Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Review: Cruel Heart Broken by Emma Haughton

Name: Cruel Heart Broken
Author: Emma Haughton
Publisher: Usborne
Date published: 2016
Rating: 4/5

Laurie is a good girl - so everyone thinks. But seven months ago she did something that she can't undo and it's tearing her apart. 
Charlie used to be her best friend. He's done something he regrets too... and now someone has died.
Two impulsive decisions. Two toxic secrets. Too many hearts broken.
- From Goodreads.

Cruel Heart Broken has the kind of drama, mystery and emotion that keeps you reading, that is addictive because it makes you always want to know and uncover everything that has happened and that is going to happen. 
The structure of the novel worked well, with the narrative focusing on the present, and then looking at the past, and then back to the present. It meant that suspense was built because information was released slowly, and it showed how important the past was in this story and how much it influenced the characters.
The book dealt well with some serious and difficult issues, and showed the effects that topics such as depression, suicide, pregnancy and abortion can have on individuals and society, and showed how the negative way in which these subjects are dealt with currently can be disastrous and affect people dangerously. I was glad that it ended, not exactly happily, but in a somewhat uplifting way, because that showed that there is a way to get through tough times, your problems can be solved and there is a chance for things to get better. It presents a good message of needing to be aware of yourself and your actions, as well as what is happening with the people around you.

My copy of this book was received from Maximum Pop Books as a prize from a giveaway.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Review: This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

Name: This Raging Light
Author: Estelle Laure
Publisher: Orchard Books
Date published: 2016
Rating: 4/5
Spoiler warning: Major

How is it that one day Digby was my best friend's cute twin brother, and then the next he stole air, gave jitters, twisted my insides up?
And with Mom gone, bills to pay and Wren to look after... Why does the best thing happen at the worst time?
- From Goodreads.

The language of This Raging Light was a combination of wonderful and beautiful descriptions and everyday, conversational and blunt narration. It was quite a unique style to use and it really showed how Lucille was a complex character in a confusing world. The plot was also compelling and pulled you in right from the beginning, I was never bored by it and was always wanting to know what would happen next and where the story would be going.
I loved the dynamic between Digby and Lucille, how they bounced off each other in conversation, and how they both cared so deeply for each other and about how they acted towards each other. I was not sure how I felt about the two of them kissing each other while Digby was still with Elaine, although I understood that it was done to show how they were pulled towards each other. I was just not quite happy about it, and while I really enjoyed reading the story, this one thing just niggled at me a little.
Finally, I have to mention that ending, or rather the suddenness of it. I did not see it coming. How did it just end there? It cannot just stop like that. I thought I had a lot more pages left! Seriously, I needed more of this book. There is no way I am not reading the next book because I am far too attached to these characters now to stop myself from following them and their stories as long as Laure keeps writing them.

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My copy of this book was received from Maximum Pop Books as a prize from a giveaway.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Review: Harry Potter and the Curse Child by Jack Thorne

Name: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Authors: Jack Thorne, with J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany
Publisher: Little Brown
Date published: 2016
Rating: 4.5/5
Spoiler warning: Moderate

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn't much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. 
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
- From Goodreads.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child feels quite weird and bonkers to read, but then Harry Potter has always been that way and I am glad it has managed to keep its sense of humour and fun. Additionally, I think it felt a little strange to read because in the past when I have read Harry Potter it has mainly been from Harry's perspective, with insight into his mind. So, this being a play, meaning the structure is a little different to how it would be with a book, and with Harry not being as much at the centre of it as he used to be, makes it a little more distanced and leaves you with a different feeling, but that is not a bad thing, it is just different.
In terms of characters, first I have to say that Scorpius Malfoy was a surprise but definitely a good one as he was so brilliant. There was also, of course, the surprise of the trolley witch, which was actually quite fantastic. The part with Hagrid broke my heart, it was only the smallest moment but it was so emotional and true to Hagrid's character. I think it was the part of the play that got to me the most. I have to admit that I found the idea that Bellatrix and Voldemort had a daughter a little strange, but then I suppose you could not call either of them normal, and if J.K Rowling thought it was plausible then I should think it was, seeing as she came up with the characters in the first place.
I felt like the original characters were portrayed well and it was true to how they would be, except perhaps Harry's character felt a little off at times, although I suspect he was meant to be that way as he was supposed to be under a lot of stress in the story. I am glad Ginny was written the way she was, because she has always been a favourite of mine, and the play managed to show that while at times she may be quick to temper and say the wrong things, she makes up for it in her strength, understanding and intelligence. I also liked the moments between Ron and Hermione for the same reason, that I felt it was true to them and showed the strength in their relationship. As well as that, I am glad that Draco and Harry had a chance to come to some sort of understanding, because after everything that happened, especially in the last book, I always thought that they would.
Overall, while I would not say that it was absolutely perfect, I would say that I still very much enjoyed reading it, and now I want to watch it on stage even more than I did before, especially since I want to see how they staged all the magic and how all the sets work because it definitely sounds amazing!

