The Catalyst by Helena Coggan Review

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

The following synopsis has been taken from Goodreads.

Rose Elmsworth has a secret. For eighteen years, the world has been divided into the magically Gifted and the non-magical Ashkind, but Rose’s identity is far more dangerous. At fifteen, she has earned herself a place alongside her father in the Department, a brutal law-enforcement organisation run by the Gifted to control the Ashkind. But now an old enemy is threatening to start a catastrophic war, and Rose faces a challenging test of her loyalties. How much does she really know about her father’s past? How far is the Department willing to go to keep the peace? And, if the time comes, will Rose choose to protect her secret, or the people she loves?

The Catalyst by Helena Coggan

Release Date: 19th February, 2015

Pages: 448

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Format: Hardback

Source: Purchase

The Catalyst is one of those books with an interesting premise but it turns out to be a fairly average read. The author, Helena Coggan, is a teenager and it shows in the writing. Don’t get me wrong, though. I think that it is fantastic that Helena has achieved a goal of hers at such a young age, especially when many young people are struggling to get started in life. I do feel, though, that it would have been beneficial to have waited at least a few years before publishing The Catalyst as Coggan certainly has potential.

The main character, Rose, needed much more development. This also applies to the rest of the characters in the novel, as none of the stood out and came across as very flat. The relationships between the characters also needed more work. The only relationship that was believable was the one between Rose and her father. The rest of the relationships, such as the friendships between Rose and her best friends, were unconvincing. It was difficult for me to believe in the story when I found it hard to believe in the characters.

With regards to the writing and the progress of the plot, I often felt that I was reading a rough draft, rather than the finished novel. There were many times that the plot felt like it was going in one direction, and then it would suddenly switch and head off in another direction. This became rather annoying. Sometimes the perspectives of the characters would switch unexpectedly and this would leave me feeling confused.

As I previously mentioned, I wish that Coggan had waited at least a few years before seeking publication. I really do think that she should take the time to hone her craft, as she has the potential to contribute something special and unique to YA. Even though The Catalyst is fairly average, I’ll be looking out for more novels by Coggan in the future, as she does have talent to tap into.

2/5 stars

 – Liz

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#FridayReads 25/09/2015

Just in case you’re wondering, #FridayReads originated on Twitter and every Friday people tweet what they’ll be reading over the weekend. Bunny Cates brought this over to Youtube and I’m hoping to write a #FridayReads post each week to share with you what I’ll be reading.

This weekend I will be reading:

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

HER PERFECT LIFE
IS A PERFECT LIE.

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

So far, so good with this book. I’m looking forward to finding out about the main character’s past.

What will you be reading this weekend?

Happy reading! 🙂

 – Liz

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas Review

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations.

As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine…

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Release Date: 18th July, 2013

Pages: 400

Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK

Format: Kindle E-Book

Source: Purchase

If you’re looking to read a powerful YA book that is partly inspired by true events, then give Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas a try. I became interested in true crime about six months ago, so I was intrigued by Dangerous Girls, which has shades of the Natalee Holloway case and the trial of Amanda Knox weaved into the story. Dangerous Girls is definitely a good and gripping read.

I was hooked from start to finish with Dangerous Girls. The story is told in a non-chronological order by an unreliable narrator which created suspense and left me wanting to find out exactly what happened. The book is very fast-paced and I liked how Haas also told the story through the use of transcripts, interviews and standard prose, amongst other things.

The characters in Dangerous Girls felt very real and I liked seeing how they developed throughout the novel. The characters contributed to the twists and turns that the novel takes as the story progresses and this was another thing I loved about the book. I never knew what to expect next or if any of my hunches were right.

The only thing that I didn’t really like about the novel was the final chapter. I think that Dangerous Girls would have been better without it. Had the final chapter been edited out, I think that the ending of the previous chapter would have become more shocking, resulting in more of an impact on me as a reader and a better ending overall.

The ride that I experienced while reading Dangerous Girls was a great one. I’ll be reading more of this author’s works in the future.

Favourite Quotes

“Wouldn’t we all look guilty, if someone searched hard enough?” (Page 254)

“Any one of us could be made to look a monster, with selective readings of our history.” (Page 366)

4/5 stars

 – Liz

FrightFall Read-a-Thon Is Coming To Get You!

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Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the horror genre. You can imagine my delight when I discovered the FrightFall Read-a-Thon, which is being hosted by Seasons of Reading. Seasons of Reading host read-a-thons throughout the year that tie in with each season. FrightFall is taking place from 5th-11th October, 2015.

If you’re interested in taking part, then you can head on over to the relevant FrightFall post here in order to sign up. I don’t normally like creating TBRs for each month of the year as I don’t like to make myself feel as though I’m only allowed to read the books I’ve picked out. When it comes to October, however, I enjoy getting my hands on scary books and letting people know what I’ll be reading that month. I’ll be writing a post regarding my FrightFall TBR nearer the time.

