Book Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Title: All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1)All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Genre: Time Travel, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: August 2013 
Pages: 362
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Em is locked in a bare, cold cell with no comforts. Finn is in the cell next door. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn’t happened yet.

Em and Finn have a shared past, but no future unless they can find a way out. The present is torture – being kept apart, overhearing each other’s anguish as the Doctor relentlessly seeks answers. There’s no way back from here, to what they used to be, the world they used to know. Then Em finds a note in her cell which changes everything. It’s from her future self and contains some simple but very clear instructions. Em must travel back in time to avert a tragedy that’s about to unfold. Worse, she has to pursue and kill the boy she loves to change the future.

My Review:

“Time travel isn’t a wonder; it’s an abomination.” 

Finn and Em are trapped as prisoners by the Doctor. Somewhere – some time – everything went wrong. But together they have a chance to change the past to avoid this future.

I adored this book. Time travel is one of those concepts that doesn’t always connect with me but I admired how Cristin Terrill approached the idea. Travelling back, having two of one person in a certain time, was never confusing in this novel. Em, Finn, Marina and James are all well-rounded characters. Em is world wise and I really liked how her personality contrasted with the somewhat sheltered Marina. Finn is the same and yet different in his past and present forms and James is interesting. I found myself enjoying how oblivious and vague he was regarding Marina.

The time travel in this book is easy to grasp. There is  a changing in point of view from Em to Marina and back however for the most part of this novel events happen in the present time. There’s no confusion as to what is happening to whom and when. I loved the ideas in this book. It’s a cereal for dinner kind of book – the kind where instead of stopping to make a meal you just eat something easy and able to eat with one hand (so you can hold the book with your other hand)! There are a lot of twists and turns but they progressed in a way that felt natural and not just added to create some faux suspense. Em and Finn have some great chemistry and do a great job at moving the story along. There’s some heart-break and moments when I really felt for the characters and the trouble Terrill put them though. One of the things that stuck with me throughout this book and well after reading it was how much I liked Em loving Marina. I think it’s lovely that throughout it all, Em saw that she was a person worth loving and was proud of herself as a person.

This book works perfectly as a stand alone and I’m interested and surprised that All Our Yesterdays is the first book in a series. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Terrill comes up with next to put her characters through. This book has been one of my favourite reads of 2013 and I highly recommend it to lovers of well writing and interesting young adult novels.

Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: The Disgrace of Kitty Grey by Mary Hooper

The Disgrace of Kitty Grey

Title: The Disgrace of Kitty Grey
Author: Mary Hooper
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing 
Publication Date: June 2013
Pages: 288
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Kitty has a comfortable life as a country milkmaid. She is well looked after by the family who live up at the great house, and she enjoys being courted by Will Villiers, the handsome river man. Then one day, Will vanishes

Kitty is heartbroken, and when sent to London on an errand she is determined to track down Will. But, alone and vulnerable in the vast city, Kitty’s fate is snatched out of her hands and she is plunged into a dizzying spiral of despair…

My Review:

Kitty Grey is happy with her life. She looks after five gorgeous milk cows, has plenty of free time and is in the start of a lovely romance with Will the Ferryman. But Will dreams of more than just living in Devonshire. He’s keen to go to London and earn his fortune so that he will be a man Kitty can be proud of.

When Kitty discovers Will is missing and all his belongings are gone too, she’s furious. When she gets given a chance to run an errand in London, Kitty is eager to go to the city and track Will down. But what greets her is nothing at all like she expected.

I had high hopes for The Disgrace of Kitty Grey. I’ve read some of Mary Hooper’s contemporary novels before but this is the first historical novel of hers that I read. It’s got a lot of charm. From the first few pages when Kitty gets asked to assist the young Misses in their quest to create a tableau vivant complete with live cows I knew it was going to be an entertaining novel. And it had some great points. I enjoyed the differences between modern life and the world Kitty lives in. There are some lovely contrasts of Kitty’s idyllic life in Devonshire and the world she experiences in the city of London.

Where this novel fell short for me was in the intensity of Kitty’s emotions. She has to face some tragic circumstances and throughout it all she never sheds a tear. I needed to feel more from Kitty in order to enjoy the story more. Another shortcoming of this novel was the incredible coincidences that occur – it made this story feel less realistic with just how impossible some of the situations were.

Beautifully researched, The Disgrace of Kitty Grey was a lovely book to read with a strong heroine but lacked a lot of emotion.

 

Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season

Title: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1)
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: August 2013
Pages: 466
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

My Review:

I’m always nervous to read books that have a lot of hype surrounding them. I don’t want to feel let down and so it was with some trepidation that I started to read The Bone SeasonThe first in a seven part series, this debut novel by twenty-one-year-old Samantha Shannon is an adventure into a world similar but so very different from our own. The story begins in 2059, London with Paige Mahoney, a nineteen-year-old clairvoyant dream walker. Clairvoyants (or ‘voyants’ as they are also known as) are forced into the criminal underground or risk being caught and locked up by the Scion – the current ruling body of the continent.

