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Review: Vivian versus the Apocalypse by Katie Coyle

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Vivian versus the Apocalypse
Series: Vivian Apple #1
Author: Katie Coyle
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: Sept 2013
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

A chilling vision of a contemporary USA where the sinister Church of America is destroying lives. Our cynical protagonist, seventeen-­year-­old Vivian Apple, is awaiting the fated ‘Rapture’ -­ or rather the lack of it. Her evangelical parents have been in the Church’s thrall for too long, and she’s looking forward to getting them back. Except that when Vivian arrives home the day after the supposed ‘Rapture’, her parents are gone. All that is left are two holes in the ceiling…

Viv is determined to carry on as normal, but when she starts to suspect that her parents might still be alive, she realises she must uncover the truth. Joined by Peter, a boy claiming to know the real whereabouts of the Church, and Edie, a heavily pregnant Believer who has been ‘left behind’, they embark on a road trip across America. Encountering freak weather, roving ‘Believer’ gangs and a strange teenage group calling themselves the ‘New Orphans’, Viv soon begins to realise that the Rapture was just the beginning.

REVIEW BY GWEN – YEAR 8

When I first saw the book Vivian Versus the Apocalypse I really didn’t know what to expect, but when I started reading I was drawn in by Katie Coyle’s dramatic, shocking, action packed and romantic novel. This book is written in the first person where Vivian is telling the plot. The novel often left me thinking, if I was in the position of Vivian what would I do?

One of the things I liked about the book is seeing how Vivian changes from being a girl that was very meek, shy and clueless, who always tried to please her parents to being an independent woman that is prepared for anything for the people that have been there for her and she loves most in the world.

I think this gripping story has been written especially for teenagers but be warned this book contains some strong language!

I enjoyed the fact that this book was set on a road trip because it lead them to different places, this made sure that the plot did not get tedious or dragged on.

Personally I think that the meaning to this book was that you can do anything you want in life but it’s not always easy, you will have to work for it and also that friendship is a very important skill you will need in life.

The thing that mostly shocked me in this book and there were a lot of moments were I thought `what just happened’ but the most memorable was the twist ending which I was never expecting but I thought it was very effective and it left me wanting to read more.

I would recommend this novel and there is going to be a sequel called Vivian Versus America which comes out on September 4, 2014.

Review: Burn by Monica Hesse

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Burn
Series: Stray #2
Author: Monica Hesse
Publisher: Hot Key books
Publication Date: Feb 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating:

Synopsis from Goodreads

Lona Sixteen Always is about to become Lona Seventeen Always, but she isn’t feeling much older or wiser. Unlike Fenn and the rest of the Path strays, she is struggling to move on with her life. How can she look to the future when she knows almost nothing about her past? Lona feels like everyone’s pressuring her to become ‘normal’ – even her beloved Fenn – and on top of this, she’s been having strange, violent dreams. It almost feels like someone’s trying to send her a message…

Lona’s dreams turn out to be memories – clues hidden inside Lona by her mother, who Lona always assumed was lost to her forever. But she isn’t lost at all: she’s being held captive by Harm – emotionless, psychotic, murderous Harm – and she’s desperate for Lona to find her. But can Lona work it all out in time? And why does Harm need Lona’s mother? In the bid to find out who she really is, Lona will fall headlong into a trap far more dangerous and cunning than she could ever have imagined. The Path was just the beginning.

REVIEW BY LAYLA – YEAR 8

Burn is about a sixteen year old girl called Lona who has been part of a science project all her life.  The science project was called ‘Julian Path’ because the children who are part of it live in pods and watch the life of a man called Julian.  As all of the children there are abandoned, when Lona leaves, she goes searching for her real parents.

Although the story is written in 3rd person, Monica Hesse manages to portray Lona’s feelings very well.  Monica steps into Lona’s shoes and talks about her thoughts and feelings about the whole situation.  As Lona’s thoughts and feelings were always so clear, it made it easier to understand what she was experiencing.

The plot was always moving- there was always something happening, so I was easily absorbed by the story. This made it very interesting and enjoyable to read.  I read the book quickly because I always wanted to find out what would happen next.  The plot is very good because it’s as if it’s slowly building up a puzzle as Lona finds out information about who her parents are.

Another thing that I liked about the book was that Monica Hesse thought about how Lona’s search for her parents affected her friends.  Part of the story is also about what her friends think about her looking for her parents and how they react to some of the problems they face.

Something which made the story more interesting was that Monica Hesse told most of the story from Lona’s point of view, but some of it was from Lona’s mum’s point of view. Seeing where Lona’s mother was and what was happening to her deepend the mystery still.  The fact that the plot got more interesting as I went through the book made it very hard to stop reading because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next.

I found that towards the end of the book that there was an interesting twist as to what I thought was going to happen, which made the ending more interesting.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading Burn.

Books I’ve Read: Unrequited by Melody Grace

Books

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Image from Goodreads

Title: Unrequited
Series: Beachwood Bay #3.5 The Callahans #1
Author: Melody Grace
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: May 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

You can be anyone for a night…

Alicia isn’t the kind of girl to kiss a total stranger up against the wall — no matter how devastatingly sexy he is. But reeling from a broken heart, she runs straight into the arms of Dex Callahan: rock star, bad boy, and the most seductive man she’s ever known.

Dex is looking for distraction, at any price. The innocent redhead is just what he needs to keep his demons at bay — but one taste of her sweetness isn’t enough. He needs to possess her, body and soul.

Two searching hearts. One night to discover the passion of a lifetime. Dex is determined to show Alicia the pleasure she’s been denied, but can she let go of her heartache and take a risk on the unknown?

