Tag Archives: reviews

Book Recommendations

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve taken to reviewing all the books I read on Goodreads and linking them from the Reading List tab above rather than reviewing them on my main blog page. But sometimes… Well, when I read a book I really enjoy, there’s nothing I like more than recommending that book to my friends.

So, my friends, allow me to recommend some of the best books I’ve read over the last two months.

(And remember to friend or follow me on Goodreads for all my reviews.)

Addition by Toni Jordan

AdditionAddition was a good read and I really enjoyed it. The plot is simple but entertaining, the writing is amazing, and the characters are so authentic I want to put them on my Christmas Card List.

Addition is touted as being touching and funny, and I agree with that description. However, there are also parts that are incredibly uncomfortable. One of the great strengths of the writing in Addition is that we, as readers, are put right in the hot seat. We’re inside the head of a funny, non-average woman who lives with fairly extreme OCD. …read more

Unholy Ghost by Stacia Kane

Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts, #1)This is a tricky book to review. Not because I didn’t like it, but because I don’t know where to start.

The world-building in Unholy Ghosts is phenomenal. I won’t go into the details about the world here — you can easily read the blurb on the book — but trust me: you won’t find a world better portrayed than this one. The background is well thought-out, the setting is authentic, and the characters are believable. The effectiveness of the world-building was particularly evident when I reached the last few chapters and I realised I was reading about types of ghosts, herbs, and charms and I knew exactly what was going on and could predict the outcome of what the characters were doing, without needing it explained. The unfamiliar terminology of the world had been explained so well throughout the story that it was now utterly familiar. …read more

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Tiger LilyI want this story to live in my heart forever.

“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you’ve heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn’t win. In some places, there is something ultimately good about endings. In Neverland, that is not the case.”

So begins Tiger Lily, a book I can only describe as ‘hauntingly beautiful’ and ‘captivatingly catastrophic’. Tiger Lily is, in the most simple terms, a retelling of the story of Peter Pan from the point of view of Tiger Lily. But that’s not quite right. It’s actually a love story narrated by Tinkerbell, a mute fairy who reads what’s in the hearts of the people around her but has no ability to influence events. I assure you, those opening words are very true: It is a love story. And it isn’t like anything else I’ve ever heard. …read more

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player OneIn a dark future full of pain and misery, hunger and heartache, and evil corporations running the world, there is only one bright spot: a virtual reality game known as OASIS. Wade Watts (so named by his father because the alliteration makes him sound like the secret identity of a superhero) is just one of many gunters, searching for the Easter Egg hidden inside the OASIS. Finding the Easter Egg is the game within the game — and something that has kept gunters searching for five years. A game that depends on an encyclopedic knowledge of geek-trivia from the 1980s.

Fuelled by a love of roleplaying games, 80s TV shows and movies, and more early video games than you can poke a joystick at, this book is like the 80s on steroids. …read more

Unclean Spirits by M.L.N. Hanover

Unclean Spirits (The Black Sun's Daughter, #1)When I picked up this book, I had no idea what I was getting into. The blurb looked interesting — a college student inheriting her uncle’s “business” of fighting supernatural creatures — if a little over-dramatic.

Wow. After reading the book, I can say with all honesty that the blurb is so not over-dramatic.

Jayne Heller is, indeed, a college student. At least, she used to be. Now, she’s a college drop-out with no family, no friends, and a secret desire to get back with her ex-boyfriend. She’s got a world of baggage and backstory. And despite all that, or perhaps because of it, she’s immediately likeable, relatable, and all-round fabulous as the leading lady in an urban fantasy world. And what a world! …read more

Croak by Gina Damico

Croak (Croak, #1)The minute I read the blurb on this book, I was hooked. A teenage girl goes off the rails and is sent to live with her Uncle Mort, only to find out she’s secretly a Reaper? Yes, please! Sign me up! So I went into the book with, let us say, insanely high expectations. And I’m pleased to say that it delivered on almost all of them.

