Review: More Than This (By Patrick Ness)

Review: More Than This (By Patrick Ness)

More Than This is a teen novel written by Patrick Ness and follows a boy who is washed up on a beach, naked and confused. As weird as it sounds, More Than This is a world of mystery and this only touches the tip of the iceberg.

A boy drowns. He dies. Then he wakes up. 

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Plot

This story is set in a dystopian future, but it’s not apocalyptic. It’s something else, something different, and this is what makes the story so intriguing. We’re sent on a hunt for answers, and it starts with to a boy we find lying on a beach alone and as naked as a baby. This instantly sparked my curiosity and was actually successful in making me read page after page because of how Patrick Ness writes out the way this lost boy tries to discover more about where he is, who he is and why he’s here.

Now I won’t spoil, but something that has made itself comfortable in our world is the core to this story, and it is shown to have killed our real world while we live in another. It touches a scenario that I could see become real, and installed fear in me. Because of this I wanted to read on and on, never stopping unless I absolutely had to. It was all so scary yet compelling, and I loved it.

The journey that the boy takes is paced lovely, with characters making this plot even more adventurous, with the additional touch of humour that made me burst out laughing yet gripped to know what happens next.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

So, what’s the name of this naked boy on the beach? Well, it’s Seth. Seth Wearing. And I must say, he is an absolute warrior. His determination surprised me because even though he was confused, I was expecting him to be more…desperate. There was something about him that made him different from main characters I’ve encountered in other teen novels. He wasn’t scared but rather utterly confused and wondered why he was alone and empty of memories. His strong and fierce personality made me really like him (he does have one memory/vulnerability, but I’ll let you find that out) and I felt like I was on this journey with him, trying to learn more about the situation. He made the most of what he had around him, and made the brave choice of deciding to venture out to truly understand what had happened.

Once he ventures out into the unknown, he bumps into two other characters who join Seth on his journey and enlighten him on the way with their theories. A teen girl and a young boy, they bring humour, knowledge and tears to the story, and I loved both of them. They added something extra to the story, and I couldn’t help but read more to understand them and their story as well as Seth’s. All of the characters were portrayed as strong youngsters, and their secrets/stories made them so real that I really felt for them and was tempted to shed a tear or two.

Now, there is another character within this book who acts as the villain, trying to get these youngsters for a reason unknown (later it’s revealed) and its name is The Driver. This character is absolutely terrifying (seriously though, I had hairs standing up on my arms!) and although I wouldn’t consider it a main character, it definitely plays an important role in the story. You may also be wondering why I’m referring to The Driver as ‘it’…well that’s for you to find out!

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip 

The mystery of what Seth was doing alone on a beach was just one thing that peaked my interest, and as the story went on, I found myself reading for hours. You can really immerse yourself in the story and imagine yourself walking alongside Seth, wondering about the world you’re in and what’s going on. I think it’s safe to say that the first page was instantly hooking, and I wasn’t satisfied with a few pages a night. I read this book under 2 weeks, so I was reading a few chapters a night!

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In conclusion, More Than This is an amazing story with unique characters and a gripping plot that sucks you in from the first page. Intense, adventurous and compelling, I highly recommended anyone and everyone read this book and experience the dystopian future that is More Than This. 

Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 out of 10 Stars

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For more More Than This reviews and any information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21969786-more-than-this

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Leave a comment below! 

Review: The Essex Serpent (By Sarah Perry)

Review: The Essex Serpent (By Sarah Perry)

The Essex Serpent is a novel of historical fiction written by Sarah Perry, who happens to be an Essex native herself. Her inspiration for this story comes from the legend of the serpent, whereby it is said to have lurked in Essex waters in the past, but who really knows, for a legend is forever a mystery…

So, what about this novel? Well, it’s set in the late 1800’s and is centred around Ms Cora Seabourne. Who is she? Well, keep on reading to find out!

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Plot

The first thing I noticed whilst starting to read this book was the style of writing. It was the type that you’d find in books written in the 1800’s, and I found this to be a great fit. It made me feel like I was reading a classic book, and I loved it. And it’s not just the style of writing that made me like this book, but the layout too. The use of letters and journal entries gave an even deeper insight to the characters thoughts, adding a greater understanding and a plot with depth. With everything that was happening, I could never guess what was going to happen next, and sometimes I was and wasn’t surprised.

