Tag Archives: 2014 release

Graphic Novel Review: Alex + Ada Vol. 1 by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn

Published July 2014 by Image Comics

21823465Goodreads Synopsis: From JONATHAN LUNA (GIRLS, THE SWORD, ULTRA, Spider-Woman: Origin) and SARAH VAUGHN (Sparkshooter) comes ALEX + ADA, a sci-fi drama set in the near future. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids. But after Ada is dropped into his life, he discovers she is more than just a robot.
Collects ALEX + ADA #1-5.

My Review: This graphic novel was recommended to me on Amazon, after I’d read the likes of The Wicked and the Divine. I fell in love with the simplistic but beautiful cover, and the synopsis made it sound incredibly interesting. It reminded me of a lot of Sci-Fi I know and love, with its classic-feeling near-future-androids-are-becoming-independent vibe, but I was eager to try it out. I’m so glad I did; Alex  + Ada may not be the most original of stories, but it’s told in an incredibly unforgettable way and I adored it.

I’m always a little scared when I start an ongoing comic series, as like with The Wicked and the Divine, I can sometimes get too lost in a complex story. However, with this, I became absolutely absorbed in the story, and it was really easy to follow. Issue one begins with Alex, a relatively normal guy who is quite lonely, and living in a near-future world where many tasks are now performed by androids and robots. All over the news is talk of a Robot Rights movement, and a massacre caused by sentient androids, which is stirring tension. When an X5 android turns up on his doorstep, the newest in lifelike technology, and something he doesn’t desire – he reluctantly boots it up. Soon, he finds himself falling into a complex world of android politics, and discovers that Ada is seemingly more than just an android.

The story feels like an instant classic, and after binging the five issues in this collection, I was really eager to start the next volume. I often feel like the first few issues in a series can be a little dull, just introducing us to characters and story, with lots of yet to be answered questions, but with Alex + Ada, I felt immersed in the story straight away and loved the way everything was executed. I think some people might find it a little dull, as Alex isn’t set up to seem like the most exciting of characters, and his interactions with other characters aren’t that thrilling – but I really loved that! It shows how a lonely guy can become so isolated by the things around him, like the technology that’s running almost his whole life.

The artwork is pretty great. It’s a simplistic style, with a limited blue/grey colour scheme for the most part, but I really liked the way it reflects the sterile, depersonalised feel of the comic’s setting. It would have been nice to see some more variation in the style, but I do think it works with the story really well.

Overall, Alex + Ada was a really enjoyable graphic novel; one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend whether you’re a fan of Sci-Fi, or looking for a way to get into reading comics, as it’s a very accessible story. These first five issues are captivating and enthralling – and a brilliant set-up for what I’m sure is going to be a brilliant story  in the next instalments. I can’t wait to see what direction the story goes in the next volumes – this first one was a fantastic introduction to a Sci-Fi world that has a lot of promise.

My Rating:

four and a half

I purchased a copy of Alex + Ada Vol. 1 online.

Book Review: The Bell Between Worlds by Ian Johnstone

Published (in paperback) 1st January 2015 by Harper Collins.

21096480Goodreads Synopsis: Half of your soul is missing.
The lost part is in the mirror.
And unless Sylas Tate can save you, you will never be whole again.

Sylas Tate leads a lonely existence since his mother died. But then the tolling of a giant bell draws him into another world known as the Other, where he discovers not only that he has an inborn talent for the nature-influenced magic of the Fourth Way, but also that his mother might just have come from this strange parallel place.

Meanwhile, evil forces are stirring, and an astounding revelation awaits Sylas as to the true nature of the Other. As violence looms and the stakes get ever higher, Sylas must seek out a girl called Naeo who might just be the other half of his soul – otherwise the entire universe may fall…

My Review: I had seen copies of The Bell Between Worlds everywhere last year, when it was first released in hardback, though didn’t get around to reading it – so I was really pleasantly surprised when I received a copy of the paperback edition, which had just been released. I hadn’t read a huge amount of fantasy so far this year and I dived straight into this not knowing too much about the story, apart from what the synopsis said!

