The Girl with All the Gifts (M. R. Carey)

The Girl with All the Gifts (M. R. Carey)The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
Published by Little, Brown Book Group Limited on 19-06-2014
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Sci Fi
Pages: 461
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads

NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.


When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like h
er. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will read this year.

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★

The storyMelanie is a little girl who lives in a cell.  Every morning, men with guns and grim faces lock her into her wheelchair, push her down the corridor and into the classroom, where she and around twenty other wheelchair bound kids are taught lessons by a variety of teachers.  Melanie likes her classes, she loves her teacher Miss Justineau and she adores Greek mythology.  She doesn’t particularly love being strapped into her chair during classes (makes it hard to make friends), or the fact that most of the adults seem scared of her, even when she’s trying to be nice.

The jacket of the book gives very little away, so if you’d rather go into this blind as was intended, it’s probably best to stop reading here! If you don’t mind the slight spoiler/already seen it elsewhere or if you’ve already read The Girl with All The Gifts, you’re safe to read on!

The Girl with All The Gifts is not a book about a little girl with special abilites – I have to admit I was imagining an X-men style mutant or something similar.  It turns out, The Girl with All The Gifts is a book about zombies.

I’m seriously squeamish so zombie movies and TV are not my thing at all, but my few forays into zombie fiction have gone pretty well so far.  I adored Feed by Mira Grant, and I enjoyed Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel (though the second book not so much).

 

The characters

Melanie is an absolutely great character, and I think without her this book just wouldn’t have worked for me.  She’s unbelievably smart, but she’s also like a puppy: she’s so eager to please, and she has questions without answers that no kid her age should have to worry about.

The supporting characters mainly consist of Miss Justinea, Sergeant Parks and Doctor Caldwell which is perhaps where the story fell down a little for me.  With a relatively small cast, I expected to really connect with the characters, but although there were a few moments where I connected with the others, I didn’t really find myself drawn to any of them in the same way as I did with Melanie.  Strangely, the supporting character I found most real was Doctor Caldwell, who is less likable than both Miss Justineau and Sergeant Parks!

 

final thoughtsWith hints of the same scientific basis as Mira Grant’s Feed and moments so tense I didn’t want to leave the safety of my locked bedroom, I’m not quite sure why I didn’t click more with The Girl with All the Gifts.  It took me a while to get into, and there were few moments where I was truly hooked – I definitely enjoyed it, but The Girl with All The Gifts was probably a 3.5 star read for me.

 

Buy it? This is one I’d borrow or pick up on a deal.
In a nutshell: Enjoyable, and I’ll definitely be looking out for more by M.R. Carey, but it didn’t wow me.

 

Other Reviews of The Girl with All the Gifts: Wondrous Reads | The Book Plank | The Book Smugglers

One StarOne StarOne Star

No In Between (Lisa Renee Jones)

No In Between (Lisa Renee Jones)No In Between by Lisa Renee Jones
Series: Inside Out #4
Published by Simon and Schuster on 19-08-2014
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads

"Chris and I have faced our demons and bared our souls to one another in Paris. Now that we are back home in San Francisco, I want to believe that nothing can tear us apart. Not Ava’s accusations against me to the police, or Chris's fear that he will destroy me as he feels he did Amber. And not Mark, who was once too intimately a part of our lives, and who I can see crumbling inside out. He believes he is invincible, just as I want to believe Chris and I are invincible. We have to be invincible. We need each other too much for any other ending."

SPOILER ALERT: As No In Between is book 4 in a series, there may be some spoilers for earlier books.

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★★

The story

The story picks up pretty much where Revealing Us left off – Chris and Sara are just arriving home from Paris, preparing for Ava’s trial.  Chris and Sara are trying to prepare themselves for what promises to be a nasty trial, while also balancing their relationship, issues from ther past and their worry over Ella.

