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Book Review: These Gentle Wounds by Helene Dunbar

January 5, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: These Gentle Wounds by Helene DunbarThese Gentle Wounds by Helene Dunbar
Published by Flux on 1st May 2014
Pages: 307
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
three-stars
Sometimes I wish I’d lost a leg or something. Everyone can understand that. They never get it when what’s been broken is inside your head.

Five years after an unspeakable tragedy that changed him forever, Gordie Allen has made a new home with his half-brother Kevin. Their arrangement works since Kevin is the only person who can protect Gordie at school and keep him focused on getting his life back on track.

But just when it seems like things are becoming normal, Gordie’s biological father comes back into the picture, demanding a place in his life. Now there’s nothing to stop Gordie from falling into a tailspin that could cost him everything—including his relationship with Sarah, the first girl he’s trusted with the truth. With his world spinning out of control, the only one who can help Gordie is himself . . . if he can find the strength to confront the past and take back his future.

I was so so excited to read These Gentle Wounds, but unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations, and I was left feeling a little underwhelmed by the entire book once I’d finished it.

What drew me to These Gentle Wounds was that Gordie, the main character, is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder since he was the only survivor in a murder/suicide attempt by his mother. He’s been left with his half brother, his brother’s dad and an abusive father who disappeared five years ago, but now wants Gordie back in his life. Combined, this all sounds good, but something got lost in the book and it all fell a little flat for me. There was almost too much going on, and things weren’t given much attention when they could have been, and the details that could’ve helped the story come alive weren’t given much thought at all.

For me, some parts felt so believable, like Gordie’s ‘spins’ where he gets swallowed up in what happened to him 5 years ago. He can’t sleep well, his hand tremors, all these little things that I thought were so realistic. Gordie was very well written, and everyone else felt a little 2D when I read about them. The romance was a little off too, it felt disconnected to the plot, and slightly unnecessary, but I understand why it was included.

I’ll be interested to see what Dunbar releases next, as her writing was excellent, and I did, on the whole, like reading These Gentle Wounds, so she’s definitely an author I’ve added to my radar. I overhyped this book for myself, so it’s not a terrible book, I just let myself down a little, I think.

Book Review: The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis

December 1, 2014

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Dark Inside by Rupert WallisThe Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis
Published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books on 30th January 2014
Pages: 368
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
two-stars
When thirteen-year-old James discovers a homeless man in an abandoned house, the course of his life changes dramatically. Hoping to find a 'cure' for a dark curse inflicted on the homeless man, the pair embark on a journey together not knowing that what they discover will impact them both in ways they never imagined...A gripping and haunting story about loss and hope, perfect for fans of Patrick Ness and David Almond.

If we’re being totally honest with one another here, I’m not entirely sure why I requested The Dark Inside. I think I got a little blind-sided by Netgalley and the reviews that I’d seen for this book and thought it would be a good idea to read it myself, even though I knew it wasn’t going to be a book for me. And unfortunately, I was right.

If you were to ask me right now what The Dark Inside was about, I wouldn’t really have a proper answer to give you. Even after I’ve pondered over it for ages, I’m still not entirely sure what I read. The writing itself was excellent – easily my favourite part of the book – but the storyline just didn’t really go anywhere for me. I was totally lost the whole time I was reading, which I feel really bad about, but this just goes to show that a book simply cannot be for everyone. I know people who enjoyed The Dark Inside, but it just wasn’t one for me.

I never really got attached to the characters either. I felt like we didn’t know enough about them for me to really connect and feel anything for them at all. I was totally ambivalent about them all and I hate that. I did read The Dark Inside quickly, and I think that was because I enjoyed the writing and found it easy to read as I didn’t have that connection with a character that made me savour my time with them. Awful to say, but true.

The Dark Inside is certainly not the worst book I’ve read, just not the best book for me. We just didn’t click like I have done with other books, but that’s okay. It doesn’t mean it was terrible, we just didn’t work out.

Book Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L Jensen

November 15, 2014

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L JensenStolen Songbird by Danielle L Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #1
Published by Angry Robot on 1st April 2014
Pages: 469
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-stars
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…

But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for...

I heard so many mixed things about Stolen Songbird, I wasn’t entirely sure whether or not I actually wanted to start reading it. I’m pleased I finally gave it a chance though, as I sped through it as if my Kindle was on fire!

Stolen Songbird appealed to me in a way that Switched didn’t. The two books aren’t hugely different, but their writing styles are, and I much preferred the rich descriptions Jensen provided in Stolen Songbird. I felt as if I was living in Trollus myself, although, if that were the case I probably wouldn’t last five seconds there! The place really came alive in her writing, and certain scenes almost left me aching for a chance to visit there and see these places myself.

So, the writing and setting were both excellent. The characters were a bit more of a mixed bag. I liked Cecile but that was about it. She was extremely emotive and vocal, but I just couldn’t connect with her. She was resourceful, yes, and she tried her hardest to do right by everyone but she also made some damn stupid decisions. I had no doubt though that her feelings for Tristan were real, and I found those to be a huge driving force behind the story. Tristan was frustrating, there’s no getting away from it. He starts off incredibly arrogant, changes, has lots of lovely moments with Cecile and then resigns himself to almost certain death, the idiot. Sylvie was a favourite character of mine, as was Tips, and I hope we get to see more of them in the future.

