Monday, 25 November 2013

The Alchemy of Forever - Book Review

11378402

The Alchemy of Forever

Avery Williams

Incarnation Series Book #1

YA Paranormal

Synopsis:
In this first novel of the incarnation series, the immortal Seraphina grapples with a wrenching truth: Falling in love might mean succumbing to death. People say “love never dies”… but love might be the death of Seraphina.


Review:

I loved the premise of this book. Although it didn’t quite meet my expectations plot wise, it was still a nice read and I look forward to continuing the series.

Sera has been alive for centuries. Through the gift of alchemy, she can force her soul into another human’s body and take it over – thus, allowing her immortal life. Yet each body she takes only lasts ten years, and with each life stolen her soul becomes heavier with guilt.

 Now after almost 600 years of walking the earth, Sera decides that her current body will be her last. She would rather die than murder another soul. Yet when she witnesses a fatal car accident, her attempt to save the drivers life goes awry and she finds herself inside the body of sixteen year old Kailey Morgan. But does Kaileys life have more to offer her than death..?

I enjoyed this book and was fascinated by the idea of science and alchemy keeping ones soul alive. However I felt that some of the characters lacked depth and sometimes, given the nature of the storyline, believability.  For example my biggest issue with this book was with Kailey’s friends and family. A complete stranger (Sera) is now inhabiting  Kaileys body yet there is little to no mention of her acting differently. No change in personality or behaviour … I just found this a little strange.

I think this is also the reason the romance didn’t really work for me. Noah has supposedly been in love with Kailey for years. Yet he also didn’t pick up on the fact she was a completely different person. Unfortunately I thought these things really let the book down.

However the plot has a couple of good twists and turns and the premise of the story is so unique, that that alone keeps you turning the pages.  Overall though I would have liked to see more character development, and a little more back story on Sera’s history. Given that this was a relatively short book, I understand its lack of character building, however I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the second novel will be longer and hopefully, more satisfying.

Still the premise has great potential and I’m interested to see how things will progress in the next book. Therefore I give The Alchemy of Forever 3 stars!


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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Bloggers on Bullying - My Experience




This post was inspired by Michelle over at Fluttering Butterflies. She, along with Sophie over at A Day Dreamer’s World are hosting an Anti-Bullying week over on their blogs, so if you get a chance, do pop across and check them out. They are full of great posts from authors and other book bloggers alike. Otherwise I would just like to share with you my own thoughts and experiences on the matter.


Bullying makes my blood boil!

When I was twelve years old, back when Pokémon was all the rage, a classmate accused me of stealing one of his cards. I never did. However children are cruel, and of course the rumour spread until I had apparently stolen everything from hair clips and gel pens to money and mobile phones! It was a horrible time in my life. Kids refused to play with me, while even some of the girls I called my friends refused to let me share their colouring pencils. 

But worst of all, was the boy who actually accused me in the first place. He and a group of his friends took to following me home every evening after school. At first they would just shout mean things and call me names, but like with most cases of bullying, things began to escalate. They started to throw stones and water at me, try to trip me or push me whenever I walked past. And once, I even found my PE uniform shredded in my bag. Naturally it got to the point where I refused to go to school.

Of course my mother knew something was wrong, but I was always a tight lipped child and even to this day, I’ve never told her what I went through. To be honest, other than one of my very close friends, I have never shared this story with anyone. Why?  Because until now, I always felt too ashamed. I was afraid of what people would think, afraid people wouldn’t believe me and mostly – afraid of how weak and pathetic it all made me look.

Now I’m 24 years old and I know better. But this part of my past will forever remain a dark blot in my life. However I endured, I got through it, and while it does sometimes creep up on occasion to take a bash at my confidence – ultimately, I survived. And better yet, I love my life now! I like the person I am, I have great friends, a great family and if anything, I can look back on that time and feel more than just anger. I actually pity my bullies, because all I can imagine is that they’re own lives must have been pretty messed up if they needed to bring me down to make themselves feel good.

And of course while things with my bully were never resolved – my life did eventually get better. My mother made me return to school and I started taking a very scenic (and admittedly dangerous) route home, one which I continued to take for my remaining time throughout middle school. The children who bullied me grew bored and moved on to other things and while the rumours did pop up to haunt me now and then – things generally died down and people forgot.

 I learned to avoid that boy and his mates at all costs – of course on the occasions I did bump into them they made sure to shout cruel things or make sly comments. But then high school came and I was lucky enough to get into a school outside my catchment area where thankfully, I never had to see that boy again.

