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)



bowman-VengeanceRevenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal. 

Hardcover, 336 pages

Published September 1st 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers

This was one of those stories that I refer to as a “travel story”. I am unsure if there is already a term used for it.

Kate is in constant movement from one place to another, meeting people, finding answers and running for her life. There is very little downtime and things are always in motion.

After returning home and finding her father murdered, Kate decides that she wants revenge. First she follows her fathers wishes by travelling to a friend’s house who has promised to take care of her. Upon her arrival she finds that the friend has also passed. Kate follows her heart and the trail of the Rose Riders to avenge her father’s death with a small crew of her own (even though they are more focused on obtaining gold than killing the most powerful gang leader around).

Kate is a very determined character that has one focus. At times she will say whatever it takes to get those around her to do what she wants so she can reach her goal. All the while, those around her have ideas of their own. At times a bit of romance comes into play and there’s a lot of character growth for Kate as the story progresses.

I can’t say that I loved Vengeance Road so much that it inspired me to pick up more westerns, but I had a good time reading it and would recommend it to those who enjoy historical reads. It’s a very wild west, horse riding, shoot outs, card playing roller coaster of greed and revenge. An action packed, plot driven story that keeps you on your toes and has a fun twist ending. I haven’t read a lot of westerns and this one was engaging, had a great plot, and I loved the ending.

 



 

ruiz zafon_marinaIn May 1980, fifteen-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts. . . .

His story begins in the heart of old Barcelona, when he meets Marina and her father Germán Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m. precisely a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman dressed in black, her face shrouded, wearing gloves, holding a single rose. She walks over to a gravestone that bears no name, only the mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings.

When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her they begin a journey that will take them to the heights of a forgotten, post-war Barcelona, a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons; and a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.

Hardcover, 299 pages

Published September 26th 2013 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (first published 1999)

 ISBN 0297856472 (ISBN13: 9780297856474)

I have not read all Carlos Ruiz Zafón books, but I have yet to be disappointed. His writing is so beautiful and atmospheric; it’s easy to slip away into another world. In Marina he brings a dark ghost story full of history and horror. I loved this story so much that I recommend it to everybody.

Marina lives alone with her father and we find out more about her as the story further investigates the mystery of the mourning woman. Marina is the kind of girl who would rather keep her mind busy on other things than herself. Oscar is drawn to her and begins to spend a lot of his time away from school and getting to know what he can of Marina and her father.

The mystery of the mourning woman reveals the past and the dark history of a man driven by power. With a pinch of Frankenstein, the story takes a dark turn and Oscar barely survives the investigation. The writing style creates an ominous feeling throughout the story and a powerful ending.

If you have read any of his previous books you will know exactly what his writing style brings to a story. It’s masterful the way he can construct the atmosphere and characters into his worlds. I love the way I can completely disappear into his stories and have to remind myself to come up for air.

I highly recommend this story, it’s dark, beautiful and well crafted. This is a story I can see myself re-reading over and over again.

 



shpeherd-The-Cage-FeatureWhen Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

megan shepherdKrista:

Cover

The cover is bright colourful and does represent the story and the main character, Cora.

Characters

Even though, at times, the story does switch perspectives, it really focuses on Cora. She is put into a “cage” with 5 other people: Lucky, Rok, Mali, Rolf and Leon. All are given the same rules and all want to survive.

Favourite

Cassian. I found him very intriguing. I was happy to see that he was a pretty important character throughout the story.

Least Favourite

Rolf just rubbed me the wrong way. I found him very petty and emotional. Didn’t seem to really have a grip on reality.

Beginning

I pictured in my head a mix of The Truman Show, but set in the Hunger Games Arena, which is located at the Men In Black headquarters!

Storyline

Six people are put into a cage and told to obey three rules. Solve the riddles, stay healthy, and procreate. (lets just say most of them focus on that last one, be it negatively or positively).

Ending

Well we all knew what the story was leading up to. There is a big event that happens at the end, which I guessed, but enjoyed anyway.