No In Between is the fourth book in Lisa Renee Jones’ Inside Out series, a series I’ve been loving so far! You can read my reviews for books 1, 2 and 3, but the short version is I gave all of them four stars! Unfortunately, No In Between just didn’t live up to the earlier books for me.

No In Between is the first book of the series where I’ve found it difficult to get back into the story.  I definitely think it’d be worth re-reading at least Revealing Us before getting stuck into No In Between because at this point the mystery is getting complicated, and it took me a while to remember who everyone was etc.  I also admit that I hadn’t read My Hunger or His Secrets between going in, which may have had something to do with my slow reconnection.  However, this shouldn’t be a large influence as a note from Lisa at the beginning says “you don’t have to read [His Secrets] to enjoy this story”.

I found No In Between felt dragged out, and I honestly felt this book was largely unecessary.  At 256 pages, No In Between is quite a lot shorter than the first three books (at 384, 351 and 256 pages). Whilst the first three felt sharp, snappy and successfully built the tension, No In Between in comparison felt like it was just going over the previous ground.  Don’t get me wrong, it was full of twists and turns, but it didn’t seem to actually go anwhere.  For me, the lact of progress with the story meant that for me all of the tension that had built up and built up through the first three books, instead of being resolved, was left hanging.  I would have preferred this to be bunched together with book 5 to make a longer but satisfying read.

 

 

 

The characters

The main cast of characters are the same we’ve seen throughout the series: Mark, Sara and Chris.  Chris is great, and Mark remains the mysterious, elusive man you can’t help but want to know more about!  Sara’s vulnerability made her more relatable, and it was great to see the way Chris dealt with that vulnerability. I definitely found Chris and Sara’s relationship the hightlight of No In Between.

As well as our main three, there’s also a large number of supporting characters, including both characters from the earlier books and some new characters.  We see more of the Walker brothers from the Tall, Dark and Deadly series which I liked, and I loved seeing a tiny bit more of Crystal.  However, I personally thought there were a few too many characters for a book where little truly happens; at times it felt like some of the characters were only there to give you more possibilities for what happened to Rebecca.

 

final thoughtsI had very high expectations of No In Between based on the fact I thought the first three books were brilliant, but unfortunately No In Between just didn’t live up to those expectations.  It’s full of twists and turns, some steamy sex scenes and some touching moments between Chris and Sara, but the lack of resolution means that for me this would be much better if you could read it immediately before the next book, rather than alone.

 

Buy it? This is one I’d maybe buy on a deal, but perhaps after the next book is out too!
In a nutshell: Would almost certainly benefit from a re-read of Revealing Us first but unfortunately this one disappointed me.
[therating]

Other Reviews of No In Between: Sensual Reads | Page Princess | Drue’s Random Chatter

One StarOne Star

Apple and Rain (Sarah Crossan)

Apple and Rain (Sarah Crossan)Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan
Published by A&C Black on 14-08-2014
Pages: 336
Source: NetGalley, Purchased
Goodreads

When Apple's mother returns after eleven years away, Apple feels whole again. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother's homecoming is bittersweet. It's only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is that she begins to see things as they really are.

A story about sad endings.
A story about happy beginnings.
A story to make you realise who is special.

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★★

The storyApple has spent the last eleven years wishing for her mother.  Wandering why she left and why she never came back, all Apple wants is for her mum to come home.  She loves living with her nan, but she’s also beginning to chafe at being picked up from school and generally not being let out of sight.  She also wishes she had her mum to just talk to about things she couldn’t discuss with her nan, things like boys, petty arguments at school and make up.  When Apple’s mum does show up out of the blue though, it isn’t exactly the seamless family reunion Apple expected, and she has to face up to the reality of a mother she’s only ever imagined until now.

