Tag Archives: Read in 2014

Chasing the Valley (Chasing the Valley #1)

Read from 28-29th September, 2014

Author: Skye Melki-Wegner

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4 Stars

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Escape is impossible. Escape is their only hope.

Danika is used to struggling for survival. But when the tyrannous king launches an attack to punish her city – echoing the alchemy bombs that killed Danika’s family – she risks her life in a daring escape over the city’s walls.

Danika joins a crew of desperate refugees who seek Magnetic Valley, a legendary safe haven. But when she accidentally destroys a palace biplane, suddenly Danika Glynn becomes the most wanted fugitive in Taladia.

Pursued by the king’s vicious hunters and betrayed by false allies, Danika also grapples with her burgeoning magical abilities. And when she meets the mysterious Lukas, she must balance her feelings against her crew’s safety.

Chasing the Valley is the first book in an epic trilogy of magic, treachery and survival.

* * * * * * * * * *

Combining magic, alchemy, fantasy and adventure, Chasing the Valley is a quick, enjoyable read.

At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the characters – none of them immediately stood out, there didn’t seem to be anything extraordinary about them. However, this worked in their favour, added to their appeal. The characters were very easy to relate to because, while they all had their strengths, they were thrust into an unfamiliar environment and forced to adapt. They made mistakes, fought, formed relationships, solved problems, and were so utterly human. Their talents at first seemed either irrelevant or under-developed, but the most seemingly irrelevant things ended up saving them. Maisy’s book smarts, Clementine’s sparkly clothes, Teddy’s bravado, that old song that lead them true – all of which helped them out, maybe even saving their lives. They were nothing extraordinary – just ordinary teenagers – but their experiences shaped them and forced them to grow and discover within themselves and as a team. There were certainly no Mary-Sues.

The world-building was interesting and very well-done. Information was gradually added though character interactions – they came from such different walks of life that it was only natural for them to elaborate upon the differences – as well as when the characters experienced new discoveries. The magic was prominent but not overdone, able to be used but not a first resort.

Overall, an interesting, easy read for lovers of fantasy and magic. While not my absolute favourite, I did quite enjoy Chasing the Valley and look forward to the rest of the trilogy.

Legend (Legend #1)

Read on 28th September, 2014

Author: Marie Lu

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5 Stars

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What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Eloquently written, full of unexpected plot twists and starring intelligent, relatable characters, Legend makes for a brilliant read.

June and Day were quite enjoyable characters. They were both remarkably intelligent, physically capable and extremely loyal. In other words, they had everything you could ever want in a character. Strong, quick-witted, intelligent, loyal – June and Day are who I aspire to be. They are my role models.

Tessa, Metias and John were all strong, notable characters that found a place in my heart. They were all full of integrity and had a fundamental goodness in themselves. The relationships that they had with June and Day (respectively) were so sweet, genuine and full of love.

Thomas and Commander Jameson were great in that while I initially liked them, I soon grew to loath them with a passion. In contrast, I hated Chian from the start.

“If you want to rebel, rebel from inside the system. That’s much more powerful than rebelling outside the system.”

So many books have the protagonists uprising from the “outside”, but Metias is right – it’s much more effective to rebel from inside the system. It made for a nice change and was rather enjoyable – especially given the nature of the characters.

The world-building truly was spectacular. I believed it right from the get-go and it was set up realistically. The trials were actually a very clever – if somewhat impractical – method of governing the future of the population. But questions do arise that I hope will be answered in the following books – Why did they lie about Day’s score? The Elector seems to indeed be elected, so one would think the Republic would be democratic, but it seems this is not the case. Do people actually vote? The poor certainly have no say. Indeed, it seems the Republic is more a military dictatorship than anything else. Where did they take Eden? What is this new strand of plague? Would they still have taken him if events did not play out as they did?

Highly recommended, Legend is a stunning tale with a unique spin on the dystopian genre.

The Sending (Obernewtyn #6)

Read from 25-28th September, 2014

Author: Isabelle Carmody

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5 Stars

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It came to me then, like a chilly draught from an unseen gap, that I had always known in my deepest heart that it would be like this, a slipping away from a life full of people I had come to love, in a place I had helped to shape, in a land I had helped to free.

The time has come at last for Elspeth Gordie to leave the Land on her quest to find and stop the computermachine Sentinel from unleashing the deadly Balance of Terror arsenal. But before she can embark on her journey, she must find a lost key. And although she has long prepared for this day, nothing is as she anticipated.

Elspeth’s search will take her where she never thought to go, and bestow upon her stranger companions than any she ever imagined. It will lead her far from her destination to those she believed lost forever.

