Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Review: Vortex (Tempest #2) by Julie Cross

Vortex (Tempest #2) by Julie Cross
Release Date: January 15th 2013
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback
Pages: 435
Rating: 4.5/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2014 RC and 2014 SSC

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"Jackson Meyer has thrown himself into his role as an agent for Tempest, the shadowy division of the CIA that handles all time-travel-related threats. Despite his heartbreak at losing the love of his life, Jackson has proved himself to be an excellent agent. However, after an accidental run in with Holly—the girl he altered history to save—Jackson is once again reminded of what he's lost. And when Eyewall, an opposing division of the CIA, emerges, Jackson and his fellow agents not only find themselves under attack, but Jackson begins to discover that the world around him has changed and someone knows about his erased relationship with Holly, putting both their lives at risk all over again."

** Spoiler Alert: Read at your own risk**

I'm currently finding it very hard to figure out my thoughts on this one, just because it's been weeks since I actually finished reading this. So I'm going to do something different - I'm going to try out a pros and cons list.

- Pros -

  • I liked the plot overall. Vortex took our character's in a new direction. Instead of focusing more on the romance in Tempest, Vortex very much focused on the time travel, and the mysteries behind it, and the government corporations all getting in on the action. And I liked that. 
  • I like what they did with Holly. In Tempest Holly was our protagonist Jackson's love interest, and the main driving force behind everything he did. In Vortex, for reasons I won't go into, she's his enemy. It was hard to wrap my head around it at first, because you've also got Jackson still hung up on the old Holly, and the majority of his actions revolve around protecting her, but once I started to think of her as a completely new character, I could appreciate what Cross has done with her.  
  • I liked Stewart and Kendrick. I loved Kendrick as the new best friend, and Stewart was an interesting character. You start out maybe not liking her so much, but she grows on you and in the end, you're glad Jackson has her. The only downside is that I don't remember Stewart in Tempest AT ALL, so I have absolutely nothing to compare her to in terms of character growth
  • I LOVED the ending. Very wacky, very strange, but very well done. 
  • There are still so many unanswered questions, which I can't wait to find out about in Timestorm. Why was Jackson's Dad abducted from the past? Where did Courtney come from and how is she doing what she's doing? Emily is still mysterious, I need more information on her. Healy said Thomas wasn't the guy he's been sending to try to convince him to do what he wants - so who is it? Is it Holly? Emily? Also Stewart seemed at bit off at times, does she have a deeper role? AND ADAM, WHY DID HE HAVE TO DIE??? There are so many questions raised that make my anxious to get my hands on Timestorm so I can get my answers. 
- Cons -
  • I suffered majorly from book amnesia, so I had a hard time remembering what actually happened in Tempest. Which in turn made it harder to understand everything going on in Vortex, because background information was missing.
  • A lot of information about the intricacies of time travel went completely over my head. There were a lot of explanations about time travel, alternate universe's, and Jackson's role in all of this, but most of the time I just couldn't completely understand what was happening. It's very complex, and I think since I didn't have my head completely wrapped around it, it made it harder to completely understand plot points
  • I'm still not sure exactly who Eyewall are. Eyewall are Jackson's enemy, but even after all the focus on Eyewall in this novel, I still have no idea who they are or what exactly they do. Which isn't great, considering the major role they have in all the action. I wasn't entirely sure in the end if they were as bad as what we're supposed to think they are. Hopefully their purpose is explained more thoroughly in Timestorm.   

So overall, I really, really enjoyed this. Vortex impressed me in taking the story in a new direction, and avoiding second book syndrome entirely. It's fast paced, full of action, and there's a bit of romance thrown in there, but it's completely different to the romance in Tempest. I'm excited to get my hands on Timestorm and finish this story, in what I'm sure is going to be a fitting finale. 

Sidenote - is this sort of review something you enjoy reading. I like the pros and cons list, I think it's actually easier to write out my reviews, but is it something you enjoy reading? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday (38)

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted at Pen to Paper

This week I'm wishing for...

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Summary from Goodreads:

"In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead."

Why I'm Wishing for It:
I just heard about this one today, when I was reading through someone's Top Ten Tuesday post. It sounds really interesting, I can't say I've read something like this before, which is why I'm really interested in it. 

What about you? What are you wishing for this week?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday (37)

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted at Pen to Paper

This week I'm wishing for...

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

Summary from Goodreads:

"Secrets, romance, murder and lies: Zoe shares a terrible secret in a letter to a stranger on death row in this second novel from the author of the bestselling debut, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.

Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret—a dark and terrible secret that she can't confess to anyone she knows. But then one day she hears of a criminal, Stuart Harris, locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. Or lies. Or murder.

