Review: Hostage Three by Nick Lake

Hostage Three



It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing: a girl on a yacht with her super-rich banker father; a chance for the family to heal after a turbulent time; the peaceful sea, the warm sun ...But a nightmare is about to explode as a group of Somali pirates seizes the boat and its human cargo - and the family becomes a commodity in a highly sophisticated transaction. Hostage 1 is Dad - the most valuable. Amy is Hostage 3. As she builds a strange bond with one of her captors, it becomes brutally clear that the price of a life and its value are very different things ..

I didn't know that this book was by the same author as In Darkness until the very end, when I read the acknowledgements and found out, but now I can totally see the similarities, I have to say that I totally enjoyed Hostage Three a little more though because it was romantic, gritty and terrifying all in one.

The book starts near the end, with Amy in a boat with a gun aimed at her. Then we go a few months into the past and slowly we are introduced to Amy's ordinary life at school, her broken relationships with her father and step-mother and her rebellious lifestyle driven by her mother's recent death. Her wealthy father decides that maybe it's best if they 'get away' on his yacht and then suddenly we're thrown into the danger as Somalian pirates hijack the yacht and take the family and the boat staff as hostages.

But this isn't just a thriller, this book doesn't just use the pirates as the bad guys but makes them into something a lot more developed - they're relatable and you can kind of understand why they're doing this. Lake goes into the history of the pirates, showing how they turned to this and how they earn their money and actually, how nice they are to their hostages (minus the whole gun pointing at head thing). The hostages are fed, and are allowed to do as they please on the boat and the pirates are mostly all nice guys just trying to make a living.

Amy begins to fall for Farouz, a young, english-speaking pirate who tells Amy all about his past and his family and teaches Amy that actually, as mardy and spoilt as she is, she actually doesn't have it all that bad. I think this book hits so hard because the reader also begins to see the way these people live.

But a story like this can't have a happy ending can it? I honestly can't give anything away, but never has a book left me so heartbroken and touched. Lake may not have gone with the 'popular choice' for the ending, but in my opinion he went with the most honest and that really worked for me.

Overall, Hostage Three was a hard-hitting and gritty read, it was hard to get through at parts, but it isn't a thriller. This book has a tone of melancholy and hope that only Nck Lake can achieve. I am slowly but surely becoming a big fan of this author.

Overall Rating: B+

Book released 3rd January 2013 by Bloomsbury
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (NetGalley)

Other books from this author:
In Darkness

Review: The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding


The Reece Malcolm List


Things I know about Reece Malcolm:

1. She graduated from New York University.
2. She lives in or near Los Angeles.
3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week.
4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon.
5. She’s my mother.

Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much.

L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love.
But then the Reece Malcolm list gets a surprising new entry. Now that Devan is so close to having it all, can she handle the possibility of losing everything?

This book is the dictionary definition of a cushy, cute YA read - not much of a plot, more focused on character and relationship development and I really enjoyed it. This book came along at the perfect time for me, since I had been reading all these really heavy paranormal and dystopian books that are coming out later in the year and I needed something to lighten the tone a little bit and this book did just that.

Devan was a fantastic main character and I really enjoyed reading about her but the true show stealer of this book was Reece Malcolm who is a multi-dimensional character that takes some figuring out, the reader is learning more about her as Devan is, she is not a simple character at all and I liked that about her. Devan figuring out exactly what her mother is like makes up most of the book and I really liked that, adding in the side plots of Reece's budding relationships with rock star Eli and gorgeous singer Sai and Reece's upcoming performance made this book so much better and I really couldn't fault the pacing or writing of this book, so massive kudos to Amy Spalding for her delivery.

I'm not saying this book is absolutely amazing, it's not at all hard hitting and has only teensy bits of angst and I like my cushy teen books to have a little more angst to make the happy moments even better. I'd go as far as to say that this book is ultimately forgettable, but for those few hours when you're reading this book it's pure escapism, and sometimes that is all you need.


Overall Rating: B+

Book released 5th February 2013 by Entangled Teen
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (NetGalley)

Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West


Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.
I requested Pivot Point on a whim because I'd seen it around quite a bit on loads of blogs, but I didn't quite know how much I loved it. I really did love it, it was a fantastic book that was unlike anything that I've read recently and it really made me think about how for every decision that we make there is a completely different future that you're missing. It's easy to forget that what we're reading is simply a 'vision' of the possible futures as opposed what is actually happening. It's a bit mind-blagging. It's also extremely easy to forget that this is actually a paranormal book, because Addie's powers take such a back seat to the romance and the different stories.

Addison is a great character, I am so happy to have finally read a book with a fantastic female character that actually reacts realistically. to different situations. She's independent but also fooled and gullible. In the future with Duke I was yelling at her as I began to work some things out, and in the future with Trevor I realised how she was growing into things. I also really liked the background characters since they rang very true and authentic to me.

My main complaint with Pivot Point was that the main mystery plot took a backseat to the romance and the school plots and it only really came out at the end so the plot seemed quite disconnected at times. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Pivot Points, despite a few small issues in the plot. The characters and concept were fantastic and I loved the writing. 