I found the story a bit predictable but very enjoyable and VERY hard to put down! Between how quick the story moves, the very short chapters and the easy-to-get-lost-in voice of Apple, I told myself ‘just one more chapter’ for far too long when reading it.  The fact that the story was a little predictable didn’t particularly bother me, because it’s just as much about the journey and the character development as it is about the end result.  In that respect, and with Apple’s clear voice, it reminded me a little of something like Thirteen Reasons Why.

Apple tries to build a relationship with her mother as she fears her relationship with her best friend is disintegrating, she goes through so many upheavals, and then on top of all that she’s also given a new English teacher, who tries to engage the class with poetry.  The poetry in Apple and Rain is used really well, and it really helps to see exactly how Apple feels – although her voice is very clear, she’s not always upfront with herself about how she feels, so the poetry gives you that little bit of insight beneath the mask.

The characters

I don’t want to say too much about the characters because learning about them was one of the highlights of the story for me and I don’t want to take that away if you haven’t read it yet!  So just a few quick thoughts from me on each of them.

Apple is great – although she’s only 13 she comes across as more mature.  At the start of the story Apple definitely comes across as younger and more naive – she idolises her mother, she worries about Nana making her look uncool etc but she grows brilliantly throughout the book.  Sure she makes mistakes, but what teenager human doesn’t?!

Rain and Del are both brilliant characters.  I couldn’t decide on an overall favourite character but it’d definitely be one of these two!

Apple’s mother Annie is really well developed.  I loved the fact that she was shown as making mistakes and having flaws without being the villain.  Unfortunately for me this was overshadowed a little by Apple’s issues with her dad, who she seemed determined to see as the bad guy and which I found a little frustrating.

 

 

final thoughtsApple and Rain was a quick, cute, enjoyable read, but it wasn’t the emotional rollercoaster I was expecting.  It can be a little bleak at times, but it’s fundamentally a heart-warming story about families, relationships, and growing up.  I’ve seen so many great reviews for Apple and Rain, and I really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t as deeply emotional as I was expecting, so I liked it but wasn’t overwhelmed unfortunately.

 

Buy it? This is one I’d borrow or pick up on a deal.
In a nutshell: All in all a good read, but didn’t have the impact I was expecting.

 

Other Reviews of Apple and Rain: Fluttering Butterflies | YA Midnight Reads | Reading Lark

One StarOne StarOne Star

Fool’s Assassin (Robin Hobb)

Fool’s Assassin (Robin Hobb)Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Limited on 12-08-2014
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, General
Pages: 640
Format: eARC
Amazon
Goodreads

Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown.

But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more…

On a shelf in his den sits a triptych carved in memory stone of a man, a wolf and a fool. Once, these three were inseparable friends: Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. But one is long dead, and one long-missing.

Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger?

Suddenly Fitz's violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe.

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FARSEER AND TAWNY MAN TRILOGIES STOP READING NOW! (and go read Assassin’s Apprentice instead)

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Readability: ★★★★

The storyFitz is happily ensconced in Withywoods, married to the woman of his dreams, far away from the deceit of Buckeep Court and his old life.  He and Molly are raising Molly’s children, dealing with the normal pleasures and trials of family life, running Withywoods and their marriage – a far cry from his old life.  So when a messenger shows up in the middle of Winterfest, Fitz doesn’t think too much of it – until the messenger disappears without a trace.  Fitz has no idea who sent the messenger or why, and has no idea of the problems racing to catch up with him.

The story is definitely character-driven rather than a fast paced plot, but it’s still engrossing.  There are enough hints to the overarching plot to keep you guessing about where the story is going, but the day to day problems are also beautifully handled and it’s fun to sink into Fitz’s new life as Tom Badgerlock.

