Friday, June 15, 2012

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Let me just start by saying that I have a rather unusual obsession with zombies. I find it slightly unhealthy that I cannot stop myself from watching zombie related media even though they are the only thing that actually freak me about enough to give me nightmares. When I saw this book and read that it involved my favorite/least favorite monsters, I knew that I had to give it a go and I'm glad I did.

Now while this book didn't have me glued to the pages, it still didn't take me long to get through it. It's a very emotive read and my heart ached for Mary, our protagonist, throughout most of the book. She is quiet a fragile character I think, at least until the end. She has no clue what she really wants until it taken from her, which was no doubt what Ryan was going for. Mary gets rather jealous about most things at a time were jealousy really is not needed, some parts of her remind me of Katniss from the Hunger Games; a forced heroine who doesn't actually know what she's doing but is likable none the same.

I find that there really isn't any other characters that I like that much. They are all quite selfish, considering the way they have been raised. Cass, Henry and Travis start out quite innocent and then turn a little, though it isn't really without reason, they are going through the worst time of their lives, what with their own deaths on the doorstep. The person I dislike the most was Jed, Mary's brother, and yet he redeems himself a bit later on. 

The way Ryan writes is clear, although not that descriptive, but of course the book is written in the first person and Mary doesn't seem the kind to focus too much on the little things. It doesn't ruin the story but it means that its not all it could have been. The ending does leave me wanting to know what happens next with Mary. I want to know how she moves on from what happens and I really want to read a happy ending for her, although I don't believe she would allow herself that. Ryan has left me with a few unanswered questions though, and I'm not sure whether she plans on just leaving it at that with these characters, but she does have a sequel so I guess I'll have to find out.

I would completely recommend this read to people who like to read anything with paranormal tones. especially those who want a change from the vampire/werewolf theme and those who don't mind a little bit of gross violence. What with it being a zombie book, be prepared for descriptions of people being eaten but none of that is actually so detailed that you cringe. It was fresh and I enjoyed reading a book that didn't string along the happiness in a situation where it would be hard to be happy, the behavior of the characters seems true to what would happen if zombies walked the earth.

Books 4 Brains Rating;

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Fallen by Thomas E. Sniegoski

The Fallen: The Fallen and Leviathan is book one and two of the Fallen series. In this book we meet our protagonist Aaron who, on his eighteenth birthday finds out that he is not just the troubled foster kid he thought he was, but rather the son of a human woman and an angel. A Nephilim. Now he is being pursued by a group of angels called the Powers, who believe that all Nephilim are an affront to God and should be eradicated, however there is a prophecy that tells of a Nephilim born to redeem all the Fallen and it seems that it may just be Aaron who is going to fulfill it.

I struggled with this book a little bit. While reading, it was pretty easy to get through but as soon as I put it down, I didn't really want to pick it back up again. It didn't excite me at all and I found that it was quite predictable. I didn't like the fact that it was two books in one, I didn't really understand why they did that and the second book was worse than the first; what with the main villain being an enormous sea monster. Hardly scary. There is no romance in these two books, so don't read them if you are hoping for it. The majority of the books are just about following Aaron around while he struggles with his new found power, but you get a little fun with some other characters.

Practically all the characters are male, so that makes for a little bit of a harder read, but it wasn't a big problem. I was actually looking forward to having a male main character but Aaron turned out to be a little bit of a disappointment in the fuss he made in the second book, I would have thought that he would have moved on quicker from the issues he was having since he was about to be devoured. He wasn't a bad character in the rest of the books, in fact he was quite normal and I liked his reaction to finding out about what he is.

There are a few other characters that I thought were quite interesting but most of them didn't last long. Sniegoski has a penchant for introducing characters that we don't really need to know about, but it was interesting to get a snippet of this other persons life before we find out what happens to them. The main character that stood out was Verchiel, who is the leader of the Powers.  He is everything an angel shouldn't be; he hates humans and kills them without a second thought, however you realise that he really does believe that God wills this to happen and I think that he is quite misunderstood. I like him actually, which is not something that usually happens. Most of the time I'm with the protagonist, thinking that the evil guy really is evil but not this time.