Lex is a tough, troubled teenager. She doesn’t quite have a heart of gold, but it’s probably silver. Or bronze. But it doesn’t really matter. She’s a strong female lead amongst a cast full of strong characters. If I had daughters, they could do worse than to grow up with Lex’s wilfulness and determination. (Although they’d be welcome to skip the whole “reaper of the dead” angle.) …read more

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Share a book you’ve recently read that you’d like to recommend to us all.

10 Comments

Filed under Reading

Authors Behaving Badly: The Seedy Underbelly of Reviewing

Up until a few months ago, I didn’t realise there was a seedy underbelly to publishing. But all of a sudden, I can’t seem to look anywhere without turning up odd or unpleasant behaviour from authors, publishers, or other members of the writing community. It’s actually got to the point that my husband asks me of an evening, “So, what’s the controversy today?”

“So, what is the controversy today?” I hear you ask.

First, let me run through some of the more recent incidents, just in case you missed them.

The ‘Stop the GoodReads Bullies’ Bullies

Wherein a group of authors sick of being “bullied” by reviewers on GoodReads (who had the nerve to give less than 5 star ratings) start their own website and reveal the real identities and contact information of those reviewers in a clear effort to encourage abusive retribution.

The LendInk Debacle

Wherein a group of vigilante authors use Twitter and DMCA notices to shut down a perfectly legitimate business venture because they think it’s an illegal book piracy site.

The Weird Tales Racist Book-Promo Backflip

Wherein a respected fiction magazine actively promotes a racist self-published novel, then changes their mind and claims they were ignorant of the racist themes when the internet explodes against them.

Now that we’re all caught up, let’s move on to today’s little gem shall we?

I turned on my computer this morning to find the internet abuzz with details of book reviews for sale. If you don’t want to click through and read the story, here’s the gist:

Entrepreneur Todd Rutherford used to work for a marketing department where he would write press releases and contact review sites to organise book reviews. One day he realised it was a lot of hard work, and there were more books than reviewers. So he created GettingBookReviews.com, a site where authors could pay $99 for him to review their book — positive review guaranteed!

For the value-savvy author, there were package deals: $499 would get you 20 different, positive online reviews. A mere $999 would guarantee you 50 individually hand-crafted 5-star reviews posted on the web.

Mr Rutherford was soon raking in $28,000 per month.

Per. Month.

A bit of simple maths will tell you that $28K works out to somewhere between  28 and 280 books every month. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to read 280 books a month. I don’t even have time to read 28 books a month. Especially not if I have to read 28 books then write 1400 individually hand-crafted reviews. So Rutherford outsourced. One of the freelance reviewers quoted in the article admits that she never actually read the books she was reviewing. She just googled them online, skimmed through a couple of pages, then wrote 5-star reviews. (She does say that she wishes she’d been able to read some of the books though, so it’s okay.)

When I read this story, I have to admit that I wasn’t shocked. I wasn’t even surprised that authors were buying good reviews on blogs, GoodReads, Amazon, etc. (In fact, the only thing that really surprised me was how lucrative fake-reviewing could be!) But just because I wasn’t surprised doesn’t mean I was happy about it.

It got me thinking about a few things, though.

  1. Just about everyone I’ve come into contact with today has roundly condemned the practice of buying positive reviews. And yet Rutherford’s site took orders for 4500 reviews. How is it that those authors aren’t jumping up and down and  defending the practice? Or is it one of those things that’s only ethically wrong when people find out about it?
  2. Authors and publishers routinely send free copies (ARCs) of books to book bloggers and reviewers. That’s standard practice. So why exactly is GettingBookReviews.com so controversial? Is it (a) Because it involves the exchange of cold hard cash? (b) Because the service guarantees positive (and often gushing) reviews? Or (c) Because the reviewers don’t necessarily read the books?
  3. If the answer to the previous question is (b) or (c), that opens up a whole lot of other questions/concerns. For example, where do we stand on self-published authors reviewing each other’s books as a sort of quid pro quo marketing strategy? If one Indie Author provides a positive review of a friend’s book in exchange for the friend doing the same for hers (with or without reading the novel herself), how is that ethically different to Rutherford’s  services?
  4. Following on from that, what about smaller quid pro quo exchanges such as Facebook likes? Or Twitter follows? No, they’re not directly linked to book sales (although neither are reviews), but we all know that we’re more inclined to hit the LIKE or FOLLOW button if several thousand people have done so before us than if we’re the first one.

