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Michelle

Michelle's Reading - 2016

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My review of Sleeping Giants is here.. http://www.bookclubforum.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/14114-sleeping-giants-by-sylvain-neuvel/. Reading it back, it sounds a bit more negative than I meant it to.. it was a good book, and it kept me hooked, I just wanted to talk about the disappointments. I'm looking forward to seeing what others think.

 

I've now started to take a look at some go the authors going to YALC this year, and a couple jumped out at me. One was Monkey Wars by Richard Kurti, which I have ready to read, and the second was A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab, which I picked up, and got straight into. I finished it last night, and it's probably now my favourite book of the year. I loved the characters, and the worlds were so well written. It has a great mix within, and I was sad to finish it. 

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A Darker Shade of Magic sounds like a nice read, I've heard lots of good things about it. Glad you enjoyed it :).

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I've been so bad this year at keeping this thread updated! I've just reached 25 books, so it will be a lower year for me, but I've also spent time on graphic novels. 

 

Ok.. Hex is reviewed here, and The Many Selves of Katherine North here. Vicious was another excellent book from V.E. Schwab.. it's set in a world where some are rumoured to have special abilities, and two friends experiment to find out under what conditions these abilities can be developed. Their lives go in very different directions, and they end up pitted against each other. The lines between good and bad are very much blurred, which makes it much more interesting. It's a different book to the author's fantasy books, and this is one of the things I really like about her.

 

The Fireman by Joe Hill was an audiobook, really well narrated by Kate Mulgrew.. I once started NOS4R2 by Hill, and had trouble getting into it, but this one grabbed me from the start. It really does have a feel of his dad's writing, and I enjoyed it a lot. 

 

Following on from this, I decided to listen to Kate Mulgrew's autobiography, Born With Teeth. It's an interesting, honest account of her life, which I enjoyed listening to.

 

The Deepest Cut was a good YA book, telling the story of what happens to a teen when a friend is killed. It flashes between his experiences after, and the events leading to the death, and is a good insight into teen mental health. Adam is a good character, and yes, I shed a few tears towards the end!

 

Finally, Alice by Christina Henry... an excellent 'retelling' which is rather dark. I loved it, and will definitely read the next book.

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I'm glad you read some good books the past while :). The Fireman might be interesting, I'll have to keep my eye on it. I'm also interested in Vicious.

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Taken from my blog:

 

So, as per my last blog entry, my reviewing pretty much came to a halt, and I’ve spent most of the year reading what I wanted to read, when it suited me.. and I’ve read some great books so far! I’ve still dabbled in reviewing though, and when I went to YALC this year, I was lucky enough to pick up 3 proof copies from publishers, and thankfully they were really rather good!

 

Dear Charlie by N.D Gomes

 

Death should never meet the young. But it did. Thanks to my brother, death made fourteen new friends that day. Maybe even fifteen, if you count Charlie.

 

This book deals with the aftermath of a school shooting, but through the eyes of his younger brother. It focuses on the bullying that Sam experiences himself, the media pressure, and the stress on his family.

 

It’s a part of the story I doubt many think about.. as a parent, or a brother, how are you supposed to feel about someone so close committing such an horrific event? Sam can not understand how the brother he knew could do such an unthinkable thing, and as readers we’re not given this insight either, but Sam’s journey in accepting events is emotional.

 

The book also shows that whatever happens, life needs to go on. His parent’s struggle with this, but Sam makes himself go back to school, and find friends. Despite events, he’s still a 16 year old boy growing up.

 

It’s fast paced, and held my interest all the way through, and it has a lot to offer.

 

Gilded Cage by Vic James

 

This is the start of a trilogy and I fell in love with the world. For me personally, I loved the world building from the author.. this alternative present-day England immediately felt real to me, and I dived straight in.

 

It tells of a world where there is a small ruling class, the Elite, but their power comes from the magic  they hold. All other citizens live normal lives, aside from the fact that they have to give up ten years to become slaves, many in heavy industry, some serving the Elite.

 

The Elite live in their own blinkered world, with their own power struggles, whilst the decade of slavery turns out to be worse than could be thought.

 

The other great thing is that the author doesn’t focus on just one of these groups, but she shows us the depths of both, with fascinating characters within both.