All in all, this was quite a slow read but it wasn't terrible. Give it a go if you don't mind the lack of romance or female characters. There is quite a bit of action going on, so check it out if you are into that. 

Books 4 Brains Rating:

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Hunger Games Trilogy By Suzanne Collins

I was reluctant to read these books at first, mainly because I believed them to be for younger readers only but after watching the film I realised that this was definitely not the case. So I ventured into The Hunger Games with an open mind and was taught my biggest lesson about reading: never judge a book before you've read it! The first two books I read quickly. They were exciting and new and I soaked up all the information like a sponge and wanted more. Low and behold Mockingjay, my last chance of having an adventure with Katniss and finally receiving closure on many questions. At least that was what I thought, but I was pretty disappointed with what I got. More on that later.

Now I'm pretty sure that most of you will already be aware of what the Hunger Games entails but just in case you don't I'll tell you a little about it. Set in a futuristic, dystopian society, we follow Katniss Everdean as she is thrown into the whirlwind that is the annual Hunger Games of Panem, the country that used to be North America. These Hunger Games are certainly unlike any game of monopoly or connect four that we played as youngsters. They involve taking one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12 and 18, from each of the 12 districts and forcing them to fight to the death. An even more extreme version of the ancient Roman gladiatorial games, since not only do they have to fight each other but they have to survive everything else the gamemakers throw at them, such as fireballs and mutant wasps. 

We are with Katniss through three books as she fights against the Capitol in order to free the districts from their reign and stop not only the Hunger Games, but the severe poverty that the Capitol allows. Through these books we witness a lot of violence and a lot of death, it is probably one of the most accurate accounts of a war in young adult fiction that I have read. Not everyone we like survives, which while disappointing, makes the story more believable.

I'm going to start by talking about the characters,(now there may be spoilers from here so if you haven't read it skip to the last paragraph), because I know this is a popular topic of conversation for this trilogy. I like Katniss, I really do, I think she does the best she can in the situation she has been put in considering that before the Reaping, she had been content with living the life she believed was ahead of her. She doesn't always do the right thing, I agree with that, but put yourself in her situation and think about whether you would have been able to get through all she did without making some mistakes. I started feeling sorry for her as soon as she was being made out to be some kind of player when it came to Gale and Peeta. I truly believe that she had absolutely no clue as to how she felt about either of them. She didn't have time for love while trying to stay alive and keep her family safe, so the boys pushing her to think about it all the time was bound to stump her. I didn't feel like she was doing it on purpose at all, even in the first book with Peeta, she didn't act as though she was in love with him for the sake of it or to hurt him. She did it because she thought she was playing the game he came up with.

Peeta was one that confused me. At first I didn't like him much at all, I felt as if he was a complete fake who may even turn against Katniss completely in order to win the games. I thought he would betray her. Oh, how wrong I was. About halfway through the first book I realised that this was not what was going on and I started to like him a lot and that stayed with me until the end of the trilogy. I rooted for him and hated what he went through in the last book. I didn't really feel anything for Gale...not at all. In fact I thought he ended up being kind of up himself a little and when he realised Katniss wouldn't return his feelings, he just gave up on her all together, even as a friend. He didn't even support her when she went home at the end of the last book.

Collins' writing is easy to follow, making all three books the kind that you can get through quickly, even if you don't enjoy what is happening in them. The description of this world that we will never know is brilliant and she doesn't sugarcoat things, which I love. Like I said before, the first two books were amazing and I got through them really quickly, the last book was a different story. The writing wasn't bad, it was the contents that was lacking. I really felt as if Collins' had gotten bored with writing and had decided to get the book over and done with as soon as possible. It seemed that for every major event that moved the story forward, Katniss was unconscious and therefore we didn't get the details of it until one of the other characters ghosted over it a little. And I was so gutted when we didn't get that final scene where Katniss finally decides on which boy she was going to pick. To be told, 'we got together' (not quite like that but near enough) was not enough for me. I was looking forward to the big moment where she really confesses her feelings since the first book and in the end all I got was a paragraph telling me who she chose. 

