Moving Blogs

8 Jan

Hi everyone,

This blog has now moved here: http://mareemusings.wordpress.com. It’s the same blog, just with a new host.

I hope to see you all over there!

Maree

Every Day by David Levithan

28 Dec

Goodreads Synopsis:

Every day a different body.

Every day a different life.

Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

Review:

Every day A wakes up in a different body. A has learnt to live with this and is resigned to the fact that this is fate. A has strict rules when it comes to interfering with the bodies A inhabits for the day, accessing their memories just enough to make it through the day without being noticed and never becoming too attached. Then A connects with Rhiannon and suddenly A has something to live for, to look forward to every day. Suddenly A has something which lasts more than one day.

While I’ve certainly never read something quite like this, the body-hopping premise is remarkably similar to one of my favourite TV shows, Quantum Leap. However, rather than relying on Al and Ziggy to help him, A ‘accesses’ the host’s memories to help navigate the day. The thing I love most about that show and this novel was the glimpses into other people’s lives. Through A we step into the lives of so many different people, each with their own story to tell and a lesson to teach. Yet, I loved that throughout the various lives A visited, the narration had a unique and well-developed voice. Although A remains genderless throughout the novel, the narrative voice felt more masculine to me (so, from now on I will refer to A as a male).

In some cases A helped the people he visited, in some cases he just made it through the day, but in other cases he broke his own rules and interfered with the lives of the hosts without much thought as to their wellbeing in the future. A justifies some of these decisions with statements about how the hosts have their whole lives ahead of them, that this day will just be an inconsequential blip on the radar, “a slight, barely noticeable aberration”. While this may be true, I couldn’t really believe that after so many lives and so many days, A would completely abandon the self-imposed rules for the sake of seeing Rhiannon. I was also annoyed when A got angry at Rhiannon for not being able to love him every day despite the body he was in, while judging some of those bodies himself. I think the chapter which really bought this home to me was the one where he was an obese young man; the judgement in that particular chapter made me feel slightly sick. I don’t quite know how to articulate my complaint, I just felt that maybe a little bit of understanding about any deeper issues behind Finn’s obesity wouldn’t have gone astray.

The sub-plot involved A being pursued by Nathan, one of the bodies he inhabited and misused in an attempt to reach Rhiannon. At first this intrigued me, however, it soon began to grate as Nathan’s story became well-known and more people confessed to believing they had been possessed. A’s contempt of these people annoyed me; he had in fact possessed Nathan and used his body to his own advantage. I didn’t blame Nathan for believing he was possessed, after all, he woke up on the side of the highway with only a vague memory of being at a party out of town. In my opinion A was in the wrong and, while Nathan may not have dealt with it in the best way possible, A was really in no position to judge his beliefs. I was also sad to see the sub-plot, which held so much potential, fizzle away to nothing in the cray-cray final quarter.

Reading this, in ways, was like watching a cartoon after a certain age. It had a magical quality to it, but I did worry that if I looked too deep this would disappear. The story required the reader to suspend belief and offered no explanation as to the specifics of A’s situation. Similarly, I overlooked the instant love A felt for Rhiannon. Personally, I enjoyed just escaping into this and focussing solely on the story, but I think those going into this expecting a reason for A’s body-swapping or a deep and well-founded relationship would be very disappointed.

The ending felt extremely rushed as everything was tied up in a neat little package. A was ultimately portrayed as being selfless, considering he somehow could have chosen to completely possess the body he was in. However, he chose Rhiannon’s ending for her and didn’t really give her a choice. As lovely as the ending was theoretically, I couldn’t really overlook this.

In saying all that, this was a beautifully written novel. I loved Levithan’s lyrical, magical writing style and found myself completely absorbed in this story despite my complaints. I really, really wanted to love this, but there were just some things I couldn’t possibly overlook. While it was certainly an enjoyable reading experience, I think in future I might just stick with Quantum Leap and its super catchy theme tune.

Rating:

2.5/5 Stars

Thank you to Text Publishing for providing a copy of the book for review.

Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell

24 Dec

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lord of the Flies meets War of the Worlds in J. Barton Mitchell’s alien-invaded post-apocalyptic world where two teens and a young girl with amazing powers must stop the aliens’ mysterious plan

Earth has been conquered by an alien race known as the Assembly. The human adult population is gone, having succumbed to the Tone—a powerful, telepathic super-signal broadcast across the planet that reduces them to a state of complete subservience. But the Tone has one critical flaw. It only affects the population once they reach their early twenties, which means that there is one group left to resist: Children.

Holt Hawkins is a bounty hunter, and his current target is Mira Toombs, an infamous treasure seeker with a price on her head. It’s not long before Holt bags his prey, but their instant connection isn’t something he bargained for. Neither is the Assembly ship that crash-lands near them shortly after. Venturing inside, Holt finds a young girl who remembers nothing except her name: Zoey.

As the three make their way to the cavernous metropolis of Midnight City, they encounter young freedom fighters, mutants, otherworldly artifacts, pirates, feuding alien armies, and the amazing powers that Zoey is beginning to exhibit. Powers that suggest she, as impossible as it seems, may just be the key to stopping the Assembly once and for all.

Review:

Midnight City is the first novel in an enthralling new dystopian series set in the ruins of North America following an alien invasion. The adult population has been taken by the Assembly, who wait in the shadows for the Tone to take the teenagers and children that remain. Only those who are Heedless can avoid the fate of the Tone.

The story follows Holt Hawkins, a Heedless bounty hunter who is chasing after Mira Toombs. Sparks fly in their initial meeting, as Mira outwits Holt and his dog Max. Holt eventually catches Mira and they begin to make their way towards Midnight City. During their journey they find a crashed Assembly aircraft, Holt ventures inside, discovering a little girl called Zoey. That’s when things start to get really interesting.