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Saturday, 20 August 2016

Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Name: Passenger
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Quercus Children's Books
Date published: 2016
Rating: 5/5

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she's inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she's never heard of. Until now.
Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods - a powerful family in the colonies - and the servitude he's known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes an insistent pull of the past that he can't escape and the family that won't let go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas' passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them - whether she wants to or not.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods' grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.
- From Goodreads.

I love learning about history so I found it really interesting that Passenger took place in different eras, and it all seemed really well researched too, so the story, although it had its fantasy elements, still felt real. I would definitely recommend this for reading while on holiday, there was just so much passion for travelling and learning about different cultures and countries and the language was so wonderfully crafted that I felt like I was travelling along with Nicholas and Etta.
The language was also beautiful when describing the feelings between the two of them, it made my heart wrench with how bittersweet it was. I loved the relationship between Etta and Nicholas and the fact that they slowly became closer over time, and I think this was portrayed well because of how both of their perspectives were shown throughout the narrative. Both characters really worked their way into my heart and now I do not want to let them go.
The story was so exciting and the ending was so absorbing that I cannot believe I have to wait until next year to find out what happens in the next book! I thought this book ended at the right point of the story though because while it does leave you in suspense it also gives you enough information to have a vague idea of what might be happening next. This book has latched its way onto my heart in a way that had me caring about what happened with every character, so that I was even invested in the lives of the minor characters. I just cannot stop thinking about how much I love this story and how wonderful it is.

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My copy of this book was received from Maximum Pop Books as a prize from a giveaway.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Review: The Magicians' Guild by Trudi Canavan

Name: The Magicians' Guild
Author: Trudi Canavan
Publisher: Atom
Date published: 2005
Rating: 5/5

This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work - until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders... and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield.
What the Magicians' Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.
- From Goodreads.

The Magicians' Guild was definitely an exciting adventure that had me gripped! Whenever I had to stop reading I really had to force myself to put it down. Towards the end it was so exciting I could feel my heart beating! I was so taken in by this book that I read it all - all 469 pages - in only two days.
I really liked the characters, especially Sonea, I thought she made a great main character. If anything, I wanted to know more about some of the characters, but since it is quite a long book already, and there are books that come after it, I felt that this book probably had the right amount of focus on the characters. It was just enough to keep you intrigued to know more.
I liked the third person perspective which focalised on different people at different times, and I especially liked it when it came to Rothen and Sonea, because it was interesting to see their different perspectives on their experiences with each other.
I love reading fantasy because I love learning about the new worlds that the writers create, and Trudi Canavan definitely created a fascinating world for her story that I was eager to learn about. One of my friends has said she might get the other two books in the series for me for my birthday or Christmas, and I am very much looking forward to reading them in the future to continue to follow the adventures that take place in Canavan's world!

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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Review: Gone by Michael Grant

Name: Gone
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Date published: 2015
Rating: 5/5
Spoiler warning: Minor

In the blink of an eye, everyone in Perdido Beach, California, over the age of fourteen disappears. Gone too are phones, television, and the internet. As the kids struggle to survive in this new world, the world itself continues to evolve. A sinister creature lurks in a mine in the desert; animals are mutating; and some of the kids are developing dangerous supernatural powers that grow stronger by the day. A battle between good and evil is imminent, and for some of the kids, time is running out. On their fifteenth birthday, they disappear like everyone else. 
- From Goodreads.