But that didn’t mean I didn’t think of him. I still dodged the areas of town I knew he hung out, and I would flinch every time someone used the word thief – even it was just a friend asking to nick a sweet. It took a long time before I felt happy in myself again.

As for my teachers, I’m sure they knew something was going on. I think they at least heard the rumours about me, and they showed their faith in me by giving me any task that involved taking money or important notes somewhere. They had me fetch things; help with displays, take stock checks for the art room –all tasks that required a measure of trust or responsibility. And while I didn’t understand or appreciate it then, now I do. So to all my middle school teachers – thank you for your support!

But my bottom line is – Children can be cruel. Thankfully most of them grow out of it. And no matter how hard your life may seem at the time, just remember, things will get better! Popularity won’t matter, school will end, braces will come off and girls… your boobs will grow! Life will always have its ups and downs, but ultimately, it will be what you choose to make it -


And it all starts with you finding your voice…


So my advice, tell someone, talk to someone. If not a teacher or parent, tell a friend, your pet, a stuffed toy!  Write a story, a blog post, a letter to a magazine, heck, even draw a picture. Just don’t keep your feelings bottled up, because sooner or later you will explode. Self-destruct in a ball of rage and hurt that more than anything, will only hurt you and the people who care about you.

Just remember, you’re not alone!


Monday, 18 November 2013

Across the Universe - Book Review

8235178

Across the Universe

Beth Revis

YA Sci-fic

Synopsis:

Seventeen year old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realises that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's secrets. But on her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters. Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. 


Review:

There has been a lot of hype about this book and I admit, what with it being a YA sci-fic, it was a story I was expecting to blow me away. However, while it wasn't the astronomical read I thought it would be, it was none the less, a book I enjoyed.

The story begins with seventeen year old Amy. After watching her parents be frozen in preparation for their centuries long journey to find and establish life on a new planet, Amy makes the monumental decision to accompany them - Knowing that when she once again reopens her eyes, she will be reunited with them on a new world. At least, that was what was suppose to happen.

But when she is awoken fifty years too early, she finds herself alone. A stranger and outcast on a starship where the people all look the same, the sane are considered crazy and the sun "rises" with the press of a button. But Amy's early awakening was no coincidence. Someone on board is set against murdering the still frozen members of the expedition, including Amy's parents.

Along with 16 year old Elder, the ships future leader in training, Amy sets herself the task of protecting the frozens. But catching the culprit before he can murder again is another matter entirely. However as Amy is soon to learn, the ship, Godspeed, holds many secrets, each one more unpleasant than the next. Everything she's ever known, the life she once lived, has been lost forever. And although she has yet to realise it, she still has so much more left to lose...

This book has a great concept that is both fresh and extremely intriguing. Beth Revis creates a believable world and an eerie atmosphere on a ship that runs much like a dystopian society. With corrupt leadership and people unable to think freely, these elements combined together to make an intricate plot of lies and deception that made the book a fascinating read.

The characters of Amy and Elder were very well written and both were easy to relate to. While I didn't feel much of a spark between them romantically, I felt like a good foundation was  built for one to grow on. Also I'm interested to see how their relationship will develop, especially given the rather dramatic ending, and Elders obvious interest.


So overall Across the universe was a unique and interesting read that I would recommend to anybody wanting something a little different. Futuristic, spacey and with plenty of thrills thrown in, I would rate this a 3 1/2 star read! 


Monday, 11 November 2013

Wildefire - Book Review

9758765

Wildefire

Karsten Knight

(Wildefire Book #1)

YA Paranormal
Synopsis;

Every flame begins with a spark. Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

Review:

I really enjoyed this book. Although I thought the prose was a little too descriptive in places, the plot itself was riveting and kept me turning the pages. Wildefire is without doubt a unique paranormal read, and I especially like the new mythology because I feel like the Greek has been way over done!

The story begins with sixteen year old Ashline Wilde. When her sister, Evelyn, returns home unexpectedly, she brings with her a load of chaos, mayhem and startling revelations that change Ashline’s life forever. Because as Ashline is about to find out - she is a Goddess. And her powers have the potential to destroy the world!

Now she must learn to control her abilities - as well as her anger management issues, before she hurts everyone she loves and cares about. Yet her sister, Evelyn, is not nearly so cautious. Revelling in her Goddess status, she sets out on a rampage of death and destruction and only Ashline has the power to stop her. But what will this war between two sister Goddess cost the world…?