I was really surprised by how incredibly well developed the characters in Midnight City were. I loved every second of reading about Holt, Mira and Zoey. Each character had their own secrets and I really appreciated the way their stories were each developed throughout the novel. I got a sense that the first novel was really Holt’s story, and it was his history the audience was given the most insight into. He was deeply affected by the loss of his sister to The Tone and seeing Mira struggle with the growing mind control was both disturbing and heartbreaking for him. Mira was also a strong character; however, when the gang finally reach Midnight City and some of her past is revealed it is clear that she too has had a lot of heartbreak over the years. I loved the slow development of their relationship and really appreciated the fact that the love story was not the main element of the novel. Although not much of Zoey’s background was revealed, there were moments which hinted at how she gained her powers and I am looking forward to learning more about her role in stopping the Assembly in subsequent novels.

The world-building was superb. Aside from a slightly shaky start where for a few pages I had no idea what was going on, I felt the information about this new world and landscape was delivered perfectly. Every time I questioned something, an answer was provided. The information flowed into the story naturally and fitted within the context of the events unfolding at the time. Midnight City itself was wonderfully constructed and I could visualise every element perfectly. I also thought the artifacts were a fascinating element of the novel. I loved the idea that parts of the landscape have become magically charged and that formerly commonplace items can now be combined to make powerful magic.

To me the ending felt slightly rushed; however, I felt it wrapped things up well while still hinting at what may happen in the rest of the series. I also would have liked it if we had reached Midnight City a little sooner, but really I’m just being picky. I thoroughly enjoyed this and cannot wait to see where the rest of the series takes us.

Midnight City was something I wouldn’t usually have picked up, but the premise intrigued me and I was certainly not disappointed. This was an enthralling, action-packed story and I am really looking forward to the rest of the series.

Rating:

4.5/5 Stars 

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.com

Goodies #12

23 Dec

I am very excited to show off my book haul in today’s post because this week I received a wonderful early Christmas present from the lovely Mands. You may have seen our joint reviews over the last few weeks, but if you didn’t get a chance to read them you can find them here and here.

I came home from uni early this week (finally on holidays!) to find a lovely package waiting for me. When I opened it everything was wrapped in the cutest paper and suddenly I felt like I was five years old again and opening up my presents on Christmas morning! I was very, very excited whilst unwrapping everything and just couldn’t resist pictures:

 

Don’t you just love that card? I am a big owl fan and I adore the play on Beatles songs! Genius! The books I got were: Rumour Has It by Ali Cronin, What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and Eric Clapton’s autobiography. I am so excited for all of these. I also got two gorgeous nail polishes (Orly ‘Rock the World’ and Nail It ‘Belle Vista’), banana split lip balm and the most gorgeous owl compact mirror. Oh, and a TON of chocolates! Thank you Mands! I am so incredibly lucky to have a friend like you and I simply cannot wait until you get my presents!

This week I also received three books for review:

I received Indigo Awakening by Jordan Dane from Harlequin Teen Australia, Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil from Hardie Grant Egmont and Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans from Allen & Unwin. Again, I am really looking forward to reading these.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Christmas!

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

21 Dec

Goodreads Synopsis:
 
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for

 
Review:
 
Today Mands and I are back for another joint review!
 
Maree: I am always on the lookout for really good YA historical fiction, so when I saw Scarlet on one of Vegan YA Nerd’s Stacking the Shelves posts, I immediately added it to Goodreads. Seeing it was at the library I thought it would make the perfect read-a-long book for Mands and I. Honestly, although I added it to Goodreads, I went into this book with almost no expectations. In fact, I thought it might not live up to the awesome blurb and beautiful cover. Well, I am more than happy to admit that I was really, really wrong. This was wonderful!
 
Most people are familiar with the classic tale of Robin Hood, robbing from the rich to give to the poor. However, Scarlet turns this tale on its head, focusing on a certain someone in Robin’s band of merry men, someone whose story has been lost in the legend. This is the story of Scarlet, a girl who disguises herself as Will Scarlet, revealing her identity only to those closest to her. Scarlet is courageous and handy with her knives, but she’s also hiding some dark secrets about her past. When the deadly Thief Taker, Lord Gisbourne arrives in Nottinghamshire everyone is in danger and Scarlet feels that only she can save them, even if it means putting herself in the line of fire.  
 
Mands: I loved Scarlet by A.C Gaughen and I know you did too, Maree! I want to start reading more YA historical fic as well, and this is definitely a unique book covering a topic rarely seen in YA. I’m a big fan of Robin Hood: Men in Tights so I was thrilled to read about characters I knew from the movie, even though they were completely different. I was immediately drawn into Scarlet’s world – she hides the fact that she’s a girl to everyone but Robin and his boys. She is brave, independent and fearless. Part of the reason is her past, her guilt pushes her to look after others and put them before her own well-being.
 
Maree: I think the characters were my favourite part of this novel. I adored Scarlet and thought the way the secrets in her past were revealed was excellent. I felt so sad for Scarlet; I can’t image the fear she must have felt around Gisbourne after everything that had happened. At times though, I just wanted to shake her and tell her it wasn’t her fault and that she needed to stop punishing herself for things which were out of her control.
 
Mands: I don’t often swoon over book characters but Rob, also known as Robin of Locksley, stole my heart along with Scarlet’s. He was so good to her and it was obvious they each had feelings for the other, even if they didn’t realise it. I loved John and Much as well, my heart went out to John because I thought Scarlet was going to break his and Much was just so sweet. Gisbourne on the other hand was so cruel; I shared the characters’ hate for him.
 
Please head over to Vegan YA Nerds to read the rest of our review!
 
Rating:
 
Maree: 5/5 Stars
 
Mands: 5/5 Stars