And it will test her, as she has never been tested before . . .

* * * * * * * * * *

The Obernewtyn Chronicles are a favourite of mine and The Sending certainly did not disappoint. The plot twists were numerous and it was a very enjoyable read.

Old friends that we had grown to love were brought back, and new companions were introduced and well developed over the course of the story. I loved who her companions turned out to be and that she didn’t have to journey on her quest all alone.

I must say, I am more convinced than ever that Dameon is secretly in love with Elspeth. Though, I’m actually somewhat glad that she cannot see it – I love Dameon, but her knowing that he loves her might make things rather awkward… I do love him though :). However, Rushton and Elspeth are just too perfect for each other! Especially the link and what happened in the hut and his question that went unanswered that we all know she’d have said “yes” to (I’m trying to do this without spoilers, okay? So just ignore my mindless fangirl gush if you haven’t read the book yet).

Although unexpected, I SO ship Analivia and Swallow – they are just the cutest thing *awww*.

In the beginning, I really didn’t like Ahmedri. In fact, I was rather irritated by his presence. However, like Elspeth, I grew to like him over time. It’s amazing what scenarios desert knowledge can have practical applications for, and how useful he proved himself. I loved we found out the backstories of some of the characters and I particularly liked his past with Straaka (excluding the last time they saw each other, of course).

All in all, The Sending is a great addition to the Obernewtyn Chronicles that will not disappoint. As per Isabel’s style, there is a lot of focus on character development in addition to a twisting plot. Now, all we have to do is wait for the next book. But, considering she’s written six (technically seven) books in 25 years, we might be waiting a while…

The FitzOsbornes at War (Montmaray Journals #3)

Read on 24th September, 2014

Author: Michelle Cooper

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4.5 Stars

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Michelle Cooper completes her heart-stealing epic drama of history and romance with The FitzOsbornes at War.

Sophie FitzOsborne and the royal family of Montmaray escaped their remote island home when the Nazis attacked. But as war breaks out in England and around the world, nowhere is safe. Sophie fills her journal with tales of a life during wartime. Blackouts and the Blitz. Dancing in nightclubs with soliders on leave. And endlessly waiting for news of her brother Toby, whose plane was shot down over enemy territory.

But even as bombs rain down on London, hope springs up, and love blooms for this most endearing princess. And when the Allies begin to drive their way across Europe, the FitzOsbornes take heart—maybe, just maybe, there will be a way to liberate Montmaray as well.

* * * * * * * * * *

A beautiful story that will brake your heart – multiple times – and make you laugh to no end. A story of bravery, intelligence, loss, family, growing up and the realities of war. The FitzOsbornes at War is absolutely stunning, with twists and turns that will have you smiling and balling your eyes out, laughing and grieving. The characters that you’ve grown to love will not disappoint, but rather endear themselves to you further. A brilliant conclusion to a wonderful series.

I cried – boy did I cry – but I was sucked into a torrent of emotions that would not let me go. After that absolutely heart-wrenching moment (about three quarters or so in – you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about once you’ve read it), the smallest things made me remember and a new round of tears burst forth. The thing is though, The FotzOsbornes at War, while terribly sad at some parts, was not a massive sob story – so don’t let that turn you off from reading it! It was the perfect finale to the trilogy and as beautifully written as the previous books.

There was so much character development. We’d grown to love them, but now we were able to see them flourish and face the harsh realities of life and war. Losses were sustained, old friends came back, relationships were tested, new love was found and support shared. All this came full circle and made them become stronger people, a closer family. Thankfully, Rebecca was hardly mentioned, I grew to love Simon and Henry – she grew up too fast, but I absolutely adore her and couldn’t get enough of her. The other characters were brilliant as well and I just loved them all!

Wow, my eyes are still prickling with tears… But The FitzOsbornes at War is definitely high on my recommendations – it is just an absolutely stunning piece of work that deeply touched my heart and which I hope will touch yours too.

The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner #1)

Read on 22nd September, 2014

Author: James Dashner

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4.5 Stars

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If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

* * * * * * * * * *

An action-packed, riveting, fast-paced, page-turning novel, The Maze Runner is everything you could ask for and more.

Typically, I don’t go for books with lots of action and a male protagonists, but The Maze Runner had me enthralled. I honestly don’t have any criticism for this novel – it was believable, realistic, fast-paced but by no means rushed, the characters were quite intellectual, it had great character development not only of the main protagonist, but the side characters – it was just a brilliant read.

That ending though… Well, you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve read the book…

I highly recommend this for fans of dystopian, adventure, sci-fi, with a hint of romance.

