretty philosophical.

I loved how the whole book seems to revolve around finding Margo. It's non-stop trying to figure out where she is and what she has planned but you soon realise that Margo is the little speck of dust in the grand scheme of things. Every character, especially Quentin, realises this towards the end and they all come to their own conclusions about what they consider to hold great consequences in their individual lives and what they consider to be their 'paper towns' and 'paper people'. It is most definitely an incredibly clever story that keeps you on your toes in the sense that you are forced to think about things in a way that we don't normally in our day to day lives. 

This is a definite must read. The book is full of great characters, a great plot, ingenious writing and above all a book that stays with you for a long time after finishing.

My rating: 10/10

John Green:

Monday, 28 May 2012

Review: You Against Me


Title: You Against Me
Author: Jenny Downham
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Paperback: 413 pages
My rating: 7/10

If someone hurts your sister, you seek revenge, right?
If your brother's accused of a terrible crime, you defend him, don't you?

When Mikey's young sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart.
When Ellie's brother is charged with the offence, her world starts to unravel.

When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide.

My thoughts:

I was a little apprehensive about reading this book which is partly the reason why I have left it on the shelf for so long.
I find myself avoiding books that involve two characters in this way - characters that any reader knows from just the premise they are supposed to hate each other. You just know how the story is going to turn out just because it's been done so many times before. In addition to that, the book is about rape which, depending on how good the author is, can either be a really horrible read or one that puts everything about the subject into perspective.
Because this book is both of those things, it's no wonder I left it so long.
I did find myself itching to read it one day though so I picked it up and didn't put it down until I had finished. I wasn't disappointed at all. In fact I really wish I had read it sooner.
This isn't a read that I finished and immediately thought 'wow' or that it's one of my ultimate favourites. It was one that was purely a good read for an afternoon. It has all the good things that any good book has but it doesn't have that special thing about it that makes it amazing.
I really liked the writing and the way the narrative switches between Mikey and Ellie - it worked. It was nice how I relaxed into the writing style really quickly. It made it a very quick and easy read regardless of the story itself.
The way rape was handled was brilliant I have to say. It was so realistic that I had no problem relating to any of the characters involved. I loved the way the author wrote about the court side of things including police statements and standing to be a witness in court. I think not enough attention is payed to how difficult that would be not just for the victim, but for the accused's family if they ever witnessed anything. Ellie has to decide whether or not she can go through with being a witness for her brother - the book pays particular attention to how scary that would be. 
I really loved Mikey and Ellie. They were brilliant. Two characters couldn't be any more different and yet they were drawn together because of the circumstances they are both in. They drew comfort from each other - i loved it.
This is definitely a good read when you're looking for a quick afternoon read to pass the time.

Jenny Downham:

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Review: Daughters of Fortune



Title: Daughters of Fortune

Author: Tara Hyland

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Paperback: 592 pages

Contemporary - Women's Fiction

Excerpt 1/Excerpt 2

My rating: 4/10



William Melville's daughters are heiresses to the world's most exclusive fashion dynasty. Beautiful and rich, they are envied by all. But behind the glittering facade of their lives, each girl hides a dark secret that threatens to tear their family apart.

Smart, ambitious Elizabeth, the eldest, knows how to manipulate every man she meets, except the one who counts: her father.

Gentle, naive Caitlin, the illegitimate child, struggles to fit into a world of privilege while staying true to herself.

Stunning, spoilt Amber, the party girl with a weakness for bad boys, is more fragile than anyone realises. 

As each of them seeks to carve out her own destiny, they face difficult choices, which will take them in wildly different directions. But as old wounds resurface and threaten to destroy the Melville empire, their paths will cross again. Because the simple truth is that, no matter how far you go, you cannot escape the claims of family.


My thoughts:

This book revolves around the three daughters of William Melville, the owner of the extremely successful fashion company that prides itself on being quintessentially British.

The narration is basically split between the three daughters; Elizabeth, the eldest, Caitlin, the result of a dramatic affair and Amber the typical rich spoilt girl.

