Saturday, 28 February 2015

Review of Alice and the Fly

Alice and the Fly
By James Rice

 

Synopsis:

A spellbinding debut novel by an exceptional new young British talent. 

This is a book about phobias and obsessions, isolation and dark corners. It's about families, friendships, and carefully preserved secrets. But above everything else it's about love. Finding love - in any of its forms - and nurturing it. 

Miss Hayes has a new theory. She thinks my condition's caused by some traumatic incident from my past I keep deep-rooted in my mind. As soon as I come clean I'll flood out all these tears and it'll all be ok and I won't be scared of Them anymore. The truth is I can't think of any single traumatic childhood incident to tell her. I mean, there are plenty of bad memories - Herb's death, or the time I bit the hole in my tongue, or Finners Island, out on the boat with Sarah - but none of these are what caused the phobia. I've always had it. It's Them. I'm just scared of Them. It's that simple.

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 4.6 / 5
My Thoughts:


This is the kind of story that haunts you even after you’ve finished reading it. I first thought that the main character was a girl because of the attention to detail, the thoughtful and quiet personality. Only when he introduced himself as Greg did I realise that this boy was rather odd. 

The book is written from two perspectives: Greg's entries in his journal, which are interspersed with the Detective's interviews. Greg has been advised by Miss Hayes to write his thoughts in a journal, in an attempt to help him overcome some of his issues, and by reading these we glimpse a snapshot of Greg’s day, his obsession with Alice and his unusual habits.

Each interview is conducted with someone linked to Greg, such as his classmates, family members and teachers so that the Detective can learn more about Greg’s personality. The interviews take place after an 'event' unknown to the reader and the journal entries all lead up to this same 'event.' This mixture of journal entries and interviews, past and present, kept me guessing as to what actually happened, though I had my suspicions earlier on. With each interview, the reader is given another clue about the event but it’s not until the very end that the gruesome details are fully revealed.

How can I describe this book and do justice to the amazing writing? Honestly, I've never read anything like it. The detail in which James Rice captures Greg’s episodes and the panic that suffocates him is surreal. Clearly, Greg has issues and violent outbursts, but from his journal entries it’s near impossible not to sympathise with his character. He has no friends, his family treat him like an embarrassing burden and he is constantly bullied at school, referred to as ‘psycho.’ He tries so hard to be normal but it is almost like his body doesn’t listen to his brain. On numerous occasions, Greg tries to speak up and prove he is normal, but he can't bring himself to speak, and it's sad to see how his silence always makes things worse. 

As you might have guessed, Greg is the fly from the title of this book. I thought this was a most appropriate likeness, given that Greg is always hovering near Alice in a stalker-like fashion so that no one notices him and those that do just get annoyed by his existence. 
The only problem I had with this book was that I became a tad bit bored during the middle of the story because I felt that the build up was being dragged on longer than necessary. Alice and the Fly was a powerful read opening my eyes to the extremeness of some people’s phobias. Although it isn’t a book I plan to re-read given the depressing nature of the story, I will be looking out for further releases by James Rice because his writing style for his debut novel was amazing.
Zed (:

To finish off, I'd like to ask some questions to my friend (and sole book club member) Bird to see her take on this read:

1. What was your rating of Alice and the Fly?
4/5

2. Favourite scene / chapter?

I don’t think this is a book that you could say you really liked or didn’t like. It’s beautifully written, very moving and difficult to describe.
But the interactions between Greg and Alice really stood out for me, particularly the one with the two of them at the park.  Despite the serious and dark subject matters there are some really moving parts of the book.

3. What didn't you like about this book?

Although he is surrounded by people, Greg feels alone and isolated. You get a glimpse of the cruelty and unkindness young people can leash on those who they deem weird or different then them. He shrugs off the hurt and pain, almost as if he’s resigned to it as his fate. But what I found most disheartening was the desertion-like sentiment he experienced from the two people who should have been there for him- his parents.

4. Apart from Greg, who shocked / surprised you the most?

I was shocked to find that despite the apparent aloofness he experiences from his own family, I found I didn’t judge them. Through Greg’s na├»ve insightfulness you gain an understanding of their own struggles and demons.

