taylor_god and monstersThe series has, to this point, been fast-paced and filled with questions about what constitutes good and evil, as well as heart-stopping moments that made me cry. Dreams of Gods and Monsters concludes this trilogy and, whoa baby, does it play with your emotions and leave you wanting to give Laini a standing ovation for a job well done.

If you’re reading this series wrap up review and haven’t started this trilogy, you probably want to know if it’s worth your time—the answer is yes. You will not be left wanting to throw the book at the wall. You will be sated and happy. I promise!

Laini’s portrayal of Prague throughout the series is stunning and dramatic. It was so good, in fact, that I have a good friend jetting off to Prague to experience Karou’s environment for herself.

I cannot imagine having the power to end a series. To write the words that finalise the material element of characters and allow the audience’s imagination to take its place. Authors talk about how having a book published is akin to sending your child off into the world to experience what they will. I would imagine finishing a series would be similar. What now? They will live on in our imaginations, effectively playing out in fan fiction.

Suffering from withdrawal symptoms? Laini has a short story in a Christmas anthology as of October 14, 2014. It’s called My True Love Gave To Me, and she writes alongside David Levithan, Holly Black, and nine other bestselling authors.

 

http://www.lainitaylor.com/

Paperback, UK, 613 pages

Published April 17th 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published April 8th 2014)

ISBN 1444722735 (ISBN13: 9781444722734)



george_nowhereBel:

Cover

The book I borrowed from the Library is split into three horizontal strips. The middle strip has a partial profile of a girl we imagine would be Becca and the bottom strip is the silhouette of forestry. The title and author’s name are in hues of purple and before you read the book, it really doesn’t seem to refer too much to the story within.

Characters

Elizabeth George is quite skilled at creating characters you can relate to. You can even feel some sympathy for the queen of nastiness.

Favourite

Hayley. Yes I know this one is from left field. She’s dealing with stuff in the best way she knows how, and I love a girls who isn’t all ‘poor me’.

Least Favourite

Jeff Corrie. Scum of the earth is above him.

Beginning

Jeff Corrie is using Hannah for his own devices and his greed comes to a head, which would be fine except Hannah can hear whispers (read minds), and what she reads from Jeff’s mind is enough to have her mother and her on the run lickety-split.

Storyline

Hannah, now known as Becca, is sent to Whidbey Island to wait out her mother finding a safe place to hide. She finds the most popular kid in school close to death at the bottom of an incline in the forest and staying off the radar becomes her number one priority.

Ending

This series continues on, so I guess there technically isn’t one here.

Thoughts

I munched through this book in about 24 hours. Talk about hooked. I felt off kilter almost the whole way through, and it didn’t matter how many guesses I made throughout the book, I didn’t guess the outcome. The characters evolve and their relationships are cemented, which is excellent, because I will certainly be searching for the rest of this series.

Quote

“People usually hate because of a despair they can’t let themselves feel.” ~Dianna, giving words of wisdom to Becca.

 George_nowhere 2Krista:

Cover

My cover was the same as Bel’s The island the book takes place on does have a lot of forest landscape, but the main character Becca is explained to have heavy makeup on. I would have liked to see that on the cover.

Characters

The story takes place on a somewhat small island, a place where everyone knows each other. So there are a lot of characters that are coming in and out of the story. We get different point of views throughout the story, which I always enjoy. Becca is the main character and she is abandoned, scared, and lonely but seems to make friends easily.

Favourite

Diana: it seemed that everything this woman said was insightful, and she always has this caring air about her that was comforting.

Least Favourite

Jenn. It seemed like she always had to say something negative. She obviously didn’t believe in the saying “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Beginning

Running for their lives, Becca’s mother drops her off at Whidbey Island to be taken care of by a friend (to hide her from her step father). But when Becca gets to the friend’s house, circumstances have changed. Now she is stranded not knowing anybody who can help her and out of contact with her mother.