I found that the way the book jumped from different years and between different characters was incredibly annoying. A lot of it felt completely unnecessary to the point where I would have to put the book down for a half hour just to be able to get through it. It seemed to me that I couldn't get to know any of the characters properly especially when completely random characters had their own narration and then disappeared again for the rest of the book - there was no need for it.

The book did have its moments. I liked Caitlin's overall story. She had trouble fitting in being an illegitimate child and found the strength to make it for herself without using the family name. I loved her relationship with Lucien who is introduced relatively early on in the story.

What I mostly didn't like though was all the other characters. I really hated Elizabeth and Amber - really, really hated them. Every time I was reading about their lives I was just waiting for Caitlin to come around again.

I also didn't like how affairs were thrown all over the place in the story. It made it seem like it wasn't a big deal so I felt that the affairs that did happen had no consequence just because nobody seemed to care in the story. I would have liked the affair that resulted in Caitlin being born to be the only one - then it would have seemed more significant.

I think the end of the book was the best part. The main plot was revealed and even if it was way, way to late in the story it was a really good plot - really clever. Unfortunately, it didn't make up for the rest of the book for me.

I wouldn't really recommend this book even to people who love this particular genre. Of course, it's just my opinion and you never know! You may love it - it just wasn't my taste at all.


Friday, 4 May 2012

Series Spotlight - The Demonata Books 9 & 10



Title: Dark Calling

Author: Darren Shan

Publisher: HarperCollins

My rating: 10/10



I know it's ridiculous.

Lights can't whisper. But I swear I heard a voice calling to me.

It sounded like static to begin with, but then it came into focus, a single word repeated over and over.

Softly, slyly, seductively, insistently.


The Disciples are being manipulated by beings older than time. Only Kernel Fleck knows that something is wrong.

But he is in the grip of a creature who cares nothing for the fate of humanity. Voices are calling to him from the darkness and he's powerless to resist.

Kernel has already been to hell and back. Now he's about to go further...


My thoughts:

I love this book just as much as I love the rest of the books in the series which is a lot.

Dark Calling is almost a break from the rest of the characters and the main action.  This one is all Kernel and it follows his journey through Universes to possibly save countless creatures from the Demonata.

This book definitely lags on the action side as there's only one really exciting scene in the whole book. However, it definitely makes up for it with where the plot goes. Some unexpected things happen in this book and I would say most of the plot is revealed. It all starts to come together which makes it a great experience for any reader of the series.

I think readers who started this series purely for the amazing action between the Disciples, main characters and the demons will not enjoy this one so much. It definitely fits right into the series though in terms of the plot and the characters - it takes a really unexpected turn. 

This is most definitely another one of my favourite reads.


Title: Hell's Heroes

My rating: 10/10



The girl gazes up at me.

She's even younger than I thought, clutching a small teddy bear in one hand.

"Are you the bogey man?" she whispers, eyes round.

"Yes," I croak, then take hold of her head with my huge, scarred, blood-soaked hands and crush...

Beranabus and Dervish are gone. Bec has formed an unholy alliance with Lord Loss. Kernel is blind, held on Earth against his will. Grubbs is mad with grief and spinning out of control.

The demons are crossing.

The Disciples are falling.

The Shadow is waiting.

Welcome to the end.


My thoughts:

The last book in any series has a lot riding on it. I remember starting to read this for the first time and being so apprehensive purely because I was almost afraid that the end to the series would disappoint me after such great books before this one.

Safe to say I had absolutely nothing to worry about because it was just pure brilliance. 

First off, there was an actual ending. I absolutely hate it when a series just ends without leaving the readers with any understanding of what happens to any of the characters and leaves readers to make up their own minds about it. It's not an ending.

Secondly, even though it was the last of 10 books, it still had its own individual plot which in itself was a fantastic read.

There are still plenty of surprises and the ending is definitely unexpected and in no way predictable. 

Without going into a rant that never ends, this book is fantastic...period.

This series is definitely one I recommend to anybody who is a fan of horror and is partial to the odd story full of guts, gore and great characters!