5. Three words to describe Greg?

Isolated, haunted, honest
Favourite Quotes:

It's not people so much that bother me. It's Them. I heard once that a person is never more than three metres away from one of Them at any time, and since then I can't help feeling that the more people there are around, the more there's a chance that one of Them'll be around too. I know that's stupid.

It doesn't bother me silence. People talk too much.

And even if I didn't smile back at you at the time, imaginarily or realitarily, it didn't matter, because even through my sickness and my shaking and my headaches and my chattering teeth I kept smiling for the next three days.

'I can't bump into her,' Mum said. 'Not like this.'I couldn't work out why. Mum was wearing her heels and her hair and makeup were perfect. She looked beautiful. She kept repeating the word 'No,' over and over, under her breath. 'No, no no, no, no.' Then she turned to me and said, 'Just promise me, if she sees us, just promise me you'll try and be normal.'I didn't reply to that because I didn't know how to reply, I didn't know how I could promise something I had failed to do my whole life.

This is what happens when I don't see you. this is what always happens to pure perfect things, given time. Circumstances change. People change. The world moves on and I am left behind.

I've been pulling out my eyelashes. It's a new habit. Dr Howard advises against it. She says it's a problem, but not such a problem, considering my other problems. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Teaser Tuesday - 24th Feb 2015


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
 Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
 Share the title & author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
This week my teasers are from an ARC of Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman.

Above the arch of the main hatch is a sign burned in wood that reads You are not the first and you will not be the last, and I marvel at how it makes me feel both insignificant and singled out at the same time. (Page 20)


The captain looks at me and shakes his head in disappointment. "Lie down with dogs, get up with rabies," he tells me unsympathetically. I don't think that's the actual expression, but I get the point. 



Synopsis:

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.


Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence, to document the journey with images.


Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.


Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.


Caden Bosch is torn.


A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by one of today's most admired writers for teens.

Source: Goodreads
   
What are your thoughts from reading the above? 
Would you continue reading?
Don't forget to share a link to your TeaserTuesday in the comments below.

Zed (:

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Review of Beyond Reach

Beyond Reach
(True Calling #2)
By Siobhan Davis

 

Synopsis:

Back on Earth, Ariana is caught in a dangerous crossfire between clandestine rebel organization Clementia and the power-hungry government. Refusing to divulge the location of the secret information entrusted to her by her late father, she desperately tries to bargain for her Mom, Lily and Cal's rescue. She's fighting a losing battle, and the clock is ticking.

Presented with evidence of her fiance Cal's apparent betrayal, she loyally defends him despite her concerns. With her emotions in turmoil, matters become even more complicated as she grows closer to her ex-boyfriend Zane.

When the stakes are raised, a succession of shocking revelations rocks her world, setting her on a path that will not only change her destiny but the fate of humanity. 

Confronted by a memory so abhorrent comes a truth she would do anything to forget.

But some things just can't be undone.

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 2.6 / 5
My Thoughts:


**I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

As it has been a while since I read the first book in the true calling series, I couldn't immediately remember what previously too place.  However, book two was easy enough to follow and piece the story together. 
This was a tolerable read, but nothing to write home about. The love triangle was annoying and frustrating most of the time. Clearly Ari has feelings for Zane and Cal,  but due to her amnesia can't remember Zane, and due to the separation,  can't be with Cal. It leaves her in a difficult situation and I should sympathise but her character irritated me. Shes so petty and illogical,  her heart rules her to such an extent that at times I wondered if she had a brain at all!
Then Cal returns but now he's lost his memory so he can't remember anything, including being engaged to Ari. I guess it's a taste of her own medicine but luckily for Ari, Cal is more receptive with her than she was with Zane. 
I pitied Zane in the last book but his determination and unyielding love for Ari was unrealistic.  There is absolutely no way a guy can continue to be so enthralled with someone and remain calm in the situations Zane has gone through,  it was too unbelievable. I felt like shouting at him because if he really was that loyal there is no way she deserved him. The love triangle reminded me of Bella in Twilight and the way she led Jacob on knowing his devotion to her. 
Overall, I did not enjoy the second book in the True Calling series as much as the first, this wasn't a book for me. The characters were annoying, the romance was cheesy and stifling and the story didn't have me convinced. The cliffhanger at the end was a good twist but it wasn't enough to warrant a continuation of this series.

