Book Review #21: Amulet: Book One, The Stonekeeper (Graphic Novel) by Kazu Kibuishi

Thursday, 22 January 2015 0 comments
Product details:
Publisher: Graphix 
Format: Paperback
Length: 185 pages
Published: 2008
Rating: ☆☆☆
Source: Purchased
Graphic novel star Kazu Kibuishi creates a world of terrible, man-eating demons, a mechanical rabbit, a giant robot---and two ordinary children on a life-or-death mission.
After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids' mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.

After witnessing the beauty of the recent US covers of the Harry Potter series I came across the illustrator, Kazu Kibuishi and after later researching him a bit on the internet I finally came across this series. Amulet is a series that I have heard of previously from the book reviewing community online and I was eager to check it out so I bought the first three volumes. Here is my review for the first book in this graphic novel series, The Stonekeeper. So as usual let's start off with the cover, shall we?

Cover - First of all I was attracted to this graphic novel for the artistic style of Kazu Kibuishi that I recognised as mentioned before from the new US covers of the Harry Potter series. The distinctive characteristics noticeable in the faces of his characters. His artistic style is quite plain, surprisingly pleasing to the eye and yet very distinct. Observing the cover, obviously this graphic novel is pitched at a middle grade audience, it's not everyday you see a YA/Adult novel that seems to have a stuffed bunny on the cover.  However what really drew my attention was the focus on the amulet - it instantly got me wondering what sort of magical elements this graphic novel would have by the look of just the cover. I love the typography of the title, very bold and adventurous and I think it offsets the illustrations on the cover well.

Plot - The plot to this novel is in my opinion quite average. Obviously being the first instalment in a series it is very much an introductory plotline, focusing primarily on the relationships of the characters presented and gives the reader a basic look at the setting. Now in the first few pages we're introduced to a death, which for a middle grade book might be considered quite dark to have as a introductory theme however I think Kibuishi handled it really well, presenting the sheer impact it has on the surrounding characters both at the time and afterwards in the mourning period. Speaking of dark themes however, it would seem that Amulet does take a rather dark twist in terms of a generic adventure plot, which I have to admit I was exceptionally pleased at. I think I was just expecting that little bit extra. As mentioned before this installation was very much an introductory graphic novel, as it should be. When it came to the pace of this graphic novel, I felt a bit disappointed. For me the story progressed a bit too fast for my liking. At times I did find myself wondering exactly who each of the characters are. We get thrown head first into this world of creatures, robots and magic without really detailed explanation. A good analogy for this would be sitting in a car that is driving too fast and taking too many turns - it doesn't allow you time to feel relaxed and take in all of the sights around you.

Characters - For me this also kind of let me down slightly, as mentioned before I didn't feel like I knew the characters very well. I got to know their backstory with their father but otherwise we just get introduced to Emily and her brother Navin as our two main characters. Emily for me was very impulsive and arrogant and Navin quite inclined and more level headed than his sister. Navin was definitely my favourite of the two but I would have liked to see him be a bit more insistent and have a larger role in the story than giving Emily all the limelight. At times though I did really have a hatred of the way Emily's character acted, especially towards her brother. All of this simply because she was eldest so was in charge. I mentioned her impulsive nature and this really showed in her decision making. She acted a lot of the time without thinking it through and throwing herself into dangerous and general life threatening situations, either because the amulet told her to, or she thought it was best. Overall the characters, including the side ones, just seemed kind of flat to me. Whether this is down to as mentioned many times previously, this being an introduction to the series or whether the characters were just written that way. Either way I'm sure things will develop as the series progresses. 

Illustrations - If I am to be completely honest, if I was reviewing this book and not taking into account the illustrations (which for a graphic novel is bizarre, I know) I feel that I would have only awarded this novel a 2 star rating, because without the illustrations it didn't really captivate me as much as I hoped it would. Once again, it was very introductory and flat. For me what made this whole novel worth while was definitely the illustrations. They were simplistic and yet so detailed at times and I found the characters faces to really show their emotion well. A good example of this can be seen near the end of the story when Miskit the robot-rabbit notices he's brought the wrong darts. The look on his face to me was very expressive and quite humorous. I can definitely see how a younger audience would enjoy this because I really did. Overall however the the illustrations were quite dark in tone and I think this matched the mood of the plot really well. There were a vast amount of colours portrayed and for quite a dark scene that was really well adapted too and I am grateful for that. 

So overall those are my feelings towards the first instalment of the Amulet graphic novel series. A bit flat and too fast paced but overall not a bad first book. The illustrations definitely made up for its errors, so I award Amulet, Book One: The Stonekeeper a strong 3 star rating on my classification scale. I will be picking up the second volume in the hopes that it gets better as it progresses. 

Book Review #16: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Monday, 19 January 2015 0 comments
Please note before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Orchard Books. I received an advanced readers copy of this title from my work in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion of this title influenced by the fact that I received this publication free of charge. Now on with the review!

Product details:
Publisher: Orchard Books
Format: Paperback
Length: 320 pages
Published: 2014
Rating: ☆☆☆
Source: ARC from work
Grace can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.
Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay - in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.

So I have to admit that this is my first Ally Carter book, and I'm glad to say that it is because I did thoroughly enjoy it. I never really saw the interest in her Heist Society series or Gallagher Girls, probably because it was aimed at more of a female audience? I don't know but it was never really a set of books that I was eager to pick up. However this review is not about those series, but Ally Carter's new series Embassy Row, so lets dive straight in with her first installation: All Fall Down! 

