Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Review #537 - Peter Pan by J.M Barrie


Fly across the sky with Peter and Wendy
One starry night, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell lead the three Darling children over the rooftops of London and away to Neverland - the island where lost boys play, mermaids splash and fairies make mischief. But a villainous-looking gang of pirates lurk in the docks, led by the terrifying Captain James Hook. Magic and excitement are in the air, but if Captain Hook has his way, before long, someone will be walking the plank and swimming with the crocodiles...

My Rating: 3/5

Before reading this book, I had not seen any movie adaptations or anything and only knew basic pop culture things about the story and characters. 

I was a little confused at first as to whether this book was trying to be a fantasy novel or a contemporary with a twist. 

The writing style wasn't very descriptive and for that reason I didn't find it very engaging either. 

The whole idea of of Wendy being a mother to Peter and all the other lost boys, with her taking care of all of them and such was rather sexist although it was on an innocent level. 

The character of Peter Pan was the most fascinating element out of the story. If viewed as a fantasy novel then Peter's abilities are justified however if viewed the other way then Peter is likely a ghost. 

Overall I can definitely see why this book and story is such a well loved classic and I am going to go and watch the Disney movie adaptation as soon as possible. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review #536 - The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5) by Rick Riordan


All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of a victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows. 

While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.

In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

My Rating: 4/5 

This being the last book in the series that I have done nothing but read for the last week I was very hesitant to read it as I was reluctant to finish the series. 

The action in this book was immense. There was significantly more in this book than any of the others. Even with that it still maintained the humour used throughout the series. 

Annabeth was a little too emotional and angsty in this book whilst showing obvious (to everyone but Percy) jealousy towards Rachel, who was also rather annoying in this book. 

The ending obviously sets up the Heroes of Olympus series which I am eagerly wanting to read as soon as possible. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Review #535 - The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4) by Rick Riordan


Percy Jackson isn't expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears on campus, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse.

In this fourth installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos's army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth - a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn.

My Rating: 5/5

This is my new favourite Percy Jackson novel. This series just gets better and better and I regret waiting so long to read them (especially when they have all been sitting on my bookshelf for years). 

I loved the whole concept of the labyrinth and the monsters contained in it. 

There was a lot more depth in this book compared to the others and this was largely due to the maturing of the characters. 

I loved that Tyson played a larger role in this book than in The Titan's Curse as he is one of my favourite characters. 

There was a lot of action in this book including a great battle scene. 

I had planned on reading a contemporary book or something else before I started The Last Olympian but with the way this book ended quite ominously I couldn't help but delve straight into Percy Jackson's last adventure. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review #534 - The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3) by Rick Riordan


When Percy Jackson receives an urgent distress call from his friend Grover, he immediately prepares for battle. He knows he'll need his powerful demigod allies at his side; his trusty bronze sword, Riptide; and . . . a ride from his mom.

The demigods reace to the rescue to find that Grover has made an important discovery: two new powerful half-bloods, whose parentage is unknown. But that's not all that awaits them. The Titan lord, Kronos, has set up a devious trap, and the young heroes have just fallen prey.

Hilarious and action-packed, this third adventure in the series finds Percy faced with his most dangerous challenge yet—the chilling prophecy of the Titan's curse.

My Rating: 5/5

This book is the sequel to The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters. 

I am marathoning these book so expect reviews of the rest of the series soon. 

Given the way The Sea of Monsters ended I'm not sure why I waited so long to continue with this series. 

This series just seems to get better and better and as someone who doesn't know much about Greek Mythology, I love how much I am learning just by reading a book that I actually enjoy. 

I really enjoyed the amount of action contained in this book and it is definitely my favourite so far in the series. 

I can see a slight change in Percy and Annabeth's relationship so I am intrigued to see where they go as they continue to mature as characters. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book Review #533 - The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien


Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey ‘there and back again’. They have a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon…

My Rating: 3.5/5

This was my first time reading about Middle Earth. I had seen all the films however which I think actually helped me in reading this as I usually find high fantasy difficult to read. 

As visually stunning the films depict Middle Earth it is nothing compared to the novel. There is a real sense of realism and adventure and I especially loved the idea of living in a hobbit hole. 

I can definitely see myself reading this book multiple more times over my life. 

Bilbo Baggins is one of my favourite literary protagonists. He is such a reluctant hero and all round likeable little hobbit. 

Just by watching the movies, I could see a lot of reference from Lord of the Rings in The Hobbit. I am hoping to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, or at least start it sometime this year. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book Review #532 - Through to You by Emily Hainsworth


Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the meds wore off. And now, he’d give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn’t Viv.

The apparition’s name is Nina, and she’s not a ghost. She’s a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can’t believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But things are different in this other world: Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn’t the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he’s forced to choose—stay with Viv or let her go—before the window closes between them once and for all.

My Rating: 3/5

This was an interesting concept. A guy who loses his girlfriend in a car accident finds a portal into an alternate world where he was the one that died. 

As interesting as that concept was I didn't feel like it reached anywhere near the potential it could have. 

