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Book Review: Wintergirls

22310019Another book based on eating disorders, which I’d definitely not recommend for anyone recovering or struggling with these issues. It also includes a lot of self harm and suicidal references, so just be warned.

This was another amazing book. I personally suffer with both anorexia and self harm, so this was so incredibly relatable to me. One major difference is Lia’s relationship with Cassie – her best friend who suffers with bulimia. The two of them encourage each other through their weight loss journeys, giving tips and even challenging each other to become the thinnest. I could not imagine having a relationship like this. I know several other eating disordered people, one of whom is a good friend, and we would never dream of acting like this. It was quite sick, honestly – I hate all the pro-ana stuff. But I suppose some people do it.

A quick observation: they never actually use the terms “anorexia” or “bulimia” which is interesting. There’s often a sort of rivalry portrayed between the two disorders, and the diagnosis of anorexia is held as some sort of accomplishment. It was refreshing to read a book that doesn’t mention that, and even sees them ‘working together’.

At the very start of the book, Cassie dies. Lia eventually learns how exactly that happens, but refuses to let it affect her because her and Cassie had fallen out a while ago. Lia’s eating habits seem to be getting worse (again) and her family think it’s Cassie’s death that’s triggered her, but Lia denies it. But when Cassie’s ghost starts haunting her and begging her to join her, Lia realises how out of hand it’s become.

The little details of the eating disorder were fantastic. The way Lia always quotes calories whenever talking/thinking of food, her estimating every other woman’s BMI against her own, even her initial “I want/need food” that she denies. It all felt so much like my own experience.

The ending was definitely one of those “inspiring” types; who ever would’ve thought Lia would actually work with the unit she’d been admitted to so many times and actually try to recover? I liked how honest this was, though. It wasn’t just a simple, clean recovery. There were fears and bad days and also the realisation that she had been avoiding real life, afraid of it. It’s hard to confront the underlying issues of a disorder like this.

I really loved this. It was just so accurate and inspiring and actually made me cry a bit. It did trigger me at times, but that’s probably just because I’m in a bit of a wobbly place right now. The ending has definitely provided me with hope, though. (Usually these books are focused on younger girls, but Lia is my age. It makes me feel like maybe I still have time to find my motive to recover.) 5 stars.Bookmarked Signature Logo

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Book Review: The Bane Chronicles

9781406360585-usThere are a few companion novels to Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, but as this one is centred around my favourite character, I just had to read it.

The first thing I noticed was how well the changing time periods were reflected in the language and writing. As a warlock, Magnus has lived through hundreds of years and in dozens of different countries. I felt like, as the reader, I was really transported to all those different eras and places along with Magnus. But he still had that charm and humour that I adore so much about him, and the eccentricity we all love.

Most of this book is filled with tales from before the characters of The Mortal Instruments are even alive. If you’ve read the series you’ll notice how the events tie into references from those books. I really enjoyed reading more details on things that are casually mentioned in the main series, especially as Magnus is such an interesting character with so many stories to tell. Some of the main events include his relationship with Camille, his helping Raphael when turned into a vampire, and (of course) his relationship with Alec. We also hear a lot about what really happened in Peru…

This is definitely one of my favourite companion books – a lot of authors seem to go too far with their franchise and try too hard to write extra books. This felt more natural and was thoroughly enjoyable. 5 stars!

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Book Review: Inkdeath

12516763This is the final book in Cornelia Funke ‘s Inkworld trilogy, and the longest of them all. I have to admit that this one did get a bit tedious at times, despite being well written. It was just too long.

Meggie has read Farid and herself into Inkworld, and Resa and Mo soon followed. They get into quite a lot of trouble, especially when Fenoglio – the author of ‘Inkheart’ – uses Mo as the template for a famous character in his songs.

The plot is very intricate. Motorola returns a few times, the Black Prince and all the robbers take in Meggie, Dustfinger meets Death on more than one occasion, Mo binds the Adderhead a book of immortality – the list goes on. But Death is quite a big character here, and there are a lot of dramatic scenes. I don’t want to spend too long summarising the novel, but I can say that it’s full of action and interesting twists. While this series still has a sort of innocent, fairy-tale feel to it, it is definitely a lot darker than any children’s story.

I liked how Mo, who had been so angry at Inkworld, becomes entranced by its beauty. When things start to get rough and Meggie and Resa want to return home, Mo is the one who pleads to stay. His second identity as the Bluejay – the infamous robber created by Fenoglio – is taking over, and even he finds himself in the company of Death.