I was really taken by Johnstone’s writing style. In a lot of places, it was very lengthily descriptive. I really loved that; visualising this fantastical world so clearly was as much fun as reading about the events within it unfolding! Though, in some places, it did mean the story dragged a little, especially in the more action-packed parts, or that it took a while to get to the action.

The world building is stunning and unforgettable. I am in love with the concept of the mirrored worlds – our world of science, and the Other; a world of magic – as well as all of the fantastical elements such as the Passing Bell. The world of The Mirror Chronicles quickly became one of my favourite fantasy settings – and considering I decided this halfway in, and this is only book one, I guess that shows how much I loved it.

Overall, The Bell Between Worlds was a much more enjoyable read than I’d actually anticipated! I haven’t been reading much fantasy lately but this has definitely rekindled my love for the genre and I’m looking forward to reading many more similar books, as well as the next Mirror Chronicles book, Circles of Stones. Johnstone’s fantastical world has a very unique feeling to it, and the characters are fantastic. I can’t wait to read more about Sylas, Simia and Naeo!

My Rating:

fourI received a copy of The Bell Between Worlds from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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Book Review: Catalyst by S. J. Kincaid

[I have a spoiler-y thing to say about CATALYST but I’ve put the spoiler BELOW my review – under the rating – so you can read this review if you haven’t read the book yet! 🙂 ]

Published 6th November 2014 by Hot Key Books.

23927683Goodreads Synopsis:  Tom Raines is about to break through the impossible…

Tom Raines and his friends return to the Pentagonal Spire for a new year, eager to continue their training for the elite Intrasolar Forces. But they soon discover troubling changes. Strict new regulations, suspicious agents in positions of power and the revelation that the Spire is under military control. The trainees are now cadets.

What begins as an irritating adjustment soon reveals a dangerous shift in reality. Those in control have a ruthless agenda. And when the military academy begins welcoming suspicious new cadets, they reveal a plan with horrifying worldwide ramifications. Tom is desperate to stop it, and it seems he is not alone. But when the enemy comes for Tom, how much can he endure in the battle to save himself?

read my review of INSIGNIA, book one || read my review of VORTEX, book two

My Review: When I received this in the post I was ridiculously excited, because I’ve been a fan of S J Kincaid since I read INSIGNIA, in 2012! I got a little nostalgic feeling, too, because INSIGNIA was the first ever book I reviewed for Hot Key Books. I was very eager to start reading it, as I’ve been waiting for the last book for so long – but also it was pretty sad to realise it was time to let Tom, Wyatt, Vik, Yuri and Medusa go…

It took me a few pages to regain my memory of what had happened at the end of VORTEX, but as soon as I had, I was completely absorbed in Tom’s world. I’d forgotten how much I’d loved it. From Tom’s realistic narration, to the eerily believable future world, to the hilarious banter between Tom’s friends, the supporting characters.

CATALYST was, needless to say, action packed. There was never a dull moment – I think I’ve said that before about the previous books, but it’s true – and CATALYST is without doubt the most intense, eventful novel of the trilogy. It was hard to put down! The events of the book played out really cleverly, and the twists in the story were utterly unpredictable. I did get a bit confused at a few points, as the pace was really fast and there was a lot going on, but it was overall such an enthralling read.

Overall, CATALYST was such a great read, and a compelling end to a memorable trilogy. I really recommend it, as it was a satisfying end to Tom’s story – and also if you haven’t picked up the trilogy at all… whhhyyy not? I wouldn’t have ended the plot on a different point: S J Kincaid did such a good job at tying up all of the loose ends, and creating an unforgettable finale to what’s most definitely the most inventive Sci-Fi tale I’ve ever read.

My Rating:

four and a half

I received a copy of Catalyst from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

*SPOILER KLAXON* Don’t read this bit if you haven’t read CATALYST…

There’s a huge plot twist within the first third of the book that literally had me on the edge of my seat! The meteor was such a tense, thrilling part of the story. It was really well written, but if I could change one thing about CATALYST, I’d love to know the true after-effects of the crash, because it was left unmentioned for the much of the book, and I was really interested to see how the future world could have coped.