I found that as a whole, the book just felt a little flat. The characters didn't get fleshed out enough and the love the two main characters felt for one another felt less and less genuine as the book progressed. 

This was the last book I read in 2014.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Review #531 - The Notebook (The Notebook #1) by Nicholas Sparks


Set amid the austere beauty of the North Carolina coast, The Notebook begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner recently returned form the Second World War. Noah is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories...until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again.

Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just the beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes. The result is a deeply moving portrait of love itself, the tender moments and the fundamental changes that affect us all. It is a story of miracles and emotions that will stay with you forever.

My Rating: 3/5

This was my first Nicholas Sparks novel. This book was completely different to what I had expected. I thought it was going to be sappy and over the top instead it too smart for that. 

The realness of the characters is what really propels this story. Noah was my favourite character as I felt like I understood him from the very start. Ali however, at times annoyed me as I felt like she thought she was too good for Noah. 

Overall, the romance didn't really bother me. If they hadn't have ended up together at the end of the book I don't think it would have bothered me at all but the character development was truly phenomenal and I am definitely going to be reading more of Nicholas Sparks. 

I know there is a sequel to this book, The Wedding. I will probably read it at some point in the future but as I am okay with how the book ended I'm not too bothered if I never read it. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review #530 - Hard Eight (Stephanie Plum #8) by Janet Evanovich


Hard Up
Fugitive Apprehension Agent Stephanie Plum has a big problem on her hands: Seven-year-old Annie Soder and her mother, Evelyn, have disappeared. Evelyn's estranged husband, Steven, a shady owner of a seedy bar, is not at all happy. Finding a kidnapped child is not an assignment for a bounty hunter. But Evelyn's grandmother lives next door to Stephanie's parents, so Stephanie follows the trail left by Annie and Evelyn-and finds a lot more than she bargained for.

Hard Risk
Steven Soder is somehow linked with a very scary Eddie Abruzzi. Trenton cop and on-again, off-again fiancé Joe Morelli and Stephanie's mentor and tormentor, Ranger, warn Stephanie about Abruzzi, but it's Abruzzi's eyes and mannerisms that frighten Stephanie most. Stephanie needs Ranger's savvy and expertise, and she's willing to accept his help to find Annie even though it might mean getting too involved with Ranger. Stephanie, Ranger, Lula (who's not going to miss riding with Ranger), and Evelyn's lawyer/Laundromat manager set out to find Annie. The search turns out to be a race among Stephanie's posse, the True Blue Bonds' agent-a Rangerette known as Jeanne Ellen Burrows-and the Abruzzi crew. Plus, there's a killer rabbit on the loose!

Hard Eight
Strap on your helmet and get ready for the ride of your life! Hard Eight. The world of Stephanie Plum has never been wilder.

My Rating: 3.5/5

I found myself in a bit of a reading slump and having fallen behind in my reading challenge (I read this book in late December) at the worst possible time I decided to pick up this book because it seemed like the perfect time to read it. 

I recommend this series whenever you find yourselves in a reading slump as these books are fast, easy to read and not to mention hilarious reads. 

For those who don't know much about this series, it's an adult crime series that follows protagonist Stephanie Plum, a woman who upon losing her job sets out to become possibly the world's worst bounty hunter in history. 

These books never fail to make me laugh with its weird characters, awkward moments and Stephanie's inability to look after her car. 

The love triangle element in this series went in the opposite direction for the first time. I am not too interested in the romance on either side of the triangle. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Book Review #529 - The Island (The Island #1) by Jen Minkman


I walk toward the sea. The endless surface of the water extends to the horizon, whichever way I look.

Our world is small. We are on our own, and we only have ourselves to depend on. We rely on the Force deep within us, as taught to us by our forefathers. 

If I were to walk westward from here, I would come across a barrier – the Wall. Behind it, there are Fools. At least, that’s what everyone says.

I have never seen one.

Leia lives on the Island, a world in which children leave their parents to take care of themselves when they are ten years old. Across this Island runs a wall that no one has ever crossed. The Fools living behind it are not amenable to reason – they believe in illusions. That’s what The Book says, the only thing left to the Eastern Islanders by their ancestors.

But when a strange man washes ashore and Leia meets a Fool face to face, her life will never be the same. Is what she and her friends believe about the Island really true?

Or is everyone in their world, in fact, a Fool?

My Rating: 2/5

This novella was completely different to any other dystopian story I have ever read. 

This book didn't have a dystopian setting which was the main difference as it is set on a remote island. 

I've only gotten around to watching 2 Star Wars films and know next to nothing about them so a lot of the references to them went way over my head. 

The ending was obvious from the second I understood the very first Star Wars reference. 

Overall I really enjoyed this book/novella and like how developed the story and characters were considering the short length. It was a unique take on the dystopian genre whilst adding it's own pop-culture twist. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review #528 - The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare


Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .

My Rating: 3.5/5

I had mixed expectations about this book. On the one hand the fact that it was written by one of my favourite authors (Clare) and one of the authors high on my TBR pile (Black)  made me intrigued. 

On the other hand however, the amount of reviews I had read referring how similar it was to Harry Potter really threw me off. 