The writing is great, and the ending really made me pity Farid. I think this was a bit too long, and I did get pretty disinterested at times in the middle. It’s a shame, because I know it was probably really interesting stuff, but I just didn’t have the capacity to stay interested for so long. Maybe that’s just me, but I’m sure I’ve had no trouble reading other long books.

Maybe I’ll reread this trilogy some other time when I have no other distractions and can appreciate it more. For now, I’ll give Inkdeath 3.5 stars.Bookmarked Signature Logo

Book Review: She Is Not Invisible

This was not how I expected it to be. I liked the uniqueness of it, though, and how unpredictable it turned out to be.
It starts in an airport, with the protagonist and narrator (who’s name we learn to be Laureth) and her little brother Benjamin. We soon discover that Laureth is blind, which provides us with a very interesting account of the events of this story. They are going to America, alone, to find their father. He’s a writer, and holds his notebooks very dearly – so when Laureth gets an email about one being found in America when he’s supposed to be in Switzerland (and then he fails to answer his phone) she immediately assumes something is very wrong.

This is told mostly chronologically, but with memories scattered throughout. Laureth also gives slight hints as to what will be happening later on, reinstating the fact that she is writing about past events. I quite liked this – we were told about certain memories and events that were relevant to the story at that time, nothing more, nothing less.

It turns into quite a dark, suspenseful hunt. Laureth starts to fear that her father may even have taken his own life. The pair even get cornered by a man with a knife who claims to have seen her father. His partner later breaks into their hotel room, searching for some valuable contents of her father’s safe. Coincidentally, they run in to her father just moments later.

The obsession of Laureth and Ben’s father is coincidences; a very interesting topic. He goes into great detail in his notebook (which we are shown throughout the book), discussing theories and particular physicists’ experiences. Bit by bit, he seems to be delving deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the universe. Laureth is caught up in this – she looks for clues in every page of her dad’s notebook. But is she looking too hard? Is she finding signs that aren’t really there?

Laureth relies on her brother to navigate the world, and although he is only going, he is superbly helpful to her. She is adamant on being an independent young lady, and even hides her impairment from most people she meets. As she is the narrator of this book, we are given an account that does not include any visual descriptions. Instead, the other senses are used far more – sounds and feelings especially. I really liked this.

The ending was wonderful. It was different – completely unexpected. I especially liked how her “coincidental” meeting with Sam turned out to mean nothing at all. And her father’s account of what had happened, and his realisation that his obsession was pointless, was so ironic. Laureth and Ben had been on this massive journey, worried their father was so caught up in his obsession that his life was in danger. They began to find strange patterns and signs everywhere – only to find out how coindences are completely fake. 

And the last page was so clever, too. It was numbered 354 which is clever in itself – this number holds a massive significance throughout this book – but then there’s also the hidden message that’s revealed. One of the last sentences prompts you to look closely at the book, and then you find a heartwarming little phrase. I really liked this idea – it seems a bit naff, but actually worked really well.

I did feel like this was maybe a little more for younger adults (I’m nearly 18) but it was really easy to follow and quick to read. It wasn’t lengthy or tiresome at all. 4 stars.

Book Review: The Girl of Ink and Stars

This is quite a short YA novel, a standalone book that I just picked up on impulse. I immediately got the impression that this was aimed at slightly younger teens – the protagonist was only thirteen, so I didn’t really connect that much. It’s that awkward age where you think you’re old, but you’re not. I could imagine thirteen-year-old me would enjoy this quite a bit.
Isabella lives alone with her father, a skilled cartographer. Her mother and twin brother had passed away, leaving the two alone. The Governor had taken control of the land, and his daughter, Lupe, attended the same school as Isabella. The two were very close, and Isabella’s angered outburst causes Lupe to run off into the Hidden Territories to prove she wasn’t “rotten”. A classmate of theirs had recently been found dead, and Lupe was going to find the killer.

Isabella, disguised as her deceased brother, shows Lupe’s note to her father and a small group begin going after her, Isabella included. They follow a map passed down to Isabella’s mother, through blackened forests scattered with bones. They do find Lupe, along with the Banished and, worst of all, the hell dogs from Isabella’s favourite myth.

