Lazy Saturday Review: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee #MiniReview

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

thousandthflTitle: The Thousandth Floor
Author: Katharine McGee
Series: The Thousandth Floor #1
Format: Digital ARC, 448 pages
Publication Details:  August 30th 2016 by HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks
Genre(s): YA; Sci-Fi
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

New York City as you’ve never seen it before. A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Debut author Katharine McGee has created a breathtakingly original series filled with high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, where the impossible feels just within reach. But in this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall….

Review

This book left me undecided. On one hand I enjoyed it and couldn’t stop reading, but on the other it drove me mad and made me want to throw it out of the window.

I shouldn’t be surprised because I’m not a huge fan of multiple narration and boy was this multiple. Two different narrative voices I can deal with. Maybe even three. But six, really!? Ugh!

The main protagonist is Avery, and hers is the first voice we hear. I was hooked on Avery’s story which was both a blessing and a curse because when her chapter ended I had to go through three or four other character’s stories and they just didn’t grab me as much. That was successful in that it kept me reading but, unsuccessful because it dampened my enjoyment of reading it and I found myself skimming through most of the book. 

It’s not a bad novel, don’t get me wrong. The world McGee has built here is very impressive, and I loved the idea of this thousand floor tower being their whole world. There are some flashes of really great Sci-Fi ideologies here too, and similar to Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, it was a worrying vision of the future. 

unicorn rating 3

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Lazy Saturday Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller #MiniBookReview #GreekMyths

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

songofTitle: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Publication Details:  April 12th 2012 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre(s): Historical Fiction/Mythology
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from the library.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny.

Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Review

I have to cover this book in a ‘Lazy Saturday Review‘ because I loved it so much I don’t think I could produce an actual, balanced review. I just want to gush about it. 

After only a few chapters in I was annoyed with myself for not reading this when it first came out! I’ve always loved mythological stories but despite owning a copy of The Iliad for about 10 years I’ve never read it. Like most people though, I thought I knew the story of Achilles, the kind but brutal warrior, but Miller’s version was both familiar yet surprising, and I loved every second of it.

The Song of Achilles is a beautifully written story of war, love, betrayal, and tragedy, written from the perspective of Patroclus best friend and lover of Achilles, making this version of the legend more human than it is God-like. I loved seeing Achilles through Patroclus’ eyes. With all of his faults, Patroclus’ love for the half-God warrior never wavered and he was the true hero of the story. 

Miller effortlessly incorporates the Greek Gods into this very human story making the likes of The Iliad seem much less of a challenge. I really will pick it up now! I also can’t believe this is her debut novel – it reads as if she’s been honing her skills for years – that being said, I did read somewhere that it took her ten years (or so) to write. I for one, am eternally grateful that she persevered.

The Song of Achilles excited me, made me swoon, made me angry, and made me cry. It’s a book I now need to buy so I can read it again. ALL THE UNICORNS. 

unicorn rating 

 

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan #OutSoon #YABookReview

 

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Title:
 You Know Me Well
Author: Nina LaCour & David Levithan
Series: n/a
Format: Digital ARC, 256 pages
Publication Details: June 2nd 2016 by Macmillan Children’s Books
Genre(s): Contemporary YA; LGBT;
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour, the award-winning author of Hold Still and The Disenchantments, and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

Review

You Know Me Well is a story of unexpected friendship, unrequited love and putting yourself out there set amongst the glittering backdrop of San Francisco’s Pride week.

Mark is secretly in love with his best friend Ryan. They fool around now and again but never discuss their feelings. The main problem is that Ryan hasn’t decided who he is yet and is definitely not ready to come out, but even if he was ready, would Mark be the one for him?

Katie is changing. She wants to be called Kate but her friends can’t get used to it. She’s not sure if she even likes her friends any more. Kate’s obsessed with a girl that she’s never met but is about to be set up with. The main problem here is that when things get difficult, Kate’s anxieties kick in and she runs away, literally. Can she get over her fears and stick around for long enough to meet her soul mate?

On one crazy night out Mark and Kate meet, and they understand each other perfectly. Their bond is instant and powerful. And they come to help each other realise their dreams, and get through their first, scary venture into love. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was a super-fast read that captures the excitement and turmoil of first love and unbreakable friendships perfectly. 

Like in Nick & Norah and Dash & Lily, David Levithan faultlessly embodies the ugly-beauty of being a teenager in love. He does it so well, and all of his previous collaboration books have worked for me. Nina LaCour is new to me, but her chapters marry with Levithan’s seamlessly. 