  • First off can I just say that the title 'All Fall Down' just reminds me of that nursery rhyme. You know the one I'm taking about, 'ring a ring o roses' I believe it's called? The one that ends in 'a-tishoo, a-tishoo, we all fall down.' Not that this has any real impact on the story, it just made me chuckle so thought I would include it.
  • Second point - I read this on a train journey between Newcastle - London and it took me roughly 5 hours to read. Some of the details may be slightly hesitant because I forgot my notebook (stupid I know!) and I did have a few days between sittings. However from what I can remember I will document below. 
  • Grace lives on Embassy Row, a street filled with embassy's for all of the different countries in the world. This is quite apparent from the very first line in the book, "When I was twelve I broke my leg jumping off of the wall between Canada and Germany." To any normal person reading that line the usual response would be 'eh?' but when put into the context of having a street filled with countries embassy's, yeah that kind of makes sense. It was definitely an inventive idea, kind of reminds me of Disney's Epcot shoved all onto one street and it was a very vivid image for me and really easy to picture, so well done Ally Carter, great scenic writing. 
  • So what about the story arc? This book was pitched as a kind of a contemporary/ mystery/ thriller and I am inclined to agree with that. Right from the beginning of the story you learn of Grace's backstory and the tragic events that happened in her past three years ago. Grace's mother was killed, or was she murdered? This is the arc that sets up the story and weaves it's way throughout the pages, all the way to the very end. As a main story I thought that it was extremely enjoyable - there were enough twists and turns in the story to continuously keep me guessing as to whether Grace herself was indeed crazy and who was the murderer, if there ever was one at all? In terms of comparison of this feature I found myself comparing it to the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling). That constant air of mystery that made me switch my suspicions as the novel went along. The story focuses so much on the mystery and Grace’s growing paranoia of what’s real and what isn’t, that the story doesn’t stray from what matters and what is actually on the protagonist’s mind at all and I really think Ally Carter did a fantastic job in finding a balance between these features because as the narrative is told from Grace's point of view, it's necessary to show the unsettledness of her mind.
  • Switching over to characters then, All Fall Down had a vast array of characters of which I enjoyed for very different reasons. Grace I loved for the fact that she was very unpredictable and frankly very untrustworthy as a narrator. I think this made Grace a very empathetic character and hey if it was Ally Carter's intention to make her protagonist both empathetic and untrustworthy then she succeeded very well. Noah for me was what seemed at first to be pitched as the love interest in this novel although very quickly deemed as 'the best friend', but when I soon realised that there wasn't a necessary love interest he very quickly became my favourite in the story. He was witty, charming yet wasn't afraid to show his emotions, something which I feel some male characters I read these days seem to lack - they're always lacking that empathic side to them which I feel makes them more realistic. Lila, the stereotypical popular chick who doesn't like anyone who doesn't fit into her 'status' and automatically takes charge, or so she thinks. Alexei, the russian next door neighbour who is always there for Grace without her even realising it. I really liked Alexei's character, he was kind of a timid in the background character at the beginning but towards the end there was a scene in the book where he really shone through for me and made him a lot more realistic for me, there is always a friend like Alexei in your life, just some of us don't often see them there. Megan was our wonderful little jolt of energy to the story and I never found myself not smiling whenever I read a scene with her in - she was quite literally the adrenaline of the group. I could go onto further characters such as the grandfather, the mysterious scarred man and Ms Chancellor but I feel that they weren't as developed as I would have liked, so can't go into great detail with them. 
  • The pacing of this novel for me was just okay I am afraid to say. I much preferred the first half of the book to the second (whether this was due down to not reading it in one sitting I don't know) but there were definitely scenes in the first 100 or so pages that I thought were fantastic - the meeting of the group and chasing the scarf into Iran for example, I thought these scenes were really fleshed out. The other half of the book for me was just kind of a tad repetitive in terms of pace.

Overall I believe that I will continue on with this series, although the ending did feel that it was forcing your curiosity into the second installation thanks to the open ended cliffhanger. In terms of recommendations I would definitely suggest this to everyone who wants just that bit of a mystery that is that little bit different from usual. I award All Fall Down by Ally Carter a 3 stars.

Book Review #20: In Real Life (Graphic Novel) by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Saturday, 17 January 2015 0 comments
Product details:
Publisher: First Second
Format: Paperback
Length: 187 pages
Published: 2014
Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Source: Purchased with a Christmas gift card.

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer--a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake.

First of all I just want to mention, a graphic novel about gaming? Can you figure out why I was instantly intrigued to buy this? I think so. This is the story that behind it's simplistic storyline hides important messages that are often overlooked in society, but more on that later. To start with as usual I'll talk about the cover, the plot, the characters, the illustrations and anything else I feel relevant to this review. So let's jump right in!

Cover- Frankly my dear this cover is beautiful. Instantly viewers are drawn in to the dynamic colour schemes that parallel between the two scenes, a female gamer and her gaming character counterpart. Now I'll be honest, I didn't actually read the synopsis of this book before I went and purchased it, the cover was enough for me because instantly the vibe I was getting was 'girl escapes into a video game to hide her real identity and to feel wanted.' In reality I don't think I was that far off from being wrong. Going back to the cover though, I love the typography, especially that of the IRL. That pixelated look is very retrospective of a vintage MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) and I respected that. Very stylish and fitting with the story.

Plot- The first thing that I was drawn to plot wise was Doctorow's intentions to promote female gaming (females actually playing AS females). I thought that in the gaming society that is quite a major issue, not so much now, but promoting the confidence to play as yourself was a very positive factor that I greatly appreciated.  The plot goes on to develop this, explaining how our main character Anda is trying to fit in, and playing the MMO
Coarsegold Online allows her to escape this and enjoy what she loves. One thing that I did love about the plot was that it highlights the dangers of online gaming from a parents perspective and actually got it right for a change. Anda's mother is cautious to let her play  Coarsegold Online at first due to the fact she could be talking to anyone, but lets her play and supports her as long as she plays responsibly. When however she doesn't (and this was my favourite part), she revokes her privilages, and like a stereotypical gamer instead of going on a murder spree or cursing everyone and everything, Anda simply sulks. It's relatable and true to life. I like it.

Characters- In this graphic novel we meet Anda, our main protagonist, Raymond, the poor and hardworking chinese teenager, Lucy (Sarge) and many others. Unfortunately I feel that some of the characters could have been a little more developed in this graphic novel. As this is based off of Cory Doctorow's original story 'Anda's Game' (found online only), it's understandable that the original novel would identify more depth but I found that I was just a little bit more eager for the development of Raymond and especially Lucy.  Although we hear from Raymond a lot I would have liked to see some more of the realtime effects of his lifestyle in the illustrations. We caught a glimpse of a few but I thought that might have been a nice touch. Anda however I thought was very well developed. We were introduced to Anda as this sixteen year old girl, slightly podgy and insecure and I found that it was nice to see. However I felt that Anda lacked a certain social aspect. Fair enough it's fair to assume that gamers lack certain social qualities, but she didn't seem to have any friends at all at school. This kind of made her character seem slightly unrealistic for me and I would have liked to see some better decision making on her part as well. Everything just seemed to jump around a bit when it came to her trying to make up her mind. With Lucy as mentioned earlier I definitely would have liked to see a bit more of an angle taken with her character to develop it. I think this graphic novel would have benefited from taking a three way perspective to tell the story, so we got to see the impacts of all three of our predominant characters as the story suggests 'in real life.'