Storyline

Hiding from her step-father in fear for her life, Hannah is left in the care of her mother’s friend on Whidbey Island. As soon as she arrives everything falls apart, and now she has nowhere to go and doesn’t know anybody to help. After meeting a few people, she finds a place to live and she starts school. When a boy is hurt in the forest, things take a turn for the worse.

Ending

This is another first book in a series, so the ending leaves some unanswered questions and intrigue for the next book.

Thoughts

Even with a mixture of characters, I felt that the author did a great job in having each one rounded and their emotions jumped off the page. Their reactions were very real and raw. This made me really hate and really love different characters as the story progressed. I also loved the scenic mountainous setting of Whidbey Island; very much a place I would love to live in.

Quote

“Sometimes, we can’t see a reason for what happens, so we try to find one because it’s easier to do that than to go through the pain of recovering.” -Diana



shirivington_disruptionJessica Shirvington has a way with her female leading ladies. They’re strong and they stand on their own two feet. The character, Maggie Stevens, sets the bar just that little bit higher.

Everyone seems to be obsessed these days with those watch devices that tell you how many calories you’ve consumed or burnt off while taking however-many steps–and your heart rate etcetera.   What if they could also tell you who your perfect match was? The person you would live the most fulfilled and happy life with: your soul mate.

 Sounds great right? Yeah, not so much because, as an added extra, the company can also tell if you’re a security risk; they know where you are through GPS, and they can read your mood all through this little watch-like device that has now become compulsory.

Imagine the power that corporation now has over the populace!

Maggie is trying to find her father who was taken away by M-Corp because of a negative reading on his M-band. She’s willing to do anything, use anyone, and crush giants to get what she wants.  What will she do with the son of M-Corp’s head honcho? How far is she willing to go to keep her promise?

I felt more than a little unnerved by how close this fictional device is heading to the reality of today. With social media booming and the illusion of privacy becoming more of an issue, this book isn’t that much of a stretch.

Sometimes, I think Maggie goes a little too far, but she still feels the backlash of choices that weigh on her moral compass. I like her prickly relationship with Gus, her go-to guy. It all feels like a leg with pins and needles, but it’s worth the tingles to get to the great storytelling.

This is nothing like the Violet Eden Chapters, and yet it is equally as gripping and has almost double the action.

I read along with the Bolinda Audio book read by Hannah Norris, and it was almost impossible to hit pause and put the book down to go get work done.

The next book in the series, Corruption, is due out on October 20th. I have no doubt it is going to blow us away all over again.

http://www.jessicashirvington.com/ 

http://www.bolinda.com/aus/search/results.aspx?/1/736F389D-786A-41E2-AFBD-1C6A5BB9790F/1/1/1/1/1/1/1/3/disruption

Paperback, 400 pages

Published April 1st 2014 by HarperCollins (first published April 1st 2013)

ISBN 0732296285 (ISBN13: 9780732296285)

 



masson_scarlet-in-the-snowBel:

Cover

A beautiful young lady in a black & white with a vine accent around the edges. Smack bang in the middle of the cover is an exquisite rose bloom in a wonderfully vivid scarlet. The title is in red, and I quite like the effect.

Characters

Magic practitioners, young women climbing the social ladder, and the stereotypical hero and heroine can be found in this one.

Favourite

Old Bony. She’s a bit of a nasty character, but her heart is in the right place.

Least Favourite

Ivan. I know this is a fairytale retelling, but seriously?

Beginning

A Beauty and the Beast retelling: girl becomes the prisoner of a beast and this is where it all gets a little too convenient.

Storyline

Girl is sent home, but things occur to make her want to go back to the beast.

Ending

Not quite the Disney version of the happy ending, but it’s close enough.

Thoughts

This was a quick read, but some things fell into the way-too-convenient basket for my liking. However, I do appreciate that Natasha is a brilliantly strong female lead character.

This would definitely be a nice entry-point to fairytale re-tellings for the middle grade crowd. But for the older YA audience, it’s just not as strong as other versions.