Whilst she may be on the other side of the law, Paige has a nice set up. Working for Jaxon (Jax) Hall and breaking into other people’s minds from a distance for their secrets and information, Paige is safe from the reach of the Scion. That is until an incident causes everything to change. Paige gets captured and taken to the Tower. And things are just getting started.

There’s so much that goes on in this novel. The blurb doesn’t even begin to touch on Paige’s troubles. There’s an alien race known as the Rephaite who ‘feed’ on the voyants and need them to keep alive. Their way of life and their parasitical nature is simultaneously obscene and compelling. I loved how this book began. Paige is one of the good guys – despite working for an underworld lord like Jax and some of the things she has to do to keep alive throughout the novel. She’s intelligent and resourceful and well-intentioned. But she’s not a pushover and she does have her flaws. There were times when I felt like some of the circumstances around Paige were a little too fortuitous and convenient (like the length of stay in the Tower compared to others) but I understand that these things were essential for the overall big picture.

The other characters are just as interesting and three-dimensional as Paige. Jax – who isn’t seen very much in this first book but has so much potential – fascinated me. And then there’s Warden. He’s mysterious and it’s unclear as to what his endgame is just yet but you just know that it’s going to be worthwhile continuing reading to find out. There are a whole cast of other characters I could go on forever about. What I like most about them is that every character – human or Rephaite – has their own agenda. Be it world domination or just being alive to see the sunset tomorrow – Shannon has done an amazing job of bringing them all together in a way that feels right for each individual character.

As should be expected in the first novel of a long series is some world building – and there is a fair amount of it in The Bone Season. Whilst essential to help build the plot and understand the race who inhabit the universe that’s been created, there were times when I did start to feel a little overwhelmed with just how much was going on. That said – the Seven Orders of Clairvoyance, the mysterious Rephaite colony in Oxford and criminal syndicate in which Paige worked – are all beautifully created with a lot of depth and detail.

This is a long novel and I was impressed with the level of research that you could tell went into the story. I’ve heard people call this book a young adult novel but that’s not how I’d describe it. I think it’s an adult book which many teenagers would enjoy. It gets quite dark sometimes with Shannon treating the characters she created quite badly at times but there is still an element of hope. I can’t wait for the second book which Shannon is currently writing to be released and have high hopes of what is to come next in this series!

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Last night I had the pleasure of being apart of a panel that The Reading Room put together in order to conduct an online interview with Samantha Shannon. She was absolutely lovely, taking the time to answer all of our questions. I’ve posted the video below in case you want to check it out!

Book Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)

Title: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2)
Author: Sarah J Maas
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: August 2013
Pages: 432
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her.

My Review:

Not a book for the faint hearted – Celaena presents the king with a severed head in a bag within the first few pages – Crown of Midnight is a fantastic continuation of the story which started in Throne of Glass. Celaena has four years to earn her freedom from the ruthless King of Adarlan. But it’s not going to be an easy task. Ominous shadows, spies,  wyrdmarks and other magical threats haunt the castle. Celaena has to navigate cautiously into the outlawed realm of magic to save other kingdoms from Adarlan’s power-hungry King whilst appearing to do his bidding.

I love the characters in this book. Celaena is every bit the cold-hearted blade for hire when necessary. But she’s also fiercely loyal to those she loves. Romantically, things develop at a great pace and I loved reading the softer side of Celaena in love. Prince Dorian is also a character in turmoil – with his body betraying him and the things that he’s known all his life changing before his eyes. This wasn’t something I was expecting but enjoyed reading it. Chaol, Nehemia and other favourites from Throne of Glass are still around making things interesting along with a host of new characters with their own agendas.

There’s never a boring moment in this novel. Awakening magic, Celaena’s job as an assassin, political threats and other tragedies keep the plot moving at a fast pace, There’s a lot of twist and turns that I wasn’t expecting but fit perfectly. Heart break and misfortune seem to follow these characters however they seem stronger for it.

I loved this series and recommend it to fantasy fans – young and older adults alike. There’s a lot going on and I think Maas’ writing style would appeal to all ages. I’m delighted that this series is going to have five books in total because after reading Crown of Midnight I can’t see myself wanting to leave Celaena and the world Maas has created anytime soon.

Thanks to the Reading Room for providing me with a copy for review. 

 

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Adventure 
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: August 2012 (I received this book as a digital ARC from NetGalley)
Pages: 432
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake: she got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

My Review:

Every now and then I come across a novel that takes me forever to read. Not because I’m not enjoying it but rather the opposite – it’s because I’m having so much fun that I try to draw the story out as long as I possibly can. This book took me two weeks to read… which is an extraordinary time for me to read a book… I’m usually finished in one or two days.

Throne of Glass is the story of Celaena Sardothien – a notorious young assassin who has spent the last year slaving away in the saltmines of Endovier. But a year in a slave labour camp has done nothing to quell Celaena’s somewhat arrogant and cheeky attitude.

