Saturday, 8 November 2014

Recommendation Round-Up

I need to finally admit to this; I haven't got the energy to review at the moment. I feel bad about this and wish I did, but I've been trying to get things going again for what seems like months and I'm not getting anywhere.

I'm writing two last reviews for The Bookbag which will hopefully be done over the next couple of days; other than that I'll be trying to use the next few weeks to write mini-reviews of some of the books I've read recently and haven't got round to, in between a few more YA A to Z posts and a couple of fabulous guest posts I have lined up. December should be a REALLY good month on the blog, with something I'm massively excited about planned! Come January, I may start doing proper recommendations again.

Descriptions of each book taken from Goodreads. Please assume all books given to me by publisher or author unless otherwise stated. (It's so long since I got some of them that I actually can't remember. Oops.)

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (Simon & Schuster)

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.
 


Two books for the price of one here as we get the story of Darcy trying to make it in the book industry and Lizzie's paranormal romance. I enjoyed Lizzie's novel despite it not being a genre I'm keen on these days, but it's Darcy's story which had me completely hooked. It's an intriguing insight into the joys (and problems) of being an author, I thought the romance aspect was brilliant, and I liked Darcy's relationship with her family a lot, especially her younger sister. Big thumbs up here and I'll look forward to more from Westerfeld, who I've somehow never read before despite lots of people having recommended him, particularly the Uglies series.


The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard (Hot Key Books) (Bought)

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series Pretty Little Liars comes a thrilling new novel about five perfect girls who are framed for a murder they didn’t commit. 

In Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke...until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them. 


News of this one had somehow completely passed me by so as a big fan of Pretty Little Liars I was thrilled to see it on shelves last month. I picked it up, read two paragraphs, was hooked straight away, bought it and read within a few hours. Shepard's style is just wonderful; her voice - reminiscent of the narration to Desperate Housewives, or of Grace Metalious's classic melodrama Peyton Place - lures me in every time. In many ways it's very reminiscent of PLL, but that's what I was hoping for and it definitely delivers. (On a side note, I've seen a couple of reviews which seem annoyed that it contains privileged kids, forbidden love and dark crimes - it seems a bizarre complaint to have, along the lines of people reading Agatha Christie and moaning "Oh, this is so repetitive, there's ALWAYS a dead body.") I actually got taken by surprise by one twist simply because I was expecting a certain storyline to play out more like Pretty Little Liars than it turned out to. On the less good side, there's a major cliffhanger ending - again, I've come to expect this from Shepard but I still want more closure, darn it! Still, it has me completely hooked as I desperately want to know what happens next.


The Glass Republic/Our Lady of the Streets by Tom Pollock (Jo Fletcher Books) (TGR borrowed from Daphne)

No plot summary because I'll spoil the first in this magnificent trilogy. Reminder of book one, from my review last year.

The City's Son sees Beth Bradley stumble into a secret city where the ghosts of trains rush around, and glass-skinned dancers light the streets. It's notable for exceptionally strong character arcs for several characters - Beth herself, her father and her best friend all develop brilliantly. If anything, my one issue with this one is that I think I would probably have enjoyed it even more if I'd read it fifteen years ago when I was younger and had more of an imagination. Darn you, Tom Pollock, for not writing it a couple of decades earlier! 

Books two and three follow the further adventures of Beth and best friend Pen. I was sent book three by the publishers, then Daphne was kind enough to lend me book two, and I read them back to back. I finished Our Lady of the Streets on the Sunday morning of Nineworlds, saw the author, and immediately walked over to say "**** you" to him, holding back my tears long enough to do so. (I may have actually used slightly politer vocabulary, but that was the rough idea.) Tom, being a really nice guy when not breaking his readers' hearts into a million pieces and trampling on them for fun, took it in good spirits and seemed delighted that he'd had that effect on me. Bah.

The reason I've taken four months or so to review the last two books in this trilogy - and coincidentally, Tom, I've reviewed very little else in this time - not saying that it's ALL YOUR FAULT, but it kinda is - is that I can't really figure out what to say about it. It's phenomenally imaginative, has two superb heroines, and I love the romance Pen gets involved in, which plays a big part in the second book in particular. Every supporting character here seems fully realised and fleshed out - Beth's dad is especially wonderful, as is Johnny Naphtha, leader of the mysterious Chemical Synod. Arguably the best character of them all, though - even ahead of the pair of excellent leads - is London itself, which comes to life (literally, as well as figuratively!) A near-perfect fantasy trilogy; massively recommended.

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