Quote

“Tonight, you ride in the sleigh with my pretties.” ~ Old Bony making evening plans for Natasha

 

sophie-massonKrista:

Cover

The cover had immediate appeal to me, the red really stands out with the white background and represents the story. 

 Characters

Natasha and Ivan. Beauty and the Beast, Natasha comes from  poor family, Ivan from a rich. They both come under the care of Luel for the beginning of the story and the relationships blossom from there.

Favourite

Luel, the care taker of Ivan, an intelligent and magical woman who brought a wonderful motherly element to the story.

Least Favourite

The villain. Usually, I really enjoy the drama the villain adds to this story, but with this one I just didn’t like him much.

Beginning

Natasha gets caught in a snow storm in the forest; she runs from wolves and finds sanctuary in a mansion. She finds there is nobody around and finds herself drawn to one red rose in the garden. Upon her touch, the rose falls apart and the home-owners demand repayment for their loss.

Storyline

Even though, at first, Natasha is held at the mansion until her debt has been paid, she soon learns of the mystery of the man-beast, Luel and the magic that keeps them in hiding. Natasha soon grows very fond of Ivan and Luel and wants to help him release him from the curse.

Ending

Very powerful, eventful, and big moments that really made this story a beautiful read.

Thoughts

I was a little wary at the beginning but once it really gets going, Natasha begins her travels and meeting the witch it really took off. Set in an alternate Prague, the story recreates the landscape, cultures, and languages. Great world building and characters that you really want to root for. Natasha is a strong and admirable character. I very much enjoyed this fairy tale story and highly recommend it. I love stories that take us on a trip, getting a glimpse at different cultures and social life. Great story telling all around.

Quote

For who as seen Old Bony these days? Not a single soul. Not once in a hundred years has she shown her long thin nose and sharp teeth to people anywhere.  Who knows, maybe her brand of magic, the magic you hear of from the old stories, cannot survive in our modern world of telegraphs and trains and typewriters. 



You all remember that scene from Mean Girls, where Janis is explaining the cliques in the school cafeteria?

 

van wagen-popular-a-memoir-by-maya-van-wagenenMaya starts out below the bottom rung on the popularity ladder at the beginning of eighth grade.

In short, she rediscovers a book written in 1951 by a woman called Betty Cornell, and embarks on a year of experimenting with ideas from the book to see if the Teenage Popularity Guide could do the seemingly impossible–make Maya popular.

The chapters are broken into months and each one tackles a different ‘issue.’  So from top to tail ‘things’ are addressed, and Maya steadfastly battles to not cave in. She has small wins along the way, and to begin with, people react the way you would expect.

There are so many moments of snort-giggle inducing hilarity, that when Maya gets serious, it carries an impressive amount of weight. There are definitely more things going on here than learning how to wash your hair and how to have better posture.

I originally got this book hoping my daughter would read it, because she’s having difficulty connecting with the cliques at her school. Her initial thoughts were that Maya ‘changed herself for the expressed purpose of being popular’, which meant she wasn’t being her authentic self.  I’m still holding out hope she’ll change her mind and give it a chance. Maya is still Maya, but she’s just less fearful of what other people think of her.

There are some things in the book the average Aussie teen won’t be able to put into place at school like the dress code and the string of pearls. The majority of the other ideas will produce surprising results.

I believe Popular was more about blurring the lines chasms between the separate groups in a school, than it ever was about a person becoming more pleasing to the eye.

Maya is a really well spoken young woman, and I do hope she’ll continue writing, as she has a brilliant sense of humour and a fearless outlook on life.

The most important question that started it all was what does popular mean?

You’ll be astounded to read what Maya and her peers come to realise is the truth of Popularity.

I’d love to know what you consider to be the definition of Popular.

https://twitter.com/MayaVanWagenen

 

Paperback, 259 pages

Published April 15th 2014 by Penguin

ISBN 0141353252 (ISBN13: 9780141353258)

 



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