The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The hate u give

Hard-hitting but inspiring

There are two Starrs. The one who goes to the preppy suburban neighborhood school and the one who grew up in drug-infested Garden Heights. Starr balances between her two lives, drawing the lines so that they never meet until…

Starr witnesses a police shooting of a childhood friend. Soon, she is thrust into the spotlight as the community seeks the truth and demands justice.

These are the kind of stories I love most – thought-provoking and hard-hitting. Angie Thomas addresses highly controversial topics in a gripping and creative narrative. Topics like modern day racism, hidden, disguised and perpetuated with words, money, and laws are laid bare, forcing the reader to dissect and examine each situation and intention.

Angie Thomas knows how to draw you in with witty dialogue and scenes that invoke all of the senses, including those of the heart. I love the familial and community scenes. There is tragedy, anger, and heart-ache in those scenes but also, a sense of community, sticking-together, sharing and greater-good.

While the topic may be tragic, I found the book uplifting and enlightening. It carries a message of hope and raises awareness of the society we should all be striving to build – one where the color of your skin truly doesn’t matter and where we all come together as one community to uplift one another.

5 of 5 stars to ‘Captured’ by Erica Stevens

Captured

Emotive writing

Aria sacrificed herself to save a child. Now, she has been taken as blood slave to none other than the Prince of darkness himself. Raised on tales of the cruelty of the vampires, Aria has first hand knowledge as daughter of the leader of the resistance. But The Prince is nothing like she expected…

As far as plot go, this one is relatively simple in structure. It’s a paranormal Beauty and the Beast story – and yet so much more. There is something so raw and poignant in this author’s writing. Not many authors have this kind of ability to rip into a reader’s emotions and turn a simple plot into a deep, passionate love story.

I loved the vulnerability of Aria’s character. She is strong without being perfect. She challenges the traditional mold of heroine because her beauty is much more of the soul than of the body. The world is which the characters live is a dark and well constructed one, without overly complicated details to leash the imagination.

Beautiful start to the series, can’t wait to read the next book!

5 of 5 stars to ‘A Shade of Blood’ by Bella Forrest

Shade of blood

Addictive

No human has ever left the Shade alive. Now, after weeks of captivity on the sunless vampire island, Sofia is given the choice: stay, and remain with her beloved Derek Novak as his human slave; or return to her life with Ben and have some chance of normality. Can she live with the choice she must make?

Book 2 continues the series exactly where book 1 left off. If there’s one thing that jars me a little when reading this series, it’s that there are no clearly defined beginnings and endings to each of the novels. Each book seems far too short and ends abruptly, leaving you hanging, wondering what is next. Sheer genius of Bella Forrest, I think. I know that as readers, we like tidy little packages with all the ends neatly ribboned off, but when you’re reading a series, there has to be a reason to move on to the next book, and Bella Forrest certainly knows how to provide that. So, I’ve made peace with this series by viewing it as one long book that has been broken down into smaller chunks. And it’s one of those fast-paced series you have to read from cover to cover!

Book two featured a greater variety of character’s POV. I particularly enjoyed this, since it gave depth to many of the characters that I felt was missing in book 1. Strangely enough, I relished Lukas’ POV, it was just fresh and unusual to see things from the POV of the villain.

The emotional intensity from the first book was heightened in this one. I felt that Derek’s ‘fall’ following Sofia’s decision made him more ‘human’ and ‘inhuman’ at the same time. The chemistry and intensity between Sofia and Derek remained intact and there was some lovely character development all round, including for Ben.

This is definitely an addictive series.

5 of 5 stars to ‘A Shade of vampire” by Bella Forrest

Shade of vampire

Where has this book been hiding?

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Sofia Claremont is abducted into a dark and dangerous world. In the Shade, the sun never shines and humans live as slaves to their cruel, master vampires. Sofia is selected to be part of a gift to the newly awakened Prince Derek Novak and soon realizes that her best chance at survival is to stay in Derek’s good graces. But neither Derek not Sofia reckoned on the growing attraction between them, or the danger it would pose to Sofia’s life.