I really liked Ashline’s character. Her sarcastic wit made her charming to read, and I liked her spunky attitude towards life. She made for a great protagonist and it was a pleasure to watch her development throughout the book. The way she learned to control her violent tendencies and master her powers showed that she really grew as a character.

Mostly, I liked the secondary characters too, especially those of the other Gods. I enjoyed finding out each person’s history and I liked the back story given of how they came to discover their own powers. Yet Ashlines sister, Eve, I found extremely annoying. She was the typical, psycho villain. However I just felt like her character lacked depth and read rather flat. Still this didn’t take away my enjoyment of the book.

Plot wise the book was very gripping – although very violent - and I would recommend this as an older YA read. However it was the mythology and legends woven into the story that really gripped my attention, although there were also a few plot twists that left my mind spinning – in a good way!

Overall a great read. 3 ½ stars!


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Monday, 4 November 2013

Shadows on the Moon - Book Review

9741685

Shadows on the Moon

Zoe Marriott

 YA  Fantasy
Synopsis:

On my fourteenth birthday when the sakura was in full bloom, the men came to kill us. We saw them come, Aimi and me. We were excited, because we did not know how to be frightened. We had never seen soldiers before.

Suzume is a shadow-weaver. She can create mantles of darkness and light, walk unseen in the middle of the day, change her face. She can be anyone she wants to be. Except herself.

Suzume died officially the day the Prince's men accused her father of treason. Now even she is no longer sure of her true identity.

Is she the girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother’s new husband, Lord Terayama? A lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama’s kitchens? Or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands?

Everyone knows Yue is destined to capture the heart of a prince. Only she knows that she is determined to use his power to destroy Terayama.

And nothing will stop her. Not even love.



Review:

I loved this book! I flew through it in one sitting – which took me into the early hours of the morning- but it was completely worth the lack of sleep! A fresh spin on the old Cinderella fairytale, Shadows on the Moon is set in a fantastical version of feudal Japan. Weaving together magic, romance and spellbinding intrigue, it is a story that will stay with you for years to come.

The story begins with a young Suzume. Playing with her cousin in her family’s orchard, she is unprepared for the sudden attack on her home. When military officers raid, killing both her father and cousin, it unleashes a power inside her that Suzume never knew she had. A power that on that day, allows her to remain hidden and allude the death fated for her.

With the aid of Youta, a family servant, she escapes the devastation and with his tutoring, learns to control her gifts as a Shadow Weaver.  Born with the ability to create illusions around herself, Suzume can appear as anything she wishes... or anyone. But when her mother remarries, Suzume stumbles across a deadly secret and is forced to use her gifts to flee her home, yet her new step-father, the Lord Terayama, remains in close pursuit. 

Changing from a lady of wealth to a scullery maid, then into the most sought after courtesan of the Moonlit lands, Suzumes heart grows black, consumed only by two goals. Survival, and revenge. But then she meets Otieno, and for the first time in years, she finds her plans faltering as he teaches her what it is to love once again.

Yet Suzume has worked too hard to let Otieno ruin her vengeance now. Prepared to sacrifice both her love and freedom, Suzume will do anything to attend the Shadow Ball. She will bring Terayama to justice once and for all… even if it kills her…

This book is truly amazing. The setting, the characters, each had such life and depth that they felt almost tangible. It was a sad moment when I turned the last page and the story ended.

Loosely based on Cinderella, Zoe Marriott puts her own twist on the old, much loved fairytale. While similarities from the original were clear to see, this book remains uniquely its own story, especially with Suzume being a stronger, and much more complex character than poor Cinders could ever hope to be.

 Otieno is also a very interesting character. With his tattoos and dark skin, Suzume can’t help but be drawn in by his differences. Yet their relationship is based on more than just physical attraction. Otieno has such an innate goodness to him that I felt he helped balance out the darker elements of Suzumes character, and as fate throws the two them together again and again, it became a pleasure to watch their emotional connection grow.

The book also covers some more sensitive issues such as depression and self-harm. These are issues that I don’t think are addressed enough in YA books and I liked how Zoe Marriott drew subtle attention to them without turning the story into something overbearingly dark nor annoyingly preachy. It really made me admire her skills as a writer.

So overall Shadows on the Moon was an amazing read. Beautifully written and with a diverse array of characters, this is a book I would recommend to any lovers of fantasy and fairytale retellings. Mystical, emotional and truly captivating, this is without doubt a five star read!


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