Tuesday, October 29, 2013

After Eden by Helen Douglas

If love is in the stars, then it will find you, when you least expect it... 
 The mysterious Ryan appears in Eden's life suddenly - as if from nowhere. He's gorgeous, irresistible, but of all of the girls vying for his attention, it's only Eden he seems interested in. Where has this beautiful boy come from, and why has he chosen her? But each time she discovers something new about Ryan, Eden edges closer to danger. What will happen when she works out the whole truth?
A truth which will make her fall for him even harder...

I received this book from Bloomsbury for an open and honest review. 

Star Rating

This sci-fi romance novel for young adults gripped me from the very start and was a real page turner. The plot idea was new and exciting and was very well written. Helen Douglas has that extraordinary talent of making the reader care about the characters from very early on and Eden, Ryan and their friend Connor were all characters that I can see teen readers connecting with on a personal level. 

After Eden is ultimately a love story between Eden, a normal girl from Cornwall whose parents died in a car crash when she was just six years old, and Ryan, a handsome, muscular boy with an air of mystery surrounding him. Early on in the novel, Ryan joins Eden's high school and quickly becomes the subject of many young girl's affections, including Eden's. This is much to the displeasure of Connor, Eden's sidekick and best friend. During a revision session at Ryan's home, Eden accidentally scoops up one of Ryan's books in her haste to leave and it is this small but significant action that sets up the storyline for the rest of the book.

The book, Eden notices, has been written by her best friend Connor 69 years in the future. The impossibility that this book brings results in a whirlwind of revelations - both for Eden and the reader. How is this possible? Who is the real Ryan and where has he come from? Eden soon realises that Ryan is not all he seems. He has been sent to complete a mission that may affect everything that happens in the future. As a result of this knowledge, Eden edges closer to danger as Ryan explains " time travel is the ultimate weapon of mass destruction." 

With 'The Time Traveller's Wife' being one of my all time favourite books, I have always found the idea of time travel fascinating. It is strange to think what the world would be like if we could travel through time changing and directing the course of life's events. Towards the end of this novel, Eden reflects on her own notions of time travel.

 "I tensed at the thought that my future was out there somewhere, lying ahead of me, unloved, unknown, unimagined."

There are many references in this novel to space and astronomy and Helen Douglas left the reader with some profound thoughts and ideas. One of these being that "when stars explode, they release their debris into the universe and this stardust forms new stars and planets and all the life forms on those planets. Everything on Earth, even you and me, is made from atoms that were once inside a star. We're made of stardust."

Unfortunately, I didn't love the ending to this story but I completely understand why Helen Douglas chose to run with it. The ending is set up superbly for a sequel and I for one will definitely be reading it. A highly recommend YA romance. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

So Many Books! So Little Time!

Half term has arrived!

Everyone who knows me knows that I put 100% effort into everything I do. That couldn't be more true of my job and teaching 30 children everyday is hard work believe me!

So, like many other teachers out there, I am thrilled to say that half term has arrived. My blog has been somewhat neglected recently and my stack of review books is growing ever larger by the day. 

I am hoping to read and review as many as I can over the next week, as well as taking part in some Halloween antics and film/tv immersion. While I am on the topic of films - I have seen two absolute winners recently so if you haven't already been to see these then make sure you go!!

The first was Prisoners - a thriller about the disappearance of two six year old girls. At two and a half hours, this was a long film but I enjoyed every minute. It was A-MAZ-ING. 


The second film I rate is.... TURBO! Yes I'm 26. Yes it's for kids. But animation films are sooo good and I even shed a tear for Theo/Turbo the snail. Go and watch it! And if you need any more convincing then... SNOOP DOG IS IN IT. Enough said. 


I digress... 
Here are some of my recent purchases and review copies with reviews to follow...

 Review Copies

Recent Purchases


The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones

Thirteen-year-old Emily Houchens doesn't have many friends. She spends her time alone in the woods near her house - her safe place, until she finds the body of a young woman. 
Susanna Mitchell is searching for her sister, Ronnie, who vanished after leaving a late-night bar. The more she discovers about Ronnie's life, the more she realises that her sister began to disappear long before she went missing. 

