kaufman-illuminaeBel:

Cover

I have the small format paperback. It’s looks very much like a page from a visual diary. Oranges red’s and vivid yellows are superimposed over print to look like an inferno. Though it seems rather abstract in the description, it really does represent the story quite well.

The title is over the top of lines of white out, and the blurb at the top of the page by Marie Lu shares my opinion of this book. The one line synopsis, “First, survive. Then tell the truth.” It’s a real hook to picking up the book.

Characters

The cast is rather large as there are the crews of two space vessels to take into account. We do however focus mainly on a much smaller group.

Favourite

I cannot pick between Kady and Ezra. The interviews at the beginning of the book really clinch it for me.

Least Favourite

Aidan. I can just imagine his cold, detached, monotone voice. A whole lot of nope!

Beginning

The space colony Kady and Ezra live in is attacked by a large company (attacked as in bombs and biological warfare) and in the evacuation they end up on two different space vessels.

Storyline

The biological warfare starts to take hold on the ship Ezra is on and lies are being told to cover the tracks of the people in power.

Ending

It’s up to Kady and Ezra to bring the best outcome and save as many people as they can. No pressure!

Thoughts

I love the formatting of this book.

Presented as a dossier ready for review by a tribunal, I think it quite unique. It’s filled with interviews, third party recounts of surveillance footage, instant messages, diary entries, artworks, diagrams and emails.

Sitting at 599 pages I really thought I would struggle to get through this monster this month. I did, however, get it consumed in a day: almost one sitting.

It is totally immersive and the character voices are witty and believable.

I’m glad this is written by Aussie authors. There really is something satisfying about authors who are not American making it to the NY Times best sellers list.

Quotes

Interviewer: – “We can talk about it if you like, or we can sit here and stare at the walls until our allotted hour is over.”

Interviewer:- “It’s up to you.”

[SKIP 51:27 MINUTES OF COMPLETE SILENCE]

~ Ezra interview.

Interviewer: – “You evacuated at that stage?”

Kady:- “You make it sound way more organised than it was.”

Interviewer:- “How was it?”

Kady:- All kittens and rainbows apart from the screaming and explosions.”

~Kady interview.


 

amie-kaufman-and-jay-kristoffJoelene:

Cover

An array of oranges and yellows. Like an explosion overlaid with embers. It’s dramatic and eye-catching; and the writing on the cover suits the files format of the novel.

 

Characters

Ezra Mason and Kady Grant. A couple for a year, at the beginning of Illuminae, they have just broken up.

 

Favourite

I don’t know if I have one. I really like the dynamic between AIDEN and Kady without necessarily adoring either of them on their own.

 

Least Favourite

Probably Ezra. He’s a perfectly functional character, if he were meant to be minor player. Considering that he’s second only to Kady, he’s kind of lacklustre.

 

Beginning

When a corporation finds that another company has been mining one of its planet’s resources, it moves to destroy the colony. Kady and Ezra are set to be collateral damage in the battle. Luckily for them one of the United Terran Authority battle-carriers is near enough to respond to distress signals and come to the rescue. Now, badly damaged, the remnants of this once great colony must keep ahead of the remaining enemy ship as they try to reach civilisation.

Storyline

Just when you think that the Kerenzan refugees are in as much danger as they could be, they get thrown even deeper. With some of the survivors suffering from the effects of previously unheard of biological weapons, the others need to make difficult decisions about how to survive to six month trek to safety.

 

Ending

The ending picks up pace so much more than the beginning. It’s amped up and edge-of-your-seat stuff.

Thoughts

The format didn’t work for me. I don’t mind different styles, but structuring this in interviews, files and break-downs of video footage killed almost all of the emotion. It’s actually an amazing story. Fresh, vivid, with enough going on to keep the pace and story tight and taut. The panic of being chased by a determined and more powerful enemy, being at risk from biological hazards and not being able to trust the usual hierarchy is obvious, but would be more palpable if the story had been interspersed with files rather than being entirely files.

Quote

Interviewer: How did you make it out?

Kady Grant: I’m a lateral thinker.

Interviewer: Meaning you used your comput-

Kady Grant: Meaning I broke open a window.

 


kaufman-illumKrista:

Cover

The hardcover has a see-through plastic book cover. The actual hardcover of the book is a document with red handwritten notes on it. It 100% represents the story and the bright orange colours really draw the eye to it.