I hope other readers sign up for this read-a-thon and join us in what is sure to be a spooktastic week! 🙂

 – Liz

The Falconer by Elizabeth May Review

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

One girl’s nightmare is this girl’s faery tale

She’s a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She’s a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She’s a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She’s a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder—but she’ll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Release Date: 19th September, 2013

Pages: 368

Publisher: Gollancz

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchase

The Falconer by Elizabeth May is the first book in a trilogy that I’ve had my eye on for some time. I finally got round to reading it at the end of August and I was keen to find out if the book would live up to the expectations I’d held for so long.

The Falconer started off really well. For the first fifty pages or so, the book really held my interest and I was enthusiastic about the rest of the book. After a while, though, my enthusiasm started to wane. At first I couldn’t work out why my feelings towards the book were changing. I was really enjoying May’s style of writing and the voice that she give to the main character, Aileana. I loved the fact that the faeries in this book are horrible and nasty. I thought that May evoked the setting, Edinburgh, really well. Eventually I realised that my main problem with the book is the lack of originality. I’ve read YA books like this before. Putting my positive feelings for the first 50 pages or so to the side, I ended up struggling to finish the rest of the novel.

As I have just mentioned, one of the things I did like is the writing style but this became repetitive after a while and it lost the charm it had at the beginning of the novel. The novel ends on a cliffhanger, which I’m not going to discuss because of the thing we like to call spoilers. All I will say about the ending is that it was poorly written and presented. It definitely needed more development.

Perhaps my expectations for The Falconer were too high. One of my favourite YA series is Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Fey books so perhaps I was unfairly expecting The Falconer to give me the same experience I had reading The Iron Fey series. Even though my high expectations have played a part in my disappointment, I didn’t find anything about The Falconer to be remarkable. There isn’t really anything about the novel that warrants me giving the book higher than the 2/5 stars I gave it on Goodreads. I won’t be continuing with this particular trilogy, sadly.

2/5 stars

– Liz

“Waiting On” Wednesday #7: 23/09/2015

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine (http://breakingthespine.blogspot.co.uk) which allows readers and bloggers to feature an up and coming book that they’re excited about.

My pick for this week is:

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.

Alexandra Bracken is the author of the popular The Darkest Minds trilogy, as I’m sure you all know. I read the first book in that trilogy a couple of years ago and I recently, and finally, got around to reading the second book, Never Fade, and I fell in love with Bracken’s writing all over again. I’m really excited to get my hands on Bracken’s latest novel, Passenger, which will be published on 5th January, 2016.

– Liz

#FridayReads 18/09/2015

In case you’re wondering, #FridayReads originated on Twitter and every Friday people tweet what they’ll be reading over the weekend. Bunny Cates brought this over to Youtube and I’m hoping to write a #FridayReads post each week to share with you what I’ll be reading.

This weekend I will be reading:

Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

The following synopsis contains some spoilers.

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

This is the second book in The Darkest Minds trilogy and so far Never Fade has been a great sequel. I have about 200 pages left to read and I’m hoping that the rest of the book is just as good as what I have read so far.

What will you be reading this weekend?

Happy reading! 🙂

– Liz

#FridayReads 11/09/2015

Just in case you don’t know, #FridayReads originated on Twitter and every Friday people tweet what they’ll be reading over the weekend. Bunny Cates brought this over to Youtube and I’m hoping to write a #FridayReads post each week to share with you what I’ll be reading.

This weekend I will be reading:

Monster Volume Three by Naoki Urasawa

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

The following synopsis contains some spoilers.

Johan is a cold and calculating killer with a mysterious past, and brilliant Dr. Kenzo Tenma is the only one who can stop him! Conspiracy and serial murder open the door to a compelling, intricately woven plot in this masterwork of suspense.

Could Johan have a dual personality, like Jekyll and Hyde? Tenma calls on Dr. Gillen, an authority on criminal psychology, to psychoanalyze Johan. But Dr. Gillen secretly concludes that it is not Johan but Tenma who has committed all the serial murders. Dr. Gillen then tries to lure Tenma into various traps, intending to use him in his own experiments.

Karl, a student at Munich University, visits a blind billionaire every week to read books to him as a way to pay for school. One day he encounters another young man named Johan who once did the same job for the billionaire. From that point on, strange events continue to befall Karl. Who is this young man named Johan? Is he the Johan that we know?

Monster is definitely one of my favourite manga. If you like manga and haven’t yet picked up this series then do it now! You’re missing out!

I will also be reading:

All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

I’m pretty sure I’ve found a book that will become a favourite of mine. All the Rage is such a powerful book.

What will you be reading this weekend? 🙂

– Liz