Star Rating

I received this book from Atlantic publishers for an open and honest review. 

Being an avid fan of crime thrillers, I had high expectations of this debut novel from Holly Goddard Jones. Although it didn't completely live up to my expectations, for a first novel, I must applaud this talented new author.

'The Next Time You See Me' tells the story of Emily Houchens, a sad, troubled young teen who is mercilessly bullied at school and is lacking in friends. Very early on in the novel, on a visit to the local woods, Emily stumbles upon a body. A dead body rotting away hidden and unnoticed.

"What she thought she'd seen she didn't quite believe; she focused her eyes to the left of it, squinting and then, still uncertain, she crouched down - and yes, there it was, pale and threaded with fine lines, dimpled in the center with dark soil: a human palm."

As Emily struggles to deal with the secret she has unearthed, the reader is introduced to a number of other characters including that of Wyatt - an old, lonely man who lives a very sad existence. The reader is also introduced to Suzanna Mitchell, a school teacher and mum of one, who is desperately searching for her missing sister Ronnie. 

Very early on, it becomes clear that all the characters in the story are linked in some way and Holly Goddard Jones intertwines their story lines with great skill and ease. Everyone in the story is linked to the murder in some form or other and, as the story progresses, plots become neatly woven together.

Where this novel is let down is in it's lack of mystery and twists. Quite early on I had figured out who had committed the murder of Ronnie Mitchell and this, unfortunately, spoiled my enjoyment of the book. Crime fiction fans love a red herring or two and I was disappointed to find the novel lacking in this area. As the novel moved on, I was hoping that maybe I was wrong and that Holly Goddard Jones was going to throw a shock ending my way but unfortunately this wish didn't come true.

However, for the story line and skilled writing alone this debut novel deserves praise and I will certainly be reading Holly's next installment. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Splintered by A.G. Howard : Review

 Alyssa Gardner hears the thoughts of plants and animals. She hides her delusions for now, but she knows her fate: she will end up like her mother, in a mental institution. Madness has run in her family ever since her great-great-great-grandmother Alice Liddell told Lewis Carroll her strange dreams, inspiring his classic 'Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.'

To break the curse of insanity, Alyssa must go down the rabbit hole and right the wrongs of Wonderland, a place full of strange beings with dark agendas.

Star Rating

I purchased this book from Amazon on recommendation from other book bloggers out there. Let's face it, this book is worth buying for the front cover alone. It is beautiful!

"Welcome To The Real Wonderland"

This novel from A. G. Howard tells the story of Alyssa Gardner, a troubled, young teenager who is receiving whispered messages from insects and flowers around her. Very early on in the story the reader is introduced to Alyssa's mother, Alison, who is living life in a mental institution. During a visit to her mother, Alyssa soon realises that she is sharing the same mysterious hallucinations that her mother lives with every day. Armed with a set of clues from Alison, Alyssa sets off to discover once and for all what happened to her family all those years ago in Wonderland. Can Alyssa break the curse of insanity and save her family from the nightmares of Wonderland?

The main plot of the story begins with Alyssa entering the rabbit hole and floating, weightlessly, into Wonderland. Alyssa soon realises that the Lewis Carroll book "wasn't exactly fiction" and she finds herself entering into a nightmarish world with "fleshless, bleached out skeletons" and "flower zombies". A.G Howard has included many dark details in her descriptions of Wonderland that create a horrifying image in the reader's mind. However, some of these descriptions become almost 'unbelievable' with a new, nighmarish twist around every corner. I mean, the disney version of Alice In Wonderland is scary enough; just look at these terrifying faces!

As with almost all YA fiction, the story involved a love story, turned triangle, with the addition of the characters Jeb and Morpheus. Jeb's entry into Wonderland seemed almost ludicrous with him randomly falling into the rabbit hole behind Alyssa and then, consequently, joining her on her journey through Wonderland. I didn't really connect with Jeb's character and feel that the reader wouldn't have been at a great loss if he was missing from the story line. 

I would recommend this book for fans of the original Alice In Wonderland story. At times, it does begin to feel like fan fiction although A.G. Howard has succeeded in creating a nightmarish world with vivid descriptions and imaginative twists.