 

Abi makes a decision to try to keep her family together during their decade, by getting them all into the service of an Elite family – which she almost achieves. Both her and her younger sister find themselves wrapped with the families world, whilst her brother gets separated, and sent to a brutal factory town, where he starts to believe in revolution.

 

Meanwhile, the three brothers within the Elite family have their own stories, struggles and relationships, and they are more complex than you would expect.

 

This first book moves at a fast pace, and it certainly has plenty for both YA and older readers. It wraps up this particular story enough, whilst opening the way to the next volume. Thankfully the gaps between books is short, but also far too long, because I’m excited to get back into this amazing world!

 

Contagion by Teri Terry

 

I love the Slated series by this author, and just the brief details on the proof caught my attention, and I was very happy when someone at YALC managed to get me a copy. It would appear the publication has been pushed back a bit, but I’m still going to mention it, because I want it to go on people’s radars and wish lists.

 

There are two main aspects to the story.. the first being the mysterious illness which starts to sweep the county, highly contagious, and in most cases fatal. However, there’s also the second layer.. the fact that those who fall ill and survive appear to be changed by the illness, in ways which scare others.

 

Again, this is a fast paced book which should appeal to many. The characters are YA, but the storyline certainly kept this older reader intrigued. There is plenty of story within this first book, but it does feel like a trilogy, with a frustrating wait for the next part.

As I said, I loved all three books, and I’m very grateful to those who allowed me to get my hands on them early. All highly recommended.. keep your eye out for them! 

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The one thing I really liked about the Slated series was that each book was good in it's own right.. the middle book didn't feel like a filler, and the ending was decent. 

 

I haven't gone into much detail about Contagion because publication date is so far off, but yep, I really liked it. 

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This really hasn't been a good year for keeping my thread updated.. but it has been a rather good year for reading! Alice by Christina Alice was an excellent read, as I stated above.. but Red Queen, the sequel, was also very good. I'm disappointed to hear that there aren't anymore books in that series, but the author's next book also sounds good.. she says it's a dark origin story of Captain Hook. I can think of a few people on here who would probably love her style (Noll, you in particular I think) so do take a look. 

 

Another excellent read was Defender by GX Todd, which is published in Jan 2017. I need to write a review of it, so look out for that. 

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The Call by Peadar O'Guilin - what a great concept! Ireland is a place now completely cut off from the rest of the world by a mysterious barrier - no one can get in or out, and technology no longer works. Sounds a bit odd? Don't worry, the author has you completely believing it and immersed from the outset!

 

In this land, there was a treaty many years ago between humans and the Sidhe, which led to the Sidhe being banished to a dark wasteland. They can not escape from it, but they are able to 'call' a teenager into their world. If they survive a day there (which is just 3 minutes of our time), they get to live.. but most don't. Although this is a YA book, some parts are very dark.. the Sidhe play with their victims, and sometimes send them back changed.. physically and mentally.

 

As I said, although this might sound strange in a review, the author's world building is excellent, and I fell straight into it. It's YA because it focuses on the teenagers involved. They all attend schools which have one purpose.. to help them survive 'the call'. 
 

I did have a few reservations.. personally I didn't find myself connecting too well with any of the characters, including the main one. Many readers seem to love Nessa, but for me it just didn't work. I also found the time spent with the Sidhe too brief.. I had read how disturbing this book was, but it didn't quite live up to expectations. Maybe that was from a life time of horror reading, and this being a YA book.. could it have been different if targeted at another age group? I really don't know.

 

 

Putting that aside, the concept and the world building were excellent. It's not going to be for everyone, but if it appeals, I would definitely say try it. 

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Ok, whilst I had some reservations about The Call, the author's imagination intrigued me, so I went looking to see what else he had written. I discovered he had written a trilogy called The Bone World Trilogy, with books 1 and 2 being out of print, but 3 strangely available. Anyway, I tracked down a second hand copy of The Inferior, and I'm so glad I did. 

 

I'm not really sure how to review it, without giving too much away, as I've now read the second book as well. Let's see.. we are introduced to a rather savage world, where all species, including man, are purely meat eaters. There are lots of different (unrecognisable) species, and everyone's goal is to hunt. Even beyond that though.. some members of society (old or injured) are 'volunteered' to be swapped with a member of another species for eating, and they also eat each other's flesh if they are killed.. it's an honour to either volunteer, or to have your own flesh eaten after you die, and to die and not be consumed is considered a waste.

