Tag Archives: dystopia

FLAWED Blog Tour: ‘5 Things About Me’ by Cecelia Ahern

I’m incredibly excited to be a part of the blog tour for FLAWED – the new YA novel coming from bestselling author Cecelia Ahern – most famous for P.S. I Love You and Love, Rosie. Here’s Ahern discussing five random facts about herself:

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Interested in her new novel? It’s an exciting new dystopian novel, where you are either labelled PERFECT or FLAWED. Here’s the synopsis!

28425994Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

FLAWED is published by Harper Collins Children’s Books and is available now in book stores.

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Phoenix Burning Blog Tour: Guest Post by Bryony Pearce

Related posts: Cover Reveal: Phoenix Rising by Bryony Pearce | Book Review: Phoenix Rising by Bryony Pearce

I really enjoyed Phoenix Rising, the first instalment in a series set in the near future, where fossil fuels have run out. I was over the moon when asked to join the blog tour for its sequel! Continue reading to hear from Bryony Pearce, the author, about her experience with writing Phoenix Burning, which is out now.

Writing a sequel for the first time by Bryony Pearce

The first novel I sold, Angel’s Fury, was a standalone. I had ideas about what I would write in a sequel, should I be asked for one, but the book was finished as it stood and I had many readers saying that they liked it for that – at the time I think there was a glut of YA series fiction and a standalone novel was something different for readers, who were perhaps getting bored waiting for a couple of years to find out how their favourite story ended.

The Weight of Souls was a bit different – it was bought as a stand-alone, but my editor wanted me to leave it open for a possible sequel. Book two was planned out and ready to go, when the publisher closed down. Readers were annoyed that The Weight of Souls ended on a cliff-hanger (the ancient Egyptian evil released from its tomb), but there was nothing I could do about it.

Phoenix Rising was always intended to be the first of a series. Stripes bought two books, so I knew that I would certainly be writing at least one more story in Toby’s world. So from the beginning of book one I was planning the sequel. Events in Phoenix Burning were seeded in Phoenix Rising (the sun worshippers, Ayla’s fear of fire, Toby’s missing mother, Hiko’s tattoo, the map, the near miss with the boiler) and I was careful to take notes that I could refer back to while writing a second book – key character descriptions, key events and so on.

Once Phoenix Rising was written, I was excited to get back into Toby’s world and write more of his story. As a reader I enjoy series fiction, mainly because I like to remain longer with the characters I love, and as a writer, it turns out that I like the aspect of this too. I enjoyed spending more time with Toby, allowing his character, and that of secondary protagonist, Ayla, to grow and develop even more.

By the end of Phoenix Rising, Toby has done some real growing up, but it is only at the end of Phoenix Burning, that the lessons he has been learning about trust and adulthood, really come home to him. At the start of Phoenix Rising Toby is a coddled child, by the end he is a teenager, but at the end of Phoenix Burning, he is an adult, making real decisions and taking responsibility for his actions.28811837

Ayla on the other hand thought she was an adult at the start of Phoenix Rising and by the end of the arc, has had her confidence shaken and learns that she still has a lot of learning and growing still to do.

I really enjoyed being able to take elements seeded in Phoenix Rising and seeing where I could take them, and wind them through the next story, tying the two together. I hope that I have given the reader some real ‘a ha’ moments.

I particularly loved using the event at the very beginning of Phoenix Rising, the broken delivery line that almost causes the boiler to explode, as the thing that gives Toby the idea of how to escape the Greyman ship in Phoenix Burning.

Despite all my planning it was hard at times to write a sequel. It felt as if I’d been with Toby for so long, that it was easy to forget that only a few weeks had passed in his world. I ran the risk of making him too adult.

Sometimes I found myself forgetting important things and having to break my own cardinal rules bout re-reading my published novels, just to make sure that I got my facts right.

But really I love spending more time with Toby and I hope that you do too.

A huge thank you to Bryony for talking about Phoenix Burning on this blog! I’m really looking forward to reading it. Phoenix Burning is available now, but if you haven’t read book one yet, you may want to check out my review 🙂

Book Review: Phoenix Rising by Bryony Pearce

Published 1st June 2015 by Stripes Publishing.

Phoenix Rising Cover - FinalGoodreads Synopsis: In a future world where fossil fuels have run out and democracy has collapsed, an outlawed pirate crew fight for survival on their ship, the Phoenix, kept afloat by whatever they can salvage or scavenge on the debris-filled seas. Toby has never known anything other than life onboard the Phoenix and he’s desperate for adventure. But when trouble comes hunting the Phoenix down, Toby realizes that what you wish for isn’t always what you want. He meets beautiful Ayla from the Banshee, a rival pirate ship and sworn enemy of the Phoenix, and his world is thrown into disorder. How can he know who to trust and what to believe? The future rests on him making an impossible choice…A gripping novel, perfect for fans of Anthony Horowitz, Eoin Colfer and Suzanne Collins.

