Monday, 26 August 2013

Rapunzel Untangled - Book Review

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Rapunzel Untangled - Book Review

Cindy. C. Bennett

YA Fairytale Retelling

Synopsis:

Rapunzel is not your average teenager.

For one thing, she has a serious illness that keeps her inside the mysterious Gothel mansion. And for another, her hair is fifteen feet long. Not to mention that she's also the key to ultimately saving the world from certain destruction. But then she meets a boy named Fane, who changes all she has ever known, and she decides to risk everything familiar to find out who she really is.

Filled with romance, adventure and mystery, Rapunzel Untangled is one story you won't want to put down. Discover the true meaning of love and friendship in this modern twist to the classic fairytale.

Review:

A modern day retelling of Rapunzel, the author did a fantastic job of putting a twenty-first century spin onto this classic tale, all while keeping true to the fairytale magic that remains at the heart of the story. This is a book that made me laugh, made me cringe and also made me blush - making it a sweet, while-away-an-afternoon kind of read.

The story begins with Rapunzel. A lonely girl who, due to a disease that affects her immune system, has spent her entire life locked away in her rooms. With only her distant, unloving mother for company, Rapunzel decides to be rebellious and find herself a friend in the ‘outside’ world. How does she achieve this – facebook!

Through a series of messages, she slowly gets to know Fane. A handsome, funny and loving guy who introduces her to a world Rapunzel never even knew existed. When they finally meet, adventure ensues as the two of them set about breaking Rapunzel out of her tower and exploring the many secrets Gothel Mansion holds.  But some secrets are more deadly than others, and Rapunzel is soon to learn she may not be the person she thinks she is. In fact nothing about her life is what is seems…

I really did enjoy this story. I admit, as a reader I did have to overlook a few things and accept some general silliness, but none of this took away my enjoyment of the book.

Rapunzel was a great character and with every page, you could see her becoming a bolder and more confident woman. Depsite the strangeness of her life, she was a very believable and down to earth person, yet with just enough naivety for events to be credible.

Fane I also loved. Charming and witty, he was a perfect modern day Prince although he seemed to take a lot on faith. Yet I couldn’t help but like his character. His patience with Rapunzel, and watching them fall in love was adorable.

Gothel however remains the most interesting of characters. The modern twist of her personality was brilliant and she helped make the story real for me. Also despite her being the bad guy, I did actually feel quite sorry for her in the end. She was just a lonely woman who really loved her child.

Plot wise the story moves quickly and doesn’t lag. Basically if you don’t look at things too literally, and take everything with a pinch of salt, Rapunzel Untangled is a great read and one I think younger teens would especially enjoy. Great stuff. 3 stars!


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Monday, 19 August 2013

Tigers Quest - Book Review


Tiger's Quest - Book Review

Book #2 of the Tiger Saga

Colleen Houck

YA Fantasy

Synopsis:

Back in Oregon, Kelsey tries to pick up the pieces of her life and push aside her feelings for Ren. But danger lurks around the corner, forcing her to return to India where she embarks on a second quest - this time with Ren's dark, bad-boy brother Kishan, who has fallen prey to the Tiger's curse. Fraught with danger, spellbinding dreams, and choices of the heart, TIGERS QUEST brings the trio one step closer to breaking the spell that binds them...

Review:

Tiger's Curse was one of my favourite reads last year and I'm only sorry it took me so long to pick up this second book. I loved it! The plot, the setting and most especially, its two sexy-hot Tigers :)

The story begins with Kelsey who, heartbroken over Ren, returns to Oregon with a determination to forget the Prince and all the crazy things that happened to her while in India. Burying herself in her University work, she tries her hand at dating other men but each hopeless date only further cements her feelings for Ren.

Therefore when Ren and his bad-boy brother turn up on her doorstep in need of help, Kelsey once again finds herself on a plane back to India. Only now, with events spiraling out of control, Kelsey must break the second part of the Tiger's Curse without Ren. Instead its his brother, Kishan by her side, and thrust together in life threatening situations, can they prevent their feelings from becoming more? Or will history repeat itself and see the recently reconciled brothers torn apart by hatred once again...?

Slowly but surely, I am falling in love with this series. Although I still think that Kelsey can be a little whinny at times, ultimately I like her compassion and bravery. Both of which combine together to make her into a pretty kickass heroine.

As for Ren and Kishan, they're extremely well written characters with plenty of depth and history. They're also so gorgeous and Princely that I can't help but wish they were real! In this book we discover more of the brothers past, and as we learn most of it from Kishan, we get to hear his perspective on things which puts  a refreshing spin on the story.

Also despite the love triangle that's developing, the plot has so many elements of romance, comedy and pure drama that they all conspire together to create a book that I found simply impossible to put down.

I really enjoyed all the secondary characters too. Lokesh with his evil ways, Mr Kadam with his quiet but solid, father-like presence. Duruga in her splendor... and every other character in between. Collen Houck really has a way of bringing her characters to life. 

However what I think stands out most about this book is the setting. Especially in the latter half of the story when the reader is taken on a journey through Tibet. Here the authors descriptions and pure imagination will blow your mind. 