Illustrations - I think when it comes to the illustrations in this graphic novel to say that I was overly happy with them. Wang's images were very vibrant and reflected well the mood of the current situation. I liked the instant parallels between the game world of Coarsegold Online and reality and I thoroughly enjoyed how emotion was shown through the characters' faces. You could always tell the emotions that were being felt by each character at the time. The drawings of the characters are quite simplistic with less detail being focused on a character's features and more on what they are wearing. I liked this detail though because when it came to the game world that simplistic design of Jen Wang's really brought out some of the crazy outfits that were being worn by players. Very well done.

However I think I must mention a factor that did occur to me whilst reading this graphic novel and if I'm honest it plays quite a large focus in other reviews I've read. This idea of a white character playing saviour to those of other ethnicity. I mean don't get me wrong, I love the idea of Anda's character wanting to change the situation, it's her bold and strong sense of virtue that I solely appreciate, but whether it took it the step too far by suggesting the white hero saves the day? Perhaps but this was a factor that didn't really hit me until moments after finishing the novel. I do have to say though that there was one moment in this novel where I seriously had to do a double take. There is a moment where Lucy (Sarge) comments to kill anything that doesn't talk or speaks Chinese. Borderline racism much? I mean don't get me wrong I understand why it was inserted there but to me I just questioned on whether it was necessary.  

Overall, this empowering story spotlights female teenage gamers and also sheds light on unfair Chinese labor conditions. Cory Doctorow's introduction provides perspective on the economics of gaming, the history of humans working together in real life and in person, and the rewards of fighting injustice and I feel that besides it's flaws, it is worthy of a 4 star review. I definitely will be checking out the text version of this story 'Anya's Game' which I will link here.

Book Review #19: Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

Sunday, 11 January 2015 0 comments
Please note before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Quirk Books publishing house. I received an electronic advanced readers copy of this title from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion of this title influenced by the fact that I received this publication free of charge. Now on with the review!

Product details:
Publisher: Quirk Books
Format: eBook
Length: 265 pages
Published: 2014
Rating: ☆☆☆
Source: Advanced Copy from NetGalley
Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.
To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.
A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.