As a writer, I’m not comfortable with the idea of paying people to write reviews of my books. However, I can’t categorically say I’ll never feel differently. I can imagine sitting at my computer, proudly looking at my book on Amazon.com while my eyes flick back and forth between the “Buy this book” button and the “Be the first to review this book” link. After refreshing the page several hundred times in the first hour, I may be more than happy to pay someone to write that first review. For my own sanity, if nothing else.

As a writer, I’m not comfortable with the idea of requesting someone write a positive review. I am comfortable asking my friends and family not to write a review panning my book. Seriously, folks, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

As a writer, I’m not comfortable with the idea of someone writing a review of my book if they haven’t read it. I’m not writing so people can pat me on the back, I’m writing because I have stories I want people to read. And writing a review without reading the words I’ve laboured over devalues my work.

(If you’re interested in other points of view, both Chuck Wendig and Alan Baxter have both blogged about this issue today and their opinions are always worth a read.)

EDIT: Joel Friedlander also has a great post on this topic, explaining how paying for reviews cheapens the review process for both authors and readers.

As a reader… Well, as a reader I instinctively distrust any review that has nothing negative to say about a book. I’m more likely to be influenced by a well-crafted 3 or 4 star review, detailing what the reviewer liked and didn’t like about the story, characters, writing, etc than I am by a gushingly enthusiastic 5 star review. So perhaps this controversy, such as it is, doesn’t affect me overmuch at all.

Writers: Have you ever paid for a review? Would you ever consider doing so?  

Readers: Does this change the way you think about the reviews you read online?

340 Comments

Filed under Opinion, Writing

News, Nobel Prizes and Blog Awards

Do you have any idea how long I’ve been secretly dreaming that someone would say to me, “You’re so awesome, you should rule the world!”

A long time, that’s how long.

And it’s finally happened. Yes, someone has officially recognised my value to the world and the people in it. I shall be taking up my mantle as Executive World Emperor as soon as the current world leaders can be gathered in one place and summarily dismissed from their seats of power. Also, as soon as someone gathers all the riches of the world and places them in my secret lair base. From this day forth, you will need to use my full title (or its acronym) if you wish to talk to me. As such, I will expect all comments to begin: Hey EWE.

Hold on a minute.

Oh.

Apparently I’m a little confused. I haven’t actually been granted world domination. I’ve actually been awarded the Dr Horrible Blog Award by the infamous Connor Rickett of Cities of the Mind.

Right. Ha ha ha. I knew that. So, nothing to see here. Let’s just move on to the rules and pretend this embarrassing little episode never happened.

1. Thank the person who nominated you for the Dr. Horrible Blog Award.

Thanks, Connor! Connor’s blog is full of interesting articles on writing, travelling, and freelance writing as well as blog reviews (you can also request a review of your own blog!) and short fiction. It’s well worth your time to give him a visit.

2. Announce the Big News on your blog.

And my Big News is… Well, for one thing it seems that I won’t be the Executive World Emperor any time soon. It’s a good job I’m happy just being me, because it looks like I won’t be EWE any time soon.

But in all some seriousness, this step of accepting the award was a little… let’s say… terrifying. I actually need News of some kind. Preferably Big News. With capitals.