Characters

There are so many characters in this story that at times I couldn’t remember who was who. The main characters are Kady and Ezra; they recently broke up and during the rescue, end up on different spaceships. A lot of the communication is done between the two.

Favourite

I can’t really pick an absolute favorite out of the group but I did like Ezra over Kady. I found him to be a very caring person.

Least Favourite

I don’t have a character specifically, but the whole company of BeiTech was pretty awful.

Beginning

Most of the beginning of the story is character interviews about what happened to cause the mass evacuations of the Karenza Colony, and reports of some of the survivors and the testing they were going through on their ships to put them to work in different fields. Pilot, computers..etc.

Storyline

The illegal colony of Karenza is invaded and the majority of the citizens are killed; it’s a massacre. Some are able to escape to the three ships in the area, but are separated from their friends and family (if they even survived) and are given new jobs above the aircrafts, which are still trying to escape the BeiTech ships.

Ending

In the beginning of a war you expect a lot of upset, deaths, and that is what you get. There are twists, explosions, near death experiences. You name it!

Thoughts

This book was difficult for me. I had heard about it everywhere, and I loved the idea of how it was put together (all letters, reports, computer messages etc). But I really had a hard time getting into the story or liking the characters. I came to the conclusion (in relation to my own feelings of this book) that it is a work of art. Some of the pages, especially near the end, are very visual and artistic; they add a great experience to the reading of the story. I also enjoyed the more gruesome parts of the story; it makes the story dark and dangerous and crazy, which I love.

Quote

CitB:stay on task, grasshopper. we let the Alexander burn us out of the sky, your red hot love will be subsumed by a bigger, hotter flame

ByteMe: how do you even function in society?

CitB: it’s a struggle

 

Discussion Topics:

How do you feel about computers being programmed to kill innocents if those deaths could save more lives than they took?

 

Hardcover, 599 pages

Published October 20th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

ISBN 0553499114 (ISBN13: 9780553499117)



laure_this raging lightIt is the first day of school and seventeen year old Lucille’s mother has not come home. She has been gone for two weeks. On some level, Lucille has been preparing herself for this. So she gets her nine year old sister Wren ready, packs lunch and gets them both to their respective schools.

As time progresses, bills come in, and food runs low, Lucille realises that she’s going to have to figure everything out herself if she’s going to keep Wren out of the foster system. With the help of her best friend, Eden, she might just be able to look after Wren, get a job, navigate her final year of high school and keep her mother’s absence a secret from anyone who might pry.

This Raging Light is Estelle Laure’s debut novel. Bel and I received a free copy at the Hachette Date-a-Book night, and the Hachette team were so enthusiastic about the writing style, characters and narrative that I read it on the plane trip home. Their praise for the novel was entirely justified. Raging Light is lyrical, intense and enchanting; with a writing style and pace so deftly handled that it’s hard to believe it is a debut novel.

Characters sell the story in Raging Light. Told in first person from Lucille’s perspective, readers are there for the ups and downs and for the terrifying doubts. The uncertainty of whether Lucille can make it through and the anxiety about how the situation is affecting her sensitive sister are rendered with stunning emotional accuracy; as are the emotions behind Lucille’s crush and her friendships. Lucille’s best friend, Eden, was my favourite part of Raging Light. Her philosophy on life, people and human nature is unique and takes readers into some of the more in depth areas of the novel.

Despite liking Lucille and her narrative voice, it bothers me how little empathy she had for her mother. It seems as though her mother looked after everyone until she left, yet Lucille never considers what her mother’s state of mind might have been as much as she wonders how her mother could have done what she did to them. It doesn’t occur to her that almost being murdered might undo a person. Nor does she wonder whether the night her mother almost died was the first night she had been attacked.

While the premise of this novel is all too believable for many teens across the world, This Raging Light is more a light-hearted flight of fantasy than a gritty slice of reality. Wren and Lucille might be in an awful predicament; but, they have initially come from a reasonably charmed life. They have aspirations and goals and, despite their circumstances, don’t give up on trying to attain them. For a beautifully crafted feel-good read, you can’t go past This Raging Light.

 

This Raging Light – Estelle Laure

Hachette (January 7, 2015)

ISBN: 9781408340264



Top Reads

black -Darkest part of the forestDarkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black

An isolated town, a boy asleep for centuries in a glass coffin, a monster that emerges at the reciting of a children’s rhyme. This is just perfection.