Book Review: Shiver The Whole Night Through by Darragh McManus

Published 6th November 2014 by Hot Key Books.

22554125Goodreads Synopsis: After months of bullying and romantic heartbreak, seventeen-year-old Aidan Flood feels just about ready to end it all. But when he wakes up one morning to find that local beauty and town sweetheart Sláine McAuley actually has, he discovers a new sense of purpose, and becomes determined to find out what happened to her. The town is happy to put it down to suicide, but then one night Aidan gets a message, scratched in ice on his bedroom window: ‘I didn’t kill myself.’ Who is contacting him? And if Sláine didn’t end her own life… who did?

(First things first, let’s just stare at the cover for Shiver for a while. Whoa. That is the coolest thing.)

My Review: I dived into Shiver The Whole Night Through as soon as I could after receiving it, as there’s been a lot of hype around this book, and of course, I’m always eager to read new début YA titles!

From the first page, I was completely absorbed the story, with the shocking event it opens with. I was also a little surprised by the narration of the book: I’ve tried to collect my thoughts about it properly but I honestly don’t know how I feel about it! I think Darragh McManus has captured a very unique and real-feeling voice, though I felt at quite a few points that the narration sounded too cocky, which bugged me a little.

As I am with the narration, I’m a little mixed on the main character. I really loved the author’s character building skills, as Aidan Flood felt like a very realistic person to me. I liked him as a protagonist, especially at the beginning, but he did seem a little strange, in terms of his actions and feelings… He seemed eerily okay with some terrifying, and grim, things that happened in the book!

I really enjoyed how the plot progressed; there was lots of great foreshadowing and little hints as to what was coming – I thought I had the ending completely correct, but when I got to it, I was just completely wrong! The story begins at a very grim point, but it spirals into an even darker state with each chapter.The horror elements were really great and chilling; I definitely got shivers (no pun intended) up my spine while reading.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Shiver The Whole Night Through, though it wasn’t what I’d expected and I’m a little mixed on some things. I was, well and truly, hooked  – There was never an uneventful chapter. It’s a brilliant read for those who want to curl up this winter with a thrilling and chilly story! I’m probably in the minority though, but there was a few parts I didn’t really enjoy, or thought could have been written differently – though I do applaud Darragh McManus for writing a really creeeeepy début.

My Rating:

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I received a copy of Shiver The Whole Night Through from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Review-Graphic: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

A little while ago, I was sent A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU for review from Harper360. I was really excited about reading it, after hearing lots about it on American book blogs! I have to admit, I did pick up the book largely because of the very beautiful cover (don’t judge a book by its cover, ehh, I know…) But luckily, I was not disappointed. Claudia Gray’s new title is absolutely stunning and captivating – with a truly brilliant and misleading plot that I can’t wait to see continued.

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I received a copy of A Thousand Pieces of You from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts. 

Book Review: The Imaginary by A. F. Harrold (Illustrated by Emily Gravett)

Published October 23rd by Bloomsbury.

22443909Goodreads Synopsis: Rudger is Amanda’s best friend. He doesn’t exist, but nobody’s perfect.
Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend – until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda’s door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he’s sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn’t there survive without a friend to dream him up?
A brilliantly funny, scary and moving read from the unique imagination of A.F. Harrold, this beautiful book is astoundingly illustrated with integrated art and colour spreads by the award-winning Emily Gravett.

My Review: I opened The Imaginary looking forward to a really cute story about friendship, and intending to read just the first few chapters before I did some blogging. I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting, and getting what wasn’t quite a cute story, but a beautifully told tale full of hope, friendship, terror and adventure. Pageturner is definitely the right word to describe it: I simply couldn’t stop reading… And there was a surprise around every corner, none of which I was expecting.

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The Imaginary is marketed as an Middle Grade book, but I’m confident that teenagers and adults will fall in love with the story too – it’s got lots of crossover appeal. The plot was actually quite a bit darker than I was expecting – the antagonists were really freaky and sent shivers up my spine. However, the eerie elements of the story contrasted with the beautiful aspects of friendship and the power of imagination.

