Saturday, 26 July 2014

REVIEW: Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

Rating: ★★★★☆

(spoiler free review)

Genre: Young-Adult, Mystery, Suicide

Teenager Hannah Baker commits suicide, supposedly randomly. However one evening Clay Jensen discovers the box of tapes that record Hannah's reasons for ending her life. 
There are 13 recordings involving 13 people who are "responsible" for Hannah's death and Clay is one of them. Clay has to listen to her voice through the night in order to understand how he is involved and to discover who he must pass the tapes onto next. Following the map she had left him, he spends the evening travelling around their town to the various places that events took place; all the events that led up to her death. 
Clay has to deal with everything he learns, about the people around him and about Hannah, and sees life totally different when completed. 

My Thoughts:
I've read some mixed reviews debating the glorification of suicide in this novel; that Hannah's reasons are petty and stupid etc. 

I disagree with this mindset. Yes, Hannah's reasons got a little annoying and if she had just talked to someone then it could've been prevented. BUT, when someone is depressed and suicidal, the tiniest of things can push them over the edge so I don't think that's a reason to hate this book. 

The format was executed brilliantly; switching from Clay to Hannah as he listened to her tapes. We discovered Hannah's reasons as Clay did and as he travelled around the town. 

I will be honest and say I thought I'd love this book more than I did. I enjoyed it and wanted to discover her reasons but I felt it lacked a shock factor or a punch. Hannah had numerous reasons as to why she killed herself, but they were all pretty small and disconnected in some way. They all added up to pushing her over the edge but by the end I just didn't feel much sympathy for Hannah. I did like her honesty and raw emotion that was portrayed on the tapes though.

I would recommend this book to young-adults. It is definitely an original and intriguing read, filled with suspense and emotion. I had no major issues with the story and enjoyed the read overall!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

REVIEW: Welcome to Sugartown, by Carmen Jenner

Rating: ★★★★☆

(semi-spoiler free review)

Genre: New-Adult, Romance

19 year-old Ana Belle spends her time running her family pie shop in the heart of Sugartown, a small town where everyone knows everything. She has a reputation despite being a "good girl" and just keeping her head down and working. Her days are spent working and with her best friend, Holly. Both dream of the day they can escape the boring town but know the reality is far away and unreachable. 

Then in rides Elijah Cade. This tattooed biker hunk wanders into Ana's pie shop and wants her immediately. Ana feigns disinterest but wants him just as badly. Working for her dad, Elijah harbours a dark past and Ana's father attempts to keep them apart. 

Following numerous events/incidents throughout the book, Ana and Elijah's relationship is put to the test and they have to battle through their want for each other and whether they are actually more harmful together or apart...

My Thoughts:
This book is the definition for a roller-coaster story. The start is fun and light as they flirt back and forth and there's humour etc... But then it drops dramatically down a deep hole and emerges into dark and dangerous territory as Cade's past is brought to the present.  

I loved the connection between Ana and Elijah from the start and Holly interfering added so much humour to the overall story. Holly was probably my favourite character in the story as I think everything she did/said I agreed with or believed was necessary and realistic. Some things Ana/Elijah did/said just annoyed me or disappointed me in a way. 

The reason this book isn't 5 stars is for the following: 

Ana; sometimes I just wanted to shake her for being so stubborn with Cade. I know he broke her heart etc and for the majority of the time, I think her actions were justified but there were just some occasions were I was like "OH JUST GIVE IN TO HIM! YOU CAN SEE HE CARES!" and it felt like she was over-playing the victim a tad too much. 

Elijah; 99% of the time he was a perfect dreamy sexy bad-ass. BUT...there were a few times were he acted or said something that I felt really didn't fit his character who claimed to love Ana so much. Now, I'm well aware a man has needs etc but considering how much trouble he went to to prove his love for Ana and showed us how much he cared, I just can't understand why he'd go and have sex with Ana's number one enemy in the bathroom when Ana just needed time to come to terms with the fact he had kept his past a secret. 
At this point if I were Ana I would never have forgiven him as how could he do that if he really cared? 

That was my main issue with this book and why I'm giving it 4 stars. It were those teeny moments where the characters seemed to waver slightly off the path the author had built for them and left me questioning "who were they really?" 

Overall I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that loves a good romance novel but with a LOT of drama. It was quite unlike any other I've read before and I read it in less than 2 days! 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

REVIEW: Transcendent Tales-Volume II, by Adam Train

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian,

(spoiler free review)

Individual Review & Summary:

1. Final Tide - ★★★★☆
This story was set in Atlantis and an interesting opener to this series of novellas. It centers around the inhabitants deciding what to do when faced with a threat that could ruin their civilisation. I enjoyed this story but felt it was a little short, would have liked it to continue a bit further.

2. High-Side - ★★★★★
This was probably my favourite story. It would make for a brilliant gripping novel if there was more story to be told. Set in a dystopian future, the main character, High-Side, is given an order to carry out. He soon realises the delivery he must complete is extremely high-risk and involves more than he thought. The characters were strong and had a depth to them. I really loved Flor and her ignorance to her situation. Really just loved the whole concept of this story. 

3. The Legends of Skoll- The Wildman - ★★★★☆
A young boy seeks out help from Skoll and Bhalu to come back to his village and help defeat the Wildman, a beast that has been attacking their town. This story started off a little slow and took a while to grip my interest, but it definitely improved and the ending was great. 

4. Prisoner of Hakai - ★★★★★
Set in a prison where Arden is about to be executed in a world where aliens rule the Earth. These aliens worship the Light, and rule with their dogmatic beliefs so when Arden opposes these he is  punished with death. I enjoyed this and it would be my second favourite. The story of the Hakai was interesting and the general plot and idea of the story was clever and gripping.

5. War Chief - ★★★☆
Akhutai Khan is escaping from the evil Zenzorthus when he is hiding and spies on another creature; a magnificent green female named Natal. He returns to her home and begins his new life like he never imagined. Not too sure about this one, I lost interest in the story after he met Natal and went back with her and expected the story to be completely different. 

6. Mystery of Grey Rock Canyon - ★★★☆
A little difficult to summarise but it involves an "explorer" of sorts in the future, wandering around the named Canyon and explaining his discoveries and experiences. A decent story but one of complete description. Think the ending was a little sudden but held my interest until the end nonetheless. 

7. The Treaty of Nine (Part 2) - ★★★★☆
Reading the first part I loved the setting of this immediately. Set on Mars, in a future where other planets are habitable and wars have broken out over the occupancy and ownership of such planets. The Treaty of Nine is devised to halt further discrepancy. Part 2 follows the main character of Eon and his friend Gregan. When a threat arises that could tear apart what the treaty has built, Eon is summoned to help fight against the rising threat. This was a good all-rounded story, a few bits seemed a bit lacking but overall had action and suspense and an interesting take on a futuristic setting. 

Overall Recommendation:
I would definitely recommend this series of novellas to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy/sci-fi. All stories were well written and the characters were so diverse and different. From a mix of aliens to creatures to humans, each story was completely unique. The writing style was well crafted and I enjoyed the phrasing and descriptions of possible mundane scenes, but eloquently portrayed. 

Thank you to Adam Train for providing me with the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review!