Additionally, the plot is rich in detail, with descriptions of scenes and the environment written in a way I could picture them perfectly. The personalities of characters made it easier to imagine what they would have worn and what kind of decor they would have in their house or in their hotel room. With such clear and vibrant descriptions, I was able to have a vibrant imagination.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Cora Seabourne is a widow and our leading lady, and I have to be honest here…I love her! She’s unlike any Victorian lady I’ve read in classic books. She’s boystrous, outlandish and does not care about what she looks like, and I found her so refreshing. The only sad thing I noticed about her was that she acted the way she did because her marriage to her deceased husband was an unhappy one. It is hinted that she was on the receiving end of domestic abuse, therefore I concluded she found happiness in being free and not really caring about her character around other people. Even so, she came across as a strong character who only desired love, and I felt for her.

As well as Cora, there were others who occasionally took to the main stage, such as Reverend William Ransome and Dr Luke Garrett. Luke was a character I liked and disliked, but I enjoyed reading his little story because he had such strong affection towards Cora that edged on obsessive and it made me feel excited for what lay ahead. As for William, I found him to be a simple character who slowly began to question his faith once Cora came into the picture, but still he stayed true to who he was despite his urges and I liked this element. He questioned Evolution, but still considered it alongside his beliefs, and I found this kind of progression to be realistic to what would have happened to those in the late 1800’s who questioned faith over fact. Will’s character, and others, were just as important as Cora was because they allowed character progression and change, which was an exciting prospect.

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip

Upon beginning this book, I found that I was already a little gripped just by learning about Cora and what was happening. It wasn’t excitement that enticed me to read on, but rather curiosity. Things were already in motion once I started to read, and I wanted to know more. Once I was in the depths of this book, I realise that this story is not one that you read because of the main title, but because of the exploration that the characters go through, between themselves and their surroundings. The Essex Serpent is only a small portion of this story, with the characters and their lives being perhaps more interesting than the myth.

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In all, The Essex Serpent is a satisfying read that I highly recommend to those with a taste for the old tales of mystery and unique love. It is packed with such detail that you dare not rush the book in fear of forgetting what happened in the previous sentence/page/chapter. The serpent itself is a mystery, and during this story I kept asking myself ‘What’s going to happen next’ and ‘Is there really a serpent in the Essex Blackwater River?’ Well, now I know. Now you MUST find out for yourself!

Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 out of 10 Stars

snnaake

 

For more The Essex Serpent reviews and further information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32075861-the-essex-serpent

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Leave a comment below! 

Review: Curtain Call (By Anthony Quinn)

Review: Curtain Call (By Anthony Quinn)

Curtain Call is a novel written by Anthony Quinn and is set in the streets of 1930’s London where murders are being committed by the ‘Tie-Pin Killer’. Within this book we are also introduced to various characters who soon become entwined by the events that occur, and may slowly but unknowingly become in danger themselves.

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Plot

I’d never encountered a story that was set in the 1930’s, so I was really excited to see what it had it store for me. The first feature I noticed was the amount of detail, which I found was perfect, especially when describing the environment. It offered just enough to be able to visualise it and imagine it as if I a part of the environment too, and I really enjoyed this.

Additionally, the use of bars made the plot rich in detail as almost all of the characters frequented bars and had a life aside from wondering who the Tie-Pin Killer was and when they were going to strike next. If anything, the murders made up 50% of the story and the characters lives made up the other half. However, the murders were the most least interesting thing, until it affected one of the characters first hand later in the book. At that point, it got really exciting, but then it went a bit boring and sadly, I finished the book at little disgruntled.

Plot Rating: 2½ out of 4 Stars

Characters

There a 4 main characters within this book, each with their own story that slowly becomes one big story. Usually, when there a numerous characters, I tend to forget who is who and what their story is, but the writing and plot is successful in having unique characters that are easily memorable, and for that I applaud Anthony Quinn.

I’ll be honest and say that I preferred some characters and their stories over others, such as Madeline’s. Despite this however, I found each character unique and captivating in their own way, with Erksine’s quirkiness and Nina’s confidence offering a nice change of scene at each chapter.

Character Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars

Grip

With a rich plot and diverse characters, you’d think this book was hooking, but it isn’t. Sadly, the pace doesn’t quite go well with the plot, and you have to wait for a few chapters till something good happens, and I found this a little laborious. Furthermore, the good parts happen in the middle of the story, which was a little disappointing to realise at the end because I expected drama and thriller to occur throughout, not in a cluster.