Icebreaker – Lian Tanner

I’ve loved every book I’ve read by Lian Tanner, and this was no exception. She takes the risks that other authors shy away from, and puts morals first in her writing without beating readers over the head with them.

Ash – Malinda Lo

One I’ve been meaning to read for far too long. Ash is sweet and enchanting. A much more innocent novel than I had expected.

A Thousand Nights – E.K. Johnston

This one was a bit of a surprise. A wonderful rep from Pan Macmillan gave me a copy, and I’m delighted she did. It’s a wonderful, lyrical recounting of an old tale, and I would never have picked it up myself.

Girl of Nightmares – Kendare Blake

It took a different turn to what I’d anticipated, but overall a wonderful conclusion to Anna Dressed in Blood.

tanner_Icebreaker_coverMost Anticipated

Trial by Fire – Josephine Angelini

Sounds like a crossed-worlds situation and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

Tell the Wind and Fire – Sarah Rees Brennan

Something that looks a bit different to the other things Brennan has written. None-the-less intriguing.

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

This has been recommended to me so many times by people that I trust that I finally bought it. I haven’t even read the blurb. Am just going to throw myself in and hopefully be pleasantly surprised.

Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead

So behind on this one. Have seen the movie and still not read it. 2016 is the year!

Every Word – Ellie Marney

Again, so behind. I’ve read the first book in this series and enjoyed it. Am looking forward to the second and third.



graudin-the walled city coverJoelene:

Cover

The title in red slashes on a dark background. The font is reminiscent of Chinese brush-strokes, which suits the story but the cover doesn’t do the novel justice.

Characters

The story is told through three perspectives. Dai is a fugitive trapped in the Walled City until he can find a way to clear his name. Mei Yee was sold to a high-class brothel by her father. And Jin Ling is Mei Yee’s younger sister who came to the city to save her.

 

Favourite

All of them. I really can’t choose. Jin Ling is more obviously brave, but she doesn’t have the character build up the others do. She comes into the book fully formed and never doubts her task. Both Dai and Mei Yee are more subtle in character. They’re full of uncertainty, so when they commit to an action it costs them more than it costs Jin Ling.

 

Least Favourite

Ambassador Osamu. There are several awful characters in Walled City but out of all of them Osamu was the only one who seemed as though he really had a choice. He saw the suffering around him and could escape it, or help ease it. Instead he adds to it.

Beginning

Jin Ling is trying to survive the harsh city streets long enough to find her sister. When Dai offers her a job that will give her access to the one brothel she has not been able to explore, she jumps at the chance. Even if it means going in to the lair of the terrifying Brotherhood.

Storyline

Time is running out for the notorious Walled City, and for those who dwell within its walls. If Dai can’t broker a deal for his freedom in eighteen days, he will spend the rest of his life in a cell. If Jin Ling cannot find her sister in that same time, she will lose her forever. And Mei Yee finally needs to decide to fight for her freedom, or she will never get it back.

Ending

I could barely handle the suspense. A hundred pages from the end I almost flicked to the back to make sure no one I cared about died.

Thoughts

Loved it. I didn’t think I would because sex trafficking, ugh. But Ryan Graudin handled that storyline well. It wasn’t graphic or gratuitous; nor was it romanticised. What Mei Yee and the other girls went through had psychological consequences, but the novel didn’t treat the girls as nothing but psychological consequences. They had their own minds and they played their part in protecting themselves and each other.

Quote

It’s the Brotherhood’s symbol: a beast the color of luck and blood inked on the walls of every building in Hak Nam. A reminder that they own everything here. And almost everyone.

 

graudin_wolfBel:

Cover

A black and red blueprint lies behind the bold red title. The rules of living in the city are in stark white and the author’s name is in a mid tone grey. It fits the tone of the book perfectly.

Characters

There is no room for innocence in the city this book is set in. Everyone has a damn good reason for you to hate them.

Favourite

Jin, mainly because she’s doing the Mulan thing to track down her sister in this hell hole.

Least Favourite

Kuen, for so many reasons, but being bully is just the tip of that iceberg

Beginning

Jin needs to find her sister who was sold to feed her father’s alcoholism.