Thoughts

We learn a ton of stuff about Cora, but only begin to touch on the other characters. As I personally did not find Cora incredibly interesting, I hope that the rest of the series brings in more of the others. Otherwise, on the whole, I enjoyed the story. It was one that I read straight through; it was a fun read but dark. It’s a fight for your life and being in such a different setting really plays head games with the characters. Things get nasty.

Quote

“Sometimes mistakes are worth making.”

 

shepherd-huntBel:

Cover

I have the hard cover. The dust jacket is quite lovely.  A blonde in a white dress is walking through a sand dune away from us, the viewer, toward a cityscape. In the foreground, there’s a jungle-type frame with vines and foliage. It gives at least a hint as to the storyline.

However, without the dust jacket the book is white with gold letting on front and spine. I actually prefer the minimalistic nature of the book minus the dust jacket.

Characters

We have a cast of less than ten key characters. They all drove me up the wall at one stage or another.

Favourite

Lucky, though on day twenty on he lost all my respect.

Least Favourite

Cora. OMG girl, have you never picked up a history book and learned about Stockholm syndrome? Her heart was probably in the right place, but what the hell?

Beginning

Cora wakes up in an odd place and eventually runs into five other fellow captives.

Storyline

The captives are given three rules to live by and Human Zoo is pretty much the gist of everything.

Ending

What I wanted to happen, did happen. So it was a happy ending for me.

Thoughts ~May Contain Spoilers~

If I replaced the humans in this story with animals, I don’t know if I would feel as uncomfortable (which in turn makes me feel uncomfortable)… which was Megan Shepherd’s whole point of writing the book in the first place. No comfort zone for you!

I’m glad Cora has a back bone, but I wish she didn’t think just in terms of visual attractions when meeting beings of the opposite sex. The poor girl is clearly a great candidate for Stockholm syndrome, so I’m just twitchy about that whole area of the storyline in general.

As for the questionable consent around the third rule…walking up a flight of stairs and sitting on a bed, even kissing a little is NOT consent. She should not have had to resort to what she did to escape that situation if Lucky had been decent.

Cups of tea people. Cups of tea.

My moral issues with the story are probably mine alone. It is entertaining and the shock value is timed well. I cannot wait to hear what you all thought of it.

Quote

“Mali may have taught you some tricks,” he said, “but you cannot hide your thoughts from us forever.” Cassian speaking to Cora.

 



 thomas_becuase you'llIn a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

Paperback, 344 pages

Expected publication: July 2nd 2015 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

This was one of those stories that ended up being confusing for me. Ollie and Moritz begin a pen pal friendship on a recommendation from the doctor. The doctor thinks that through their correspondence, they might open their minds to others who have debilitating medical conditions. Both Ollie and Moritz have trouble making friends, more out of their circumstances than personality issues. They both have difficult lives; Ollie is allergic to electricity and Moritz’s medical conditions are longer than a shopping list, beginning with his pacemaker, which is the reason why these two could never meet.

We get to know the two boys and their families through their letters. Ollie is going through a depression becuase his only friend stopped visiting him. Moritz gets badly bullied at school and as a result of one of the incidents is being treated differently at school by all. They find that although they do not have much in common, there is one thing that holds the secrets to how they have become what they are. Ollie is a very positive thinker, he always hopes for the best and through his encouragement Moritz begins to step out of his shell a little and make friends. Moritz tries to help Ollie find the courage to push himself to do things, but mostly shows Ollie how he doesn’t have things so bad in comparison to others.

The letters between the two are interesting and show a lot about what people think about those with a disability; how disabled people cope with the situations they are in; and the support groups that help them through. I did find the twist to the story somewhat out of place in the otherwise realistic feel of the beginning of the book. There is a hint of science fiction, and when the true concept of what ties the boys together is revealed, I was unsure if it was a smooth transition. The storyline left me questioning the whole book and how the author chose to tie everything together.

The story is definitely a memorable one. What I enjoyed the most was Ollie’s positiveness despite the great trials in his life. His situation is very difficult and his mother smothers him at times. His story was the most endearing to me, and I found him to be honest, humble, and truly inspiring in his outlook on life.

This is a book that I do recommend because I found it a worthwhile read and very unique story. Overall, I did enjoy the book although I was a bit perplexed on how it was tied together. It is a combination of realistic fiction and science fiction.



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