I’m interested to see how the movie turns out – if it’s anything like the book. I suspect as much, but you never know…

The Giver (The Giver #1)

Read from 20-21st September, 2014

Author: Lois Lowry

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4.5 Stars

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Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

* * * * * * * * * *

A hauntingly enchanting read that makes you think about the deeper issues in life. The Giver – “the book that made dystopia” – is a classic read for all ages.

This novel is beautifully written. The language is eloquent and intelligent, delivering an intriguing story based in a fascinating world so unlike our own, yet believable all the same.

I found this utopian society fascinating. At first, I actually felt like I wanted to be part of The Community – it sounded pretty cool. Everyone seemed intelligent, you pretty much got your idea job, and marriages seemed to work out pretty well. But then we started to see the flaws. There was no books to read for fun, there was no love, I’m not even going to go near the releasing process (how can anyone be okay with that? And if they truly feel that it is the right thing to do, why do they lie about it?) – oh, and there’s no colour. Literally. Everything’s in black and white – the “Sameness” is what the Giver called it.

The concepts and importance of identity, memory, emotions and choice were addressed. Lois writes, “It was a community without danger or pain. But it was also a community without music, colour or art. And it was a community without books.”

The ending, however, let me down. While there are three other books in the quartet, they are seemingly unrelated to The Giver – so we don’t find out what happens to the characters we have grown to love. I understand the idea of “open-ended” book, but I felt that the ending was rushed and that the novel didn’t really have a conclusion.

Despite this, I did love the story. The Giver is a book that can be read on a philosophical level or just for fun. Either way, I believe that this well-rounded book can be read by all ages (starting with children around eleven).

I look forward to seeing the movie – the characters have been ages about four years and a romance has been added in, but I’m interested in how true the movie is to the book.

Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales

Read from 11-17th September, 2014

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4 Stars

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Collected here for the first time are all of the tales from the land of Tortall, featuring both previously unknown characters as well as old friends. Filling some gaps of time and interest, these stories, some of which have been published before, will lead Tammy’s fans, and new readers into one of the most intricately constructed worlds of modern fantasy.

The Dragon’s Tale
Daine’s dragonling, Kitten, helps an outcast from society.

Elder Brother
A tree, made human by Numair, must learn the intricacies of being a man.

The Hidden Girl
Despite the laws of her patriarchal society, a girl wants to learn…and teach.

Huntress
A contemporary teen tries to fit in with the cool group at school, at a terrible price.

Lost
A darking shows a self-doubting math genius how smart she can be.

Mimic
Ri helps any wounded creature, no matter how ugly or strange

Nawat
Nawat the crow-man faces a choice no father wants to make.

Plain Magic
What happens when you lose a lethal lottery?

Student of Ostriches
A young girl fights a proven warrior to protect her sister’s honor.

Testing
When trying out a new housemother, how hard do you push?

Time of Proving
Arimu of the Wind People meets a poet from the Veiled City.

* * * * * * * * * *

I rather enjoyed this collection of short stories – I adore Tamora Pierce’s work and it was great to slip back into her writing.

To be honest, I’m really not sure which was my favourite! I think I’m torn between Lost, The Dragon’s Tale, Mimic and The Hidden Girl. Though I did enjoy them all.

One thing I loved about Lost is when they were talking about maths, I understood what they were saying. Not to mention, Lost (the darking) was absolutely adorable! Though I did want to strangle her father and Inspector Park…

I’m not quite sure how I feel about the last two tales, (Huntress and Testing) as they are set in modern time, America. They were both great stories, but I felt they kind of interrupted the fantasy/alternate medieval vibe Tamora has going for her… I don’t know why, but I kind of hopes they’d be a modern-day Tortall or adjoining lands.

An easy, enjoyable, on-the fly kind of book (or maybe that’s because I’ve been reading all my books that way recently?) Anyway, I definitely recommend this to all Tamora Pierce fans out there! Especially those who wonder about side characters or “what happened after”.

The FitzOsbornes in Exile (Montmaray Journals #2)

Read from 2nd-10th September, 2014

Author: Michelle Cooper

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4.5 Stars

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Forced to leave their island kingdom, Sophie FitzOsborne and her eccentric family take shelter in England. Sophie’s dreams of making her debut in shimmering ballgowns are finally coming true, but how can she enjoy her new life when they have all lost so much?

Aunt Charlotte is ruthless in her quest to see Sophie and Veronica married off by the end of the Season, Toby is as charming and lazy as ever, Henry is driving her governess to the brink of madness, and the battle of wills between Simon and Veronica continues. Can Sophie keep her family together, when everything seems to be falling apart?

