Wednesday, 27 November 2013

[REVIEW] Black City by Elizabeth Richards

Black City by Elizabeth Richards
Published: November 2012
Age Group: YA
Series: Black City #1
I'll admit completely that the only reason I wanted to read this book was the cover. It's absolutely gorgeous! Definitely cover drool worthy. I'm also sure that I had read the blurb of this way back when I first added it to my TBR shelf but clearly I didn't remember it when I started reading it yesterday and so when I realized what the plot line was about, well, I was taken aback. Guess I didn't see that one coming so kudos to you Elizabeth Richards for catching me by surprise.

Black City is a dystopia-lit story about this world split up in to 9 different districts (thing Hunger Games) and the main setting happens to be Black City, a portion of the mining state of Black River. Why it seems to be a trend to have the main setting be in the "mining" portion of the world is beyond me but clearly it was picked for a reason that I don't understand because I'm not an author, merely a curious reader.  The story follows two completely different protagonists, and I don't mean just in terms of gender. Ash, is one of the only twin-blood Darklings in the city and Natalie is the daughter of the leader of the city. In terms of dramatic romances go I'm sure readers have already predicted that they fall in love (or if you've read the blurb then yes you would have already known that). I will say that Elizabeth Richards spent very little time introducing the romantic relationship between the two and I commend her for that. I don't like things being dragged out and would rather prefer authors get straight into it. I also think Elizabeth Richards did a lovely job introducing it. The idea of a heart starting to beat after finding their true love is endearing and romantic in nature.

To explain the paranormal portion of this story, the Darklings in this story can be seen as vampires. They live off blood and can't be in the sun. Their fangs releases a poison that acts like an opiate to humans. They only thing that sort of threw me off was the idea of a Darkling finding their true mate. There's some werewolf aspect to that but it's interesting concept, and I find it completely new which is good since a lot of stories recycle the same type of characters when it comes to paranormal fiction.

Black City does follow the standard story line for dystopia lit. You have the first book, Black City, introducing the dystopia world and how corrupt it is. You get introduced to the hero/es and a rebellion breaks out at the end with the heroes playing their part saving everyone. So if it follows this we can expect the sequel to be an information dump and last novel to be a great battle.

Although the story was an interesting read, although I think I may be bias since I rarely turn down a dystopia lit book, there were some parts that I found to be very "out of the blue" shall we say. This mate claiming business was sort disconnected from the rest of the story line. Well ok so readers were given lots of foreshadow and hints but I guess the execution of the discovery was off. The dialogue sort of felt like this to me:
"Hey, didn't you have something you wanted to tell me"
"Uh, yea"
"Uh, You're my blood mate"
It was just so awkward and strange. There was no basis for either character to accept it but they did blindly. I guess that's what they mean when they say love makes you blind. "The heart wants what the heart wants" 
The ending was also downplayed in my opinion. This miracle happens, and then when the characters were explaining it so nonchalantly in the epilogue that it made the climactic event seem mundane as opposed to being the most dramatic scene in the book.
Overall, I thought this was a very strong dystopia lit. You have classic elements of government oppression. for instance the slogan of the main leader, Purian Rose, "His majesty sees all sinners" sort of puts him in a position like God so that whatever he does shouldn't be questioned. There are many poetic lines in this story too that I felt myself very moved by them.  
Some of my favourite lines:
"The snow on the crosses had turned pink as it soaks up the dried blood stained into the wood. It's chilling watching students play beside the crosses, but that's life in Black City. Everywhere you turn you're reminded of death, but you have to block it out, otherwise you couldn't carry on living"

"A strong breeze stirs the ash on the charred buildings surrounding us, scattering black flakes into the air. I feel like I'm inside a giant snow globe. It's really quite beautiful; why had I never noticed it before?"
In fact , I feel like the entire story is done in a very symbolic way, to the title of Black City - a  city covered in ash, to the characters name being Ash and the cover of the rose slowly falling apart.
I enjoyed reading this and will definitely be reading the sequel.