First of all I just want to mention that the hype I had heard around this book was massive. I mean how often do you hear about a book about a haunted Ikea? Well similar to Ikea. Welcome to Orsk! A much cheaper version of Ikea in the competition market, but I bet you've never heard of an Ikea haunted by spirits? Yep you heard it right folks. Haunted by spirits. This book for me was something that as soon as I heard about it, I knew I would be buying, so when I saw there was a chance for me to review an uncorrected proof of the book, I jumped at the chance - and I have to say that I wasn't really disappointed with this novel much. It delivered everything I expected from a good old fashioned horror story, except the ending but we'll discuss that later. Lets dive straight in to what I thought about it, and as usual lets start off with the cover.
  • Cover- On a kindle it is quite difficult to just the full extend of the cover of this book, especially in black and white. So I am going to base this part off of the finished copy of Horrorstor. Can I just say that the cover for me is fantastic? I received a finalised copy of this book for Christmas and the first thing my mother said to me when I opened it on Christmas Day was "Why did you want me to buy you an Ikea catalogue?" I simply laughed and explained what it was. But it is true folks, Horrorstor from the design of the book and the cover does remind me a lot of an Ikea catalogue. Can we just praise the publishers for this? Because not only do they go out of there way to make it look like a catalogue on the outside, but they also run this theme throughout the entire novel. Opening the book up you have what seem to be legitimite Orsk order forms, a map of the showroom as well as furniture designs introducing each chapter! What makes it even more special is the fact that each item displayed at the beginning of the chapter is somehow involved in that particular chapter. It reminds me a lot of Daniel Handler's 'Why we broke up' and I loved that fact about it. It really made me feel like the author and the publishers were really trying and I appreciate that a lot with this novel.
  • Plot - So the plot. Something that I was extremely intrigued with. It's not everyday you come across a novel like Horrorstor so eagerly I dived in and I have to say, what I found was quite impressive. From the beginning of the novel we are introduced to Amy, our lead protagonist and to the store of Orsk. Amy is your average character, trying to get by in the world, or atleast trying to get by enough to pay her rent. Orsk as explained earlier is a rip-off of Ikea, or a cheaper version as Hendrix likes to describe it. Before going any further I'm going to insert the first paragraph or two for you because trust me, if you read this and don't want to jump straight into this novel then there must be something wrong with you because in my opinion it is fantastic.
"It was dawn, and the zombies were stumbling through the parking lot, streaming toward the massive beige box at the far end. Later they'd be resurrected by megadoses of Starbucks, but for now they were the barely living dead. Their causes of death differed: hangovers, nightmares, strung out from epic online gaming sessions, circadian rhythms broken by late night TV, children who couldn't stop crying, neighbors partying till 4 a.m., broken hearts, unpaid bills, roads not taken, sick dogs, deployed daughters, ailing parents, midnight ice cream binges. But every morning, five days a week (seven during the holidays), they dragged themselves here, to the one thing in their lives that never changed, the one thing they could count on come rain, or shine, or dead pets, or divorce: work."
  • Now for anyone that has ever worked in retail, you have to admit, that depiction is pretty darn accurate. And such vivid imagery in the writing! It is beautiful! As soon as I read that paragraph I knew that I was going to be continuing on with this story. So as the novel progresses you are introduced to a selection of characters that I'll talk about in a bit, and you soon learn that strange occurrences have been happening in the store, so Amy and two other of our cast stay after hours and scope about to see what has been happening. The plot goes on to be extremely intense, from creepy seances to possible murders this book gets creepier and creepier as it goes along. It definitely made me sit there and appreciate the work that Grady Hendrix put into this, because my goodness it really did have an impact on me. I'm not usually one for overly creepy books, because often they don't actually do much for me, but Grady Hendrix congratulations on that because boy were some of those scenes intense. However, like I mentioned earlier on, there were a couple of things towards the end of the novel that I felt could have been done a little bit better. I felt that the last 25% of the novel, after the full impact of the seance, that the scenes started to chop a little bit. By that I mean that obviously we are slowly coming to the end of the novel, which is fine but I found that Grady Hendrix was just throwing bits in as extra dramatics. Theres a scene where two of our main characters are running towards the exit of the store after just escaping a dramatic scene to then be swept away from the exit and being forced to go the long way around to be shoved into another dramatic scene. I mean I understand why it was done, to show that there is no easy way about but you only had like another 20 pages left of novel, I would have really liked to have seen some sort of big finale, which unfortunately wasn't really the finale I was hoping for. Shame.
  • Characters - So the characters. Amy as mentioned before is our main protagonist and I have to say that she was probably the most relatable character in the entire novel. She felt whole heartedly fleshed out, had a great deal of character development as the novel progresses, and allowed her full range of emotions to be understood by the reader. She was really expressive and this shone through really well in Hendrix' writing. Our other characters out of the trio are Basil the 'stick to the rules' manager and Ruth Anne, a character who at the beginning of the novel I really could not stand. Ruth Anne for me was my second favourite character in the novel. Now I know that contradicts a lot with my previous statement, but I love her simply for how much development she went through in this novel. Hendrix introduces her to us as this timid character who is afraid of almost anything, always sticks by the rules and doesn't really have much of an adventurous spirit. However by the end of the novel, my goodness. There's that last scene with her where she's got her fingers against her eye sockets. That was such a graphic image for me, and it was a real shame to have to see her go. By the end of the novel she was such an iconic character for me that I really hoped she was getting out alive. Basil on the other hand was a character that although did develop through this novel I felt had to in order for his character become more lifelike. At the beginning of the novel he is very much described as your typical manager that everyone loves to hates because of how much they love the company. People who have worked in retail will know this all to well. You know that guy, they're the one you purposely try to avoid as you walk through the door, much how Amy does with Basil. But yes as I mentioned I feel his development had to be there otherwise he would have been quite a simplistic character whom I would have felt had no need to be in the story besides just 'being there.' There were other characters in this novel as well, Matt and Trinity, but I feel that they needed some more development even though they were seen as kind of background characters - I would have liked to know a bit more about them than what we got. 
  • The entity of this novel I am going to treat as a separate point because I couldn't quite make up my mind about how I felt about him. By the entity I am referring to Warden Josiah Worth. During the seance scene when he possessed Carl (a homeless character), he seemed so creepy and determined and his story was set to why the store was haunted, but towards the end of the novel he just kind of seemed a bit 'meh.' Like I found the rats more haunting than he was towards the end, and his demise? Yeah it wasn't really one I was a fan of. I was expecting some sort of big showdown and grand finale as I expected earlier and what I got in return was kind of mediocre for my tastes.
So overall what did I think? Well as a whole I think this novel was a good 3 out of 5 stars. It was fast paced, intense, had gripping and relatable characters and overall was a really good story. Yes I had gripes with the ending in regards to the 'big finale' but that is something that is possibly just an issue for me. However I am actually going to give Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix a 4 star classification and that extra star is purely down to the presentation of this novel. I think if it had just been a standard paperback it wouldn't have had as much as an effect on me, but because the author and the publishers went to the extend of turning the book into an actual catalogue and adding all of these extra features, that although useless in reality, really provide that extra bit of the 'wow' factor to this novel. I congratulate you in that retrospect.

Book Review #18: Seconds: A Graphic Novel by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Saturday, 10 January 2015 0 comments
Product details:
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: Hardback
Length: 321 pages
Published: 2014
Source: Purchased with a Christmas gift card.
Katie’s got it pretty good. She’s a talented young chef, she runs a successful restaurant, and she has big plans to open an even better one. Then, all at once, progress on the new location bogs down, her charming ex-boyfriend pops up, her fling with another chef goes sour, and her best waitress gets badly hurt. And just like that, Katie’s life goes from pretty good to not so much. What she needs is a second chance. Everybody deserves one, after all—but they don’t come easy. Luckily for Katie, a mysterious girl appears in the middle of the night with simple instructions for a do-it-yourself do-over:
1. Write your mistake2. Ingest one mushroom3. Go to sleep4. Wake anew
And just like that, all the bad stuff never happened, and Katie is given another chance to get things right. She’s also got a dresser drawer full of magical mushrooms—and an irresistible urge to make her life not just good, but perfect. Too bad it’s against the rules. But Katie doesn’t care about the rules—and she’s about to discover the unintended consequences of the best intentions.

I'm just going to start off this review by throwing it out there that never before have I read any works by Bryan Lee O'Malley even though I have heard great things about the Scott Pilgrim series. Therefore this review will be unbiased and I will be basing all opinions solely on this graphic novel.