While I was trying to work out what my news could be, I happened across a great blog post by one Patrick O’Duffy. He talks about the importance of leaving actual book reviews on sites like Goodreads and Amazon rather than just star ratings. I’m not going to summarise his entire post because, well, firstly that’s rude. And secondly, I’d rather you go and read it straight from the horse’s mouth… or whatever the internet-equivalent is of that idiom. But I’ll give you a brief snippet:

Without a review, good or bad, to explain the [star] rating it’s all just statistical noise. Reviews, on the other hand, tell you a great deal, whether you agree with them or not – and sometimes the ones you don’t agree with tell you the most. …read more…

Reading this article made me realise something. Firstly, I don’t just leave star ratings on those sites. (Yay for me!) Secondly, I don’t leave reviews anywhere at all. (Boo for me.) BUT, I was writing reviews that I was posting here on my blog, and they could easily be copied over to Goodreads. And since I’ve decided not to keep posting book reviews here, I can write them on Goodreads and provide a link from my blog for those people who are interested.

So, here’s my Big News:

I’ve set up a new page to track the books I read this year, complete with links to my reviews on Goodreads. You can find the page here, or by clicking the cunningly titled ‘2012 Reading List’ tab at the top of the page.

And since I was playing with the layout anyway, I’ve also set up a page that links to all the Flash Fiction I’ve posted here on my blog. If you think you may have missed some, or you’d like to go back and re-read my work, you can click here or go to the tab labelled ‘Flash Fiction’. Complicated, no?

Right. Back to the award.

3. Answer these mini-interview questions:

a) If you ran the world, what would you outlaw immediately?

Stupidity.

Oh. I’ve just been informed that the only way to completely wipe out stupidity is to destroy the human race. Apparently it’s endemic. Or something. So, in the spirit of not being a world-destroying evil dictator, I will instead outlaw Reality TV.

b) Men: Boxers or Briefs? Ladies: Do you prefer Boxers or Briefs?

I found this question a little discriminatory, so choose not to answer it. Where’s the option for going commando??

c) If you won the Nobel Prize who would you thank?

(Yes, Connor, I’m totally rewriting this question in 3rd person. Because having it written in 1st person is… disturbing.)

If I won the Nobel Prize, I’d first wonder what I did to deserve it. Then I’d stop wondering and just accept that I clearly won the Nobel Awesome Prize for being Awesome. So I’d thank the academy, and the other competitors, and my husband, and then I’d  make room for Kanye.

4. Nominate three bloggers so they can carry the Dr. Horrible torch on its way.

Right, so I tried to come up with three people who I thought would have interesting or amusing answers to the questions. Which is not to say that no one else will, just that… Oh, you know what I mean. So, my three nominees (in no particular order) are:

speaker7 of Ramblings and Rumblings. She’s quirky, snarky, and just plan funny. And her hilarious breakdown of 50 Shades (complete with photos re-enacting key scenes of the book using toys) is a must-read.

Heather of Prawn and Quartered. She reads, she writes, she works in a library, and she’s a fan of The A-Team. Her posts are a great mix of retro cool, hilarity, and touching solemnity. In other words: awesomesauce.

Emma of Mayfair Mum. She juggles reading, writing, working and motherhood with the same sense of ease I do — which is to say, not a heck of a lot sometimes. She’s funny and sweet and just a little bit geeky. Oh, and she’s from London so she’s got a great accent.

4 Comments

Filed under Random Stuff

Mid-Year: Time to Review Those Goals

Back in January, I set myself a series of goals for 2012. Since the start of July is halfway through the year (and a new financial year in Australia), it seems like a good time to officially review how I’m tracking with my goals, and adjust them as necessary. So, with no real ado at all, let’s get into it.

Writing

Novel A (hereafter referred to as TNT#1)

  • Complete first draft by 30 April.

I’m not even going to go any further. I didn’t succeed in this, and so certainly didn’t/won’t succeed in the other goals based around TNT#1. There are a few reasons for this, the two most notable being that (1) I found myself “stuck” on plot elements back in February and have only just figured them out, and (2) I took a break from all things computer-related back in March — including writing, as it turns out.