My Review: My inner geography nerd squealed when I heard about this upcoming title. Studying climate change and fossil fuels have always been a favourite part of geography for me. So when I read the synopsis for Phoenix Rising, a book set in a quite plausible future where fossil fuels are run dry and the world’s environment is suffering, I was really excited. Add two rivalling teams of PIRATES to the mix, and you have a seriously awesome sounding book. I couldn’t wait!

Bryony Pearce doesn’t wait around with slow introduction: the book jumps straight into the action of a sunken ship salvage. The plot is full of explosive action and is brilliantly fast paced, which I loved – though the mixture of rapid pace and occasional technical ship jargon meant I struggled to keep up at points.

I really enjoyed reading about the characters and am interested to see what direction they’ll go in, when book two is released. Toby is a selfless, courageous protagonist, and is the son of the captain of the Phoenix crew. Nearby, Ayla is the stubborn & independent daughter of the Banshee’s captain. They meet under unlikely circumstances and their relationship is very complicated, as they’re from rivalling ships both eager to kill one another. Both characters had great chemistry and I detected a Romeo and Juliet-esqe element to the story  – with the two young almost-allies being of warring sides.

One thing I would have liked more of in Phoenix Rising was details about the world’s situation. It’s clear that there’s no oil, and desperate searches for solar panels now the ash has cleared from the Yellowstone eruption – also the pirate ships are sailing seas full of discarded junk. It’s an imaginative vision of the future and one that’s all too possible. I hope the effects on the Earth are explored even further in the next books!

Overall, Phoenix Rising was a riveting read, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series and hopefully checking out Bryony Pearce’s other titles. I adored the concept for the story – which is so frighteningly realistic that I didn’t want to stop reading. The pace was incredibly fast and it did take me a while to get into it because of that – but I definitely recommend it to fans of action and thriller books.

My Rating:

four

I received a copy of Phoenix Rising 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: BREAKDOWN by Sarah Mussi

Published 2nd October 2014 by Hot Key Books.

22432850Goodreads Synopsis: It is 2084. Nuclear radiation has poisoned the country. Society has fallen apart. Starvation is rampant, and power shortages have resulted in piles of obsolete gadgetry. Necessity has driven those who’ve survived to complete self-reliance, if they have the means to do so. For Melissa and her Nan, survival is just about possible, so long as they can guard the tiny crop of potatoes in their back garden and find enough fuel to cook on – and as long as they are safely barricaded inside their home by curfew.

For after dark, feral dogs hunt, and violent gangs from the old Olympic Stadium (now a miserable ghetto) roam to loot and plunder. If they catch you, they are not merciful; so when Melissa falls into the hands of Careem’s gang, her prospects look bleak. But Careem soon realises that she might just be more valuable alive, as a ransom victim. However, he hasn’t reckoned with Melissa’s resourcefulness. Soon part of his young gang are completely beguiled by Melissa and her story of a hidden valley in Scotland – a place that sounds like a comparative paradise, if they can get there. But apparently only Melissa knows the way, and only she can lead them there. But Melissa is hiding a secret. She has never been to Scotland in her life, let alone a mythically Elysian valley there. Can Melissa’s stories keep her alive long enough to escape – or will they get her killed?

My Review: I enjoyed Sarah Mussi’s RIOT (review here!) earlier this year – so when I discovered that Sarah’s newest tiels would be out so soon, I was eager to read it! I think I may have even enjoyed this more than Sarah Mussi’s last. It’s an edge-of-your-seat, nail-biter of a novel, with some really clever plot elements.

I’m not actually sure if it’s intentional, because I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere – but I found some really bold parallels to Of Mice and Men in BREAKDOWN- a bit coincidental as I’m studying it in class! At first I thought this was some kind of dystopian retelling, because the main character meets a Lenny who she tells stories to about a place they’re headed, away from the hard work… Though the story takes a massive turn of events, I still found similarities to the novel and I’m not sure if they were even intended, if I just over-thought things because I’m studying the Steinbeck novel… but still, pretty awesome. 😀

The dystopian setting was very bold and interesting. England’s completely flipped around – the victim of nuclear destruction, growing slum-like conditions, a controlling army, and mass food shortages. Sarah Mussi gave such great descriptions of the world, building it up so it was a perfectly formed image in the readers head. However, I don’t think it was fully explained how England came to be such a dystopia – I would have loved for the book to delve into the reasons!

Marissa was a likeable main character. I don’t think I ever connected with her on a huge level, but she was a really strong, clever protagonist. I found her relationship with the main characters she meets, especially Lenny, so captivating and memorable. I really enjoyed reading about them!

Overall, BREAKDOWN was a great dystopian read. I really liked the protagonists, and the plot was very clever – there were so many briliant and unexpected twists and developments that made it hard to put the book down! I think Sarah Mussi’s dystopian world in BREAKDOWN is possibly her most unique… and I would happily read another book set there 😀 I think my main issue was that I wanted a more concrete story of the events that lead up to Marissa’s situation at the beginning, and the country’s situation in general too. Definitely recommended!