Stop the bus, where has this book been hiding? Bella Forrest has smashed her way straight to my top author list with this sexy, dangerous story. There is clear talent in her writing style, with scenes that unfold perfectly to move this fast-paced plot along. The premise is a popular one, and certainly not unique. I found myself drawing many comparisons with Twilight at the end, but it’s always been more about the telling of the story for me than the story itself.

Bella Forrest is like a master painter. She so easily creates vivid scenery and rich, passionate emotions with her choice of powerful words. The characters she has created, while not rich in history (yet?), are so intense that you can’t help but fall in love with them. Derek has that animalistic, protective nature all girls want in a book-boyfriend and Bella has the beauty and fragility to match. Telling the story from both character’s POV was a stroke of genius from Forrest. It added so much intensity to their interactions.

The ending was rather abrupt – but achieved it’s aim because I’m itching to find out what happens! This one’s a fantastic read, so don’t miss out!

3 of 5 stars to “The Death Cure” by James Dashner

The death cure

Fun but vague ending to the series

The trials are over – or are they? WICKED wants to promote the surviving Gladers from guinea pigs to partners in the search to find a cure for the deadly flare. The Gladers are divided with many, Thomas included, struggling to believe that this really is the end. Are WICKED’s promises just another variable in the process and is the cure really within their grasp?

After the build up and intense action of the last two novels, I feel a little let-down with this installment. For at least three quarters of the book, I felt that there was no real purpose behind what the characters are doing. They had no plans and just seemed to be running around wherever chance would take them. The first two books in the series had clear objectives, and the characters James Dashner created were so driven, it felt very out of place to have them just going with the flow.

Some of the plot points also seemed so inconsistent. WICKED is such a technologically advanced entity, yet they don’t have cameras in the rooms and a bunch of kids can overpower an entire battalion of security guards? They don’t go after Thomas, even though they know where he is and they believe that the entire world’s fate depends on him? Some of the scenes also seemed cliched and contrived, especially those scenes with the ‘rat man’. I also felt that the novel lacked proper closure on some key points.

The ending was unexpected but satisfying. I love that Dashner didn’t go with the obvious ending. There was a bit of a moral story in this series, which I enjoyed, and the end of the novel was fast-paced, imaginative and action-packed. Overall, still a fun series.

5 of 5 stars to ‘Blue lily, lily blue’ by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue lily lily blue

Bewitching and thrilling

Blue and her boys are this close to unravelling the mystery of the sleeping Welsh King. But in a place as magical and unpredictable as Cabeswater, nothing is certain and nothing is safe. Can they unravel the clues in time? Can they save those lost along the way? Can they resist waking the third sleeper?

It’s official. Maggie Stiefvater is my all time favorite author, and this is the book that cinched the deal. Every word and phrase melts in your mouth. The prose is utterly beautiful, haunting and bewitching. The storyline is like no other. Each character is so rounded, you can’t help but fall in love with them – even the arrogant ones! Every thought, every deed is so uniquely human, and drives the story relentlessly forward. It is the mark of a master story-teller to write with such flair that the backstory of each character, right down to their individual speech accents, is evident in each scene, without the telling of it.

This installment is particularly rich in suspense. It is a paranormal thriller, so well written, you will be perched on the very edge of your seat from beginning to end. When I think of this novel, and ‘The Raven King’ to come, my heart beats a little faster. This is writing at it’s very best!

Blue Sargent Kiss without a kiss

5 of 5 stars to ‘If I stay’ by Gayle Forman

If I stay

Get the tissue box out

In the blink of an eye, Mia’s life has changed. All her decisions in life have been stripped down to one. It’s the most important decision she will ever make in her life and as she lies unconscious on her hospital bed, sorting through memories, only she can make the ultimate decision.

Live or die?

Get your tissue box ready for this one! What an emotional and yet beautiful story. I must admit to being a little skeptical with the ‘out of body’ point of view of Mia, but it was surprisingly well done and nicely offset by the flash backs.

I truly enjoyed the characters in this novel, and particularly, the dynamics of Mia’s hippie family. The little descriptive touches of clothing and quirks really did it for me, as did the incorporation of music into the character development and storyline.

On a deeper level, I was forced to think about the choices we make in life, what really matters and how ultimately, only we can decide what happens to us.

I did feel that the story was a little too short but this is a sure sign of a gripping, well-written, emotive story.

If i Stay quote