Overall Rating: B

Book released 12th February 2013 by HarperTeen
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (Edelweiss)



Review: Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati



Dancing in the Dark



Ditty Cohen is passionate about ballet--she loves how it feels to stand en pointe, to rise and spin across the room. But her Orthodox Jewish parents want Ditty to focus on the teachings of the Torah and to marry at a young age according to their religious tradition. Although her parents forbid her to take dance lessons, Ditty secretly signs up for ballet and becomes entangled in a web of deceit. As one lie leads to another and another, Ditty knows she must stop dancing, but she can't abandon the one thing that gives her freedom. She begins to question her faith and everything her parents have taught her, realizing just how much is at stake as her two worlds collide.

This is one of those times where I didn't read the blurb because the cover was just too pretty, I love that cover but I had thought that this book was a paranormal because that book just does not scream contemporary at me. I had to adjust when I first started this book because it wasn't what I was expecting, but when I did adjust I quite enjoyed the book.

In terms of pacing of this book I felt a little let down, the book seemed quite repetitive and whilst I enjoyed it there were no parts that particularly gripped me or had me wanting more, I was able to put this book down and pick it up a few days later and I didn't feel the urge to read more of it when I was away. I never had to force myself to read it, but it was a little bit 'meh' to me.

When Ditty started to question her upbringing and the adults in her life I started to get more into the book, I was hoping for a happy ending with Ditty's parents supporting her dancing and whilst we do see a little bit of that at the end it did seem a little pointless to give Ditty this inner struggle and not see a complete resolution of the problem, but maybe that's just me.

I also question the way that religion is put across in this book - yes I understand that Haredi Jews are strict but they seemed almost cult-like in this book. I was a little put off by the way that the Haredi community is portrayed as this 1970s-era community that basically came across as 'religion is brainwashing'. The modern orthodox cousin, Linda, is portrayed as s**t-like and the extremes didn't really work for me.

Look, I didn't hate this book, I really did enjoy certain parts of it but I can't really say much else other than that overall it was a bit of a 'meh' read. I'm very sorry!

Overall Rating: C-

Book released 8th february 2013 by Flux Books
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (NetGalley)




Review: Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Geek Girl

Harriet Manners knows a lot of things. She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a "jiffy" lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn't quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she's spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend's dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves. 

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn't seem to like her any more than the real world did. 

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything? 

Geek Girl is a  positively fun and completely enjoyable book with a message that isn't at all preachy and will totally appeal to younger readers as well as the typical YA crowd.

This book is so enjoyable because it's relatable. We all remember being fifteen and being so insecure of ourselves and having to make decisions for ourselves despite pressures from our parents and friends and that is exactly what Harriet is going through in this book. On the surface it's a cute teen read but underneath it has this message about being who you are on the inside. 

I loved Harriet as a character because she was so funny, so relateable but also a joy to read. I also actually really liked her best friend Nat who, after a while is supportive of Harriet's modelling despite the fact that it was her dream from the start. Nick was a cute character and an entertaining love interest and the totally awkward and absolutely adorable bond between him and Harriet was so fun. This is also one of the few books where I can honestly say that I enjoyed reading the adult characters, especially Harriet's dad!

This book isn't without it's flaws though, the plot was pretty predictable and whilst they were fun the read the characters weren't well developed and so they were pretty predictable as well. This book is a book for those times when you just want to smile, but if you're looking for depth and development Geek Girl is probably not for you.

Overall, Geek Girl was a fun, fluffy read that had me giggling all the way through, however in terms of plot and character development this book wasn't completely there for me. Still, I read it quickly and completely enjoyed it and would totally recommend this book to younger teens.

Overall Rating: B
Book released 28th February 2013 by Harper Collins
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review


Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer


Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)


Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

I really enjoyed Cinder, which I read last year so Scarlet has been one of my most anticipated 2013 releases so far and it so lived up to my expectations. I was a little worried in starting this book because I enjoyed reading about Cinder so much and I thought that the character of Scarlet may be less likable, thankfully this was not the case. If anything, the introduction of the new characters made the book better and I really enjoyed reading about Scarlet, who is a little more naive and simple than Cinder, and Wolf who is far more gruff and tough than Kai. This meant that it felt like I was honestly reading different characters when it switched between the two, which is rare in books that follow multiple plots.

I'm the type of person that avoids re-reading books before sequels come out, so I'd all but forgotten most of what went on in Cinder aside from major plot points, however I quickly picked up where I'd left off and I was so absorbed into Scarlet's plight  this poor girl is going through so much at the beginning of the story and I warmed to her immediately and I was also so happy when we switched to Cinder and also when we got glimpses of Kai and I loved watching all of the plots come together!

Meyer has no qualms about leaving her readers hanging on, I was so frustrated by the ending which leaves so many things hanging and I can't wait to see how everything plays out!

Overall,  Scarlet was a fantastic sequel and I seriously cannot wait for book three! I am completely hooked on this series!

Overall Rating: A

Book released 7th February 2012 by Puffin Books (UK)
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Other books from this author:

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)





Review: A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis

A Most Improper Magick (The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, #1)




"I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending ruin.