So what did I think?
  • Cover - The cover although plain and simple in design is in my opinion actually quite bold. Simply just the title, the author and a picture of our main protagonist Katie. Already you can recognise the famous Scott Pilgrim like style that Bryan Lee O'Malley is famous for. However it must be said that if you have the hardcover version of the book that the beauty of the cover lies simply underneath the dust jacket. I don't have a picture of my own because I couldn't take one that was good enough (I'm a bit of a perfectionist!) so I will link one I found online here. (All credit goes to the photographer of course.)
  • Plot -  Moving onto the plot. What did I think about it? Well first of all the idea of 'resetting' your day or 'erasing' moments that have happened isn't an idea that is new to me, but from reviews I'd seen online of this book it promised so much more than just that, and boy was I surprised. I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic novel and what really impressed me was the length of it. You get 321 pages of stunning artwork and fantastic storyline. Although it only took me one sitting to get through it, I was so glad at it's length because the storyline had enough time to be fleshed out in my opinion. Even though I've given you a brief synopsis, what is this story actually about? Well it's about a chef called Katie who runs a very successful restaurant called Seconds, but she longs for work to be finished in her new restaurant - one she hopes will be ready soon! Everything changes however when she starts seeing a house spirit and she provides her with magic mushrooms that can erase a mistake, at a price. Every time she uses a mushroom she loses more than she's originally asked for, and the mistakes begin to build up until life for Katie begins to look more tragic than she started with. 
  • Illustrations - What drew me to this graphic novel in the first place was originally not the plot, but the beautiful full colour illustrations that run throughout! All in O'Malley's classic style, each illustration really brings out the depth of each character, even in the positioning of their bodies in the frames. Perfect. I also really enjoyed that during the revision scenes, the colouring changed to a mixture of reds, yellows and oranges to differentiate it from the original storyline.
  • Characters - Characters in this graphic novel were very distinctive throughout. Even some of the more minor characters that were mentioned or seen once or twice throughout the novel had depth to them. Each had their own distinctive voice and personality that I found to be extremely relatable. However what really made this book was how fleshed out the main characters were, especially Hazel. Although the focus of the novel was all on Katie and her development, if you look closely throughout the novel you can see just how much Hazel changes, not necessarily in personality but in attitude to life - this can be seen by her outfit choices as the novel progresses. This could be interpreted as Katie's impact and effect on the people around her (which is probably true), but I feel that it definitely highlights how O'Malley develops each of his characters individually. 
So what did I think about the novel overall? Well to be fair I couldn't find that many faults with it, and if I did have any they didn't really seem big enough to validate as an actual reason. The only one that I can really think of was that at times I felt that there were scenes in the book that kind of flitted about a bit making the novel feel a tad unstructured. Like you would instantly flit from one scene in the restaurant (from what seemed in the middle of a scene) to being over the river in the second restaurant being built. To me it wasn't a huge issue which is why I was reluctant to mention it, but being a honest review I feel that I had to mention it because it did gripe on a me a bit, but not enough to detach from my overall feelings of this book. Besides that little gripe, for a graphic novel I give this a classification of 5 stars. Really it would be more a 4.5/4.75 but my gut is telling me to make it a 5, because in reality this is probably the best graphic novel I have read to date. That has to count for something right?

I have a Twitter!

Friday, 9 January 2015 0 comments
Hey guys! So I decided to make a twitter specifically for my blog. I have a regular twitter that I use for my personal life but I thought that I would separate my personal life and my blogging life a bit. So if you want to keep up to date with the blogging/bookish things going on in my life, feel free to follow me and communicate with me on there! I don't bite, I promise!

My username is @theblogbookshop  (a link can also be found in my sidebar if you just want to click that!)

Book Review #17: The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

Monday, 5 January 2015 0 comments
Product details:
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Hardback
Length: 68 pages
Published: 2014
Rating: ☆☆☆
Source: Present for Christmas
A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish.

On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

So I have been waiting to read and review this book since I first heard about it being released. Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell are my number one favourite duo when it comes to books. Neil Gaiman for his fantastic and beautiful way of telling stories and Chris Riddell for his unbelievable artwork that is recognisable through most of my childhood favourites. Everyone remember Fergus Crane? That was my favourite as a child.

So what did I think of the Sleeper and the Spindle?

Plot - In terms of plot, I thought was reasonably solid in terms of structure and pace. The structure is set out in the style of a fairy tale which considering this book pitched as a modern fairy tale, this was extremely accurate and well done by Gaiman. Obviously as well there was that slight creepy twist that Gaiman's work is known for, it definitely reminds me more of the Brothers Grimm types of fairy tales than Hans Christian Anderson. Don't you think? In terms of pacing I thought that this book's pace was reasonable. Whilst reading it, it definitely kept me intrigued and willed me to read on, but I just felt that at times it kind of jumped between scenes a little too quickly for my liking. I think I would have liked a bit more depth in reality, but considering this book is only 68 pages I wasn't expecting a lengthy developed plot line. Going into this book I had heard a lot of hype about it being a Snow White meets Sleeping Beauty replacing the prince kind of idea. Boy was I blown away by how wrong I was in assumption. The story tells of a queen (quite clearly Snow White) who is preparing for her wedding day when three dwarves come and tell her about a sleeping curse that is slowly sweeping the land. She sets off in search of the sleeping princess to wake her, defeat the wicked old witch guarding her and break the spell. But things don’t quite work out the way she expects… Can we just talk about how the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ character turns out to be the witch? That was definitely not something I was expecting in the slightest and it definitely worked in Gaiman's favour. How creepy was the whole sucking away the princesses life-force and that of the towns people as they slept, all to keep herself young and beautiful? Definitely seeing a bit of a Mother Gothel character in there don’t you think? Flower gleam and glow, let your power shine....

Characters - So lets talk about the characters briefly, because as this is aimed as a kind of fairy tale-esque story there wasn’t a huge amount of development because of how short the novel was. We can quite clearly tell that the queen character is represented to be Snow White but if not knowing about who she was previously, then her tale slowly begins to unravel as the story progresses, and I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of the story. I thought it was a nice way to explain who she was without dumping all of the information onto us as readers right at the beginning of the novel. I've found in the past that with some novels, if we are given a large quantity of detail just as the novel starts I find it really difficult to retain it all. However, gradually dropping hints of detail as the story progresses so that everything becomes clear was a fantastic was to get around this feature and made it all the more enjoyable for me. As the novel was also focused on the rescue of the princess it was nice to see the knowledge imparted from the other characters. As Sleeping Beauty's character is rightfully asleep throughout the majority of the story, it is practically impossible to gain any narration/backstory from her, but taking insights based off of other character's knowledge really made me appreciate her development more. It's weird to explain. It's also nice to see the development of the character's awareness. In fairy tales we're often just told of the one story at a time and that is always that. This makes a change because it allows the relationships of the character's to mingle. They were aware of the other character's existence and they mentioned that they lived in another kingdom! Beautiful! Often with fairy tales/disney movies we assume that all of these well known stories take place in totally different worlds, but it's impressive to see how they interweave. What I believe I appreciated most with the characters and their development was the impact of trust they have on the reader. It allows us to create judgements based on the characters. Automatically as intended, your allegiance sides with good and the evil is judged to be the witch. Obviously the huge surprise really took it's impact and surprised me and I'm appreciative of it because it's not something we tend to see often in stories, especially one's aimed for children. We often identify the baddie earlier on and it is how we must defeat them as the story progresses, but this was clearly flipped on it's head and worked to it's advantage. It’s also nice to see that Gaiman is making direct links between the fairy tales and tends to answer the question that is on most peoples lips, ‘what happens after the happily ever after?