Fool’s Assassin is a slower read – I would say it’s more similar in feel to Fool’s Errand than to the original Assassin’s Apprentice – but not in a bad way.  I think everything in the story is needed – it helps you remember all those things you love about Fitz, and also see how he lives now, in his happy but Fool- and Nighteyes-less future. I personally loved the pacing; a slow, gentle ease into Fitz’s world, with a mystery that picks up pace slowly and I love where the story seems to be heading.  Having said that, I’ve always loved character-driven stories, so I can see how this might be something others don’t love.  I also loved the faster paced final section of the book and would have liked a little more of this, because to me it feels like Fool’s Assassin runs the risk of doing a little too much setting up for the rest of the trilogy rather than starting the story.  I would personally have preferred a little more length and a little more action even if it meant we had a book closer in length to Fool’s Fate.

 

The characters

Despite the fact there are 11 years between the publication of Fool’s Fate and Fool’s Assassin, Fitz is perfect.  After such a quiet period of happiness, he’s obviously changed a little but he’s still very clearly the same character.  He hasn’t changed fundamentally, his voice remains the same, and I thought Linette’s review which says it’s like catching up with an old friend is an absolutely perfect description.

There are some new characters in the story, some of whom are hard to talk about without spoilers, but suffice to say that as always, Hobb’s characters draw you in.  The characters in this are so real, so beautifully three-dimensional, you could easily imagine sitting in Fitz’s study listening to them.  Expect to laugh with them, cry with them, feel proud of them and feel furious on their behalf.

Although we return to Fitz, unlike the Farseer trilogy we get to see more points of view than just Fitz’s in Fool’s Asssassin, which works perfectly for the story.  Both points of view are told in first-person, so you still feel immersed as you did in the Farseer trilogy, but having more than one point of view really helps with the world-building and the setting up of new characters.  I did find it a little difficult at first to keep track of whose point of view was whose, as there’s no chapter headings or anything to give this away, but I found that it became more clear as the novel went on.

 

final thoughtsAfter more than 10 years, a return to the world of Fitz has been a long-term dream for many Hobb fans, and for me at least, it did not disappoint at all.  It has beautiful descriptive writing that never feels slow, characters who feel so real you could reach out and touch them, and the hints of a plot related to some of the most intriguing questions ever asked throughout the Realm of the Elderlings’ series.

 

Buy it? This is absolutely one worth buying for me.  Like…right now. Go!
In a nutshell: An emotional, beautifully character-driven start to a new series – I’m already wishing for the next book

 

Other Reviews of Fool’s Assassin: BookishSwint | Super Fast Reader | Avid reviews

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Mini review: Geek Girl (Holly Smale)

Mini review: Geek Girl (Holly Smale)Geek Girl by Holly Smale
Published by HarperCollins on 28-02-2013
Genres: Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Harriet Manners knows a lot of things.

She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn't quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she's spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did.

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★

Harriet Manners, the geek girl of the title, never wanted to be a model.  In fact, she doesn’t exactly get fashion, and she’s only at the fashion show because her best friend Nat dragged her.  Since she’s not exactly popular at school, she goes along with it when she’s spotted by a model scout, hoping to re-invent herself…but of course, there are costs, not least that she’s stolen her best friend’s dream.

I really liked Holly’s quirkiness, and her awkwardness (we can all relate sometimes!), but I wouldn’t call her a geek.  She’s clumsy, and full of random facts, but definitely not a fangirl.  Having said that, I really loved her voice as a narrator, and she’s genuinely funny.

It was cute, and funny, and the lack of angst was definitely a welcome change.  My biggest issue with Geek Girl though, was that it felt like it was aimed at a younger audience.  It definitely felt more like a young teen read than a young adult one, partially because I thought it was quite predictable.

All in all, I found Geek Girl a quick, light read, but I wasn’t wowed by it, and it didn’t leave me particularly fussed either way about continuing on with the series.  Having said that, it was a definitely a fun and speedy read, and it’d make a great readathon choice.

Buy it? This is a borrow for me.
In a nutshell: An enjoyable enough read, but it didn’t wow me.

Other Reviews of Geek Girl: Adventures with words  | Mab is Mab | There’s more to life than reading, but it’s a good place to start

One StarOne Star