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Review: Atlantia by Allie Condie

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Atlantia
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: Nov 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Set within a civilization that lives deep beneath the sea, twin sisters, Rio and Bay, are about to make the most important decision of their lives. Will they choose to stay Below, sacrificing their soul but living in happiness, or to go Above, keeping their soul but living in weakness and misery. No one could have predicted their choice.

REVIEW BY LILY 8:1

I have just finished reading Atlantia and can honestly say it has now become one of my favourite books.

The story begins with Rio and her twin sister Bay having to make a life changing choice. They have to decide whether they want to stay in their world beneath the sea called Atlantia or venture into the world above.

Rio Conwy is a tough young lady who has been forced to hide her true self for her own safety. For this reason, Rio can appear slightly cold hearted, but as the plot progresses I started to feel an affinity to Rio and her situation. Ally Condie’s writing style creates empathy allowing the reader to place themselves in Rio’s position.

Rio has always dreamed of leaving her family and Atlantia behind to go above so she can leave behind the weight of her mother’s death and finally feel a sense of freedom. However, after her mother was murdered, Bay made Rio promise that she would stay below in Atlantia with her so she would never be alone. Although, unknown to Rio, Bay has hidden her real plans from her, making the decision to leave Rio alone in Atlantia.

Confused by Bay’s choice, Rio has now been left alone it Atlantia longing for answers – Why did her sister choose Above? Why was her mother murdered? Who murdered her mother? The only person Rio felt she could turn to was her mysterious aunt, who also happens to be a suspect in her mother’s murder. She then becomes friends with True, a young man who like Rio has been left alone in the Below. With his whole family having been victims of a life threatening condition called Water Lung, True is as lonely as Rio. Because of their similarity, True and Rio are drawn to each other and form an unbreakable friendship.

Guided by her mysterious aunt, Rio sets out on a journey to uncover the truth about the connection between Above and Below and the reason for her mother’s death.

Atlantia has a number of terrific plot threads, however, my favourite aspect of the story is how True accepts Rio for who she really is. I like that despite Rio’s carefully constructed mask she hides in order to protects herself, True is able to see past her barriers to the beautiful person underneath. Showing no matter how many faults you perceive yourself to have, there is always someone who will accept you for who you are.

I also liked Ally Condie’s personification of Atlantia, it was easy to picture Atlantia as a living creature. The idea of the ‘voice’ of Atlantia and the myth surrounding Atlantia ‘breathing’ played an important part within the narrative giving depth to the setting and the plot.

The only part of the story that I disliked was how Rio gave in when it came to fighting.  Don’t get me wrong – I liked the way the plot developed but she should have shown more care with the amount of lives she was responsible for. Despite that, I still would have liked to have seen the Sirens take a more active role in their defence. I think the inclusion of dynamic action by the Sirens would have benefited the plot as a whole.

While I liked most of the characters I had my favourites Rio, True and Maire; despite each character having their own secrets they prove to be trustworthy. This shows me that even though you have your secrets, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t trustworthy or that you’re a bad person. I also liked how the characters had their similarities (Not having a lot of family), this made them easier to come together and work efficiently.

Although I disliked Bay at the start, by the end I was able to warm to her because of how much she cared for her sister. Though I still found her a little selfish because of how she left Rio behind without explaining to her why she left. Overall. I found all of the secondary characters three-dimensional and their personalities believable and easy to relate to.

I would definitely read another book by Ally Condie, her ability to set the scene and build the world of Atlantia within the imagination was amazing. Adding to that, I have to point out the world building only made sense when it was fully described. Initially I felt as if Ally Condie left out a few minor details to the description of the world she created within Atlantia, which when a later explanation was given changed the way I imagined it to be. Although this did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the story.

Atlantia contains themes of death and murder making it suitable for the age range 12+ in my opinion.

I enjoyed the point of view, the first person narrative made it easy to sympathize with the character as you were given more detailed feelings and thoughts of the character. It affected the way the plot developed by sometimes giving reasons as to why the character did certain things they did or how they felt when something happened. By knowing the feelings of the characters during the story, it helped with the story be adding extra details of how much certain events affected the characters.