Zed (:

Likeable Quote:


"Empirical evidence shows that sixty-eight percent of girls marry a guy who displays similar personality traits to her father..." His voice trails off as I shake my head. "What?" he asks, his palms open and raised."You really need to get out more. Where'd you glean that interesting nugget? The desperate men's journal perhaps?"

Review of Hidden Deep

Hidden Deep
By Amy Patrick

 

Synopsis:

Give in to the Glamour...

Sixteen-year-old Ryann Carroll has just run into they guy who saved her life ten years ago. You might think she's be happy to see him again. Not exactly. She's a bit underdressed (as in skinny-dipping) and he's not supposed to exist.

After her father's affair, all Ryann wants is to escape the family implosion fallout and find a little peace. She also wouldn't mind a first date that didn't suck, but she's determined not to end up like her mom; vulnerable, betrayed, destroyed. Ryann's recently moved back to her childhood home in rural Missisippi, the same place where ten years earlier she became lost in the woods overnight and nearly died.

She's still irresistibly drawn to those woods. There she encounters the boy who kept her from freezing to death that long ago winter night and was nowhere to be seen when rescuers arrived. He's still mysterious, but now all grown-up and gorgeous too. And the more she's with him, the greater the threat he poses to Ryann's strict policy -- never want someone more than he wants you.

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 2.3 / 5
My Thoughts:

**I received a free ecopy of this book via NetGalley for an honest review.**

This was an okay-ish read, probably perfect for someone looking for a romantic and magical tale in time for Valentine's day, but not for me.

After a messy divorce Ryann and her mother move back with her grandmother in the house near the woods. During her long walks Ryann bumps into the boy who saved her life in the woods ten years ago, only to find that he's been waiting for her all these years. Lad had secrets that he cannot share with Ryann but he can't seem to stay away from her either. Soon enough their lives intertwine in more ways than their budding romance alone.

The storyline was way too sweet and cheesy for me. Firstly, I didn't care for the names of the main characters, and secondly it was painfully unrealistic. Lad's people use telepathy to communicate, yet he can confidently speak perfect English and blend in with the locals even though his people are literally worlds different?

Ryann obviously falls head over heels with him and tries to sacrifice her love for the greater good but manages to accidentally lead Nox on in numerous ways. I personally don't understand how she could maintain a best friend like Emmy with all the secrets she kept, it was too odd. 

In conclusion, this was not my kind of read, there was too much emotion being thrown around, I didn't care for it.

Zed (:



Likeable Quotes:

Never want anyone more than he wants you. You can have a man in your life, Ryann, but never need someone. Just let him be icing on the cake.

It was my worst nightmare and sweetest dream all mixed up into one tasty bite. So much for "icing on the cake." I'd let Lad become the whole dadgum dessert menu.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Review of We All Looked Up

We All Looked Up

By Tommy Wallach

 

Synopsis:
Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.

They always say that high school is the best time of your life.

Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried "they" might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can't wait to escape Seattle--and her reputation--and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn't understand all the fuss about college and career--the future can wait.

Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors--along with the rest of the planet--wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they're going to spend what remains of the present.

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 3.2 / 5
My Thoughts:

**I received a free ecopy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

It took me a while to get into this book, in fact I think it was at 28% through that I wondered why I hadn't given up already, because I usually abandon books that I'm not into once I'm about 10% of the way in. I had a good feeling that the story would turn around and I'm glad to say it kind of did.

The book is told from 4 perspectives and each of the characters become closer linked as the story progressed. As the asteroid, and with it their inevitable demise, approaches, people become desperate and we see lots of changes for the worst. Those far off dreams that they had, now seem unreachable so it's pretty much now our never. Some like Anita, see this as an opportunity to pursue her secret ambition of being a singer, whereas others, like Peter, are depressed and don't see the point of anything. 