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At first I was just really, really annoyed with Alicia. I felt as if she begrudged Hunter and Brit their happiness and was an evil false friend. I just couldn’t understand why she had (or thought she had) such deep feelings for Hunter when he hadn’t encouraged her in the slightest. the way Alicia was made me feel as if it undermined Brit in a way. After following Brit’s struggle in Unafraid I felt very protective of her and immediately disliked Alicia for wanting to take Hunter away from Brit.

However, as we were able to gain insight into Alicia’s thoughts it did provide a level of understanding. She is very naive and mostly extremely innocent, shy and vulnerable come to mind with Alicia on a personal level. Her professional demeanor is a complete contrast to that, cool, calm and collected. If felt as if Alicia lacked confidence especially when viewing herself as desirable. therefore, having un-returned feelings for Hunter was essentially ‘safe’ for her.

Dex is a whole other kettle of fish, totally confident in his sexuality he is drawn to Alicia’s naivety. Jaded from his rock star lifestyle and with deep haunting secrets that are only hinted at, Dex appears drawn to Alicia’s sweetness and innocence. For him, it looks as if he is seeking some sort of redemption by helping Alicia recover from her unrequited love of Hunter.

Unrequited lays the foundation for what looks like a sizzling spin-off to the main Beachwood Bay series.

Books I’ve Read: The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle

Books

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Image from Goodreads

Title: The Edge of Falling
Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: March 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Growing up in privileged, Manhattan social circles, Caggie’s life should be perfect, and it almost was until the day that her younger sister drowned when Caggie was supposed to be watching her. Stricken by grief, Caggie pulls away from her friends and family, only to have everyone misinterpret a crucial moment when she supposedly saves a fellow classmate from suicide. Now she’s famous for something she didn’t do and everyone lauds her as a hero. But inside she still blames herself for the death of her sister and continues to pull away from everything in her life, best friend and perfect boyfriend included.
Then Caggie meets Astor, the new boy at school, about whom rumours are swirling and known facts are few. In Astor she finds someone who just might understand her pain, because he has an inner pain of his own. But the more Caggie pulls away from her former life to be with Astor, the more she realises that his pain might be darker, and deeper, than anything she’s ever felt. His pain might be enough to end his life…and Caggie’s as well.

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The Edge of Falling was nothing like I expected but nonetheless brilliant. Rebecca Serle has established herself with a beautiful, poignant writing style.

Told in first person narrative from McAlister’s perspective (I thought it was a weird name too) encompassing direct address to the reader establishing a personal connection from the beginning.

The story draws you in, past events leading to the current situation are woven seamlessly into the plot and ride a roller-coaster of emotion as details are revealed. Encompassing death and bereavement alongside differing coping mechanisms.

The Edge of Falling shows have tragedy changes you, it can completely alter your perspective. It is a stark look at the emotions that can weigh us down and drag us under without the proper support system. Tragedy makes you re-evaluate yourself, your relationships even your own place in the world and hopefully gives you a new appreciation of everything.

The Edge of Falling is a consuming read, you won’t be able to put it down until you’ve reached that last page and then you can’t help but think about it long after  you’ve closed the cover.

Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

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Image from Goodreads

Title: Afterworlds
Series: Afterworlds #1
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: Sept 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 2/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack.

But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

REVIEW BY AMY – YEAR 9

I have to start by saying that Afterworlds revolves around some mature themes, I’m not convinced it’s reaching it’s target audience due to this fact.

Afterworlds is a unique concept using a story within a story, complete with cross-over aspects and dual narration. The alternating chapters between each ‘story’ actually detract from the world building as a whole. Just as you’re starting to immerse yourself into one aspect it switches to the other ‘story’. This can be quite disorientating and I felt it slowed the pace of the narrative. I know I’m not alone when I say that one ‘story’ stood out much more than the other. At times it was an effort not to skip the one narrator and move directly onto the more compelling voice.

Eighteen year old writer, Darcy, is the actual author of Afterworlds while Lizzie is the main character in the book acting out the narrative, if you will.

Lizzie’s world is based around modern day life in America. Following a violent incident resulting in a near death experience, Lizzie discovers that she is able to “pass over” to the alternative dimension involving spirits and memories of past places and lives. In Lizzie’s side of the book she meets Yama, a spirit guide who learnt his skill at a young age. Yama helps Lizzie discover her potential as a spirit guide and helps her through all the challenges she will have to face. They progress into a relationship quiet quickly; however problems arrive along the way leaving you on edge and questioning events.

In my opinion Lizzie and Yama’s relationship occurred too quickly, it lacked build-up and therefore lacked believability and a connection to their relationship. I found Yama to be quite a bland charter he lacked personality; for me he was very much a one-dimensional, stereotypical white knight.

Lizzie’s half of the book did contain a fair amount of suspense aided by cliffhangers at the end of her chapters. Although the pacing was quite slow.

Darcy’s  story focuses on getting the book published. This includes her going to New York, getting her own apartment and introducing the reader to her girlfriend Imogen. Imogen is a mysterious character, adding additional suspense and tension to Darcy’s half of the story. Imogen also manages to provide humorous relief within the narrative.

Darcy focuses on perfecting her manuscript and creating the perfect ending. Continually questioning the ending she has devised. There are several alternative endings available to her leaving the reader curious to know which one will be chosen.

I enjoyed parts in this books. Especially the parts where Darcy’s life altered affecting aspects of Lizzie’s story. However, I did feel that Afterworlds was very slow paced overall and at times quite boring.  Although I did like the insight it provided into the life of an author. There are a lot of loose ends left at the end paving the way for the sequel.

While I enjoyed the paranormal side of the book and bits of Darcy’s life I’m not sure it’s enough to make me want to carry on with the series. Although I do think a sequel is necessary to tie all the loose ends together.