I was initially worried about the ‘instafriendship’ element of this story, but it didn’t bother me at all. Kate and Mark just worked, and I think that’s actually what makes it realistic. For me, making friends was never as easy as it was during my teenage years, so it gave the book a real nostalgic feel. Levithan’s books always manage to do that for me!

You Know Me Well was a fun yet poignant read with realistic LGBTQ characters; a wonderful celebration of diversity and friendship. 

unicorn rating 4

You Know me Well is available to pre-order now. 

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen #BookReview #FairyTales

snowqueenTitle: The Snow Queen
Author: Hans Christian Andersen
Illustrator: Sanna Annukka
Format: hardback, 92 pages
Publication Details: October 22nd 2015 by Hutchinson (first published 1844)
Genre(s): Fairy Tales
Disclosure? Nope, it was a Christmas gift.

Goodreads // Purchase

Hans Christian Andersen’s magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish-English illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is a unique work of art. 

Sanna Annukka is familiar to many from her collaborations with Marimekko and her artwork for Keane’s album, Under the Iron Sea. For her second book project, she illustrates Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen.

Review

This edition of The Snow Queen is absolutely beautiful, complete with Scandinavian style illustrations.

I was always more of a Grimms gal than an Andersen one, but this has made me think that perhaps I’ve been missing out. I didn’t expect Andersen’s fairy tales to be dark and twisted, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that one certainly has an edge to it.

The Snow Queen has had a lot of interest since Frozen was released, being the text that inspired it, but the similarities are relatively small, and the links often tenuous.

The Snow Queen is about the friendship between a young boy and girl, Kay and Gerda. When Kay is infected with icy evil from the shards of shattered magic mirror he changes, becomes mean, and is taken by The Snow Queen. Despite his recent behaviour, Gerda’s love for Kay never falters, and she sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue him meeting a variety of strange characters on the way.

The themes of unconditional love and sacrifice, along with the stunning Scandinavian winter landscape are what clearly inspired Frozen, but don’t expect much more of a connection than that.

I enjoyed this story, but I loved the illustrations more. It’s a lovely book for a gift.

unicorn rating 4

#HorrorOctober: The Kiss of Death by Marcus Sedgwick

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Title: The Kiss of Death
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Series: My Swordhand is Singing #2
Edition: Hardback, 248 pages
Publication Details: September 1st 2008 by Orion Children’s Books
Genre(s):YA; Horror; Gothic
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from the library.

Goodreads // Purchase

Marcus Sedgwick’s tale of Venice and vampires is a captivating companion volume to the bestselling My Swordhand is Singing.

Marko and Sorrel meet in Venice for the first time. They must uncover the mystery of what has happened both to Sorrel’s father, plagued by a strange madness that prevents him from sleeping, and to Marko’s father, a doctor, who has mysteriously gone missing after travelling to Venice to help his old friend.

Years on from My Swordhand is Singing and Peter is still on the trail of the Shadow Queen. His search leads him to Venice, a city whose beauty disguises many ugly secrets. The Shadow Queen is there, gathering strength, recruiting a new army of the Undead for a final confrontation. This fabled city with its lapping waterways, its crumbling magnificence, dark, twisting alleyways and surprising piazzas is the perfect setting for Marcus’s captivating gothic novel of love and loss in 18th century Venice.

Review

I will read anything this man writes. FACT.

Marcus Sedgwick takes folklore and fairy tales and turns them into Gothic beauty. My Swordhand is Singing was the first Sedgwick book I ever read, and it remains my favourite. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to pick up the sequel.

The Kiss of Death is a story centred around Marko whose father is missing. Last known to have headed to Venice to see a patient- for he is a doctor- Marko heads off in search of him, against his mother’s best wishes.

Marko follows a thin trail and finds Sorrel, the daughter of his Dad’s patient. Sorrel’s father is dangerously ill, driven mad by an inability to sleep, it seems that both men, and now their children, have gotten into something they couldn’t quite imagine.

With the help of Peter (yay Peter’s back!), the three manoeuvre through the canals and streets of Venice to an abandoned Island said to be haunted and cursed since people hit by the Plague were sent there in quarantine years previously. Has Peter finally found the residence of the evil Shadow Queen, and can he save Marko and Sorrel’s fathers from a fate worse than death?