The ending to Stolen Songbird nearly killed me. Seriously. You cannot just end a book like that. But Jensen did, and now I’m pining stupidly hard for the second book to just hurry up and get here already. Hmph. And here I was thinking I’d never get this attached to trolls, but it’s happened.

Book Review: On the Road to Find Out by Rachel Toor

October 20, 2014

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: On the Road to Find Out by Rachel ToorOn the Road to Find Out by Rachel Toor
Published by Macmillan Children's Books on 10th June 2014
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
three-stars
A funny, uplifting debut about running, romance—and dealing with college rejection and other hurdles

On New Year’s Day, Alice Davis goes for a run. Her first ever. It’s painful and embarrassing, but so was getting denied by the only college she cares about. Alice knows she has to stop sitting around and complaining to her best friend, Jenni, and her pet rat, Walter, about what a loser she is. But what doesn’t know is that by taking those first steps out the door, she is setting off down a road filled with new challenges—including vicious side stitches, chafing in unmentionable places, and race-paced first love—and strengthening herself to endure when the going suddenly gets tougher than she ever imagined.

Sometimes I go through a lot of ups and downs with a book as I read it. I never know how I truly feel about the book until it’s over and that is exactly how I feel with On the Road to Find Out.

Let me get one thing clear: I did not like Alice. As a character, I found her rude, selfish and extremely ungrateful. So she got rejected from college. So what? A lot of people do. A lot of people deal with a lot more crap at 18 than getting rejected from a college. She was so out of order, particularly with the way she treated her parents and her ‘best friend’ Jenni. Particularly her mother, who just tried her best to be there for Alice, even when Alice pushed her away. I’ve never known a character to get under my skin as much as she did. But maybe that’s because I saw more of myself in Alice than I really wanted to.

However, I did like the journey Alice went on. The running storyline and how she improved gave me something positive to focus on, and almost almost inspired me into taking on my own challenge. (I’m not quite convinced, but to get me thinking about it again is impressive.) The way Alice’s running developed was so important and the better she got, the nicer a person she seemed to become.

The romance was a bit meh for me, I could take it or leave it if I’m honest. The great thing about it was that it wasn’t the main story. The romance could’ve been taken away from the entire book and the story would have still remained and I commend Toor for that.

I would recommend giving On the Road to Find Out a go, purely because it’s unheard of for me to hate the main character in a book but still enjoy the book overall. Something about this book kept me reading it every spare moment I got, but it also meant it was over far too quickly for my liking!

Book Review: The Fearless by Emma Pass

April 21, 2014

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Fearless by Emma PassThe Fearless by Emma Pass
Published by Random House on 24th April 2014
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-stars
The Fearless. An army, powered by an incredible new serum that makes each soldier stronger, sharper, faster than their enemies. Intended as a force for good, the serum has a terrible side-effect - anyone who takes it is stripped of all humanity, empathy, love. And as the Fearless sweep through the country, forcing the serum on anyone in their path, society becomes a living nightmare.

Cass remembers the night they passed through her village. Her father was Altered. Her mother died soon after. All Cass has left is her little brother - and when Jori is snatched by the Fearless and taken to their hellish lair, Cass must risk everything to get him back.

 

I absolutely loved ACID, so when I had the chance to pick up The Fearless early, I knew I had to do it. The Fearless took everything I loved about ACID and dropped it into a new world that left me slightly terrified at times when I was reading.

I loved Cass’ character. I honestly didn’t expect to at first, but there was this odd blend of strength, independence and vulnerability about her that made her endearing and just a very real character to read about. Her desperation to get Jori back from the Fearless was so well written – I could practically feel the emotion oozing off the pages. She wasn’t afraid of hard work either – nothing was too much for her if it meant saving the ones that she loved. Cass also found herself stuck between two boys when she least expected it, although she was never torn in her decision and didn’t lead either Sol or Myo on, which made a nice change! The dynamic between Cass and Myo was great as it blossomed somewhat normally. They were two teens thrown together by chance, but there’s a connection between them that they cannot deny. Sol was never right for Cass – he just wasn’t right full stop. His bloodthirsty attitude was unnerving and I found it very difficult to see him as anything but a crazed maniac with a gun and some explosives.

The world in The Fearless is terrifying. I started reading the book in the dark and had to stop as I was so creeped out over what was happening in the book. It has this traumatising beginning and there’s very few happy moments, which just adds to the bleak world Pass created. And it’s such a clever idea, a drug that was created to stop soldiers suffering PTSD that ends up draining fear out of them and made them into incredibly strong, incredibly dangerous, soulless machines. And then there’s Hope Island, this supposed ‘safe haven’ that is more corrupt than you think, and it’s clear that there’s very few people you can trust in this world.

Emma Pass has proved with both ACID and The Fearless that she is extremely adept at crafting both strong female characters and these bleak worlds that I most definitely do not want to live in. I am certainly a huge fan of her work and cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next!