I’m not really disappointed in this. I’m just as enthusiastic about my manuscript, and feel in a stronger position to write it now. So I’m officially revising my goals to the following:

  1. Complete the first draft of TNT#1 by 30 September.
  2. Revise and rewrite TNT#1 based on feedback from Round 1 beta readers by 31 December.

Novel B

  • Research and plan Novel B by 30 May.
  • Begin working on first draft of Novel B before end of year.

I haven’t done any real research into this novel, although it’s still bouncing around in my head. It’s gaining strength and momentum in there, which is great. I’m confident that I will begin working on this first draft before the end of the year, so will simply revise the first part of this goal.

  1. Research and plan Novel B by 31 October.
  2. Begin working on first draft of Novel B before 31 December.

Social Media

Obviously I stopped pretty much all social media for 3 months, which wasn’t in the plan. But, all in all, I’m quite happy with this falling into a secondary place in my priorities. In fact, I’m so unconcerned by it that I’m officially removing it from my list of goals.

Short Stories

  • Post 26 flash fiction stories on my blog.
  • Submit 6 short stories to fiction markets.

Well, I’ve so far posted two (yes, two) flash fiction stories this year, and submitted no stories to fiction markets. I’d say that’s a big, fat fail on this front. Still, there’s still six months to go. I’m not actually going to adjust these goal at all — I’m just going to actually start working towards achieving them!

Reading

My goal for this year was simple: Read 50 books.

So, how am I go? Well, when I look at my handy dandy book tracker, it tells me that so far this year I’ve read 38 books.

Thirty-eight!**

Somehow I think I’m got this goal covered.

Other

My other goal was to lose another 8kg (17lb) this year. So far, I’ve lost about 4kg (9lb), which is about perfect. I’ve swapped from using my potentially homicidal Wii-Fit for exercise, to a kids dance game on the Wii that gives me a great cardio workout whilst simultaneously making me look like an ungraceful gallumphing git. So, you know, it’s win-win. Kinda.

Revised 2012 Goals

  1. Complete first draft of TNT#1 by 30 September.
  2. Revise and rewrite TNT#1 based on feedback from Round 1 beta readers by 31 December.
  3. Research and plan Novel B by 31 October.
  4. Begin working on first draft of Novel B before 31 December.
  5. Post another 24 flash fiction stories on my blog by 31 December. (For total of 26.)
  6. Submit 6 short stories to fiction markets by 31 December.
  7. Read another 12 books before 31 December. (For total of 50.)
  8. Lose a further 4kg (9lb) by 31 December. (For total of 8kg.)

How are you tracking with your yearly goals? What changes/revisions/adjustments have you made?

** For a while, I was posting notes on each of the books I read — not so much a “review” as details of the book and my opinion of it. Did anyone actually read them? Did you like them? Or were they a waste of time/space that I could be doing something else — like reading more books?

9 Comments

Filed under Random Stuff, Reading, Writing

Books I’ve Read in 2012: Part 2

This year I set myself a goal to read a minimum of 50 books and to share them here on my blog. To that end, I will be writing a quick wrap-up/review every time I finish five. I love sharing the books I’ve enjoyed with other people, and would love to hear from you if you’ve read any of these, or if you decide to do so based on my recommendation. (Actually, I’d love to hear from you anyway. I’m addicted to comments.)

Check out my previous 2012 book reviews here.

Mind Games — Carolyn Crane

Description

Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she’s convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine’s soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard’s hands-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity’s worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she’s always craved. End of problem. Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine’s first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticism, and cosmic secrets. With Packard’s help, Justine has freed herself from her madness–only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone’s worst fears.

Review

This book is not your traditional Urban Fantasy story. It has an almost super-hero feel to the setting and the characters, but most of the characters are anything but heroic. Their super-powers come, not from a traditional source of power, but from their neuroses, flaws, and fears. I absolutely loved it.

Many of the reviews I’ve read of this book focus on the fact that Justine is, shall we say, somewhat depressing. She suffers from a severe mental illness, and that colours everything she sees and does. The first quarter of the book is particularly heavy on the woe-is-me, I’m-so-helpless aspects of her personality and even after she learns how to use her illness as a weapon for good, she still has moments where she devolves into angst.