Overall, these books are still a must read as I'm sure most of you would agree. I read them on my iphone, but I'm still thinking about getting them in book form just to have them on my shelf for those re-read days. I am looking forward to watching the next two films, just to see if things play out the same way. I would definitely recommend these to anyone who was interested in similar books and I think it is a trilogy that most ages could read easily. If you've been wondering whether or not to give them a go, do it and if you've read the book, let me know what you think.

Books 4 Brains Rating:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J R Ward

J R Ward is my hero! This series is soooo good that even though I read the first book a few years ago, I have to give you guys a review and let you in on the wonder that is this series. If you haven't read them, you've missed out on years of literary gold, however, I now envy you since you have 10 brilliant books to add to your to-read list. 

This series follows a group of vampires - yes vampires, I know, so overrated these days but trust me, these guys are not your sparkly, poncy vamps - who are fighting to protect their race from the soulless enemy, called Lessers, who threaten them. The brotherhood is originally made up of six warriors Wrath, Rhage, Tohrment, Zsadist, Phury and Vishous. The names may seem over the top but start reading and you'll understand just how well they suit the characters. Each character has their own book, a story of their fight for love along with a whole lotta other kick-ass war fighting stuff going on. More characters come into it along the way and become major players too, gaining their own books in the process, such as Butch, John, Rehvenge and Payne.

The first books is Wrath's, who is the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood as well as the unwilling king of the vampire race. He is huge, intimidating and down right lethal, he is also going blind. We start his story off by being hurtled into the thick of things, with Wrath being asked to look after his brother's illegitimate daughter, Beth, as she heads towards her transitioning age. To say he is reluctant is an understatement but when Darius is murdered, he can't help but check to make sure the woman is safe. Cue heavy love story that makes a cold sweat bead on my brow and my knees go weak . It is intoxicating and exciting and you can't help but love the characters you are being presented with.

After Wrath's book the order is Rhage, Zsadist, Butch, Vishous, Phury, Rehvenge, Payne and finally our latest installment, Tohrment. Each book brings with it the next level of fantastic paranormal fiction. It gets better and better and thankfully we still have more books to come with some amazing characters that we now know so well. 

J R Ward's style of writing is the best I've experienced for this type of novel, which is one of the reasons this is my all time favourite series. These books are chock-a-block with swearing, sex, laughs and violence, if none of those are your thing then I can't promise that you'll like the books but I would still tell you to just give it a go. There are no unnecessary words in these novels, nothing that you read and think 'what was the point in that being there'. The characters each have their own individual personalities that are actually different rather than variations of the same thing which I see in so many books these days. They have their own personal quirks in the way they behave or the way they speak, Vishious' use of the word 'true' being one of them.

Ward makes it impossible not to love these characters, after a few years and ten books I feel as if I know each and every one of them personally. She has an talent for making these centuries old warrior vampires seem like every day, decent guys that you wish were real - after all, who can resist a strong, hot alpha male with weakness that they need to get passed! Sometimes I forget that these men and women are superhuman (they're not undead, which is a refreshing change) because they act so normal, none of this unredeemable, evil soul nonsense that seems to overtake plots these days. Every second, minute and hour I spend reading these books, nothing else exists for me which I know is not healthy but I can't help it. It is like getting on a roller coaster and not wanting to get off: I feel happy for these characters, excited for them, worried for them and more often than not, I actually cry for them ( maybe another thing that should worry me?) but the book, or ten, that can do this is one I want on my bookshelf for the rest of my life, just so I have somewhere else to go when the real world gets to stressy.

If you've never read a paranormal romance fiction novel in your life, even if you have never been interested in them, read this series. Please, please, please give it a go, because I will take every opportunity I get to recommend it. I've pushed it on friends, who now love me and hate me for it - the obsession makes life hard when you have to wait a year for the next book. The one thing I will say is that it is probably for the over 16s, since there is a lot of details ( if you get what I mean ; p ). I hope this review sparks an interest to read and if you do please let me know what you think of them. If you've already read them, I'd still love to hear your opinion no matter what...although I'll be secretly praying that you share mine.