Full of heartache yet humour, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can—in letters to the man in prison in America. Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal."

Why I'm Wishing for It:
This was actually recommended to me a couple of years ago. I remember at the time thinking nothing of it because of the weird title and the fact that this friends book tastes were quite different to mine. It wasn't until a couple of days ago that this resurfaced for me, and recognising the title, I thought maybe I should take a squiz at the synopsis. And then BOOM. A girl shares her deepest darkest secret, one involving murder, with an inmate on death row. That sounds so interesting. I gotta learn to be less judgemental.

What about you? What are you wishing for this week?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Review: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

Book Review: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: 4th February 2014
Publisher: Puffin Books
Format: Paperback
Pages: 550
Rating: 5.0/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2014 SSC

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard. 

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 
When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can."

It wasn't my intention to post this review today, but after finishing this gem yesterday, I just had to get my feelings out there. Because OH MY GOD THIS SERIES. It's going to be one hell of a struggle to wait a year for the last instalment.

I can't believe what Meyer has managed to do with this series. Not only does she effortlessly and flawlessly work a fairytale into each novel, but she follows the overarching plot as well. You'd think that adding another main female protagonist (to add to Cinder and Scarlet) would be a few too many POVs, but somehow it works. The number of POVs in this novel is astronomical, and yet, it doesn't feel forced, or a pain, to read from each character's POV. I've had problems with multiple POVs in the past, just in that usually I prefer one POV over the other. But Meyer has created fascinating and interesting characters that this isn't a problem; I don't even mind jumping around POVs mid chapter, it's just written that well.

I don't want to start going in depth about the character's or the plot, because I feel I might wander into spoiler territory. I'll just say that during the final section (Cress was separated into four sections), my heart was pounding, I was frantically flipping through the pages, and I absolutely adored that ending. It's been a while since I've been so invested in a story and it's characters, to the point where even though I'm sure they'll be ok, I still worry for them throughout their escapade. It's been a while since a plot has kept me guessing, and thrown plot twists at me that I hadn't even considered. It's been a while since I've picked up a book and read over 150 pages in one sitting. This series right here is why I read YA, because when it's done right, it's just so damn good.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday (36)

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted at Pen to Paper

This week I'm wishing for...

Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Summary from Goodreads:

"A new series returns to the world of Beautiful Creatures. Some loves are cursed...others are dangerous.

Ridley Duchannes will be the first to tell you that she's a bad girl. She's Dark. She's a Siren. You can never trust her, or even yourself when she's around. Lucky for her, Wesley "Link" Lincoln can never seem to remember that; quarter Incubus or not, his heart is Mortal when it comes to Ridley. When Link heads to New York City to start a music career, Ridley goes along for the ride-and she has her own reasons. As if leaving small-town Gatlin for the big city, trying to form a band, and surviving life with a partially reformed Siren isn't hard enough already, Link soon learns he has a price on his head that no Caster or Mortal can ever pay.

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthors of Beautiful Creatures, are back and casting another magical spell. Their signature mixture of mystery, suspense, and romance, along with a dash of fun and danger, will pull fans in and leave them begging for more."

Why I'm Wishing for It:
I haven't even finished reading The Caster Chronicles yet, but I want to get my hands on this. Ridley and Link are by far two of my favourite characters in the series, so I know I'm going to enjoy reading a series dedicated just to the two of them. I just need this. 

What about you? What are you wishing for this week?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Release Date: 16th August 2011
Publisher: Arrow Books
Format: Paperback
Pages: 372
Rating: 4.5/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2014 RC 

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. 

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them. 

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. 

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. 

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape. 

A world at stake. 
A quest for the ultimate prize. 
Are you ready?"

** Spoiler Alert: Read at your own risk**

Looking back at my notes after I finished reading this, I've mostly just written three lines which boil down to 'I thought this was good'. So this review isn't going to delve into characters, or the plot, or the normal things you see in a review. Instead I'm just going to focus on the main points that stood out to me. Don't get me wrong, I loved the characters, the setting, the plot, and all that jazz, but these are the main points that really stood out to me. 

