Saturday, 30 April 2011

Pendragon: The Merchant of Death

Author: D.J. MacHale
Publishing Company: Pocket Books
Bobby Pendragon is a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy. He has a family, a home and even a dog, his beloved Marley. But there is something very special about Bobby.

He is going to save the world.

And not just Earth as we know it. Bobby is slowly starting to realise that nothing in the whole universe is quite what he thought it was. And before he can object he is swept off to an alternate dimension known as Denduron, a territory inhabited by strange beings, ruled over by an evil magical tyrant and poised on the brink of bloody revolution.

If Bobby wants to see his family again, he’s going to have to accept his role as an intergalactic saviour and accept it whole-heartedly. Because as he is about to discover, Denduron is only the beginning on an epic quest against the forces of darkness…

The review:

This was recommended to me by a friend who told me by a friend who told me the series was good (I’ve noticed this is how I start every review, but yeah, sorry, still will) So I bought it to see if it was good. And it wasn’t what I expected it to be, well it was, in some ways. Let me explain.

From the blurb you expect adventure, fun, danger and magic and things you expect from a book that could be seen as a boy’s read (I see this as a boy’s book if I’m being honest), and for the most part, it was, it didn’t have magic, but there’s definitely danger and adventure and…well a kinda magic without there being too much that everyone is a wizard (actually the only magicy type thing is the flumes), so it’s interesting in that way.

However, there are a few things that I didn’t like. The structure of the book was one of these things, I thought the skipping between Second Earth and Denduron was slightly pointless. Ok, so some parts he needed us to see what his friends were doing, but I found it hard to read because just as the action was about to start, you’d be taken back to seeing his friends, which annoyed me a bit because I really wanted to just skip ahead and read what was going on with Boby. The second thing I didn’t like was the fact that he started his story off with talking about how he kissed another character Courtney. I understand we needed to introduce her so Mark had someone to interact with, but I think they could’ve started with something else.

The characters weren’t bad, well some of them anyway. I’ll talk about them for now. The main character, Bobby Pendragon, is exactly what you expect from a fourteen year old hero who’s been thrown into a bad situation at the deep end. He freaks out, doesn’t fully listen, he is the typical boyish character who doesn’t know what to do or how to act. He wants to go back to his normal life and do normal things. Yet he finds a way to get through it, gets a few slaps around from other characters so that he’ll begin to think clearly & do what he’s supposed to. I’d like to know when he gets the time to write his journals because if so much was going on I’m pretty sure you couldn’t write that much explaining what went on. As for as how much you expect how he works, it’s pretty typical, he reacts just how you expect him to react, but at the end of the day he deals with it and works to help where he can and do what he must, without knowing much at all.

Loor was a character I got annoyed at a lot. She (like Bobby) is a new Traveller (read to find out, I don’t want to spoil anything) but because she’s been trained up to do the stuff she does, she’s constantly annoyed at Bobby because he’s scared or doesn’t understand or something like that, but she knows he’s had no training and has no clue what to do. It’s obvious that she’s just ready to do what she’s told and odesn’t question it, so I doubt she’s had much of a childhood, which is kinda sad. But she’s definitely not the nicest person in the book and she’s very ‘all work and no play’. She’s definitely someone with a very strong opinion & who knows what she wants and mainly knows how to to get it.

I’ve realised I actually have a lot of characters to talk about so I apologise but because there’s two different worlds you have many different characters to cover.

Uncle Press annoyed me a bit. I found that he put too much onto Bobby’s shoulders. At one point he’s angry at Bobby because Bobby did something wrong, then a few pages later, he doesn’t seem to care as he says ‘we all make mistakes’ or something along those lines, when he was extremely angry before. Unfortunately he’s not in the book for too long so you can’t see a proper view of him because he’s not there, so you just get this rather arrogant character.

And now for Mark (final one I promise). I love Mark, I thought he was kinda adorable. Really nerdy and in my opinion the most likable character in this book. He doesn’t know entirely what’s going on, but trusts his friend enough to believe these crazy things. I felt bad for him at some points, but at most points I seriously wanted to hug him. Unfortunately we don’t get to see him much. I don’t know what else to say about him really, he’s just cute when you read him.