This myth turns out to play an important role in their journey, and Lupe discovers something about her father when he sacrifices himself to fend off the wolves. They face Yote himself – the mythical fire demon – and Isabella finds herself returning home without Lupe.

It is quite a young teen book, as I said, and the plot develops all because of Isabella calling Lupe’s family “rotten”. This drama and exaggeration is pretty typical of a children’s/teen book, I find, and seemed a little immature to me. The writing was great, I just couldn’t get over the simplicity and immaturity of the plot at times.

For a teen book, it was quite dark at times – a lot of death was included. The ending was both happy and sad, which is nice. I get quite fed up of too many happy endings. 3 stars.

Book Review: Release

I’ve been meaning to read more of Ness’s novels, and this new release (hah!) looked really interesting. It definitely lived up to that reputation.
It’s kind of split in two, alternating between Adam’s story and the story of the Queen and the the faun – spirits, one of which is lost and accidentally bound to the spirit of a young girl who has been murdered, jeopardising the safety of the entire world. I don’t actually know how or why these two stories are connected. There seems to be a link here and there, and they even meet at one point, but I don’t actually see why these two sets of characters are of any real importance to each other. Each story was very interesting, but I just didn’t feel like they were relevant to each other.

The story following Adam was really good, and the banter between Adam and Angela especially was fantastic. He is a gay boy living in an incredibly religious family – his father is a preacher at the nearby church. He’s getting over a relationship, while simultaneously dating another boy who seems to love him very much. But Adam doesn’t feel like he deserves the love, and when his father suggests he deserved the sexual harassment from his boss he completely loses it. This interaction was really interesting, and I think Ness did a pretty good job of creating a dramatic and accurate scene. A religious father faced with news such as this would likely have reacted in a similar way to Big Brian Thorn.

Although I did enjoy this and Ness’s writing is superb, I don’t quite understand this book. I saw a few links and enjoyed Adam’s story, but really didn’t understand the Queen’s significance. 3 stars.

Book Review: Anything That Isn’t This

Well this was a surprising read. Not just a typical YA dystopian novel, but a peculiar, artistic novel complete with illustrations throughout.

For some reason, I wasn’t expecting the strange world that Priestley created in this book. The Grey is suffocating Frank, the Ministry controlling his every decision. Most people are okay with it, comfortable in the routine provided. But Frank wants more.

First, Frank is obsessed with a girl from his school. Even after they graduate, he is desperate to be with her – he believes they’re ‘fated’. But after a while, he realises that maybe she’s not quite right for him.

This combines two typical YA romance plots – the “unpopular boy gets the cool girl” and also the “childhood friends become lovers” plot. I think it’s a bit unusual to mix the two, but I didn’t find anything spectacular about this aspect of the novel.

The whole book has a very strange abstract sort of feel to it; I was unsure at times whether to actually take what he was saying at face value or take it as a metaphor. There are loads of weird myths that are thrown around, many of which play a big role later in the book. 

The friendship with Scape was interesting; it kind of just happened out of the blue and ended in a similar way. And Mr Vertex was a weird character – it was obvious there was something strange about him, and I felt he really added to the abstract feel created.

The book kind of felt grey, but not in a bad way – as in, I felt how Frank felt about his life. I was pretty shocked by how dark it got at the end, quite suddenly. The ending was a bit of a whirlwind, followed by a moment of calm. The calmness was nice, an interesting ending that left your imagination running wild.

I didn’t really enjoy this book at first but I did eventually get into it, and quite liked it. I definitely liked the unique feel it had, almost like Coraline. 3.5 stars.

Book Review: Everybody Hurts

I don’t usually read cheesy YA romance novels, and very rarely do I enjoy them much. This was kind of an impulse read, and I probably wouldn’t have read it usually. But I’m glad I did.

It is pretty cheesy, and the voices of the characters are maybe over-exaggerated and trging-too-hard. But something about the writing was just really good, and I often found myself not wanting to put it down. Even though it was about love and sex and brain tumours. 

Jango is an interesting character, who seems like a plain old bully/idiot at first but actually turns out to be pretty good. His home life is complicated, and his friendship with Matt is more valuable than he lets on. But near-death experiences bring out the truth – and Jango’s affectionate, kind side.

Like I said before, it does all feel a bit too artificial – the “teenage” lingo is just not right, and the events are maybe played out to be more dramatic than they needed to be. I’m not actually sure how much I liked either of the main characters, but the telling of the story was great and made up for any dislikes I had.