I like to think that I read a fair bit of sci-fi, but most of that revolves around time travel, not the world wide web, so this is my first experience reading sci-fi involving virtual reality. And I have to say, I think Cline did a very good job at it. Not only did we delve into the amazingness that would be the OASIS, and massive virtual world with anything and everything you could possibly imagine, but this was balanced against a grim view of a real world that was slowly, but surely, declining. Just when you experience something amazing in the OASIS, in the next scene you see our protagonist Wade's daily ritual, where he wakes up, showers, eats, and then jacks himself up to the OASIS for hours upon hours of gameplay. The decline of the real world has gotten to the point where Wade doesn't even leave his room anymore, it's just not worth it. Why bother when you can spend your time in a virtual reality. In fact, spend so much time in the world of the OASIS that it become's your reality, and you just leave the real world behind. It's kinda sad really. But I liked that Cline managed to weigh these two realities fairly. Just showing us the OASIS itself wouldn't have been enough to actually depict how important the OASIS is, how important it is that the gunter's find Halliday's egg and not The Sixer's. It wouldn't have made much sense without the context, so I appreciate that. 

And while we're on this point, let's not forget about that ending. After the OASIS being Wade's entire life for years, after meeting Art3mis in person, he has no desire to return to that world. And I think that's a very powerful message. You could be rich and famous in an online world, but it can't bring you the sort of happiness that real, true connections do. When it comes down to it, the real world trumps virtual reality.

Moving on, I really enjoyed the 80's trivia as well, even if I didn't understand much of it given that I'm a 90's kid. It was an amusing touch that I think gave some heart to the story - Halliday really wanted the OASIS to fall into the right hands, and I think that reflected in his puzzles. They all revolved around the time in his life that he was just an optimistic young lad with a love for computing, before all the money and before he invented the OASIS. Plus it was fun and super hard to try to figure out the puzzles, since I have little to no 80's trivia knowledge, but once it was spelled out for me, it all made sense. It was fun to follow along with the hunt myself and see if I could figure anything out. 

These were the two things that stood out to me the most; an important message about the negative effects of virtual reality and what happens when it gets out of hand, but also the fun 80's trivia I learnt whilst completely the hunt. Mixing an important message with the fun, light side worked well for the novel, and I really wish this were a part of some series, just so that I could revisit that world. I'll have to settle for second best, and will have to check out Cline's other novels. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday (35)

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Wishlist Wednesday is a weekly Meme hosted at Pen to Paper

This week I'm wishing for...

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Summary from Goodreads:

"Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her 'our little genius'. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh. Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad."

Why I'm Wishing for It:
First off, I love the title. Second, doesn't that synopsis sound weird and creepy. And it's so cryptic. Why is this girl held in a cell? Why are guns pointed at her constantly? Why does her teacher get sad when this little child talks about the future? There are just too many questions that need answers, so I'm going to have to read this. 

What about you? What are you wishing for this week?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Book Review: The Maze Runner (Maze Runner #1) by James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner #1) by James Dashner
Release Date: 6th October 2009
Publisher: Random House
Format: eBook
Pages: 307
Rating: 4.0/5.0

This book was read as part of the 2014 EBC, 2014 RC and 2014 SSC 

Summary from Goodreads:
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery"When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he's not alone. When the lift's doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade-a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they've closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up-the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. 
Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind."

** Spoiler Alert: Read at your own risk**

Ever since I became aware that this was being turned into a movie, to be released later this year, well, I just had to read it. And may I say, I'm looking forward to seeing the movie now, because I quite enjoyed this.

I was a bit apprehensive going into this because back in the day, this used to be on the required reading list for many highschoolers in my area. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with required reading - I always found that of the 5 or so books I was given to read for English class, there was only ever 1 I actually enjoyed reading, and there was at least one I loathed. So knowing this was required reading for some firming pushed this off my radar, until I started blogging and saw the love the blogosphere had for this series. And I'm glad to say that it's well deserved.

I'm struggling majorly right now to pinpoint exactly what it was that I enjoyed about this novel. I liked the plot and setting, which were sound, albeit a little predictable. I think we all knew that the maze was unsolvable, and I wasn't at all surprised that they'd have to escape through the Griever hole thingymabob.  Up until the last couple of chapters, everything plodded along how I expected it to, in an interesting and enthralling way. Even though I thought I knew what was going to happen, it was still enjoyable to read, probably because I was so damn curious about those Creators and what Tom and Teresa had to do with it all. All those mysteries, they can't help but draw you in.

I think what ultimately sold me on this was the last couple of chapters, because that's when things started happening that you weren't expecting. First off, Gally reappears, to test just one last variable, which results in CHUCK DYING. WHY?!? I am so curious to find out what they were actually testing there, although I'm expecting it has something to do with Tom. And then we hit that epilogue. That epilogue man, it's so damn creepy. Just when I was starting to fall into the trap of thinking that they actually had been rescued, they throw that at me, and I realise just how crazy the whole things actually is; how they're using and manipulating children to find a way to solve their problem. I don't know why exactly I didn't realise that earlier. But, damn, that epilogue. 

Overall, I'd recommend it.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...