What I liked most about this book is that the asteroid forced people to act. It made me think what would I do if I knew that there was a 66.6% chance that we would all die in a few weeks? The approaching asteroid also brought out characteristics in people that were strange and often disturbing. Riots and violence everywhere, kids being locked up in a secret prison for being in the wrong place at the wrong time; everyone's emotions were heightened.

I can't say which of the characters was my favourite because I liked all four: Peter might seem like a typical jock but he was beyond sweet, trying to do everything in his power to help others, Anita's ambition inspired me, Eliza's perspective was sad but I loved what she was doing with her blog, and Andy might be a hooligan but he had a good heart, despite his stoner nature!

Aside from it taking me forever to become enthralled by the story, another thing that irritated me was the four points of view. Often the same event would be repeated from a different character's perspective, which sometimes was a waste of time and frustrated me because it dragged the story out longer than necessary. The final thing that ticked me off was the ending. What the hell?!!

I won't say anymore but despite it being an overall okay-ish story, I can't give this higher than 3-stars.


Zed (:

Favourite Quotes:

Already, they'd stopped hanging out as much as they used to. The most painful part of it wasn't that they wouldn't be friends, but that they wouldn't even care that they weren't friends.


But that diagnosis was her first taste of what she now recognized as the fundamental rule of life: Things were never so bad that they couldn't get worse.


None of it really mattered. Today was just another shit day in a life that sometimes felt like a factory specializing in the construction of shit days.


"I thought you said not to be afraid.""I said don't be afraid of the asteroid. This is the twenty-first century. The oceans are rising. Mad dictators have access to nuclear weapons. Corporatism and the dumbing down of the media have destroyed the very foundations of democracy. Anyone who isn't afraid is a moron."


It was incredible, the way that people kept on going, whether they were dying of pancreatic cancer or drug addiction or the apocalypse itself.


"Maybe not. But we had to do something. It's been five days.""You should have been patient. Given enough time, the ocean can turn a mountain to sand.""It's the end of the fucking world, man! We don't have time to be the ocean."


Real winning was having the most to lose, even if it meant you might lose it all. Even though it meant you would lose it all, sooner or later.


"...'They don't really deserve a second chance,' he said. And Chris was like, 'Well, it wouldn't really count as mercy if they deserved it.'..."

Friday, 13 February 2015

February New Release Hop - giveaway!

  

February New Release Hop  

I am thrilled to be part of the February New Release Hop, hosted by Librarian Lavender! 

This hop is International for a book released in February 2015 for up to £13 (approx $20) as long as The Book Depository posts to your country. 

All you need to do to enter is complete the rafflecopter form below. 

Leave a comment to tell me which February new release you are most excited about. Here is a mini collage of some I would like to read!

Good luck 
Zed (:

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Thursday, 12 February 2015

Henge (le Fay series) Blog tour and giveaway! Feb 9 - 14

  
Henge
(Le Fay #1)
By Realm Lovejoy  

I am so excited to participate in the Henge by Realm Lovejoy blogtour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. 

If you think the cover is intriguing, check out the synopsis and excerpt below.

Don't forget to enter the Tour-wide Giveaway at the bottom of this post for a chance at the following:
1 signed copy of Henge + swag (US only)
1 Amazon Giftcard ($20) (INTL)
2 paperbacks of Henge (US only)
4 ebook copies of Henge (INTL)



Synopsis:
Modern-day Camelot. Where knights no longer carry swords. Magic is dangerous. And those who seek control are not to be trusted. 
Sixteen-year-old Morgan le Fay is a fire user. An ordinary girl with an extraordinary skill, she has the ability to create and command fire at will. Her dream is to become the Maven - the right hand of the future King Arthur. In the chance of a lifetime, Morgan is selected to join Arthur's Round, an elite group of young magic users from which the new Maven will be chosen.  
Along with the other fire, water, and wind users in Arthur's Round, Morgan is rigorously trained and tested. The handsome Merlin, a brilliant water user, takes a particular interest in her. Is his friendship to be trusted, or is Merlin simply trying to win the position of Maven for himself? Among the many rivals Morgan faces is the current Maven, Mordred, who seems determined to see her fail.
But Morgan has a secret - years ago, her mother was executed for using fire magic, and Morgan's desire for justice makes her more than ready to take on the challenge before her. Can she prevail in Camelot's tests of survival and magic? Only time - and Morgan's powerful fire - will tell.