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Saturday, 23 November 2013

[REVIEW] Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Published: October 2013
Age Group:  YA
Series: Divergent #3 [end] 
This review took me a long time to write, mainly because I have so much to say. In fact I'm almost certain that I've forgotten to say something, oh well.

I remember the first time I saw Divergent. I was looking for new YA books to borrow from the library and came upon it. the cover seemed intriguing and I put it on hold not knowing that I had put into motion an adventure of epic proportions and amazing stories filled with emotional readings and a sad goodbye. Divergent is one of my most treasured books. I would say it ranks in there with my Harry Potter collection and childhood stories. Definitely a book that I'll come to over and over again for a good read. It might be selfish of me to say that when this series picked up in hype and was getting worldwide attention, I felt joy for such a wonderful story being recognized but, also a sense of anger at the fact that I would have to share such a masterpiece. But clearly masterpieces are meant to be shared and not hidden away in a safe concealed at the back of your closet. I thank Veronica Roth for taking me, and everyone else who loves this series as much as I do, on this wonderful story. Now onto the [last] review of this trilogy: onward to Allegiant.

Allegiant picks up right where Insurgent left off. And (if anyone remembers) the ending of Insurgent was crazy, chaotic and cliffhanger-ish in my opinion so I'm really glad that the story started off right away and didn't leave us hanging.

Tris is a very complicated character. I'm not sure if she's written this way because of her Divergence, or because she's one of the protagonists but for Tris, her actions always have a deeper meaning. And sometimes I find myself disliking her, or for thinking that she's thinking too much into a situation, or is being too harsh or too blunt but that's the nature of this character and it's interesting to see her evolve from someone with so little freedom at the start of Divergent to finally getting a small grasp and glimpse of freedom after choosing Dauntless, to finding out life isn't as easy as it seems in Insurgent and, finally in Allegiant, she comes to the understanding of what the real world is and what needs to be done.

Four/Tobias on the other hand is seen to be a typical "guy figure". He's strong, muscular, doesn't see the deeper meaning behind things, and yet he's very emotional and internally very weak. I think Tobias also went on a journey of self discovery and found it in the end.

It's interesting to see the juxtaposition between these two seemingly different characters who have this one connection of striving for freedom and finding their selves in this world where you are deemed to a fate on the day of your 16th birthday.

The story took up slower then the other instalments. Think of it as the 'calm before the storm' and boy was there a storm to follow. I would say even starting in Insurgent, Four has become less confident and confused in his decisions. Allegiant only further proves that. His choices in the book are questionable and, in my opinion somewhat desperate. I feel that he's so desperate to seek his own freedom that he is willing to follow whoever seems to have the "right" vision. I believe Tris can see this too and she starts to distant herself. Tris isn't the bright and, shall we say, intelligent being in Allegiant. Well, she's still intelligent but I found her to be more dark and gloomy, sort of a foreshadow of upcoming events.

Allegiant's storyline wasn't as smooth as the other plotlines. For one, it seemed to be too convenient for certain events to occur or for some characters to act out. Secondly, some scenes were somewhat predictable due to the nature of the situation. I would assume due to the particular events or character choices that it became quite evident, at a very early point, what they were going to do. Divergent and Insurgent both had an element of surprise and often sudden climactic situations which I found missing in Allegiant.

I understand the difficulty of finishing a series, regardless of how popular it is although I can imagine the pressure to finish this book and make everyone happy, and that Veronica Roth was most likely under a lot of pressure to make this ending fitting. I've spoken to many people about their opinions of the ending and most of their opinions were similar to mine. I personally feel like the ending could have been much better. I'm not sure if I'm being biased or unjustified in saying this because I had such high expectations of this instalment that perhaps my expectations were much too high and that a good ending for me would only seem subpar compared to my expectations. Was the ending bad, no. I enjoyed the parts with the character's emotions. I felt the pain, the happiness, the shock and perhaps the sadness the most. I remember reading the second half of Allegiant at school during a 1 hour break. Everything just started building up at a really quick pace compared to the first half of the book, and I just remembered getting really emotional and holding back tears by the end of it. I must have looked like fool sniffing like I had an allergy with watering eyes. I'm not sure if I got lucky and had no one was around me when I was reading this or if I scared everyone away but luckily there were very few students around me at the time.