Illustrations - I have to be brutally honest here, the illustrations are really what drew me into the book. Chris Riddell’s accompanying artwork to Gaiman's story were beautiful and frankly that little bit astonishing. Riddell’s form is easily recognisable as being pretty much similar in everything he illustrates, but he always adds that little bit of creepy onto everything. Paired with Gaiman? He’s the master of creepy.  I really admire the colour scheme used throughout this novel. Riddell often works with black and white images in his stories (besides the covers of course), but we got to see a glimpse of colour,  but even if it was just a singular colour, the shimmering gold was astonishing. In terms of the features of Riddell's illustrations, everything is drawn with such attention to detail. I haven't quite found an illustrator yet who adds just as much detail into the scenery and his character's as Riddell does. Even the backgrounds which I often don't spend a lot of time admiring had me gazing. There are two particular images in this book which really identify with this really well. One of them is where the Queen and her party have to travel through the kingdom as all of the sleeping people are starting to move. On that double page spread there has to be at least 50 different faces, possibly even 100 and each one of them has their own individual characteristics which makes each of them unique and distinguishable. It's simply amazing that no two characters look similar, except that of a pair of twins. The other illustration is a smaller one where the Queen travels through a forest of thorns. The page is literally covered in thorns but you can make out each single one and I appreciated that immensely as it must have taken hours to draw. 
So what do I give The Sleeper and the Spindle as an overall rating? I give it 4 out of 5 stars. Although I haven't highlighted any major faults in the story I just would have liked to see a little bit more to it. Perhaps less jumping around and a bit more explanation on the people waking up. I know they were drawn to the castle by the power of the sleeping witch but still. It kind of made it a bit pointless throughout the story, I would have liked to see a bit more protection of the castle besides the thorns and sleeping townspeople. Otherwise this is a beautiful book that is suitable for both children and adults. A lovely little bedtime story with that added creepy twist. 

Review coming soon - All Fall Down by Ally Carter (27th January 2015)

Sunday, 4 January 2015 0 comments
So I have just completed my full review of Ally Carter's first instalment in her new Embassy Row series: All Fall Down. It is scheduled to upload on the 27th January so stay tuned for that for my feelings on the book. 

This was an uncorrected proof edition obtained through work - published by Orchard Books. 

UK Edition                                     US Edition

Book Review #15: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Please note before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Simon and

Schuster Children’s publishing house. I received an electronic advanced readers copy of this title from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion of this title influenced by the fact that I received this publication free of charge. Now on with the review!

Product details:
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Childrens
Format: eBook
Length: 352 pages
Published: 2014
Rating: ☆☆☆

Source: Advanced Copy through NetGalley

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks.
She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.
But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.
Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.
My goodness this book you guys, this book. Holy moly this book gave me all of the feels. I don’t even know where to begin. First of all, I just want to say that Meg Wolitzer has rocketed up into my top 5 favourite authors list because of this book. I’ll be completely honest that I haven’t read anything else of hers, but this alone gives her credit. I’ve mentioned earlier on in my blog that this book was becoming one of my favourite books of 2014. This is true, however coming to the conclusion of this beautiful novel I have now decided it is probably the best book I have read in 2014. So where do I even begin?

First of all I just want to clear up an error I made about 50% of the way into this book. I said that the romance in this novel seemed unrealistic. Boy was I wrong. For those of you who have not read the novel, let me tell you now - there is a reason. For those of you who HAVE read the novel, wow. Clearly my earlier presumption of the romance was unjust because now it makes sense to me just why it seemed unrealistic. Well done Meg Wolitzer, you caught me out. Majorly. I was not expecting that in the slightest! Now that I have cleared that out of the air it’s time to discuss the basics, plot, characters, writing style and emotional trauma - I mean impact.

  • Plot - Obviously this novel is both very plot centred but also quite driven by the characters. I just need to get this out of the way again but I fully enjoyed the focus of exploring and solving the traumas that the students went through, both physical and especially mental. I loved the mentality of it all. Beautiful. I will admit that a fault I found with this book especially in the first half of the novel was that I felt as if events were just kind of being thrown at me. This happened, then this happened then this happened ect. From this I felt that it could have used some sort of flow just to kind of tie in a couple of the events to make sense to me just why they happened and how they influenced things rather than just being there. I don’t want to say much more about the plot because I would like to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but it needs to be identified that Meg Wolitzer handles the students traumas fabulously in my opinion, and I feel that that little aspect of magical realism was needed, as I think in a moment where you are facing such a difficult trauma, looking back on it willingly is hard. Due to this I definitely feel that having that magical realism where they are forced to look back each time they write in the journals kind of adds to the character’s desire for help. 

  • Characters - It is without a doubt that Meg Wolitzer has a full cast of characters, and to be fair we were introduced to a lot of them in a very short space of time. Confusing? A tad, but as each character developed - each in their own way I must admit, I felt that I wasn’t finding it difficult to distinguish any of them. Each character had their own persona and I was very glad that the author made this quite apparent to us. Jam (Jamaica) as a narrator. Hmmm. At first I felt that I wasn’t quite attached to Jam, she was very much ‘oh I love Reeve so much, Reeve Reeve Reeve’ and to be fair I found that very annoying at first. I now obviously realise why it was annoying and appreciate it all the more. Getting lots of ticks in my book here Wolitzer! As the novel progressed however I felt we really did get a deeper insight into Jam’s character and I feel that it was very much on a ‘Jam reveals what Jam wants to reveal’ kind of basis which I did appreciate a lot, it made the character quite real in the situation. I’ll be brief here, I loved the whole cast of the Special Topics in English class, Sierra had to be my favourite if I was going to be straight. Just the emotional roller coaster that I went through with her character. Just wow. Can I just say as well that I loved Mrs Quenell, I thought she was fantastic and some of the dialogue she came out with could put my english teachers to shame. So delicious some of the stuff she had to say, and as a teacher myself I found it so inspiring that she had just the right amount of wit to know her stuff and teach the kids what they needed to know but also by god did she have a sass side. It was subtle through her ignorance of the children’s hints towards the journals but ha I devoured each page with her on, even as a minor character development wise.