After reading the book and having read the descriptions of the surroundings, I think that the timing of the story is futuristic. If the book was placed in this time, the plot would have been very believable, but because I wasn’t told when it happened so had trouble interpreting whether the plot was believable or not.

Review: Inspire by Cora Carmack

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Received from InkSlingerPR

Title: Inspire
Series: Inspire #1
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 15 Dec 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Kalliope lives with one purpose.

To inspire.

As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real.

Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal.

Her presence may inspire genius.

But it breeds madness, too.

REVIEW 

Inspire literally sweeps you off your feet. I have to be honest I’m hoping for inspiration to hit this review 😉 Cora Carmack weaves mythology seamlessly into a contemporary setting, laying the groundwork for the plot in a uniquely realistic manner.

It is easy to identify with Kalli; her immortal existence is weighing heavily on her. While it would be nice to regenerate at the stroke of midnight every day it does limit the amount of personal expression a person can have; just think tattoo’s and piercing would heal immediately :( Plus the deeper connection each person craves, family, children and unconditional love. The only relationships Kalli has experienced have been based on her ability.

The fine line between genius and madness is examined closely within the narrative. Especially when connection turns to obsession due to Kalli’s abilities, sending a person over an edge they can never get back from.  Plus causing immeasurable guilt to Kalli. However, Kalli has no choice but to share her gift otherwise it can cause her own madness and infect those not destined to experience such things. Leading to undesirable after-effects for everyone concerned. I have to be honest and say the experiment Kalli undertakes is one I personally would have considered a long time ago.

I absolutely loved the use of the threads of fate within the plot. Adding depth to the romantic aspects within the narrative. The dual narrative between Kalli and Wilder balanced the story-line beautifully aiding a deeper understanding of both characters and their reactions to certain revelations 😉

The detail to the mythological aspects of the plot created a stunning backdrop to the story as a whole. Enriching the story-line while simultaneously creating an alternate reality based within contemporary society, which was surprisingly very easy to picture :) Prophecies and repercussions lead to a tension fueled cliffhanger.

Inspire combines romance, mythology and creativity in a completely addictive fashion. I can’t help but say it, Cora will Inspire obsession in you 😉

Spotlight plus Give-Away: Inspire by Cora Carmack

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Received from InkSlingerPR

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About INSPIRE

Kalliope lives with one purpose.

To inspire.

As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real.

Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal.

Her presence may inspire genius.

But it breeds madness, too.

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Inspire Excerpt

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About Cora Carmack

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

Links: Website/Twitter/Facebook/Author Goodreads

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Review: Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Ask Me
Author: Kimberly Pauley
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publication Date: 8 April 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Ask Aria Morse anything, and she must answer with the truth. Yet she rarely understands the cryptic words she‘s compelled to utter. Blessed—or cursed—with the power of an Oracle who cannot decipher her own predictions, she does her best to avoid anyone and everyone.

But Aria can no longer hide when Jade, one of the few girls at school who ever showed her any kindness, disappears. Any time Aria overhears a question about Jade, she inadvertently reveals something new, a clue or hint as to why Jade vanished. But like stray pieces from different puzzles, her words never present a clear picture.

Then there’s Alex, damaged and dangerous, but the first person other than Jade to stand up for her. And Will, who offers a bond that seems impossible for a girl who’s always been alone. Both were involved with Jade. Aria may be the only one who can find out what happened, but the closer she gets to solving the crime, the more she becomes a target. Not everyone wants the truth to come out.

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REVIEW 

I don’t know whether you’ve noticed but there seem to be a few books out/coming out that feature an oracle (Greek Mythology) as the main character of the story. We’ve caught snippets of oracles in most of the YA fiction based in Greek Mythology so the chance to get to know one on a personal basis wasn’t something I could pass up :)

I’ve got to say from the onset that the ‘criminal’ was OBVIOUS, the clever way in which it was revealed provided an ‘ah ha’ moment lol. Saying it was obvious to me, doesn’t detract from the ingenious yet chilling portrayal of a sociopath – charismatic yet manipulative, self-absorped and with an utter lack of regret/guilt sent chills down my spine.