As well as exploring the culture and mythology of East-Asia, Colleen Houck offers the reader a high class adventure rich with myths and legends from across the orient.  Therefore 
Tiger's Quest is a truly fantastical read that will take you to a world of magic and romance that will leave you gasping for more.  4 stars!


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Monday, 12 August 2013

Wither - Book Review


Wither – Book Review

Lauren DeStefano

The Chemical Garden Series # 1

YA Dystopian

Synopsis:

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create the perfect race has left all males with a life span of 25 years, and females with a  life span of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear children. When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to.

He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that no everything in her new husbands strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be  able to escape before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

Review:

To be blunt, while I enjoyed the story, Wither was a book that I had a hard time connecting with. I loved the premise - a dystopian in which due to genetic manipulation gone wrong, the younger generations are dying out, with women not living passed twenty while the men don't make it passed twenty-five. However I struggled to relate to the main character and failed to understand er way of thinking.

The story begins with the kidnapping of 16 year old Rhine Ellery. Sold as a bride to rich heir, Linden Ashby, Rhine finds herself a captured bird in a golden cage. But she isn't alone. Alongside two sister wives, Rhine is held a prisoner and although her every need and whim is attended too, she is denied the one thing she truly wants. Freedom.

Despite the competition, Rhine quickly raises herself to the status of number 1 wife. With her unusual eyes, and baring an uncanny resemblance to Lindens first love, she quickly captures his heart and sets about plotting her escape. Because no matter how opulent her prison, a cage is still a cage and Rhine is determined to be free. No matter the cost... 

As I said, I loved the premise of this book. I think Lauren DeStefano did a great job in presenting a bleak, broken world that had cloaked itself in a veil of thin hope and fake happiness. Her descriptions are amazing and reveal the impact that such a low mortality rate would have on the world. For instance, women are expected to bear as many children as possible, there are lots of homeless orphans and everyone's morals seem to have lowered. The effects of genetic manipulation also raised many religious and moral implications, that in turn led to war and rebel outbreaks.

The effect these things had on the characters and their lives is clear to see in  the book. This is particularly true of the secondary characters as among them, there is no sense of a childhood and each person seems to have resigned themselves to their fate. Each with a sad history, these were the characters I truly felt for.

However some of the main characters disappointed me. Gabriel for instance is supposedly Rhine's true love interest, but I felt that he played a very small part in the book. I didn't know him as a person so I didn't really care what happens to him. I hope this will change in the next book as I want to know his personality better.

As for Rhine, she is an interesting protagonist who has suffered more than her fair share of tragedy. However I think she makes some bad decisions and at times I found her too compliant, while in other situations I thought she was fighting for the wrong things. As much I liked her, I just couldn't relate to her in anyway.

Otherwise my only other nitpick with this book was its ending. The last few chapters, Lauren DeStefano built up so much tension and expectation that I felt pretty deflated at the end when nothing happened to Rhine. Yet having said that, none of these things have put me off reading the next book, as I'm intrigued to see how the story will continue.

Also despite the story's darker elements, I thought the author did a marvelous job in keeping the balance between repulsive and fascinating. Yet for that reason I would recommend this book to the older end of the YA market. However it is a great read for any fans of dystopian fiction. 

Sinister, gripping and rich in both plot and intrigue, Wither was an overall good read. 3 stars!


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Monday, 5 August 2013

The Elite - Book Review



The Elite – Book Review

Kiera Cass

The Selection # 2

YA Dystopian

Synopsis:

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

Review:

The Elite is the second book in Kiera Cass’ amazing Selection series and grips you with the same burning ‘need to know’ that I loved about the first one. Needless to say, I devoured the book within a day and I’m now eagerly awaiting the next installment.

Set in a dystopian world where life is dictated by a strict caste system, The Selection is an event/TV show that has the power to change the fate of one girl. 35 girls were chosen from across the country to compete for the ultimate prize of becoming Prince Maxon’s chosen bride. Now, more than halfway into the competition, only six remain.

But despite being part of the final six, America Singer is still uncertain of where her heart truly lies. She never planned on falling in love with the Prince, and never imagined that the Prince would share her feelings. But love is never straight forward when a crown is involved… and with Aspen, Americas first love, now stationed as a Guard within the palace, she finds herself torn between the two men. Yet her real concern is, is she Princess material? Can she rule a country? And will Maxon wait for her decision or will his heart stray to another? And what dark secrets is he hiding...?

As much as I enjoyed this book, there were times when I really wanted to shake America over her indecisiveness. Especially in regards to her feelings over Maxon and Aspen.
Yet despite the love-triangle, I actually like both men equally, although I loved the darker aspects of Maxon that emerged in this book. It helped give his character much more depth and through it, we got to know several characters such as Celeste and the King much better.

Otherwise the plot moves smoothly and for the first time the reader begins to learn the history of the world and how the government was formed. While the rebels remain an elusive kind of bad guy, we also get to see new villains emerging and I look forward to seeing what will happen next. At the moment the country is on the brink of revolution and I’m interested to discover what part America will play in all of this. Will she help abolish the caste system? Will she become Queen? Which man will she choose?

The series will hopefully conclude next year with The One which is set to be published in early 2014.  So overall I thought The Elite was a good book and an easy read, and a nice follow on from The Selection. 4 Stars!


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