Acorss the Universe by Beth Revis – Book Review

A seriously good YA science fiction that grips from the first page to the last twist!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis. 

Summary courtesy of Amazon:

Trapped in space and frozen in time, Amy is bound for a new planet. But fifty years before she’s due to arrive, she is violently woken, the victim of an attempted murder. Now Amy’s lost on board and nothing makes sense – she’s never felt so alone.

Yet someone is waiting for her. He wants to protect her; and more if she’ll let him.

I fell in love with this book the moment I read a review on Grazing Pages. I think we can all agree this is a truly beautiful cover, and partnered with a glowing review from Katie I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. Kindly best buddy Mr Crossley purchased this for me to cheer me up one day and I was thrilled.

So now about the book! The majority of the narrative is set onboard Godspeed, a spaceship destined for a new planet now that Earth (which they call Sol Earth) has spiralled into decline. The ship, big enough to house 3,000 occupants and a secret level full of frozen passengers to populate the new planet, is part way through its 300 year journey.


Now as a sci-fi lover this is enough to get my pulse racing about a book. But this is so much more. The frozen passengers are being unplugged. Amy is violently awoken and brought into a miniature world where she is very different. Everyone is mono-ethnic: caramel skin, brown eyes,brown hair and Amy with her pale complexion and fiery hair couldn’t look more different. But if this wasn’t enough more Frozens are getting unplugged and left to die trapped in the glass coffins they were frozen in. This is more than a YA sci-fi, this is a mystery / thriller / crime / sci-fi that is a cracking good read.


There are some really interesting topics brought up in this book that got me thinking, in a way that I really enjoy. To say any more or give examples would give to much away, but it is well worth reading just to chew them over in your mind every time you put the book down. 


This is a YA so the construction of sentences, word choice and the narrative as a whole, although shocking at times, is deliciously easy to devour and not a difficult read. I did find some of my short term predictions of the plot coming true in a way that is flattering rather than predictable, yet the narrative as a whole isn’t short of its twists. Some revlations at the end of the book left me reeling – and I think it is safe to say the second book in this series, A Million Suns, will be making its way to me in the post very soon!


Overall I think you can tell that I think a lot of this book, and really couldn’t give it anything less than:


10/10


In the comments below let me know if you have read this book and what you though of it. As always I love receiving book recommendations, so if you know something similar to this I might like to read please let me know here, on Facebook or Twitter.


Thanks for reading,


Love Rie x

Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky – Book Review

Today I have a guest book review for your from my good friend Ross Phillips. He has done a number of reviews for my blog now, and has slightly different tastes in books so can give you another perspective from me gushing about hot vampires! I do intended to get round to reading all these little gems and give my perspective too, so look out for my comments at a later date!


Without further ado I will hand you over to Ross:

Metro 2033 by Dmity Glukhovsky

“The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boundaries, they say, lie endless burned-out deserts and the remains of splintered forests. Survivors still remember the past greatness of humankind. But the last remains of civilisation have already become a distant memory, the stuff of myth and legend. More than 20 years have passed since the last plane took off from the earth. Rusted railways lead into emptiness. The ether is void and the airwaves echo to a soulless howling where previously the frequencies were full of news from Tokyo, New York, Buenos Aires. Man has handed over stewardship of the earth to new life-forms. Mutated by radiation, they are better adapted to the new world. Man’s time is over. A few score thousand survivors live on, not knowing whether they are the only ones left on earth. They live in the Moscow Metro – the biggest air-raid shelter ever built. It is humanity’s last refuge. Stations have become mini-statelets, their people uniting around ideas, religions, water-filters – or the simple need to repulse an enemy incursion. It is a world without a tomorrow, with no room for dreams, plans, hopes. Feelings have given way to instinct – the most important of which is survival. Survival at any price. VDNKh is the northernmost inhabited station on its line. It was one of the Metro’s best stations and still remains secure. But now a new and terrible threat has appeared. Artyom, a young man living in VDNKh, is given the task of penetrating to the heart of the Metro, to the legendary Polis, to alert everyone to the awful danger and to get help. He holds the future of his native station in his hands, the whole Metro – and maybe the whole of humanity. “

This book is a bit of a departure for me as I usually stay away from the whole post-apocalyptic genre as in my experience books in such a setting tend to be either gritty depressing trudges through a ruined version of whatever part of the world the author happens to know best, or wholey unrealistic frag-fests which are all action and take no account of pratical difficulty or plot.