Celaena has been trained in the lethal arts since she was a young girl found by the  Assassin King and she’s proud of all she’s accomplished. Not just anyone manages to be the Adarlan’s Assassin – the best in all the land – at seventeen.

When Crown Prince Dorian Havillard comes to the salt mines with a proposition for her, Celaena accepts his offer to represent him in a contest his father is holding – to find a Champion – and earn her wealth and freedom in four years.

But all is not well in Rifthold’s Glass Castle. Fellow competitors are turning up dead and the ladies of the court are nearly as vicious as assassins.

I was surprised by just how much I liked Celaena. She comes across as slightly arrogant but the more I read the more I realized that she had reason to be cocky. She’s achieved more in her years – not even to mention that she’s spent an entire year in a slave labour camp mining salt – than people do in entire lifetimes. And it’s true that whilst her life isn’t exactly ethical – she managed to kill 24 people in an attempt to escape from Endovier – she’s a force to be reckoned with.

I think the most surprising thing was that Celaena wasn’t just the hardened criminal that she seems at first glance. She’s there for her friends and stands up for poor defenceless animals. There’s a lot more to Celaena that I imagined.

This story is exciting. Assassin contest complete with many tasks and a duel to find the winner at the end. Add in a yuletime ball and gorgeous ball gowns… there was enough in this book to keep me interested from the first page to the last.

The love triangle in this novel was fantastic- and I’m not someone who usually likes when there’s more than one love interest. It’s one of those where there’s no clear leader and I like the mystery. Prince Dorian and Captain Chaol Westfall – best friends and romantic rivals are so different and yet best friends. They’re strong characters and I really enjoyed their interactions with Celaena and with each other.

I’ll definitely be reading the next book in this series. There’s a lot that’s left a mystery with so many questions regarding Celaena’s history and so many more about the magical world that still exists within Adarlan. I can’t wait till the next book is released.

Amazon / Book Depository 


Book Review: Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby

Title: Shooting Stars 
Author: Allison Rushby
Genre: Contemporary, Chick Lit
Publisher: Walker Children’s
Publication Date: February 2012
Pages: 272
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Meet Josephine Foster, or Zo Jo as she’s called in the biz. The best pint-sized photographer of them all, Jo doesn’t mind doing what it takes to get that perfect shot, until she’s sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett—teen superstar and the only celebrity who’s ever been kind to her—at an exclusive rehabilitation retreat in Boston. The money will be enough to pay for Jo’s dream: real photography classes, and maybe even quitting her paparazzi gig for good. Everyone wants to know what Ned’s in for. But Jo certainly doesn’t know what she’s in for: falling in love with Ned was never supposed to be part of her assignment.

My Review:

Josephine Foster, daughter of paparazzi royalty, can pap with the best of them. In fact, armed with her handy faux-iPod camera and sneaky sunglasses cam, little Zo-Jo is the best stealth celebrity stalker (I mean paparazzo) in the business. But she’s not happy with the dirty world of underhanded tactics. All she really wants is to get enough money to do the portrait photography course she’s got her heart set on and leave the business of snapping celebrities to someone else.

When Jo is offered the opportunity to get all the remaining money she needs in one  job, she’s not as eager to accept as one might expect. That’s because her client wants her to spy and take photos of singer-songwriter Ned Hartnett – the celebrity who showed her kindness a few years ago and has held a special place in Jo’s heart ever since.

After reluctantly taking the job of going undercover in the rehab facility in Boston for teens with non-substance abuse kind of issues, Jo is having a moral dilemma. Ned doesn’t recognize her but Jo is falling even further for the star with every passing day. Doe she betray the boy she is starting to really care about or does she take the chance to finally get out of the game for good and take the money and the photos?

I enjoyed reading this book. Last night I couldn’t sleep so I picked up my copy and started reading. Before I knew it, I was over three-quarters of the way in and by that stage I couldn’t stop before the end. It is a fun read. From the start I enjoyed being privy to Jo’s life as a paparazzo and just what it entailed for her.

It’s a little cheesy in places and there were some parts that I sort of found a little unbelievable but this is not real life – it is a novel – and I found it very entertaining. I did feel a little cheated by the ending. This whole novel revolves around Jo and how she’s not quite all she seems. She goes to the retreat as a way to get close to Ned but whilst she’s there we see that she has some real issues of her own that she needs to deal with. I felt like that part of the story was glossed over a little. I know it’s not a deep and meaningful book but it seemed like we had the big reveal and then it wasn’t really addressed in a way I was satisfied with.

There is a lot to like about this story: the characters are entertaining and there were a few complete surprises in terms of the plot. I enjoyed the journey the author took me on.

In many ways this reminded me of a Meg Cabot novel (Teen Idol in particular) and I recommend it for anyone who appreciates teen stories where the hero is a bit of a heart-throb celebrity.

Purchase the novel from:

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