Books 4 Brains Rating:

Coming soon: The Fallen by Thomas E. Sniegoski

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Nightshade follows our protagonist Calla Tor as she tries to figure out just where she stands in the dystopian society that her race, the Guardians, live in. As an alpha female, her life is all planned out for her: finish school, marry Ren and then lead the her pack. But life throws a spanner in the works in the form of Shay, a human boy who Calla is instantly drawn too. He brings with him a whole new light and shines it directly on all she has ever known about who she is and what her duty is. The Keepers are her masters, but it turns out that they may have been lying to her all along and now the enemy she is supposed to dispose of are after Shay and she doesn't know why.

There is no going back now, the question is will Calla make it out alive or is she going to lose everything because of this boy?

This book is a fast paced read that gets more and more exciting the further along you get. I found myself quite desperate to discover what Calla was going to do and what the consequences of it were going to be. It didn't take me long to finish this book at all, just under two days actually, which tells me that this is definitely a good read.

Calla is a character that I can get along with. She's a leader, strong and in charge and yet she doesn't get everything right and she can be a little clueless sometimes. Much like many girls I know. She is not a girly girl, she is a warrior but she doesn't kick up a huge, unnecessary fuss when she is made to behave as if she was a more dainty female. I like this, mainly because it seems more real and had she thrown a massive strop,  it wouldn't have fit in with who she was supposed to be. I found myself feeling rather sorry for Calla throughout the book: her pack hierarchy is changing, she's being forced to marry a guy who she doesn't think she can love and the more pages turned the more she is put in situations by other people that seem to work against her. And yet while she does have a few cries (and I don't blame her) she doesn't give up fighting. 

The other characters in the book do have separate personalities that shine through, some not as nice as others. Ren is the alpha male who the Keepers have assigned as Calla's mate. He is cheeky, flirty and cocky. He is our typical 'hot guy' in this story, however he has characteristics that make me like him. He is a good leader and he cares for his pack and even though Calla doesn't believe it, it doesn't take long for the reader to realise that he actually cares for her too. Some of his reactions are over the top but a part of me can understand why.

For me, Shay comes across a little selfish sometimes and he confuses me a lot more so than the other characters. I don't hate him, but I don't care much about him either, mainly because I feel like I don't really know him at all. A few times during reading this book I did wonder why Ren wasn't doing it for Calla and yet Shay was, in her situation I probably would have been more interested in the former male. 

Some of the other pack members are likable however there are two that I'm not a fan of and I feel that Cremer may have made them the way she did just to add extra drama, but it isn't needed. There is enough of that going on with the Calla/Shay predicament and the Keeper/Searcher revelations. The relationships that develop in the pack were quite predictable, which was one thing that had me rolling my eyes, but these aren't major aspects of the story so I can deal with that. 

I was very impressed with the way Cremer wrote this novel. Calla's voice comes through so strong. The chapters can be lengthy, but the contents is fast flowing, fresh and the descriptions wildly vivid that before you know it you're on the next chapter and then the one after that. Cremer explains the ins and outs of how the Guardians and their rules work through Calla incredibly well and leaves me wondering, while dampening down my own jealousy, how she came up with it. The plot is strong and believable, which thankfully means that I'm not spending a large amount of time trying to figure out just how things add up.

Now, while 98% of this book is pretty good, the ending leaves me unsatisfied. This is, of course, because the ending is a fake, a sham of a closure since it doesn't actually end at all. We're left with a cliffhanger that sets up for the second novel Wolfsbane. While I would have happily read another book by Cremer on the premise of her writing talent alone, I do wish that I had been left with warm, fuzzy butterflies of excitement and happiness in my stomach instead of the disappointment of an unhappy ending. But, alas, I'll just have to read on for that.

Overall, definitely a book that I recommend for you guys to read if you haven't already. If you enjoy a paranormal story with a lot of plot and a little romance thrown in, this one is for you! 

Books 4 Brains Rating:

Coming up: Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by J R Ward