Grip: ½ out of 2 Stars 

Overall, Curtain Call is nice read, but only if you’re out of other books to read. It’s quite an effort to read and I almost felt like not finishing it, that is until I reached the middle of the story and found the scenes exciting, only to be left dissatisfied once I’d finished the whole story.

Overall Rating: 2½ + 3 + ½ = 6 out of 10 Stars

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For more Curtain Call reviews and further information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24909848-curtain-call

Review: Extraordinary Means (By Robyn Schneider)

Review: Extraordinary Means (By Robyn Schneider)

Extraordinary Means is a Young Adult novel that tells the story of Lane, who suffers from a strain of tuberculosis which has no cure. He is sent to a facility that is part school and part hospital whereby he bumps into a familiar face, and finds himself making new friends and falling in love, but Lane doesn’t realise that his world will slowly start to fall apart sooner rather than later….

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Plot

The whole story takes place around Lane and his friends at the half school-half hospital facility, and I found that it flowed really nicely. I never felt confused about what was going on and always found myself entertained, whereby I was either wiping a tear away, smiling or/and laughing.

The actions and emotions of characters within the story were understandable, and I felt that I could connect with each character in each situation, even though I can’t relate to them in regards to health. The connection made it easier to feel emotional for characters and I loved it. There was so much humour that balanced well with sadness, and I welcomed this happily.

Overall, the plot was consistent and I liked that TB was never out of the picture, but rather it in lurked in the background and pounced when you least expected it, sometimes mildly and sometimes severe. TB was the reason these teens were in the facility, and that’s one thing that Robyn Schneider doesn’t let sink into the black abyss.

Aside from the TB, the story is packed full of intrigue, youthfulness and hope, and I really enjoyed every page and chapter, savouring each sentence and really thinking about the actions of characters and the events that unfold.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

If not made obvious already, Lane is the main character in Extraordinary Means. My feelings towards Lane were not negative at all, because he was actually my favourite character. At the beginning, I had no immediate thoughts about Lane, but progression into the story made me realise that Lane is your average guy (with an incurable strain of TB) who just wants to left in peace, and I can definitely relate. That is the case, until he sees a girl in the cafeteria who looks awfully familiar. Her name is Sadie and she has definite negative feelings towards Lane, until she actually gets to know him and becomes his friend. I found that the addition of friends to Lane’s character really brought him out of his shell, and I quite liked seeing him open up and become more comfortable with his environment and make the most out of what time he has left.

Now, this next thing was something I saw coming from a mile away, and that was the love that blossomed between Lane and Sadie. The beautiful thing about it was that Sadie made Lane realise that their TB wasn’t going to go away, and that this offered an opportunity that live life as you wanted within the time that was left. She was all about second chances, although I did find her version of enjoyment distasteful. She was set on the thought that alcohol was the way to go, and I thought that other ventures could have been used as a better way of enjoying themselves. Despite this, I thought Lane’s friends were a welcome addition to the story, and the love and sadness that they brought really changed them and the story to a degree that made everything quite sweet.

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip

I think the fact that I read this book in 5 days says a lot about how hooking this was! Humorous, heartbreaking and utterly inspiring, Extraordinary Means takes hold of your heart by the first page and doesn’t let you go till you’re finished. The main message that is embedded throughout this story is about second chances and the realisation of how much time we really have to do the things we love, and I found this beautifully motivational.

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In all, this novel is an extraordinary read and I would definitely recommend it. The youthful lust for excitement plus incurable TB really brings something to this story, and I think I know what it is – second chances.

Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 out of 10 Stars

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For more Extraordinary Means reviews and information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23149128-extraordinary-means

Have you read Extraordinary Means? Let me know about your thoughts in the comment section below!

Review: The Girls (By Emma Cline)

Review: The Girls (By Emma Cline)

The Girls is a novel written by Emma Cline, and is based around the Manson Family. The Manson Family were a 1960’s cult where members lived together (Quasi-Commune) and ended up committed murders that eventually led to their downfall.

I’ll be honest here and say that I didn’t know that this book was based on a real life cult until I read the reviews. I started this book without the above knowledge, and this revelation changed my feelings a little bit for the story, so let’s see what I thought!