Normally this type of character wouldn’t appeal to me at all, but in this case it was so completely warranted, and so utterly authentic, that Justine’s anguish took the book from being an interesting premise to a truly enthralling story. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes gritty, disturbed heroes and vibrant world-building — just be warned that Justine Jones is not an upbeat, happy-go-lucky protagonist.

Writing the Paranormal Novel — Steven Harper

Description

Writing a paranormal novel takes more than tossing in a sexy vampire or adding a magic wand. It takes an original idea, believable characters, a compelling plot, surprising twists, and great writing. Broken down into four parts, “Writing the Paranormal Novel” explores: Prewriting – what a paranormal book is, how to choose supernatural elements, deciding what impact the supernatural will have on your fictional world, research tips, and how to deal with cliches; Paranormal Character Building – techniques for creating different types of supernatural protagonists and antagonists, supporting players, and – of course – the non-human; World Building – developing a strong plot and complementary subplots, controlling pacing, writing fight scenes and flashbacks, using dialogue, and much more; and, Submitting – tips for preparing your work for submission, polishing sample chapters, and more.

Review

The main theme of this book could best be described as: “Paranormal novels are so hot right now.”

While there’s plenty of helpful advice on world-building, race-building, and ensuring that the paranormal aspects of your story are authentic, the focus seems to be on taking an idea or a fully written piece of work, and tweaking it so it fits into the paranormal or urban fantasy genres. Got an aggressive boyfriend? Turn him into  a werewolf! Wondering how to throw a spanner in the works of their romance? Turn one of them into a vampire! As a spec fic writer, I found this attitude borderline offensive, if understandable.

I wouldn’t say it was a bad book, and I certainly don’t regret reading it. There were some genuinely useful pieces of advice, including a how-to guide explaining how to contact professionals to research aspects of your book, from law enforcement officers to scientists. But the mix of extremely basic writing tips, combined with the idea that any book can be made more marketable with the careful application of magic, made me question the target audience of the book.

Plain Truth — Jodi Picoult

Description

The discovery of a dead infant in an Amish barn shakes Lancaster County to its core. But the police investigation leads to a more shocking disclosure: circumstantial evidence suggests that eighteen-year-old Katie Fisher, an unmarried Amish woman believed to be the newborn’s mother, took the child’s life. When Ellie Hathaway, a disillusioned big-city attorney, comes to Paradise, Pennsylvania, to defend Katie, two cultures collide — and for the first time in her high-profile career, Ellie faces a system of justice very different from her own. Delving deep inside the world of those who live “plain,” Ellie must find a way to reach Katie on her terms. And as she unravels a tangled murder case, Ellie also looks deep within — to confront her own fears and desires when a man from her past reenters her life.

Review

It will probably come as no surprise to my regular readers to know that I’m not traditionally a Jodi Picoult reader. I know of her, of course, and I’ve read about her, but I’ve never felt any inclination to read one of her books. (I understand they’re fairly light on swords, sorcery, and magic rings.) Then I read Kim Pugliano’s review of Plain Truth and I changed my mind.

Part of the reason I decided to read this book because I’ve always been fascinated by the Amish way of life, and I was curious how it would be presented. In that, I was not disappointed. The details of the Plain way of living are authentic, honest, and presented in such a matter-of-fact way that it’s easy to believe that Picoult herself spent the last few years living amongst the Amish. Although I have  no way to confirm the accuracy of the facts presented, I have no reason to doubt their veracity.

There was nothing stand-out about the story itself — I saw the plot twists coming well in advance, and was entirely unsurprised by the ending. But the beautiful prose, truly authentic characters and fabulous setting combined to make this book one of the most compelling books I’ve read all year. I enjoyed my time with Katie Fisher and Ellie Hathaway, and am pleased to have made their acquaintance. So while I may not be inspired to race out and read the rest of Jodi Picoult’s backlist, I can’t say that I won’t read another of her books if I come across one with a setting and/or characters that sound interesting.