It is a bit of a feel-good, cheesy romance in the end, which is nice to read sometimes. It’s got a lot of twists – bad luck, bad tempers – that make it a bit more unique than similar YA romances. 4 stars.

Book Review: The System

The System

The System (The Killables #3) by Gemma Malley – Paperback, 357 pages – Published April 10th 2014 by Hodder (first published December 5th 2013)

I finally got round to reading the conclusion to The Killables trilogy!

It’s been quite a long time since I read the first books, so I had forgotten some of the details. But as I read, I started to remember what had happened previously and was able to appreciate the current story.

After escaping the City, Evie, Raffy, Linus and Benjamin are now trapped in a world where everyone is being Watched. People actually made a living off of being Watched by strangers around t

The world, by having people see their daily lives and every thought. But Thomas, the leader of Infotec, isn’t satisfied; he still wants Linus to create the System he had originally thought of.

Frankie is one of the most Watched girls; her boyfriend, Milo, is high-up within Infotec and has really boosted her Watcher numbers. But an anonymous message encourages Frankie to write a blog post about the UK, and Milo suddenly turns pretty hostile. Suddenly Frankie is being thrown in the back of a van, her ID chip removed and given to some random doppelganger now claiming her identity. Frankie isn’t about to go down without a fight, though, and with the help of the anonymous messager, she escapes the Infotec enforcers.

There are a lot of switches between the POV this story is being told by, but after few chapters, the characters start to come together in one story.

A group of people are determined to tell the rest of the world about the UK – which was believed to have been destroyed by the Horrors. But Thomas is not going to let that happen easily – he’s more than happy to dispose of anyone threatening his company.

The future Malley has created is, in my opinion, quite plausible. Vlogs on YouTube are already super popular, and this isn’t that big a step up from that. And the System Thomas wants from Linus is probably not too far-fetched, either.

Frankie and Milo are probably the most important new characters in this book. Frankie was developed pretty well throughout the story, slowly discovering the truth and realising how she had been manipulated by Infotec. She’s not a big fan of Evie when they first meet, though, and I kind of thought Malley emphasised that more than was necessary. Milo also developed a bit, but with more of a sudden switch being flicked later in the book.

This was a good conclusion to the trilogy, and I enjoyed reading it. It maybe tries a bit too hard to be edgy, with swear words being thrown around and things like that. Still, I liked it. I felt a bit of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies coming through at times, but not enough that it felt samey or anything. 4 stars for the final Killables book.

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Book Review: Rippler

Rippler

Rippler by Cidney Swanson – eBook, 285 pages – Published March 8th 2013 by Williams Press (first published May 26th 2011)

This book is available for free on Kindle devices and apps over on Amazon, which is where I downloaded it from.

The book begins with Sam “rippling” – become invisible in front of her friends. No one sees it happening (assuming she just fell in the river) except for Will. From here, the two of them form a close bond, and Will tells Sam about the research his sister has been doing into Rippler’s Syndrome.

Researchers studying the Rippler gene have mysteriously died, leaving Sam, Will and his sister Mickie to assume they were murdered. They need to be careful to avoid being found – especially since two of the trio have the gene themselves.

Sam also discovers the truth about her mother’s death when she was young, which has some unexpected links to the murder of the researchers. Mickie becomes more and more fearful for the safety of her little brother, and Sam finds herself afraid of losing Will when Mickie considers moving them away.

The Rippler gene is a fantastic idea, plausible and well thought through. The symptom of the gene – the turning invisible – haven’t been explained particularly well yet, but that may come later in the series.

I did find the writing a little amateurish at times; the phrase “she/he/it was explained” was repeated quite often in place of actually writing the explanation. I’m not sure if this was to avoid lengthy descriptions of things that had already taken place or just to avoid having to write it out in detail, but it was something I noticed often. Also, Swanson tries to avoid repeating names and uses what reminds me a school-child method; describing the person, calling them things like “my mother” or “his big sister” in place of simply writing their name.

There are some aspects of romance, but they have yet to be fully developed. There’s also friendship drama, where Sam’s friend, Gwyn, believes her to be in an abusive relationship. This assumption was possibly a bit too dramatic and far-fetched, but the idea of Sam being torn between Gwyn and Will was good.

I enjoyed reading this book, and am thinking about reading the next novel in the series. However, I definitely did notice where improvements could have been made. 3.5 stars.

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