The main setting where the actions took place was beautifully described. It felt very much like a magic old time world. You could feel the magic in the book and the world which was great to read.

Overall, I wasn’t thrilled with this book, but at the same time it wasn’t a bad book. The second book in the series looks a lot better than the first.

My rating:
Setting: 4 out of 5
Characters: 3 out of 5
Plot: 3.5 out of 5
Writing: 3 out of 5

Thanks for reading x

Thursday, 21 April 2011


Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Publishing Company: Graphia
“Thou art the Black Rider.
Go thee out unto the world”

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will on anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Travelling the world on her stead gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home- her constant battle with hunger and the struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life and to face the horrifying effects of her awesome new power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power- and the courage to fight her own inner demons?

The review:

I picked this up because I heard about it through another book blogger and thought it looked interesting. I didn’t realise how short it was when I bought it. I thought it would be quite heavy on the anorexia, but I think it was done well how the author balanced and made a comparison for Lisa being anorexic to her being Famine. That sounds vague and obvious, but if you read it I think you’ll understand the comparison between ‘the Thin Voice’ and War.

I don’t think this is the best book I’ve read, that may be because of how short it was (177 pages which includes a 3 page Author Note), but something definitely made it not as good as I expected, shall we say. However a lot of bits were done really well. The plot flowed and sounded natural for the most part. And though it’s a fantasy book, the real parts, like Lisa talking and dealing with anorexia, denying it, constantly going through what is obviously a traumatic and hard experience, it was real and you can feel the pain in the writing. And then there’s the parts with the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Some parts of that I thought were well done, like the first Famine strike, it was scary because it was done in a way where it was unnerving to read, where this anorexic girl gets furious at people because they’re eating. However some parts weren’t great.

What I love about the writing of this book is it’s blunt and to the point. There were some points where you feel sick to the stomach because the imagery is brutal and blunt and disgusting, but it’s true. It’s not romantic language, and it doesn’t try to be something it’s not, which I love because a lot of authors either gloss over these images or just say things like ‘they threw up’, so it’s refreshing in a way to see someone not shy away from what it is.

Ok, for characters. I’m going to start with my favourite character in the book, Death. He’s funny, honest, and in my mind he’s hot and rockstar, but he’s also smart and always thinking. At one point, Lisa asks him what he looks like in his original form, and he says ‘If no one’s watching, who says I have a form at all’ which was something that stuck out for me from the book. I found this Death to be interesting and not cliché. It’s nice to see him in a different way, without the crazy black cloak get up.

The main character Lisabeth was interesting. I didn’t like her as a character but I didn’t dislike her. I think to an extent I could relate to her, because she couldn’t feel happy with the way she looked, and a lot of girls struggle to deal with weight and looks. I loved the way you could see her begin to trust herself and slowly getting over her anorexia because she’s Famine.

I before about the Thin Voice and War being the same thing, I’m gonna talk about that, but I’d like to say this is how I interpret it and so others may not see it, and also it could be classed as spoilery so if you don’t want to know, skip it. So basically, in my mind, there was a huge similarity between the character of War and the Thin Voice. The Thin Voice is basically Lisa’s motivator to diet and keep loosing weight and it’s constantly putting her down, telling her she’s fat so that she looses more weight, and War constantly called her mouse because she was weak. The two voices basically stand for the same purpose in Lisa’s life, to put Lisa down, to keep her feeling bad about herself, and because this is what you see from it, you begin to think as the world she sees as Famine in more of a literal sense. War is the element in her life holding her back and telling her she’s not worth it. I think that’s why the fight scene we see is so rewarding, we see Lisa becoming a new person and embracing herself.

My rating:
Setting: 3.5 out of 5
Characters: 4 out of 5
Plot: 4 out of 5
Writing: 4.5 out of 5

Thanks for reading x

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Anna and the French Kiss

Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publishing Company: Dutton
Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris- until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long awaited French kiss?