So when a friend bought me Metro 2033 as a present purely on the fact it was set in Russia (and I’m a well know Russophile) I was skeptical, having put it off for months on end I finally decided to get on with it and to my utter shock I actually quite enjoyed it.

The world Dmitry has created within the Moscow subway system (of which there is a VERY handy map inside the cover) is completly engaging, with threats of all variety around every corner from zealot political cults to mutants to the downright paranormal let alone the radiation and chemical threats.

There is a very real sense of the well characterised Artyom being a very small, delicate cog in a very big, broken machine. Action is well paced and the tension in some scenes is almost palpable. Supporting characters are very human indeed with almost the whole book highlighting just how fragile humans are both physically and mentally and that the survival of humanity is by no means a safe bet.

If I’ve got any real issues with this book it comes mostly from that fact its Russian. Cyrillic languages are notoriously hard to translate effectively and while on the whole its perfectly readable there are odd phrases and sentences that seem a bit ‘odd’ (for want of a better word), a bit like when you run something through Google translater, what might be a comon enough phrase in Russian doesn’t come out right when directly translated to English.

Another small niggle is that while the districs and subway stations of Moscow may be familiar to the people who have been/lived there it has the tendancy to get slightly confusing for those of us with no knowledge of Moscow.

So all things considered I think you could sum this book up by saying that it’s a good book thats tad spoiled by its localisation.

7.8/10 (shall we call it an 8!)

Irriatingly there is a sequal (Metro 2034) but so far i cant find any copies in English. German, Spanish and French yes but apparantly a real niche Language like English doesn’t get a translation . . . . understandable, its not like English is the 3rd most Spoken langauge in the world or anything . . .



Thanks for reading,


Love Ross & Rie x

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – Book Review

When I had finished the first Hunger Games book I was gushing my love for it. I gave a glowing review for both the book and the the movie and couldn’t help telling anyone who cared to listen that they needed to read this book. But part of me wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy the second book. I knew of course I would read it soon, but because I enjoyed the first one so much, I didn’t think that the second book, Catching Fire, could ever live up to it. And it didn’t. But it wasn’t half bad either!

***Spoiler alert!! I try as always not to give away ANY spoilers for a book, but with a series this is particularly difficult. If you haven’t read the first book, please go ahead and read the review first and then the book before coming back to this one. I don’t want to give away anything that might spoil it for you! ***
***Second note, if you haven’t read this book yet I do give away one piece of information that could be considered a spoiler, but is in the description of the book. It is something I think will make you want to read the book even more. Read this review under your own discretion***


Summary courtesy of Amazon:  Katniss survived the Hunger Games. Now the Capitol wants revenge. It’s payback time, and her chance of survival is even slimmer than ever…