 

As with The Call, the author builds this world so well, you can understand why they live, act and feel the way they do, and the landscape they live in is so easy to imagine. Then, add in to that a SF element.. above them is not a natural sky, but a grid of lights, and they are aware of the 'globes' which often float around overhead, and appear to watch them. But again, this is a normal part of their life.

 

As the book progresses, you begin to understand more about how their world came to be, and what the grid above signifies. It all becomes even clearer in the second book, which I really don't want to talk about, because I really think this whole story is worth exploring without knowing too much. It's such a shame this is out of print, because I don't think many will discover it.. although if The Call is successful, maybe we can look forward to a re-release of this series. 

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Another excellent read was Defender by GX Todd, which is published in Jan 2017. I need to write a review of it, so look out for that.

 

Did you get an advance reader's copy from the publisher, or how come you got to read it before 2017?

 

The Call by Peadar O'Guilin - what a great concept! Ireland is a place now completely cut off from the rest of the world by a mysterious barrier - no one can get in or out, and technology no longer works. Sounds a bit odd? Don't worry, the author has you completely believing it and immersed from the outset!

 

I've heard good things about The Call. Shame you didn't quite connect with the main characters.

 

Ok, whilst I had some reservations about The Call, the author's imagination intrigued me, so I went looking to see what else he had written. I discovered he had written a trilogy called The Bone World Trilogy, with books 1 and 2 being out of print, but 3 strangely available. Anyway, I tracked down a second hand copy of The Inferior, and I'm so glad I did.

Such a shame it's out of print. This sounds like an interesting story (though I don't know if this or The Call would be too gruesome for me). I hope you enjoy book 3 :).

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This really hasn't been a good year for keeping my thread updated.. but it has been a rather good year for reading! Alice by Christina Alice was an excellent read, as I stated above.. but Red Queen, the sequel, was also very good. I'm disappointed to hear that there aren't anymore books in that series, but the author's next book also sounds good.. she says it's a dark origin story of Captain Hook. I can think of a few people on here who would probably love her style (Noll, you in particular I think) so do take a look. 

 

I tried Alice, and I thought the writing was atrocious. I loved the concept, but I just thought it read like bad fanfiction by a 16-year-old on Tumblr. I was really disappointed because I love all things dark Alice, but I couldn't finish it unfortunately :( Maybe it was my own reading mood at the time, who knows. I still have it, so I might try it again some day.

 

I'm really really interested in The Call and The Inferior, naturally coz it's an Irish author, also because they're not the kind of fiction to usually come out of Ireland. The Call is really expensive on Kindle though, over £7, which is probably about €9 or €10. It's a lot for a digital copy, so I've been putting it off. Shame that the other ones are out of print, but at least they can be gotten from Amazon.

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Did you get an advance reader's copy from the publisher, or how come you got to read it before 2017?

 

Well... I had requested a copy (I don't review much these days, but this one sounded excellent and was coming from a publisher who usually has great books) but then a friend gave me a copy she'd picked up at an event. I did get my original request eventually, so I can give back my other copy to my friend! :)

 

I tried Alice, and I thought the writing was atrocious. I loved the concept, but I just thought it read like bad fanfiction by a 16-year-old on Tumblr. I was really disappointed because I love all things dark Alice, but I couldn't finish it unfortunately :( Maybe it was my own reading mood at the time, who knows. I still have it, so I might try it again some day.

 

I'm really really interested in The Call and The Inferior, naturally coz it's an Irish author, also because they're not the kind of fiction to usually come out of Ireland. The Call is really expensive on Kindle though, over £7, which is probably about €9 or €10. It's a lot for a digital copy, so I've been putting it off. Shame that the other ones are out of print, but at least they can be gotten from Amazon.

Oh.. there I am raving about someone's writing, and you thought it was atrocious.. :( I forgot how we sometimes end up with opposing views of certain books!

 

With regards to The Call, the hardback is slowly coming down in price, so hopefully the kindle will follow. The Inferior isn't too bad to get second hand, but the second book is harder to find. I do think he's hoping to get it back into print. 