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Plot

The Girls revolves around Evie, a bored 14-year-old Californian girl who becomes intrigued by the sight of a group of girls who dress in dirty clothes and have messy hair but do as they please. Evie later comes to know these girls better, but only because she bumps into one of them who Evie has a fascination for. Suzanne is her name, and for some reason Evie is just mesmerised by her.

I found that the introduction to Evie and her living day-to-day was quite ordinary (with some weird little tidbits) but there was missing something. There was no excitement in her life so it was easy to see why she was interested in this group of girls who seemed out-of-place, and why she was in awe of Suzanne. With dark hair and a messy appearance, Suzie was like an anomaly in Evie’s life, and Evie wanted to know more.

Additionally, Evie was a young teen therefore it was understandable to see why she wanted a change in her life with an older girl who was a part of something different to what Evie was used to. As she became a part of the cult, I began to enjoy the book a little bit more because I could see the eventual downfall that is common with all cults. There is always something dark, and this is seen throughout her experiences that are too mature for such a young teen. This and much more are what made the story compelling but also a little disturbing. Imagining a young teen and an older man made me vomit a little in my mouth (not literally) and I thought that despite the nastiness, they were a nice touch because of the cult theme.

Plot Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Evie is our main character, if not already made obvious, and I have to be honest here…she annoyed me a little bit. She was like a puppy dog with Suzanne, and acted quite needy when around her. The attention seeking was not blatant, but it was clearly there. I tried to imagine what goes on in the mind of a bored and lonely American teen girl, and I found that curiosity would probably get the best of her. I can’t relate to Evie myself, but I can say that Evie yearned for company, and the allure of a mature and unique girl made Evie feel something (possibly even down in her loins) and I looked forward to see what Evie would step into.

In the present (1990’s in the book), we get to see the effects of the cult lifestyle on Evie, despite the subtlety. She easily spots behaviour she once displayed in a young girl, and uses her knowledge to assume what kind of life they’re living and why. I admired an older Evie more than her younger self, but I still felt sympathy for a young Evie because of the situations she got caught up in where she didn’t have a real choice.

As for the mysterious Suzanne, I didn’t like her from the start. She was a cold, confident and unsympathetic girl, but I understood why Evie found her fascinating. She wasn’t like anyone else, and I felt that there was a hidden malice underneath all the dirty clothes. Despite this, she didn’t offer anything else to the story. I knew her character and what kind of actions she would commit, and I was a little disappointed because nothing about her was surprising. In actuality, nothing about Evie or Suzanne was surprising at all. Both characters were easy to understand, and it was no tough guess as to what their next moves would be.

Upon reflection, I now believe no character was complicated and each had their own personality but they were all pretty simple. No pops, no buzzes or electricity. Just simplicity.

Character Rating: 2½ out of 4 Stars

Grip

I found that The Girls was an exciting read and I enjoyed every page, but I wasn’t shocked by anything. The cult theme was what kept me reading, as I wanted to see what made the present Evie the way she was. Also, I was let down when I found out that the book is based on real events, as it meant that there wasn’t much effort into making more exciting and shocking scenes. The book is basically written for you if you base it on events, so the absence of anything riveting or utterly flabbergasting was just sad.

Grip Rating: 1 out of 2 Stars

In all, I found that this book was a good read and as I continued to read on and try to and understand everything, I realised I shouldn’t question it and just merely enjoy what was happening. The Girls isn’t surprising in any way, but it’s a nice read and worth a go at least once.

Overall Rating: 3 + 2½ + 1 = 6½ out of 10 Stars

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For more The Girls reviews and information, please click the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26893819-the-girls

Review: Cookie (By Jacqueline Wilson)

Review: Cookie (By Jacqueline Wilson)

Cookie is a children’s novel written by Jacqueline Wilson, and is centred around a girl named Cookie who lives a very nice life on the surface, however it is not all that it seems.

I was actually gifted this book at 11 years old, but didn’t read it till I was 16. Since then, I have read it three times!

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Plot

The story starts off by introducing us to Cookie and her family, giving us descriptions to their looks and lifestyle. I found Cookie to be quite a lovely character, even though I was only a few pages into the book. She is a girl who loves animals, wants to be happy and wants to be in a loving family, but she also has the insecurities that come with almost every teenage girl. These realistic (and relatable) traits and behaviours made Cookie more real to me, and allowed me to develop sympathy and empathy for her (which is good!).