Like the first book, the opening chapters are back in District 12 and could be considered a little slow. A lot happens and things change dramatically after the end of the Games but nothing that is essential in my eyes to the narrative. The awkward love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale does develop better than I expected but I am left more confused than Katniss appears to be as the second book closes around her love life!
The second half of the book though was fantastic. As we return to the Hunger Games arena our favourite capitol characters return along with some new ones that build fantastic relationships and add to the narrative. The new arena is so complex and exciting that I was left again reading in a frenzy. There is something about the building rebellion in the districts and the new dramas within the arena that makes for fantastic reading. I was setting my alarm an hour early just so I could cram in another hours reading before I got started with my day, it was like an addiction.
The concluding events to this second book are well worth the slightly tedious start. The cliff hanger of a final sentence left me dying to read the next book. However I was left with a slightly sour note. Katniss’ character developed scarily out of control in the final chapter and the result was not nice. I have heard a lot about her character in the final book and I couldn’t help but agree with the rumors she turns from a strong female lead we all want to look up to into someone that is imperfect, selfish and some what unlikable. Haymitch on the other triumphs yet again to become a character I truly adore, along with the selflessness of Peeta they restore my faith in Collins character development.
This all taken into consideration it is difficult to score this book. I gave the first book in the series 10/10 and although it wasn’t as good as the first, it still had me reading like a mad woman and consumed my life for the four days it took me to read. I think it will have to be:
8/10 
Have you read this book? What did you think it compared to the first one? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading,
Love Rie x

The Hunger Games – Film Review

After finishing the book just last weekend, I was fairly late to The Hunger Games hype. However it did have its advantages, I didn’t have long to wait for the movie to come out! I booked my tickets early this week, and was at the advance showing at my local Vue cinema in Portsmouth, dragging along the boyfriend, Terry.

As a late comer, but complete nut of the Hunger Games book, I understand that my review will be slightly biased, so I have also asked the Terry (who has not read the book) to add his comments at the end so you can get both perspectives. As always there is NO spoilers of the book or film in this review.

Summary courtesy of IMDbSet in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.  Based on the book by Suzanne Collins.

My first impressions were this was very well done. Anyone who has read the book will know that around 2/3rds of the content is dominated by the main protagonist, Katniss’ inner monologue. Going into the movie I did wonder how they would over come this problem, and make the film interesting! It really is Kaniss’ thoughts, feelings and knowledge of the wilderness that create the tension and drama within the book. Yet it was the inclusion of the reality television style panel (consisting of the blue haired TV host, Caesar Flickerman & Claudius Templesmith the games announcer) to give commentary and explain events that non-readers of the book would not otherwise recognise, namely what Tracker Jackers are and the symptoms of their stings. Other events are also played out very well, with shaking camera shots, ringing ears sound effects and extreme close ups all provide a great alternative to Katniss’ thoughts.

Katniss, Primrose, Peeta & Haymitch


Jennifer Lawrence did a fantastic job of communicating a thousand words with the smallest facial expression.She brought Katniss’ character alive in the most tangible of ways, and was really well cast. Willow Shields who plays Primrose Everdeen was also fantastic and looked exactly how I imagined in the book. Other castings however were a surprise. I had imagined Peeta (who I didn’t realise until I saw the trailer of the film was pronounced Peter) to be a round faced and unimposing baker’s son but in fact played by the rather attractive Josh Hutcherson. Haymitch was also portrayed as being a lot younger, and some what more civilised character than I had pictured him whilst reading the book. The biggest surprise to myself however was the casting of Clove, the female tribute from district 2, played by Isabelle Fuhrman who also played Esther in possibly the scariest horror movie I have ever seen, Orphan. Something of her previous role stuck with me to make her a truly horrifying character. 

This is a film made about a book however, so naturally I am more critical. Several scenes were shortened to almost extinction, while other aspects of the film, such as the origins of the Mockingjay pin were changed completely. However, this was also done okay! No key scenes were really left out, and the changes made from the book made logical sense to tie the narrative together. Although it is a YA book, there was a certain amount of censorship of the stories true brutality at times to make it a 12A, but we have been promised an extended DVD edition to bring back more of the action which will be bumped up to a 15.

The one thing that really did disappoint me is so small it is barely worth noticing. However the book did do a fantastic job at aiming itself at young girls (and 20 some thing’s) by providing details such as hair, and nail art designs that girls could really latch onto and replicate. Although the signature side braid was included, my personal favourite girl on fire nails, which consisted of flames painted on the nails for the opening chariot ride to the games were completely absent! As I said, a very small detail, but disappointing to a nail polish fan like myself.