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Well... I had requested a copy (I don't review much these days, but this one sounded excellent and was coming from a publisher who usually has great books) but then a friend gave me a copy she'd picked up at an event. I did get my original request eventually, so I can give back my other copy to my friend! :)

 

Oh.. there I am raving about someone's writing, and you thought it was atrocious.. :( I forgot how we sometimes end up with opposing views of certain books!

 

With regards to The Call, the hardback is slowly coming down in price, so hopefully the kindle will follow. The Inferior isn't too bad to get second hand, but the second book is harder to find. I do think he's hoping to get it back into print. 

 

Like I say, thought the concept was great, and wanted to love it - definitely the kind of book that should be my thing. And as I said it could just have been my mood at the time. I just remember it feeling very forced and clunky or something. It's very popular though, so I'm definitely the odd one out here :)

 

I might just get The Call anyway.... I've no patience :D

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How far did you get with it? Alice's character is rather annoying at the beginning, but she changes a lot as the book goes on, so it could have been that...? It's so strange how we sometimes agree on books, and then sometimes have opposing views! 

 

The Call seems to be getting excellent reviews - I had my reservations, but it's certainly one which sticks in your mind!

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This really hasn't been a good year for keeping my thread updated.. but it has been a rather good year for reading! Alice by Christina Alice was an excellent read, as I stated above.. but Red Queen, the sequel, was also very good. I'm disappointed to hear that there aren't anymore books in that series, but the author's next book also sounds good.. she says it's a dark origin story of Captain Hook. I can think of a few people on here who would probably love her style (Noll, you in particular I think) so do take a look.

I love Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - I picked this up in Waterstone's a while ago but I wasn't sure about it.  I might see if the library have a copy.  :)

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Oh, it's really not that bad.. it's written in a way that you understand that it's their normal way of life, and it doesn't come across as badly as you'd think.

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I just thought I'd have a quick review, and see which were my favourite books... without thinking too much, I would say...


Mort(e) by Robert Repino
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
The Many Selves of Katherine North by Emma Geen
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
The Fireman by Joe Hill (audio)
Born with Teeth by Kate Mulgrew (audio)
Alice by Christina Alice
Red Queen by Christina Alice
Gilded Cage by Vic James
Contagion by Teri Terry
The Call by Peadar O'Guilin
The Long Walk by Stephen King (audio)
Defender by G X Todd
The Inferior series by Peadar O'Guilin
Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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That's a lot of favourites! (I'm like that too though :D).

 

I haven't read Gemina yet, but I got the book for my birthday so just need to find some time and energy, and be in the right mood for it. I'm glad to hear (read?) that you liked it :).

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Yea, I know - it was a quick reaction to weed out some favourites.. by the end of the year I will make myself reach a Top 10! :)

 

As for Gemina, I would actually say I liked it more than Illuminae. As you say, it's one you need to be in the mood for, but once I started, I raced through it!

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Trying to cut down to 10...

 

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
The Fireman by Joe Hill (audio)
Alice / Red Queen by Christina Alice
Gilded Cage by Vic James
Contagion by Teri Terry
Defender by G X Todd
The Inferior series by Peadar O'Guilin
Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

 

Edited.. that was tough, but I got it down to my top 10 (almost.. as two are a series / trilogy)

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End of the year report.. I haven't read as much this year, but I also read some graphic novels, plus I have a lot of unfinished books.. which if I'm honest with myself, I won't get back to. I have two on the go at the moment, which I will continue.. the first os my early copy of Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor - I hadn't read her earlier series, despite it sitting on my wish list, so I wasn't sure what to expect. My first reaction was that I love her writing style, and her world building. I'm really enjoying the book, but it's a long one, which I don't often go for, so I'm taking a short break before finishing it. 

 

The reason for the break was that I decided to buy the latest 'remastered' version of Battle Royale. I don't know much about the differences, although an amazon reviewer says that the original had some grammar errors, and this one reads better. It's very readable, and once I started it, it rather tore my attention from Strange the Dreamer. They're very different books, so as I go into 2017, I shall be flicking between the two depending on my mood! :)

 

(I'm going to post this at the beginning of my 2017 blog, because I'd like to hear of anyone else's experiences of either book.)

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