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The characters were perfectly crafted and realistic: Amanda and her imaginary friend, Rudger, are truly unforgettable. Amanda is such a bubbly and bright character, and her personality made me love her instantly! Rudger was everything I’d love in an imaginary friend for myself, and I was unable to put the book down, wanting to know what he did next.

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The story was captivating by itself, but Emily Gravett’s illustrations brought it to life. The character depictions were just as I would have seen them in my mind if the story wasn’t illustrated. I loved poring over the gorgeously detailed spreads. The use of Black and White versus colour was a very clever and pretty way of depicting normality/reality versus imagined worlds, too. I hadn’t seen any of Emily Gravett’s work before but after The Imaginary I’d love to read more MG books with her illustrations!

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Overall, The Imaginary was a really stunning book and definitely exceeded my expectations. As soon as I’d started it, I didn’t want to stop reading – and as soon as I’d finished it, I wanted to flip back to the start to read it again! A F Harrold’s writing was fantastic; it’s sad, sinister, unforgettable and magical-feeling all at once – perhaps a little nostalgic too for everyone who’s had an imaginary friend. I really recommend Harrold & Gravett’s book – whether you’re an MG reader or older, looking for a very beautiful and captivating book.

My Rating:

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I received a copy of The Imaginary from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: City of Halves by Lucy Inglis

Published 7th August 2014 by Chicken House.

18523130Goodreads Synopsis: London. Girls are disappearing. They’ve all got one thing in common; they just don’t know it yet…

Sixteen-year-old Lily was meant to be next, but she’s saved by a stranger: a half-human boy with gold-flecked eyes. Regan is from an unseen world hidden within our own, where legendary creatures hide in plain sight. But now both worlds are under threat, and Lily and Regan must race to find the girls, and save their divided city.

My Review: Upon hearing about City of Halves, I was sure it was just my kind of book, and that I’d really enjoy it. Then, after receiving a copy, I was a little apprehensive: I re-read the blurb, and then double checked the cover, and thought to myself, “This sounds familiar.” Bits on the cover and synopsis like ‘hot tattooed boy;’ ‘Unseen world hidden within our own;’ and even the title, beginning with ‘City of…’ Despite those elements being frequent in YA, it all sounded a bit too The Mortal Instruments for me!

I was scared the content would be all too similar to Cassandra Clare’s series – so I started it pretty nervously… However, after a while, I found myself really enjoying it – It was a great urban fantasy YA début.

The story focuses a lot more on its fantasy elements and setting more than its characters and their relationships, I felt. That did bother me a little bit, but I quickly grew to like that – I loved Lucy Inglis’s descriptions of London, where the book is set. It’s easy to tell this book was largely written fuelled by the author’s feelings for London. Inglis has set major events in the best, magical feeling locations, like St Paul’s Cathedral, and I think the fact that I was very familiar with areas made it all seem really real.

The fantastical elements in the story were all really imaginative. The book read like a standalone novel, but I really hope that there will be a sequel or follow-up story of some description; I’d love for the author to elaborate a little more, as I was really interested in this urban fantasy world and its inhabitants.

I’m always looking for unique protagonists who stand out, but whilst Lily was likeable, I don’t feel like I ever really engaged with her as much as I’d thought I might. She’s a little strange at points, especially at the beginning of the book, when she discovers this whole new side to her city, and seemingly isn’t very shocked or fascinated at all. However, while she lacked in some areas, she did have an interesting back-story, which made up for it! I wasn’t sure about Regan, aka the ‘hot tattooed boy’ who saves her life. I feel like I was meant to really love him but I just couldn’t, for some reason. I’m not sure why, but I’m sure other readers will.

Overall, City of Halves was not what I expected it to be. I was really unsure as to how I would find it, as the book’s blurb was too similar to City of Bones… But it did become a very different, individual fantasy book. Though I struggled to like the protagonists a little, I adored Lucy Inglis’s talent in weaving fantastical elements around a well-loved city, and I’d love to read more YA from her. Recommended if you’re a fan of the genre, or if you’re looking for a read with a really clever ending!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of City of Halves from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.