Reading further on, I found the story more enjoyable as it turned into an adventure that kept me hooked and wondering what was going to happen next. I got to see Cookie handling different situations and develop as a person, as well as to discover what it means to not look back.

Each chapter had me wanting more, and by the end I was really happy for Cookie and the happy ending.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Cookie is our main character, and I must say that I really enjoyed seeing her become a strong girl after leaving home with her mum to start fresh. Cookie is shy with a soft heart, and that’s what I loved the most. Characters of Cookie’s age in other books tend to be confident, brash and a little rebellious, but Cookie is different. She opened up as the story went on, and by the end she was a strong character that I was happy for.

I would also like to mention Cookie’s mum, who I consider a main character as well considering she is the one who starts afresh with Cookie after leaving Cookie’s father. She is very much like Cookie, but her strength has always been present and she uses this to leave her husband in order to escape her unhappy life at home. Ultimately, I feel the same way about Cookie’s mum as I do about Cookie. Both are very likeable characters that really make something of themselves as they start a new life together.

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip

Having read this book three times, I think it’s safe to assume it’s absolutely gripping!

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In conclusion, I believe Cookie is an amazing book with a lovely story and a happy ending that leaves a satisfied smile on your face. Despite the target audience being 11 – 16, I believe everyone can enjoy this book. It’s an easy read and easily enjoyable, so pick this up when you see it!

Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 out of 10 Stars

yas

 

For more Cookie reviews and information, please click the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3293749-cookie

 

Review: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (By Angela Carter)

Review: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (By Angela Carter)

The Bloody Chamber is a collection of short fictional stories written by Angela Carter, and are all based on classic fairy tales and folk tales with a gory and sexual twist.

Angela has stated that her intention wasn’t to do different versions or make them ‘adult’ fairy tales, but to extract the latent content from traditional stories and make them more known, which is why this book is studied within English Literature in the UK.

Despite this book being used as educational material, is it worth a read during your spare time? Let’s find out!

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Plots

Each story is based on a fairy tale or folk tale of some sort, but they’re more sexual and scary than we’re used to. As explained earlier, Angela’s goal was only to make the latent content the core, and she did a good job at doing this because each story had me wanting more. The mature content was something I was drawn to because the stories were familiar but twisted, and this made them so riveting.

My favourite story was the first one called ‘The Bloody Chamber’. The characters and the setting were laid out amazingly so that it enabled easy visualisation, but also so you could easily read between the lines. This is another feature of the stories that I adored because it opened up my imagination and allowed for greater interpretations, and with detail like this, your imagination can be detailed too.

As for the other stories, they were uniquely written and I found some scenes made me squirm with disgust, but this is a positive note because it actually made me feel something! Stories are meant to reach deep into your emotions and bring up something, and this book and it’s stories excel at that.

Plot Rating: 3½ out of 4 Stars

Characters

Within each tale, we have a heroine/victim and a villain. The villain is always a male who may become good in the end or end up getting tricked/killed by the heroine, and I found this great because I always looked forward to what their fate was and whether their power would stay put or if it would be put down. Somehow they were also grotesque due to their hidden agendas and secret fascination with under age girls, but this is what made them so good as they made me really root for the heroine to do something to them and make them pay for their actions.

As for the Heroine/Victim, I always found that they tended to have a hidden strength that made them aware of their own power and how they don’t have to bend down to the villain, which I found awesome. These heroines are very different, and this is what made me admire them and their way of turning the tables.

Character Rating: 3 out of 4 Stars

Grip

I’ll be honest and say that I did skip two stories because their plot’s sounded rubbish, and I probably shouldn’t have but I did. Once I read ‘The Bloody Chamber’, my expectations were high. I wanted the other stories to be just as good, but I felt a few were just a bit boring, and hearing that two of the stories were a bit rubbish didn’t make my expectations any better. However, it was only two stories that I totally skipped, and I did enjoy the other stories, but just not as much as ‘The Bloody Chamber’.

Grip Rating: 1 out of 2 Stars

Overall, I found The Bloody Chamber to be a brilliant book full of familiar tales that challenged the rosy picture we’re used to with more dark content. The latent content that had been brought to the surface was such a refreshing read that changed how I viewed classic tales and made me realise that reading between the lines can really make your imagination run wild.

Overall Rating: 3½ + 3 + 1 = 7 out of 10 Stars

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For more The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories reviews and information, please click the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49011.The_Bloody_Chamber_and_Other_Stories