Picture of me, shamelessly copying Katniss’ style with the signature side braid.
This photo was taken after the movie, but still 1hr and 41mins before its official release…. I’m so sad!

Perhaps the one thing I did enjoy about the film more than the book is the flash backs. The back stories of the characters were provided quite freely and frequently within the book, not making you wait for any relevant information. However in the movie these were peppered throughout  in a series of short black and white teaser clips until they built up to reveal the whole story.

Terry’s Comments:

“I liked the film. It was alright, if not a little bit predictable. Even though I haven’t read the book, I understood everything. Defiantly enjoyed it enough to watch the inevitable sequel, and not just because Marie will force me to come along regardless!”

Overall I felt that this film did a great job of portraying a fantastic book without resorting to 3D or IMAX sound and flashy effects. Instead it relied on good camera angles and minimal special effects to create a more tangible Panem. Terry and I whilst talking the movie on the way home both agree our mark, now out of 10, for this movie without any discussion.

7/10

Thanks for reading,

Terry & Rie x

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Book Review

It is fair to say I read a lot of books. I get even more books recommended to me that I never get the chance to read. So when something like the Hunger Games comes along it takes something really special to make me go – Wow. Suzanne Collins did this.

Summary courtesy of Amazon: A fight to the death – on live TV. The game show where you kill or die, and where the winner’s prize is survival. In District 12, where Katniss Everdeen lives, life is harsh and brutal, ruled from afar by the all-powerful leaders of the Capitol. The climax of each year is the savage Hunger Games – where twelve boys and twelve girls from each District face each other in a murderous showdown. When sixteen-year-old Katniss is chosen to represent her district in the Games, everyone thinks it’s a death sentence. Only one person can survive the horrors of the arena. But plucky Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature…

I have heard about this book EVERYWHERE. Originally released back in 2008, it has taken a while to build the hype around this book, but with the up coming release of the movie at the end of next week it had reached fever pitch and I couldn’t ignore it any longer. No matter where I turned people where talking about it, particularly in the beauty blogging world, and it was finally Corrie, over at DizzyBrunette3 who got me to download it and launch into the arena.

Hunger Games is the first book in the YA (young adult) series by Suzanne Collins set in a fantasy dystopian world ruled by the Captol. To remind the 12 surrounding districts of their place, they get them to sacrifice 2 people from each district to fight to the death for their entertainment. Sounds bad, it gets worse – they are all between the ages of 12 and 18! This book it too good for just teens, no matter what your age you will enjoy this book!

The story follows the protagonist of Katniss, who volunteers for the games to save her 12 year old sister, Prim. Accompanied by fellow District 12 tribute Peeta, they are groomed, trained and flung into the Captol controlled arena. With only 3 days training behind them they must use everything that they have to offer to just stay alive, never mind win. With just the right amount to blood, death and romance this book draws you in and doesn’t let you go.

After 2 practically sleepless night I finished this books in a frenzy. This is superbly written to make you think about feel what the characters feel, and you begin to believe you are one of the people sat back at home forced to watch their children fight to the death for other peoples entertainment, and it feels so wrong, but you just keep reading.

Collins is a fantastic author, and Katniss has been crafted into a well rounded a likable character that any one can relate to. I can’t wait to see how this is translate on the big screen, and will be the first in line when it is pre-released on Thursday in the UK. I am infamously critical of my favourite books being turned into movies, and there is still some Harry Potter movies I have refused to watch because I feel it would ruin the books for me. This film has a lot to live up to, and I have a feeling it might do very well.

It has taken everything I had not to start reading the next book straight away. I get so absorbed into series, but also get so sad when they end. I have a lot of books I want to read (I have over 50 already downloaded to my Kindle in a folder called ‘To Read’) but I know they next book in the series, Catching Fire, will find its way to the top sooner rather than later!