"I made it almost to the end of my front garden..."


Magic may be the greatest scandal in Regency England. But that's not going to stop Kat Stephenson when there are highwaymen to foil, sinister aristocrats to defeat...and true loves to capture for her two older sisters.

I first heard of this book in 2011 when it was released in the US as Kat, Incorrigible and got some fantastic reviews, I had no idea that it had previously been released under this title in UK until I received the third book for review from the publisher and requested the rest of the series. I can totally see why it was so highly praised, I really enjoyed it and I can't wait to crack open the next two and see where the sorry and romances go.

It was so nice to read a fun story with a young protagonist which doesn't totally resolve around romance, yet there is still romance for Kat's older sisters Angeline and Elissa. Kat is a perfect character, often with all of the stubborn stupidity but young intelligence and wit that only a character of her age can pull off. I was laughing so many times at things that she said and her relationships with other people - especially her sisters, because they fight so much and love each other a lot, making them seem like such realistic characters.

Of course, there's also a well written and entertaining paranormal aspect of the book, this isn't a dark book at all, this is a totally entertaining happy book which could be called the Matilda for today's kids.

Overall, a well written and completely entertaining book that younger readers will thoroughly enjoy.


Overall Rating: B

Book released 10th August 2010 by templar Books
eBook received for review (Print)


Review: Hysteria by Megan Miranda

Hysteria


Mallory's life is falling apart. 
Her boyfriend was stabbed. He bled to death in her kitchen. Mallory was the one who stabbed him. But she can't remember what happened that night. She only remembers the fear...

When Mallory's parents send her away to a boarding school, she thinks she can escape the gossip and the threats. But someone, or something, has followed her. There's the hand that touches her shoulder when she's drifting off to sleep. A voice whispering her name. And everyone knows what happened. So when a pupil is found dead, Mallory's name is on their lips. 

Her past can be forgotten but it's never gone. Can Mallory live with that? 

I don't really know what I can say about this book other than that I loved the premise but Miranda failed to deliver completely. I was so intrigued by the mystery that was given in the blurb with the murder and the lack of memories, though I was wary of the mysterious boarding school setting since it's just used so much in this type of book.

The fact of the matter is that it didn't really live up to my expectations, I felt so disconnected from the story because the writing was so sparse and undetailed and stopped me from connecting with the plot and characters, a problem that I also had with Miranda's previous book Fracture. 

I never really wanted to put down the book because I wanted to know what had driven Mallory to commit the crime, I loved the flashbacks at the beginning of each chapter it was a great idea from Miranda that kept me reading in the slower parts.

However, the characters were yet another let down. The boarding school characters were a little boring and stereotypical, there's the overconfident cocky boy and the bullying girls and they were nothing new. At least Reid, the love interest came across as a little more developed since Mallory has a history with him. I loved Colleen, the awesome best friend who is still there for Mallory despite the fact that she killed a boy.

Overall, Hysteria was a let down after how much I hyped myself up. I felt very disconnected from the plot and characters and whilst I stayed interested I didn't really feel much emotion.

Overall Rating: C-

Book released 14th February by Bloomsbury Childrens
eBook received for review (NetGalley)

Other books from this author:
Fracture

Review: Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder (Healer #2)


Scent of Magic (Avry of Kazan, #2)


As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible ... again. 

This is the first Maria V. Snyder book that I haven't put down and though "Wow, that was AMAZING!". Don't get me wrong it was totally enjoyable but it was a little slow at times and I've come to have such high expectations from this author.

Scent of Magic had a slower development than the first book in this series and the pace seemed to stay steady and didn't seem to have any moments of crazy excitement, even in the climax which meant that it did take me quite a while to push through and whilst I did enjoy it and never wanted to stop reading I was able to put the book down, which is a shocker considering that Snyder's book have always been so unputdownable for me.

Maybe the main problem with the pace was that Kerrick and Avry were away from each other for most of the novel and so whilst the step back from romance meant we could focus on the action it also meant that the book had to be told in two narratives and whilst we were with Kerrick i wanted to be with Avry and whilst we were with Avry i was wondering about Kerrick.

Nonetheless, Scent of Magic was a good sequel to Touch of Power as it seamlessly continued the story and introduced us to fantastic new characters as well as bringing back old characters from the first book, some of which I was not expecting to meet again.

I know this review may have seemed critical but this is a great book, it's just not amazing, which is what I had been expecting from this author. Still, I will definitely be reading book three.


Overall Rating: B

Book released 18th December by Mira Ink
eBook received for review (NetGalley)

Other books by this author:
Touch of Power (Healer #1) 
Inside Out (Insiders #1)


Hey there Ink Scratchers.

Please don't hate me, it's been like two weeks since anything was posted and I am so unbelievably behind on reviews, I am so sorry! The truth is that alongside university and my social life it's been almost impossible to find any time and when I have had time I've just wanted to chill and read as opposed to write up reviews.

I'm back now though and whilst I'm behind on reviews and reading I'm going to do my best to catch up, which will involve posting two reviews on some days and reviews on meme days, i'm setting myself time every day to review because frankly I seriously miss blogging!

I'm sorry folks, for not being around!