Gone is definitely not the type of book to read just before you go to bed! It was not scary in the sense that it was too scary for someone like me (who does not go anywhere near anything closely resembling a horror movie), but there were a lot of suspenseful and gruesome moments that were all executed very well. It was more gory than the kind of book that I usually read, but I still found that I could enjoy reading it and I did not feel that it was too over the top or unnecessary.
The characters were all well developed, none of them two-dimensional, even the background characters. Caine was not just the villain and Sam was not just the hero, they all had their complexities. Speaking of characters, I just have to mention that I loved how Albert ran the McDonald's, that was brilliant. There was a sense of humour amongst the more serious tone of this novel that I quite liked.
Once again, as with This Savage Song, I was scared to start reading this book because I was worried that I would not like it, especially since my friend Siril, who is the one that gave me this book, does like it. But, once again, I was pleasantly surprised! This was a thrilling, quite scary (I must admit), and gripping book, and I am excited to read the next one when I get the chance!

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Monday, 8 August 2016

My Life (#7): YALC 2016

A week ago on Sunday, I attended the Young Adult Literature Convention at the London Film and Comic Convention for the first time and I had the most brilliant time! I went with my friend Emma, who I know from university, and whose idea it was to go, and of course we had to go on the day that they were celebrating Harry Potter's birthday and the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (which I have now read and will be posting a review of in the future)!

The first thing we did when we arrived was attend the New Voices in YA panel, which I thought was so interesting to listen to, with the authors (Natalie Flynn, Harriet Reuter Hapgood, Julia Gray, Claire Hennessy, Rhian Ivory, Pete Kalu, Martin Stewart and Chris Vick) talking about publishing their first young adult novels and giving some great writing advice.

After that, Emma and I wondered around looking at the stalls, got ourselves some freebies, and bought ourselves some books (more on that in a bit), and found this amazing cake of Harry's cupboard under the stairs! I didn't quite believe it was a cake at first, it was that impressive.

The next panel we attended was the Morally Complicated YA panel, with Melvin Burgess, Louise O'Neill, Manuela Salvi and Emerald Fennell. I thought it was a great discussion that covered some of the really significant issues that come up in YA, and showed that it was good that these topics are covered in YA because an open discussion of controversial topics helps young adults deal with them when they come across them in their own lives.

Once that panel was over, we had another little wander and found this brilliant book wall, which I was happy to see included Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, which I really enjoyed reading.

The final panel we went to was Maggie Stiefvater in Conversation, which I thought was brilliant, as Maggie was very funny and intelligent, and told some great stories! Emma and I went to her signing afterwards, and managed to get copies of The Raven Boys signed, which I have yet to read but am very excited to! It was lovely to meet Maggie, and she told us that, when she was deciding what name to change hers to before she chose Maggie, Emma was one of the contenders!

Then, of course, the Potter Party started, and there was an amazing costume contest, which the brilliant Gilderoy Lockhart won, and deservedly so. We were very surprised and excited to see Natalie Tenna (also known as Tonks!) present the prize for the contest!

We had a fun time playing some games in our houses, overseen by some brilliant authors as our heads of houses, which were Non Pratt and Lisa Williamson for Gryffindor, Alwyn Hamilton and Lucy Ivison for Hufflepuff (which is the best house, not that I'm biased or anything), Catherine Doyle and Samantha Shannon for Ravenclaw, and V.E. Schwab and Melinda Salisbury for Slytherin! Emma and I were very happy that Hufflepuff tied with Ravenclaw for the house cup.

So that was the end of our wonderful day at YALC! We had a fantastic day, and I was very happy with the purchases I made, How Not To Disappear by Clare Furniss, Love Song by Sophia Bennett (a signed edition), The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (a signed edition), A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (which, as I said, I got signed in person)!
The day was a wonderful experience, especially wonderful as the first time that we had gone to the convention, and I am definitely going to go again next year if I can!