An enticing glimpse into high society, the cut and thrust of politics as nations scramble to avert world war, and the hidden depths of a family in exile, struggling to find their place in the world.

* * * * * * * * * *

I absolutely adored this book. While I enjoyed this book much more that A Brief History of Montmaray, it was necessary to read the prequel to full appreciate the sequel.

I highly recommend this book as it is a great read that you can pick up at any time. As I’m back at school, I have only had time to read on the bus and occasionally in class. However, this did not reduce my appreciation for this novel at all. It is a great novel if you’re busy but still want something to read on the go.

In my previous review, I expressed my irritation with Sophie as a character and a narrator. I am elated to inform you that Sophie has matured a lot and it was a pleasure to journey with her. In fact, all of the characters grew and developed beautifully – I loved them all! (Save that awful Mosley and Rebecca – but thankfully she didn’t make much of an appearance).

The FitzOsbornes in Exile is a unique and universal read. It focuses on friendships and family relationships as opposed to blind romance. The novel gives us a glimpse into the reality of post WWI England in the face of WWII. Mixed up in all of this is gender inequality, what they don’t tell you about marriage, what is seen as proper as opposed to genuine relationships, the lead up to WWII, the state of the politics at the time, and much more.

A truly well-rounded, exceptional read, The FitzOsbornes in Exile is a beautiful read of which I highly recommend. Admittedly, the first book in the series A Brief History of Montmaray was not the most captivating to me, but I advise you persist with the series, knowing that the second book is that much better.

A Brief History of Montmaray (Montmaray Journals #1)

Finished on 29th August, 2014

Author: A Brief History of Montmaray

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3 Stars

* * * * *

“There’s a fine line between gossip and history, when one is talking about kings.”

Sophie FitzOsborne lives in a crumbling castle in the tiny island kingdom of Montmaray with her eccentric and impoverished royal family. When she receives a journal for her sixteenth birthday, Sophie decides to chronicle day-to-day life on the island. But this is 1936, and the news that trickles in from the mainland reveals a world on the brink of war. The politics of Europe seem far away from their remote island—until two German officers land a boat on Montmaray. And then suddenly politics become very personal indeed.

A Brief History of Montmaray is a heart-stopping tale of loyalty, love, and loss, and of fighting to hold on to home when the world is exploding all around you.

* * * * *

I am honestly ashamed at how long this took me to read. It wasn’t even the fact that I’m a slow reader (because I’m not) – but that I kept putting it off.

A Brief History of Montmaray was recommended to me by one of my best friends who gave it a raving review. While I did end up enjoying the novel, it took me until about halfway to get interested. The problem, I found, was Sophie.

In the beginning, I found her quite annoying, somewhat frustrating and an altogether unrelatable character – particularly with her almost obsessive unrequited love for Simon Chester. To be honest, it was only my friend’s review, my interest in Veronica and my determination to finish that kept me from putting this book down and not picking it back up again. However, my opinion (thankfully) changed and while this is not the greatest book out there, I did end up enjoying it enough to want to read the sequel.

Other Characters of Note

I mentioned beforehand that I loved Veronica – and I did. I always get excited when there’s a bookish character and she was just amazing. Veronica was not only intelligent, but pursued answers and was active in her political views. On top of that, Veronica somehow managed to manage the household affairs. She was without a doubt my favourite character throughout the whole story. I admire her greatly.

I never like Rebecca – not even in the beginning. There’s not much I can say without giving anything away, but as the book progressed I liked her even less – to the point where I even wished her dead. Rebecca annoyed me much worse than Sophie – she was useless, slightly mad, complicated things and just vexed me to no end. I really hope she doesn’t have a part in the next book, simply disappearing into the shadows (and taking Simon with her, ideally).

Henry was… unusual. I did enjoy her antics, and her endeavours to convince everyone that she really was a boy were rather amusing.

Toby was great. He sounds like the perfect brother! I did get slightly frustrated at him near the end, but he was great. He had some hilarious lines that made me laugh.

All in all, A Brief History of Montmaray was an enjoyable read after I got past the approximate half way point and I look forward to reading the sequel. However, I certainly do not believe that it lives up to all those raving reviews.

Delirium (Delirium #1)

Read in April, 2014

Author: Lauren Oliver

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5 Stars 🙂

I loved this book. It brought forth great concepts and ideas; it was very thought-provoking; brilliantly written; had great character development; made me fall in love with the characters; made me laugh; made me cry; and made me realise just how much I take for granted. – It was just a beautiful story! Not to mention, it left on a HUGE cliff hanger which, as much as I hate reading them, I love them too.