Told from Aria’s point of view, she inherited the ‘gift’ of prophecy as a direct descendant of the original Sybil she has to answer any question she hears; whether its directed at her or not. This, as you can imagine can lead to some very uncomfortable situations resulting in loss of friend and family. My heart-ached for Aria. Add in the fact that the prophecies rarely make sense and can cause her physical pain, you can empathise with her retreat from socializing and losing herself in music. The music lyrics, songs titles and artist at the chapter headings added to the plot while providing a deeper connection with Aria, you could listen to the song at the same time as Aria in the story.

Kimberly Pauley’s writing is beautifully descriptive adding depth to the imagery; I did, however, have a problem picturing Aria, her physical description was scattered throughout the narrative. I think I would have preferred the description earlier in order to connect with her further.

For all the bad Aria has encountered due to her ‘gift’ she retains her optimism. She is kind, considerate and empathetic while her trust issues create a barrier to making friends when they do break through they are guarenteed unquestioned loyalty and devotion :)

Ask Me is fast paced, a murder mystery wrapped in paranormal with a good dose of theology. Providing more insight into the role of an oracle Ask Me leaves you asking more 😉

Review: The Deep End of the Sea by Heather Lyons

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Title: The Deep End of the Sea
Author: Heather Lyons
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 4  Fab 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

What if all the legends you’ve learned were wrong?

Brutally attacked by one god and unfairly cursed by another she faithfully served, Medusa has spent the last two thousand years living out her punishment on an enchanted isle in the Aegean Sea. A far cry from the monster legends depict, she’s spent her time educating herself, gardening, and desperately trying to frighten away adventure seekers who occasionally end up, much to her dismay, as statues when they manage to catch her off guard. As time marches on without her, Medusa wishes for nothing more than to be given a second chance at a life stolen away at far too young an age.

But then comes a day when Hermes, one of the few friends she still has and the only deity she trusts, petitions the rest of the gods and goddesses to reverse the curse. Thus begins a journey toward healing and redemption, of reclaiming a life after tragedy, and of just how powerful friendship and love can be—because sometimes, you have to sink in the deep end of the sea before you can rise back up again.

REVIEW 

You are probably already aware that I have a complete paranoid phobia about *shudders* snakes. So as you can imagine Medusa is like the worst possible nightmare for me, in fact I’ve had more than my fair share of Medusa themes nightmares. So you could have bowled me over with a feather when I actually started to feel sympathy for a ‘creature’ that has a head full of snakes and can turn people to stone just by looking at them. I know, colour me shocked.

Heather Lyons does a fantastic job of making Medusa into a wonderful, caring girl as opposed to the monster of my nightmares. Unfairly cursed by the gods after being violated by Poseidon, Medusa accepts her punishment with grace, the kind of selflessness that is rare. She torments herself with her victims, suffering from guilt and nightmares due to something beyond her control. She cares for the statues of her ‘victims’ have become making sure they are clean and well placed on the tiny island that is her prison. Now you can see what I mean when I say it’s impossible not to like the Medusa, Heather Lyons has created.

Medusa’s only friends are a blind man and Hermes. Although it is obvious from the very beginning that Hermes cares deeply for Medusa. Something she is unwilling to acknowledge having lived in such seclusion and hurt. The simple acts of kindness Medusa is shown touch not only her heart but the readers alongside her. You rail against the unfairness and actually want to protect Medusa from feeling anymore pain.

The plot progression was outstanding weaving the characters of the Greek Gods in a unique and relatable way. Including a wonderful twist on the Hades and Persephone myth as well as the Grim Reaper. Although, it is Medusa’s character development that really shines through the narrative. Learning to relate to people and take care of herself, adjusting to life, love and family; Medusa never loses her innate caring qualities and it is this that endears her to all around her.

I absolutely adored the plot twists that Heather threw into the mix, completely unexpected and most definitely fantastic.

On the whole, The Deep End of the Sea blends smexy romance with mythology creating a wonderful sob filled swoon fest. If you enjoy twists on mythological tales be sure to pick this one up, you won’t regret it.