The review:

I heard about this book through some video bloggers, and they basically made it sound like the female version of one of my favourite authors. So I’ve been wanting to pick the book up for a while, and when I got it yesterday, I was extremely excited to read it.

If you’ve read my reviews before (my old blog was & all of my old reviews are still there if you’d like to check them out), you know that this isn’t the type of book I usually read, it’s not, but it’s always refreshing to read something new and different. And I have to say, from reading the first page, the first paragraph of this book, I knew I was going to love it. It’s funny and easy to read from the set off and it’s refreshing and funny and just an altogether good read. I feel like I’m gushing now. Sorry about that.

I think what I like about this book is it’s honesty. It doesn’t make the characters perfect, it has them swearing and fighting and having sex and drinking and doing everything that people expects from teenagers and Stephanie Perkins doesn’t try to hide it. She puts it out there as it is. You see and feel the reality of the situation. I think for her to capture this feeling so well, it’s amazing. I also think some of the situations she gets into are very relatable. Ok, granted I don’t actually know anyone who’s been forced into a French school when she doesn’t want to go, then meet the boy of her dreams who she can’t have because he’s dating someone else, but I think a lot of people can understand the feeling of going to a new school and because scared about how they’ll fit in, who they can talk to and all of that. I also think a lot of us can relate to liking someone we shouldn’t.

Let’s talk about characters! Yay! I love Anna. She’s aware of things around her (for the most part) and yet she’s the new girl, she’s the one who you have to follow to discover the story. She’s a normal girl who you enjoy listening to. I don’t actually know how to describe her, because you just follow her story and fall in love with her as she tells you this beautiful and magical story. It’s obvious she’s in an uncomfortable position at the start, and it’s good to see her keep some of her uncomfortable and awkward characteristics throughout the book. She has flaws, she has good points about her, and she’s genuinely interesting.

I also love her hobby of writing reviews for films. It’s different and pretty cool. I don’t know many characters who go into detail about films like she does, even though we can’t read her reviews, we can see the passion in her just from her talking to us about the films she’s seeing as we read her doing it. To see her talk about the films to the reader, it’s different, but nice to see because you get a better feel for the character.

Then we have St. Clair, who’s this part American, part French, part English hybrid of a character who I instantly loved for one reason. He didn’t sound stereotypically English. That may seem weird but it’s a pet peeve of mine when I see English characters in books who either act too American or are stereotypically British. With St. Clair he was half American, half French but was mainly brought up in London, the accent he had was perfect. He didn’t say anything too stereotypical, he was a brilliant representation of an English person. Not too posh, not a stereotype, and he sounded as if he actually had grown up in England.

Ok, I realise that I’ve spoken about how he speaks a lot, so let’s get onto other parts. I think with a lot of YA fiction we see ‘the perfect man’ he’s mysterious, he’s tall dark and handsome, and you think ‘wow’ because you have to think that there must be something amazing behind his mysterious ways. That’s not St. Clair. He has a lot of personality, he gets sulky when he has problems in his life, he’s so teenagery and it’s refreshing to see a character in a book who seems genuine and who acts his age.

The setting is obvious, modern day Paris in a boarding school mostly, but the way she talks about Paris is romantic and beautiful and breathtaking. Instead of the childlike wonder you expect when you think of Disneyland Paris, or the pompous High Fashion you think of at that part in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ (the film, I haven’t read the book), you see it from a teen. A romantic beautiful place where you can fall in love, have a good time with friends and to realise what matters in your life. It’s not a novel where the character discovers who she is, because in my mind I think she already has a pretty good idea of who she is, but because she’s being forced into a different situation, she has to make it work, and she does, she finds out that by stepping out from your old life, you notice the differences and the bad bits you ignored before.

This book is beautiful, it’s romantic and it’s an easy read. You fall in love with the characters, not just the main two either, all of them, and some of the moments are so cute and touching or funny and sweet, that it made me fall in love with this book.

My rating: (Using a different rating system now so this is me trying it out)
Setting: 4 out of 5
Characters: 5 out of 5
Plot: 4 out of 5
Writing: 5 out of 5

Thanks for reading x