Storyline

Dai needs Jin to help break open his case

Ending

In a place like this I don’t know if you could really class anything as a happy ending

Thoughts

The sex trade, people smuggling, drugs, gang violence, this really is no fairy tale. The Walled City was based on a real place. The issues within the pages are struggles that are all too common around the world. Ryan has done an amazing job capturing what I would imagine a place like that to feel. The tiny seed of hope is sometimes all anyone needs to get ahead. That can be a dangerous thing for those trying to suppress and control those around them.

Quote

“But I don’t want to be like my mother, either.. Waking up every morning and watching the sun rise on fresh wounds, wondering in the secret chambers of her heart if there was something more. Through the rice fields and over the mountains.”

Krista:

Cover

My favorite cover is the one with white across the top and black along the bottom. Also ….there’s a dragon! The story does not have a dragon in it but represents the culture of the setting of the story.

Characters

DAI, JIN and MEI YEE. Two sisters and a boy. All looking for something. Freedom.

Favourite

DAI-Mostly because I liked his back story most and his kindness.

Least Favourite

Pretty much everybody but the three main characters. The gangs, captors and even the other girls in the house are all pretty nasty people.

Beginning

We are introduced to the three different characters through chapters from their different perspectives. We soon learn that they are all players in the same game and need each other to be free again.

Storyline

Dai is trying to obtain some very private information from the leader of a large crime group. If he succeeds he will have paid back his debts and can return to his family. Jin is in search of her sister who was kidnapped from her home.  Mei Yee is a girl locked in a room who has a rich “suitor” that wishes to take her away from the city.

Ending

I enjoyed the ending there were some surprises that I didn’t see coming: a lot of action, danger and lives in jeopardy.

Thoughts

Slightly based on a real city, The Walled City is full of danger, drugs, crime, sex and money. The story touches on some things that still happen all around the world today. It’s put together nicely with three really fun characters, and I liked learning about each of them. Lots of action and hope.

Quote

“There are moments you wait for. And then there are moments you wait for. Moments you spend every other moment preparing for. Points of your life that click and turn. Push you in a completely new direction.” -Jin

http://www.ryangraudin.com/

Paperback, 424 pages

Published November 6th 2014 by Indigo (first published January 1st 2014)

ISBN 178062199X (ISBN13: 9781780621999)

 

 

 



barker_book of daysWhen sixteen-year-old Tuesday wakes in Madam Marisol’s Unreality House, she has no idea who she is. And no clue about the fantastic world she is about to be flung into. With the charming but self-serving Quintalion as her reluctant chaperone and a letter from her unremembered self, she ventures out in search of her past.

With a war looming between those who practice the old ways and the daybreakers, and one particularly dangerous daybreaker who seems to have a vendetta against her, Tuesday’s quest will be more difficult than she could imagine. And it will take her to more places than she would have dreamed possible. From the purple-grassed Whispering Plains to the Silk Sea, Tuesday’s journey to find out who she was may just cement who she is now.

Book of Days is Brisbane author, K.A. Barker’s debut novel, and John Marsden probably said it best when he lauded the novel for being ‘dazzlingly different’. It is: both in style and content.

Usually it’s characters that make a fantasy journey memorable for me. There are some amazing characters in Book of Days, but here even they take a back seat to the world built within these pages. From the paper-burning traditions of Beggars End to Lady Fortuna’s Court in the heart of a magnificent floating city, the places in Book of Days are spectacularly sprawling landscapes that I’d love to explore.

The one main weakness in an otherwise enchanting novel is the main character, Tuesday. She has a tendency to make bad decisions, ignore solid advice from people who know the world better than her, and then crumple when her decisions get her in trouble. Her companions are amazing, but I don’t know why they stay by her when they have no reason to offer her loyalty and when her actions often wilfully endanger them.

As I’ve mentioned, the cast of supporting characters are fantastic. Quintalion might be self-serving but he’s also charming; and who doesn’t appreciate someone with such immaculate dress-sense? Hester, a warrior from the North, is as sharp as her sword, and fearless. She is a good foil for Quintalion, keeping him in check where Tuesday can’t. And Jack, the blind assistant librarian is sweet and funny. All together these characters have a dynamic that makes the book a more wondrous place.

Anyone who likes quirky fantasy worlds will devour this novel. Fans of Terry Pratchett or Garth Nix should try it out for the sheer imagination it exudes.

 

The Book of Days – K.A. Barker

 

Pan Macmillan (September 1, 2014)

 

ISBN: 9781742614175



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