  • Writing style - I will admit that this was quite average in my opinion. I felt that at times the dialogue was beautiful as just discussed and there were other times where I was staring at the sentences like, ‘oh my goodness there are too many ands in this paragraph’ and I’ll be honest the teacher side of me came out and I started to count them at one point. However because of this simplicity it really reflected well in the story that was being told. Never once did I really thing about the author, I just got in the idea of the story being authored officially by Jam. Really that’s all I can say with the writing style, it wasn’t fabulous but it suited well for the way the story was being told.

  • Emotional impact/trauma- My goodness I do not use the word trauma lightly. Sierra’s ordeal of choosing to remain trapped in Belzhar so she didn’t have to live without her brother being there. Ah it killed me inside, I had tears running down my face when her little brother came on the phone at the end of the novel and left Jam hanging on the other end of the line. I knew Meg Wolitzer wasn’t going to let me down. She could not leave me on an unhappy ending after all of that! I don’t think I’ve gone through this much emotional impact since TFIOS. So besides Sierra was I impacted by the way the story was told/ what happened in the narrative? Yes. Yes I was. I could understand why each of the characters did what they did in their reactions to visiting Belzhar for the last time, I could understand Griffin’s angst throughout the book and I could understand Jam’s reluctance to want to reveal anything until literally the last chapter in the book. Definitely gave me a kind of We Were Liars vibe to all of it. I think the best thing about this book though was even though throughout the book I was looking forward to this big reveal about how Reeve died, I was not disappointed. Metaphorical death can sometimes be just as traumatic as actual death as this book shows. I’ve seen a lot of reviews slandering the ending saying how it was such a let down. I really think those people need to re-read the book carefully and pick out all of the in-depth details that link to why the ending was what is was.
So that’s my review! It was an emotional roller coaster of a book and I am so glad that I read it. Definitely a 2014 best read. It deserves all of the praise it is getting. Now where to rate it on my classification scale… this is where it gets difficult because everything inside of me is screaming 4/5 but with all of the commotion in the book reviewing community about reading critically, which I find to be very important. I have to admit there were a few flaws that I have outlined. Saying this, I believe that the impact this book has had strongly outweighs the flaws, so I am leaving this classification slightly open to opinion based on thought. If you read this review and can see that I have genuine faults with the book and aren’t bothered by the impact it had on me then by all means rate it an 3 stars. As a critical reading, that is honestly what I could classify it under. However, for this review and because I think in my opinion that having a book impact you in some way is immensely important in the book reviewing community, I am awarding Belzhar a classification of 4 stars, but as I said please feel free to take the more critically reviewed rating should you see fit.

Book Review #14: The Lost Hero Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan

Product details:
Publisher: Disney Press
Format: Paperback
Length: 192 pages
Published: 2014
Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Source: Purchased

Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently she’s his girlfriend Piper, his best friend is a kid named Leo, and they’re all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for “bad kids.” What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea—except that everything seems very wrong. Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, and her vivid nightmares reveal that he’s in terrible danger. Now her boyfriend doesn’t recognise her, and when a freak storm and strange creatures attack during a school field trip, she, Jason, and Leo are whisked away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood. What is going on? Leo has a way with tools. His new cabin at Camp Half-Blood is filled with them. Seriously, the place beats Wilderness School hands down, with its weapons training, monsters, and fine-looking girls. What’s troubling is the curse everyone keeps talking about, and that a camper’s gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist they are all—including Leo—related to a god. 

Obviously being a huge fan of Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series and already owning the graphic novel adaptations of The Red Pyramid and the first three books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympian series, when I saw that The Lost Hero was being adapted I knew I had to pick it up. So I did, and it is beautiful. So what did I think about it overall? Well…

Obviously adapting a quite chunky book into a shorter graphic novel, there are going to be bits missed out that are prominent in the book. So naturally I expected it to be quite chopped and changed, much like how The Titan’s Curse was adapted. I have to say I wasn’t best pleased with that adaptation, but this one remained quite faithful. Yes not everything was included and it’s hard to really show a great deal of emotion in a graphic novel, but I thought that The Lost Hero did this really well. It kept all of the major prominent scenes that I could remember from the novel and transformed them into a much more vibrant and enjoyable reading experience than I had anticipated going into this.

The illustrations in this book are lovely. Although having more of a cartoony-esque feeling to them (which is obviously going to be prominent in a graphic novel), I thought that each block throughout the novel really captured what was happening in the scene. The imagery was bold and very colourful which is what I really appreciated. Nothing was overlooked when it came to the drawings, and although as mentioned before, perhaps some of the characters were a tad more cartoony than I anticipated, Nate Powell did an excellent job of adapting this. I definitely hope that he continues on with the series. One of the things I loved most about this graphic novel adaptation was that we were exposed to a lot of locations and different environment. Whilst reading the original novel by Rick Riordan I could only imagine what some of the cabin’s looked like inside, what some of the palaces’ looked like and I feel that this was really well done in this graphic novel. I absolutely loved how empty the Zeus cabin was meant to feel whilst the Hephaestus and Aphrodite cabin’s were full of life and colour. Beautiful.

Really there is not much else I can say considering it’s a graphic novel. It’s plain and simple, nothing over the top which is what I appreciate. Will I be continuing on with this graphic novel series should The Son of Neptune get a graphic novel? Yes. Yes I would, happily! I would love to see how Percy’s adventure with Hazel and Frank will develop from Camp Jupiter. As for classification, I give The Lost Hero Graphic Novel a 4 stars. As I mentioned before, not all graphic novels can capture every essence of the original story, but I felt this one did it justice quite well, it was just missing something to make it perfect.

Book Review #13: Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

Product details:
Publisher: Katherine Tegan
Format: Hardback
Length: 285 pages
Published: 2014
Rating: ☆☆☆
Source: Purchased
Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.
Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.
Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

So what did I think about it? Well as this book is made up of the four novellas, I am going to go through each one individually and discuss what I thought.