My Rating:

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

 

The Maze Runner Blog Tour: SIGNED BOOK GIVEAWAY

Martyn Pig stg2One day to go! It’s the 9th of October – Which means that tomorrow The Maze Runner is officially released in the UK! Today’s blog post is an exciting blog tour one, celebrating the movie’s release.

I read The Maze Runner at the beginning of 2013, and I loved every fast-paced, thrilling second of it. It was such a great book! I loved the mysterious world of the Glade – it interested and terrified me (as did the rest of the trilogy later on in the year…). The main thing I loved about the book, though, was all of the characters. Thomas was such a great protagonist, and I loved reading about the Lord of the Flies-esque community of Gladers too. You can read my review from last year by clicking here.

I can’t wait to see the book brought to life on the big screen. I’m a little nervous because so many YA novels are being adapted – but I’m a big Teen Wolf fan and love Dylan O’Brien’s acting in that… I think he’ll make a brilliant Thomas!:D View the trailer for the movie by clicking here, if you haven’t seen it yet! It looks awesome and the Glade is exactly the way I imagined it when I read it.

 

Giveaway time!!

The Bibliomaniac Book Blog is teaming up with Chicken House books for this giveaway –  and it’s a pretty exciting one! You can win a classic copy of The Maze Runner, SIGNED by James Dashner, the author. Enter using as many methods as you like from the rafflecopter menu below & good luck! AS I can’t get the widget working on my blog, click on the hyperlink below to go to the giveaway page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms / Conditions / etc etc

-This giveaway closes at midnight on the 19th of October: You have ten days to enter as many times as you like!:)

-I will tweet or facebook the winner of the giveaway a few days after the competition ends.

-I, the blogger, will NOT be sending out the book. I will pass postage details from the winner onto the publisher, Chicken House Books, who will post the prize.

-I’ll have to privately message the winner for their address (obvs:P) but as soon as I’ve passed the details onto the publisher I’ll delete them.

Good luck, and enjoy the book and movie!:)

Book Review: The Memory Keepers by Natasha Ngan

Published September 2014 by Hot Key Books.

18196516Goodreads Synopsis: “No one can take your memories from you… can they?”

Seven is a thief with a difference – he steals downloadable memories from banks and memoriums to sell onto London’s black market, trading secrets and hidden pasts for a chance at a future of his own. He makes sure he keeps some special stuff back to ‘surf’ himself though – it’s the only real form of entertainment he can afford. But one night, as Seven is breaking into a private memorium in a wealthy part of London, he is caught in the act by one of its residents; Alba, the teenage daughter of London’s most famous criminal prosecutor. Instead of giving him away, Alba promises to keep Seven’s secret – as long as he allows her to go memory-surfing herself. In doing so, they discover a hidden memory about Seven’s past, revealing a shocking secret about Seven’s childhood, the government and a mysterious experiment known as The Memory Keepers…

Now Seven and Alba will have to race against time to unlock the maze of The Memory Keepers – but can they keep themselves out of harm’s way before the London Guard – and Alba’s father – catches up with them?

My Review: I read and loved Natasha Ngan’s striking fantasy début, The Elites, when it was released last year. Ever since I finished the last page of it I was eager to read more from Natasha! I was so glad when this arrived in the post, I delved straight into it and devoured the story in a day. It’s richly fantastical, but scarily real and possible at the same time. I’m so glad I enjoyed it as much as The Elites!

I adored Natasha Ngan’s world-building in her début novel, and was eager, but nervous, to see what her new dystopian world would be like. Ngan is so inventive and creative: Long after I put the book down, I was wondering about the futuristic imagining of London. It’s divided completely between a rich north and a poor south, with technological advances like memory recording. The book explores so much of the city and there were a lot of well developed parts, like the Underground communities… I’d really love another book set in the world of The Memory Keepers, as I was fascinated by the world-building.

The plot was really awesome. It was actually much darker and much more action-packed than I’d initially anticipated, though that’s not to say I didn’t love it! I was hooked from start to finish. I thought I’d guessed the ending, but it turned out to go in a completely different direction! I think the only thing that I would’ve liked in the book was to see more about the whole “memory” viewing technology. Of course, it’s a hugely central part of the book – but being really nerdy, I wanted to know a bit more about the history of it and how it came to be. That sci-fi element really interested me 😀

The book is written in switching narratives between Alba and Seven, who both lead completely different lives but are brought together when Seven breaks into Alba’s house to steal one of her family’s memories. I loved the narration immensely. The switching narrative was perfect for the story and Natasha Ngan has crafted two great, individual voices. I love Alba and Seven, the protagonists, too! I connected with them a lot and really didn’t want to put the book down while reading, eager to know what happened next to them.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Memory Keepers – there was a part of me a little nervous I wouldn’t love it like I did Natasha Ngan’s first novel… but it exceeded me expectations and was a total thrill ride of a book. The sci-fi elements of the story are imaginative, inventive and really clever. I loved Ngan’s writing even more with her second book. I think the narration was brilliant. Highly recommended, whatever your genre preference:)

My Rating:

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