I think you can tell by the tone of this review what I am going to give it. It has come to my attention that maybe marking books out of 5 does not give enough distinction between the good books and the fantastic books, so from this review on I am going to bump up my scale to 10.

10/10!

You can pick The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins up from just £3.59 on Amazon in multiple formats, so if you haven’t read it already, what are you waiting for?

Thanks for reading,

Love Rie x

[Stupid side note: I have been complaining for days that my hands have been aching. The fleshy bits below my thumbs appear bruised and tender to the touch and I just couldn’t work out why. It was only last night, whilst finishing this book it dawned on me – I having been gripping my Kindle so tight whilst reading that I have injured my hands. Kind of ironic/ and pathetic/ alongside the theme of this book. When you hurt Katniss, I really do hurt too!!]

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Hunt for the Phoenix by Emma & Christopher Byford – Book Reivew

I came across this book through Twitter. But before I knew it, It had stolen my heart and I couldn’t stop reading until the last page.

[Scroll down to the bottom of my review to read added comments by my friend Ross Phillips.] 

Summary courtesy of AmazonA tale of redemption and duty – Mana Seraph is host to the Spirit of the Phoenix; a creature entwined within her being that is far from human understanding. 

This ghastly process was carried out by the tyrannical Empire of Fusion. However, Mana was not fused with the entire Spirit as a daring escape interrupted the procedure. Offered sanctuary in the forests of Pheo, by a tribe who worship the Phoenix, their survival is now synonymous with her own. 

Fusion retaliates by giving their General, Qwuiff Lavation, the means to hunt her down across the lands of Airone. Soon, Qwuiff starts eradicating any nation who stands in their way, not just for the Empire but for his own glory as well. 

Protected by the Pheo Tribe and her vigilant Guardians, Mana is bound to the servitude of the people. Hidden in the treetops somewhere on Airone, the tribal village had done well to elude those searching for it. 

It isn’t until a failed kidnapping on Pheo brings the entire situation into focus. Blooded and broken, a mercenary employed by Fusion is captured. He reveals himself as Dark, an Angel, once sword of the Holy Sorceress and fallen far from his heavenly duty. Shocked at the depth of corruption by Fusion, Mana encourages Dark to redeem himself and serve by her side as a Guardian to fight against the Empire once and for all.

Reluctantly accepting this proposition, Dark embarks on a path of redemption. This will not only position him against the Fusion Empire but will also inch Mana further towards an uncertain future. 

This is the first book in the Fusion Series which I stumbled across via Twitter when I followed one of the authors and was enticed to download it. Whilst on a long train journey to Plymouth I decided to pick it up and give it ago. The only reason I knew the journey was long because I woke up out of a dream world when I arrived at my station and noticed five hours has passed. The characters Dark and Mana along with the rest of the Pheo tribe had stolen my heart and drew me into their world. I couldn’t quite put my finger on where it sat between pure fictional time and place and reality, but the very nature of fallen angels and spirit host fitted right into my genre at the start.

Mana & Dark as illustrated by Kathleen Dent

This book is co-authored by Emma & Chris Byford, and I learnt whilst reading the Byford’s blog about The Fusion Series that the character of Mana is the literary child of Emma, whilst the character of Dark has been developed over time by Chris. This creates a unique and interesting reading experience that is truly great to read. The mysterious past of Dark twinned with the growing relationships between the main characters is made better only by a gripping narrative that left me wanting more. Mana’s struggle with the spirit of the Phoenix within her reminds me of all the best bits I loved from The Host, whilst being infinitely better.