If my emotions were any indication, the ending was definitely impactful. Do I believe it could have been better - most definitely. Do I think it was absolutely horrible - no. It was an ok ending to such a phenomenal series. To be honest, I'm not sure how the series could end on as powerful note as the series start was but Veronica Roth did a good job wrapping everything up and ending the story on a climactic ending, albeit somewhat predictable, still amazing and definitely memorable.

I would highly implore you to read this series and I am very certain it will go down as one of those iconic dystopic lit YA fiction series', along with the Hunger Games.

(The initial amount rating was 4.5-5 cups of tea but after thinking about it for the last couple of weeks I've dropped the rating to 4 cups of tea.)
MEH on it's own. BUY as a series.

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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

[COMING SOON TO THE BIG SCREEN] Divergent Full Length Trailer!

Today the full length trailer for Divergent was released. Take a look at it, if you haven't already, below.

If you've been following the movie updates then most of the scenes will be quite familiar to you. Nonetheless it's still interesting and exhilarating to see this come to the big screen!
I absolutely cannot wait!

Divergent hits theaters March 21, 2014.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

[REVIEW] Breaking the Storm by Sedona Venez

Breaking the Storm by Sedona Venez
Published: August 2013
Age Group: New Adult
Series: Creedence Curse #1
I read this book during my period of werewolf obsession, so it's no surprise that this story is about werewolves and paranormal creatures. Breaking the Storm is book one of the Creedence Curse series that follows the Creedence women and the curse that has befallen their family so that whomever thy fall in love with will die. Enter main character Stormy (a.k.a. Storm) Creedance who is so paranoid and scared about this curse that she walks away from the relationship between her and rocker Knox Gunner. The story takes place several years after that. Knox is a famous rockstar now and Storm is running the Creedence business, providing escorts to the royal elite of the paranormal world.  Obviously her world turns upside down once she meets Knox again and that's where the story starts again where Knox and Storm start their relationship again and find that they still really love each other.

Breaking the Storm was a good read. I enjoyed the fact that the story was focused on the love aspect and yet had a distinct plot line that was carried throughout the entire story. Storm and Knox are two stubborn people and it's interesting to see those two try to push and pull each other away, while trying to deny the attraction between the two.

It's a fast paced story filled with lots of action and sexy scenes.

If I had anything to say about the story is that I believe the sequel will follow a different character and I'm personally not a fan of sequels that focus on different characters. I just find the story to be incomplete if the series follows the same plotline and yet the protagonists change throughout each installment. I would much rather have one main protagonist that readers continue to discover and understand more than having to rediscover and understand a new character.

3.5 - 4
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Friday, 1 November 2013

[COVER REVEAL] The One by Kiera Cass

Apparently I missed this entirely but the cover for The One, the finale to The Selection series, was revealed at the end of September. Blasphemy I know, due apologies.
Anyway here's the cover:

the dresses on the covers of this series are absolutely gorgeous. and this one is no exception. We're expecting a wedding and this cover definitely verified that - unless someone enjoys wearing gorgeous white gowns as casual wear, then that's their choice and no judging...
This is probably my most favourite dress of the three, not sure what that says about me.

"Only 1 girl can wear the crown". Catfight to come, especially because America and Maxon are on the rocks right now. I'm definitely rooting for America, it's meant to be. But then again this is dystopia lit and most dystopia lit usually has an element of despair wrapped up into it. There's already so much that has happened in this series that I'm honestly unsure what will happen, which only adds to my desire to read this even more.

There are a lot of new books that are being released next year, in 2014, and The One is one of my absolute neeeeeds. I HAVE TO READ IT WHEN IT RELEASES.

The One by Kiera Cass releases May 6, 2014.