This book really surprised me by how unlike Harry Potter it was. The protagonist, Callum Hunt reminded me of a mixture of Percy Jackson and Hiccup (from How to Train Your Dragon). 

The Magisterium (the school) was a gothic version of Hogwarts, and the tunnels that Call and his friends (Aaron and Tamara) constantly got lost in reminded me of the Chamber of Secrets. 

The magic element in this story is where it really sets itself apart from Harry Potter. In Harry Potter they obviously use wands whereas in this book it is more elemental. 

The ending had numerous plot twists - the main one of which I predicted fairly early in the book. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Review #527 - Emma Hearts LA (Heart Series #2) by Keris Stainton


Emma's not sure that LA's for her, but when she accompanies her sister Bex to an audition, a chance meeting with a teen TV star starts to change her new sunshine lifestyle for the better... But what about Oscar, so far her only friend in LA, who's turning out NOT to be the idiot she thought he was?

Soon Emma begins to find herself torn between two boys and reconsidering her entire future.

Maybe LA's not that bad after all.

My Rating: 3/5

This is the sequel/companion to Jessie Hearts New York which I read just over 2 years ago. 

My main reason for reading Jessie Hearts New York was simply because it was a tourist story about a city I have wanted to visit just about all my life. 

For that reason, I always had expected to not like this one as much as the first, but I was wrong. 

Whilst this book didn't do as good a job at showcasing the city in which it is set like the first one, I thought it made up for it with the more interesting characters. 

Oscar, the main male character reminded me of Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door and I would have liked more of him as I found him the most intriguing out of all of the characters. 

The plot, although basic was light and fun and would make an ideal summer/beach read. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review #526 - Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin


Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It's quiet and peaceful. You can't get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere's museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe's psychiatric practice.

Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver's license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she's dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn't want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?

This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

My Rating: 4/5

This is the most unique and original book I have read in a really long time. 

Death and the afterlife is a very grey area which made it a very interesting subject. 

The ability to talk to dogs was something that I enjoyed as I am very much a dog person. 

I feel like the magnitude not only of the plot but also the setting interfered with the character development as even though I didn't hate any of the characters, I didn't really care for them that much either. 

The whole love aspect didn't blend in well with the overall feel of the book and when introduced, it took the story a completely different direction from where I wanted and expected it to go. 

I really loved the whole idea of this kind of afterlife and probably would happily read a book just about the mechanisms surrounding it.  

Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Review #525 - The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events #12) by Lemony Snicket


Dear Reader,
If this is the first book you found while searching for a book to read next, then the first thing you should know is that this next-to-last book is what you should put down first. Sadly, this book presents the next-to-last chronicle of the lives of the Baudelaire orphans, and it is next-to-first in its supply of misery, despair, and unpleasantness.
Probably the next-to-last thing you would like to read about are a harpoon gun, a rooftop sunbathing alon, two mysterious initials, three unidentified triplets, a notorious villain, and an unsavory curry.
Next-to-last things are the first thing to be avoided, and so allow me to recommend that you put this next-to-last book down first, and find something else to read next at last, such a s the next-to-last book in another chronicle, or a chronicle containing other next-to-last things, so that this next-to-last book does not become the last book you will read.
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

My Rating: 3/5

This is the second last book in this series and so things are finally starting to wrap up. A lot of the characters (especially the villains) from the previous 11 books made an appearance which was really interesting and humerous. 

I liked how there were some sentences written in a mirrored type format as for a children's book it is important to be fresh and unique. 

The setting of the hotel was interesting and it had a very Hogwarts feel to it at times. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Book Review #524 - The Last Echo (The Body Finder #3) by Kimberly Derting


In the end, all that’s left is an echo.

Before, Violet's morbid ability to sense the dead led her to uncover dark murders and long-buried secrets in her small town. Now that she's working with a special investigative team, Violet hopes she can help even more people - whether by saving a life or catching a killer.

Although she's relieved to finally be honest about what she can do, her instant connection with her mysterious partner, Rafe, is both confusing and unsettling, and their unique bond creates tension with her boyfriend, Jay. When she discovers the body of a college student murdered by "the collector," Violet refuses to give up on the case. With her own relationship on the line, Violet doesn't realize that the serial killer is looking to add to his collection and that she may have caught his eye. Will the life Violet has to save be her own?

My Rating: 3.5/5

This book is the sequel to The Body Finder and Desires of the Dead

I liked this book significantly less than the first two. It just felt like an entirely different book altogether. 

In the first two books, Violet's ability was used by chance and was the sole focus of both books. In this book however, Violet actively uses her ability and the focus is more on the special unit within the police force which Violet is the newest member of. 

The special unit that Violet joins reminded me of The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong. 

I liked that new characters such as Rafe and the others Violet works with had more development but I didn't like how others such as Jay and Chelsea were almost non-existent. 

The chapters from the collector's perspective were my favourite part of the book as I found it really chilling. 

The ending was suspenseful and I wasn't able to put the book down during that portion. 

I am looking forward to reading the last book now given the consequences of the way this book ended, however, I did not like how this book eluded to the possibility of a love triangle.