The differing writing styles of both the authors also works very well with the juxtaposition between violent battle scenes and tender moments between father and daughter working really well. Having said this, there does appear to be some unnecessary characters, namely Wyld that I can only assume will hold larger parts in the next books.
The narrative which is at times can be very serious does not lack some humour, my all time favourite quote from the book having to be: “Look at him. So uptight I bet you could break walnuts between his ass cheeks”! Love it!
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was one that I read at every opportunity (with one comical moment at breakfast nearly leaving a bite mark out of my Kindle as it was confused with toast) and I think that it can only mean one thing:
5/5

You can download this book to your Kindle here currently just £2.56 – a good price for a great read. I just picked up a copy of the Dark Entity short stories also from the Fusion Series, so check back for a review on these soon!

Thanks as always for reading,
Love Rie x

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After sharing this review and recommending it to a my friend Ross, a fellow book worm, he devoured it whole in one night! He has very kindly offered to share a his thoughts on the book, as a male reader and from a different perspective. This does contain a mild spoiler, but nothing that will ruin the book!

I know this book was written by 2 different authors, at first I thought that you would have Christopher Byford witing the parts from the male perspective and Emma Byford doing the female parts but I dont think this is the case as its a book which is clearly in two halves.

The first half I REALLY enjoyed, the war between the alliance of smaller nations againts the all consuming, technologically advanced, militaristic empire of fusion was mostly a background to the relationship of almost mutual dependence of the lead two characters, with Dark seeing Mana as some sort of opportunaity for redemption (although he doesn’t quite know how) and Mana seeing Dark as a slice of freedom in her ‘bird cage’ world.  

In stark contrast the second half seems to bear very little resemblance to the first half, with the plot separating into a (not fantasticly well done) war story and the political inner workings of the Fusion empire whenever the story flits back to Mana. There also seems to come a number of inconsistencies, huge plot holes and places where I just cannot understand the reasoning behind what some characters do/dont do. 


Also the introduction of some of the ‘new’ characters was almost completly unnecessary (namely Wyld and Leylan). 


. . . and im still not really convinced by the ending . . .  


So there we are, if I had to rate it id give it a 6/10 

I wish I could share more of Ross & I’s discussion around this book, however there is far to many spoilers that I have already had to edit out so not to spoil it for the rest of you. I think you will all agree that Ross is a fantastic writer, and has put my book rambles to shame! I hope to be inviting him to do a few more book reviews in the future and you will give him warm welcome.

Thanks for reading, again,

Rie & Ross x


Chronicle – Film Review

On Thursday night, whilst visiting my best friend Sam in Plymouth, we decided to have a visit to the cinema. The trip to the Vue in Plymouth was organised originally with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in mind, but as you can tell by the title we had a change of heart.

Summary courtesy of IMDbThree high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. Soon, though, they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides.

I first saw the advert for this film in the cinema and thought it looked right up my street. Teenagers with telekinetic powers sounds like something right out of one of my favourite fantasy fiction books. Yet this movie was more than that. It was weird!

This is a Hollywood feature film, with a predicted $12 million budget, it was not lacking on the special effects department! This wasn’t some 3D thriller that jumped out at you and made you scream, but a really cleverly directed narrative with believable special effects inter-spaced with hand-held camera POV shots from one of the protagonists that worked really well. Not once during the movie did I sit back and think “that looked so fake”, but this is 2012, and graphics are getting better with every movie.

But what makes it more than any old Hollywood clone, was that it had a narrative. The characters were well rounded, if not stereotypically challenged teenagers (Sam & I both agreed that if every ones teen years were as bad as movies suggest, we would all be psychologically damaged, if not dead). The supernatural aspect of the movie was almost believable. It is not pink, or fluffy, but moody, dark and boarding on the side of bizarre! No real explanation is given for how they get these powers, and the end is satisfyingly ambiguous, which in my opinion is always good.

Overall, I would recommend going to see this movie. It has awesome special effects, a good narrative and well developed characters, but with a warning it is a little dark and weird.

4/5

Let me know in the comments below if you have seen Chronicle and what you thought of it?!

Thank you for reading,

Love Rie x