"Camelot meets Hogwarts meets Panem in this intriguing, well-written beginning to a planned YA series."- Kirkus Reviews
Source: Goodreads
Publication date: November 11th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
TrailerYoutube
Purchase link: Amazon
 
My rating: 3.8 / 5

My Thoughts:

*I received a free ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

In all honesty, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I received this book. I had read the synopsis, which was about a magical school and that has always been my weakness post Harry Potter. The cover of Henge shows an animated manga-type character in kick ass clothes, which suggests that the book is more along the line of a graphic novel (it isn’t) but it definitely piqued my interest.

Let’s move on to the story itself, which takes place in and around Camelot(!) and the protagonist is a stubborn, female girl named Morgan. I found Morgan to be a most intriguing character, in both a good and a not-so-good way. Her life’s ambition is to work for King Arthur as his Maven; the most trusted member of his consul. As a Maven she wants to help influence politics and change the laws in favour of magic users outside of Camelot because of the strong impractical restrictions currently in place. Her aim to be Maven is strongly influenced by her mother's execution for using magic in self defence and because of the visions she had as a child of serving King Arthur.

As honourable as her goals sound, Morgan doesn't seem to know much about what being a Maven entails. She's hell bent on achieving the role but I can't see her having much love for the royal family and she’s never at ease in their presence, which doesn’t exactly fit with the job description. Morgan is impulsive, keeps a lot of secrets and although she means well, she's cheated throughout her trials in Arthur's Round. For example, when Ganeida used her fire magic to help Morgan achieve top scores, Morgan questioned her but since it helped her scores, she didn't report anything. As soon as Ganeida uses her magic to fail Morgan she immediately speaks up against her, a tad bit hypocritical don't you think? She drugs Lancelot to go through his stuff, doesn’t object when Guinevere heals her and lies about her vision in her final test because it doesn’t show her in the best light and then wonders why Maven Mordred doesn’t trust her?!

Don't get me wrong, her magical Power as a fire user and determination is remarkable, but personally I can’t see her as being fit for the Maven role. I’m not saying Merlin isn’t any better, but at least he knows what the job involves and what he’s doing. He’s level-minded and whether he's evil at heart, who knows. I didn’t trust him from the start but as the story progresses I realised his sometimes questionable actions are not entirely of his own making.

Despite my concerns about the main character, Morgan isn’t bad at heart; I just think she’s really young and thinks that being Maven is the only way she can bring about a change. There’s a lot more to her mother’s story than we know of and I’m interested to learn more about the Luminaries. My favourite character was Morgan’s father; his scene when meeting (aka grilling) Merlin was hilarious! I enjoyed this book, and it was told at a fairly quick pace with the right amount of back story I would expect from a series starter.
Zed (:

Favourite Quotes:

“My father told me never to judge someone I don’t know.”
“Judging and gossiping are part of proper conversation.”

“A friend, huh?” Father presses. “You might think so, Morgan, but men are animals. I bet you he wants something more.”
I roll my eyes. “He’s just a friend.”
“Oh, yeah? I told people that your mother was ‘just a friend.’”

Father grips Merlin’s good arm, as if he wishes the other were broken too. He inspects Merlin like he’s scrutinizing meat at a butcher shop. “You’re a bit thin, boy.”
“Oh, were you planning on cooking me?” Merlin queries, and I have to stifle a laugh.

“You should hunt with me next week,” Father says to Merlin.
Father only takes people he likes hunting, but maybe Father is planning to shoot Merlin.

“Lady Fay,” he says. “You have such an icy stare. It burns me.”
“Sir Lancelot,” I say quietly. “I suggest you be careful.”

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