The Kiss of Death is a lyrical, beautifully written book, such as I have come to expect from Sedgwick. I was so happy to be reunited with Peter, and hear more of his tragic, heroic, story.

It’s a book about love, and what it is to simply endure life. In parts it’s dark and depressing, but, it left me with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Sigh.

The Kiss of Death can easily be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend My Swordhand is Singing too.

unicorn rating

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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Title: Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 359 pages
Publication Details: April 1st 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary; LGBT
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it

Goodreads // Purchase

Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

Review


So you know the other week when I said I’m over Contemporary YA and have had enough of traumatic school-days reads? I take it all back. This book made me take it all back and eat my words. The shame!

Oh this book, you guys.

I fell in love with it instantly and read it in two sittings. The story is set in El Paso, Texas, and narrated by Ari. Ari’s a loner and more troubled than he even lets himself acknowledge. He’s clever and funny, but he’s angry too. He’s angry that his dad won’t talk about the war that has affected him so badly. He’s a angry that his brother is in prison and that his family won’t tell him why. In fact they pretend he doesn’t exist at all.

Ari meets Dante, who offers to teach him how to swim. On paper they are complete opposites. Dante is effervescent and loved by everyone who meets him. He finds it easy to open up to people and talk about his feelings; everything Ari isn’t, and can’t do.

The two become inseparable during one summer, and together they try to make sense of the world.

I’m reluctant to say much more plot-wise but just know this: Aristotle and Dante is a beautifully written, heart-wrenching coming-of-age story that I know will stay with me for a long time. I’ll definitely be reading this again in the future.

I love the setting, I loved the relationship between Ari and his mum, and obviously the relationship between Ari and Dante…I just can’t even… have ALL THE UNICORNS. I need to get my hands on Alire Sáenz’s other books STAT!

unicorn rating

The Frenchman by Lesley Young

frenchman
Title: The Frenchman
Author: Lesley Young
Series: Crime Royalty Romance #1
Edition: Digital Reader’s Copy, 276 Pages
Publication Details: January 2015 by L.A.Y. Books
Genre(s): Romance
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Amazon

Fleur Smithers rarely veers off the straight and (excruciatingly) narrow. So moving to the seaport town of Toulon to live with her newfound biological mother—an inspector with the French National Police—for one year is a pretty major detour.

Son of France’s crime royalty family and international rugby star, Louis Messette, is devoted to his sport, famille and nothing else. But the carefree American he meets one night changes everything. She sparks a desire in him like no other. Possession takes root. She will do as he commands?

Bit by bit Fleur slips into the Frenchman’s realm of wanton pleasure agreeing to his one condition: that she keep their affair secret. She serves up her heart without reservation in the hub of the glittering Côte d’Azur, and the along the soulful Seine in Paris, unaware of the danger she is in. For her new lover’s family business will pit her against her mother, the police woman sworn to bring down the Messettes. And by then, far more than Fleur’s heart will be on the line.

Review


To be perfectly honest, I didn’t think much of the synopsis or cover of this book, but I was in the mood for a quick, light read so I thought I’d give it a go, and I’m really glad I did!

The Frenchman is a page-turning romance (bordering on erotica), set in Toulon, France where innocent and naive Fleur Smithers is spending a year getting to know her police-officer birth-mum.

The relationship between the two is interesting. They are very different, but despite the past they get along and understand each other. Marie, Fleur’s mum, along with her friend Jess encourage her to enjoy everything France has to offer, including the men, and one night in a tiny restaurant, she does just that.

She meets Louis, an aloof, brute of a man who also happens to be a famous Rugby player. From here, Fleur not only finds herself in an intense, whirlwind of passion, but she’s also gotten herself into something deeper. Is Louis really who he says he is? Is her mother right to warn her against him and his family?

The Frenchman really surprised me. I was kind of expecting it to be sex, sex, sex, but I really enjoyed the story too, especially the crime element. It had a lot more strings to its bow than a lot of romance books I’ve read.

Louis is everything you could want in a leading man, too. Essentially, he’s a bad-boy with a heart, or so we hope as we read on. And he’s clearly pretty damn hot! I enjoyed the dynamic between the two characters, and how Fleur stood up to him on occasion. And although they get together pretty quickly, this definitely wasn’t an instalove thing – there was more going on than that, which is always what keeps me interested in a story – it was a rollercoaster of a romance.

Overall, I was really impressed by The Frenchman. It’s not the kind of thing I read often but I’d definitely like to continue with the series. Watch out E.L James!

unicorn rating 4