Clockwork Angel — Cassandra Clare

Description

It’s London, 1878: sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray’s priority should be finding her brother, not falling in love, especially with two boys. Tessa is soon caught in a dangerous love triangle where a wrong decision could prove fatal. She will need all her strength to save her brother and stay alive as she learns the chilling truth of what really lurks on London’s streets after dark. Discover more about the mysterious and sexy Shadowhunters in this first book of the thrilling prequel trilogy to the bestselling “Mortal Instruments” sequence.

Review

It’s Paranormal. It’s Steampunk. It’s magical and mystical and full of adventure. It is, in a word, amazing.

Tessa Gray starts out as your average, clueless, sixteen-year-old girl abducted by evil necromantic sisters and forced to learn how to magically contact dead people. Then she meets the Shadowhunters. Specifically, she meets the alternately dashing and abrasive Will and the quiet, sensitive Jem and is dragged into their world — a society of Nephilim who patrol the world on behalf of angelic forces, keeping demonic forces and Downworlders (vampires, werewolves, witches, etc) in check.

Of the two boyish Shadowhunters (both seventeen years old), I have a hard time deciding which I like best, and which I would prefer Tessa to fall in love with. Will is everything you expect in a brave and dashing hero (smoke him a kipper, he’ll be back for breakfast!), but he has a dark past that haunts him and causes him to lash out when he thinks people are getting too close. What girl wouldn’t fall for a handsome, strong bad boy like him? Jem, on the other hand, is quiet and soft-spoken, with never a bad word to say about anyone and the simple courage of a true hero. How could any girl fail to fall for him?

But despite my gushing over the two male leads, this is not a romance. This is an action-packed, mystery-fuelled ride through Victorian London, where vampires are vicious and cold, magic demands dark sacrifices, and the forces of good and evil battle openly. I was entranced by the setting, enthralled by the story, surprised by the revelations, and fell in love with the characters. I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2 in this trilogy (Clockwork Prince), and explore more of Cassandra Clare’s work. I may not have read it yet, but if her Mortal Instruments series is as well written and as this prequel, I completely understand how it became a bestseller in seven countries. 

Shatter Me — Taherah Mafi

Description

`You can’t touch me,` I whisper. I’m lying, is what I don’t tell him. He can touch me, is what I’ll never tell him. But things happen when people touch me. Strange things. Bad things. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon. But Juliette has plans on her own. After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever.

Review

 I don’t know how to write this review. If I just tell you it’s a “game changer” and a “wonder of modern literature”, will you go out and read it? Please? 

Shatter Me is a YA dystopian novel. I think. The story itself is almost a superhero origin tale, and the writing is modern literature in motion. It’s beautiful and flowing, sharp and discordant, crystal clear and maddeningly indistinct — all of these things at the exact right moment.

Juliette is a teenage girl with a special ability curse. When she touches someone, they die. She was locked up, put in solitary confinement, when her touch caused the death of a small child, and she has dwelled there alone, untouched, unloved, for years — reliving the moment she tried to help but instead brought pain and death to a toddler. At the start of the book, her sanity is hanging by a thread. And then things get worse.

The world of Shatter Me is disturbing, amazing, and Real. Juliette is a beautiful and tragic heroine. Her would-be boyfriend, Adam, is exactly what you want to see in a male lead. And then there’s the bad guy — the psychopathically evil, and yet strangely fragile and sympathetic, Warner. But even with all these amazing elements, the real magic of the book is Taherah Mafi’s voice and style. Every page, every sentence, every word is perfect. No word is chosen by chance — each one has meaning and feeling and sound beyond my wildest expectations.

I loved this book. I didn’t just read it, I lived and breathed and slept and ate it. And then I got to the end, and felt a horrid sense of disappointment… until I realised that it’s the first book of a trilogy. Bring on Fall 2012 when book 2 is due to be released!

12 Comments

Filed under Reading