The Transfer:

  • So I would say that The Transfer was my second favourite novella in this bind up collection from Four’s perspective. I don’t know what it was but I love the way that those scenes are organised and told. I find it really fascinating, so when Veronica Roth presented me with another choosing ceremony from Four’s perspective. Loved it. Absolutely fantastic. Not only do we get the debates of Tobias’ decisions but we also get more insight to just why he hated his father. 

  • If I’m brutally honest I could not find fault with this novella. I loved it that much.
The Initiate:
  • Ugh The Initiate was my absolute favourite novella out of this collection! Without a shadow of a doubt! I mentioned in the review of The Transfer that I enjoyed the choosing ceremony part of the plot in Divergent? Well I loved the whole initiation ceremonies part as well. Definitely why I enjoyed the entirety of the first half of the book better than the second. It was just as similar with The Initiate. We finally got to find out some more backstory to how Four actually got his name. I mean yes we know the whole four fears thing but it was nice to see the first time they ‘came to life’ so to speak and he got to face them under the simulations.

  • Cons? Nope. Nope. All good thanks.

The Son
  • So in this novella, Four is beginning to adapt to his dauntless surroundings and begin to take some form of leadership (even though he does turn down the leadership position!) In this novella we start to see how Four shapes to be in dauntless to where we meet him from Tris’ perspective in Divergent. It discusses all about Four’s feelings towards the never giving up policy… and I really enjoyed Four’s inner abnegation came out, in the sense of having strong opinions on matters. We know this from how in the Divergent series, we know that Abnegation make decisions that effect the government and we all know how that pans out.
  • Err if I’m honest I thought that the writing style here started to get a tad sloppy on Veronica Roth’s part. I enjoy hearing from Four’s point of view (although I wasn’t a fan of it in Allegiant) but there were elements in this novella that reminded me of Four’s voice in Allegiant. Back came all of the annoyance as you can imagine.
The Traitor:
  • Ooh we’re introduced again to Tris’ character! I’ve missed her. So obviously this novella ties into Tri’s arrival in Dauntless and we get some familiar scenes but from a different perspective. This much for me is good. I like this so far. 
  • Unfortunately this is where things turned sour in my opinion. After three very strong independent stories, The Traitor for me felt a bit, do I say it? Cheap. I’ve heard people compare The Traitor to more the likelihood of a strong fan fiction? Yes, I can see that. For me the romance was just a little too heavy considering I was hoping for some really cool action scenes with just Four. I mean we got that yeah and I can see that Veronica Roth wants to tribute with a fitting narrative to finalise the series with a reminder of Four/Tris’ relationship beginning.
So overall where would I put my marker on my classification scale? Well up until the final novella I would have been more than happy to award Four: A Divergent Collection a 5/5 stars. However, I have to bare in mind that much to my disapproval, it is there. So it is with regret that I have to dock a classification grade for one of my favourite series but I award this 4 stars (appropriate don’t you think? 4 for Four!) Still definitely one to pick up.

Book Review #12: Champion by Marie Lu

Product details:
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Format: eBook
Length: 369 pages
Published: 2013
Rating: ☆☆☆
Source: Purchased
He is a Legend.
She is a Prodigy.
Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

  • First off I want to start the review of the third and final book in this series with a negative that links on quite appropriately to the final point in my review of Prodigy. I mentioned that if this series had been a duo-logy then I would have been quite satisfied with Prodigy as a final book, minus the cliffhanger of course. I feel that this opinion of mine is still actually a valid one. As much as I did enjoy Champion and found it to be a decent final book, I thought that we could have definitely concluded the Legend series with Prodigy.
  • Anyway moving on from the negative I had with this book, lets move onto the positives because realistically this is what you guys are wanting to hear. Day’s illness. Can we just talk about this for a second because it did tear at my hearts strings as I progressed through the novel. So this was the first time besides the ending of Prodigy that we really got to hear from and about Eden’s character in detail. Fair enough he was mentioned throughout the two books as an incentive, but never before had his personality and character traits been introduced to the reader. I for one loved Eden’s character, he was the perfect younger brother, showing that innocence that one would expect from younger siblings ( and if you have them you’ll know what I mean) but also having his own independence and strength. I loved that! Knowing that that limited time Day had left really got me wondering whether who he was going to leave behind were going to cope. So yes, that got me emotional and seeing him slowly deteriorate? Heartbreaking - not so much so as the ending but we’ll talk about that soon. 

  • Similar to the way that Veronica Roth explored life beyond the fence in Allegiant, it was pleasant to see how life was going on beyond the Republic and the Colonies. I am referring to of course, Antarctica. We had the scene where June and Anden go to visit Ross Town in Antarctica to ask for help against the colonies and I felt that because of the way it was described, Ross Town kind of reminded me of entering the Captiol in the Hunger Games for the first time. I got that kind of glamorous vibe from it. Whether anyone else did I am not sure.
  • So I believe it’s time to talk about it. The ending. Marie Lu you have a way of toying with your reader’s hearts. After I have followed Day and June’s relationship from the first book, to then have my heart ripped out as Day get’s memory loss after his Coma and doesn’t remember June at all. Ugh I died. Literally felt as if I had been shot in the chest (totally stealing that personification from E Lockhart.) It was awful. I had all of the ‘feels’ and I was teary at one point. I had very similar emotions in Shades of Earth by Beth Revis. If you’ve read that book then you know what I’m referring too. I was so glad however when we finally got to see that little epilogue referring to the ten years later. After a lengthy description of how June spent her birthday’s the past ten years and all of the events that had happened on them, it was so nice to see that small scene at the end where Day and June meet by chance and he can remember her face. It shows that he is healing and I’m sure like so many others, that is when my inner fanboy screamed. A happy ending, kind of.

Well that is my review of Champion! I hope you enjoyed it. So a final rating.. well as much as I did enjoy it, there is always that thought of some points seemed unnecessary and without the cliffhanger, Prodigy could have made an ideal conclusion for me. It would have definitely saved me some of the heartbreak I went through with this book. It was definitely better than acceptable, so I believe I am going to give Champion a classification of 4 stars.

Contact Form


Email *

Message *

Copyright © 2014 The Blogger's Bookshop
Template by These Paper Hearts