Friday, 28 February 2014

MARIE ANTOINETTE, SERIAL KILLER

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender

Colette Iselin is excited to go to Paris on a class trip. She’ll get to soak up the beauty and culture, and maybe even learn something about her family’s French roots.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place across the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours museums and palaces, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks suspiciously like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her popular, status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they uncover a shocking secret involving a dark, hidden history. When Colette realizes she herself may hold the key to the mystery, her own life is suddenly in danger.
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Yep, another book about my most-loathed city in the world. Paris. But this had such a good premise. In fact, it strongly reminded me of Maureen Johnson's Shades of London trilogy, which I have to admit was a huge factor in my decision to buy it. Sadly, it lacks the spark, the intrigue and the drama of Johnson's trilogy, and was just a bit of a disappointment overall. And that has nothing to do with the setting, so I'll try not to bitch about Paris too much.

Colette is a whiny, self-absorbed brat who is hiding from her so-called friends the fact that her parents have split up and she's now broke. There was not one thing I liked about Colette, which made this a difficult read, especially considering I was expecting it to be light and enjoyable once I'd started reading it. Fluffy, even. In the end, it wound up dragging. Despite the fact that it's supposed to be a creepy thriller about a ghost queen stalking a teenage girl, there's nothing creepy here at all. And I expected some kind of dark undertone to it, having already read Alender's Bad Girls Don't Die. (I realise that it probably couldn't be light, enjoyable and fluffy, and have creepy, dark undertones, but I kept changing my mind about what I was expecting as I read it, because it's a bit all over the place. Like my current thoughts about it).

The other characters are equally intolerable, even the ones I'm supposed to have liked by the end. I didn't feel any kind of chemistry between Colette and Jules. The flashbacks/dreams irritated me, and I thought what was going on was pretty obvious, even though it took Colette a long time to figure it out. That being said, I was less irritated with Colette's inability to figure things out than I was with Armand's. I mean, this is a guy who has supposedly been researching the history surrounding Marie Antoinette (I'm trying not to be too specific in case anybody wants to read the book), and yet he didn't spot the connection between all the names in the newspaper articles. I wanted to climb into the book and smack him around the head. Although if I had the ability to climb into books, I wouldn't choose this one. I would be at Hogwarts faster than you can say apparate

So, yeah, I was unimpressed by this book. And it's a shame, because I enjoyed the other book by Katie Alender that I read. I do think perhaps it suffered in comparison to Maureen Johnson's books - which you should all definitely read, by the way - but I don't think it had much going for it even without that factor.



Thursday, 27 February 2014

Greetings from the Editing Cave

Good writing is all in the editing.

I firmly believe that. I also firmly believe that I came up with it all by myself, but in reality I probably stole it from somewhere without even realising. Either way, it's become something of a mantra for me over the past five years.*

The thing is, I've always hated editing. Really hated it. Even at school, I wouldn't look over a piece of work before I handed it in. In exams, I wouldn't even glance over my answers unless there was a teacher glaring at me. It wasn't confidence in my answers, in some natural ability to always get things perfect on the very first try (as much as I wish it was). I simply preferred to stare into space or watch the clock.

Funny thing is, I'm deep into edits on a novel I wrote about six months ago. And for the first time in my life, I'm loving it. It isn't as much fun as drafting, and it doesn't entirely fulfil my need for a creative outlet, but it sure is fun to cross through entire chapters with my bright blue pen. I've been brutal, and it's been brilliant.

I'm hoping this is a sign** that this particular manuscript has potential. That previously I've shied away from editing because I didn't believe my writing was worth fixing up. I'm hoping that, maybe one day, this manuscript will be good enough to send out into the world.



*I say something of a mantra because it really bugs me when people say they have a mantra or a motto. Don't know why, but it does. I used to have a catchphrase, but mantras are unacceptable.

** Ugh, I also dislike when people say something is a sign.




Wednesday, 19 February 2014

CRUEL BEAUTY

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
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I am about to voice an unpopular opinion. I didn't really like this book. Normally, I'd try to convince myself that's actually good. I'd tell myself it means I have superior taste to everyone else or am quirky and individual. This time, I'm too disappointed to convince myself that being different is a good thing. I really, really wanted to like this book. Hell, I wanted to love it, and I was convinced that I would. I've only seen glowing reviews for it, and it's a retelling of Beauty and the Beast except Belle is an assassin who's been training to kill the beast. What's not to love?

The first hundred pages were, to me, excruciatingly boring. I wasn't particularly interested in the world being built, because I didn't have any reason to be, and I didn't feel immersed in it. All this information is dumped on you - the history of Nyx's country, the workings of the hermetic arts, her personal history. So. Much. Information. And I didn't care about any of it, really. And you can tell me how important it's going to be later on, but honestly, I didn't think it mattered that much. You could have cut eighty-odd pages from the beginning and had no trouble whatsoever following the story. A story I didn't find all that engaging. Now, I'm in the minority there, judging by the reviews I've read, but I wasn't interested in the outcome. I wasn't invested in the plot. I did spend a lot of time wondering if I was going to get a proper ending or if this book was just the start of a series, but other than that I had no real interest in the ending.

I think the main problem, though, is that I never warmed to any of the characters. Nyx isn't especially likeable - or interesting, but I think the former was deliberate - and I usually like unlikeable characters. Just see any of my reviews for Courtney Summers' books. I don't have very much to say about Nyx, but Ignifiex was the real disappointment to me. He was flat and boring and kind of pointless. I'm going to say spoiler-y things now, so watch out for that. There's no villain here, no real conflict. I was desperately hoping that the whole Ignifex-is-a-prisoner-too-thing was going to be a ruse, that he'd made it up to gain Nyx's trust, but no. I was disappointed there, too. And as for the two of them together...I didn't get any sense of spark or chemistry between them. I didn't feel anything about them, and I didn't think they felt anything either. Their romance was just kind of lifeless and tottering along. 

So, yeah. Didn't like it. I did really want to, though, and I do wonder if it just couldn't hold up under the weight of my expectations. It claimed to have all the elements I didn't even know I was looking for in a fantasy book - Beauty and the Beast, a sassy heroine, an enigmatic villain, magic and Greek mythology - but it was just quite meh. There is some lovely writing in it, Hodge does have a great way with words, but I felt the plot and characters were lacking. I won't rule out reading anything of Hodge's in the future, but if this series continues then I'm not sure I'll be there with it.



Friday, 14 February 2014

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. She is less than thrilled about boarding school in Paris - until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, he has it all - including a serious girlfriend. Will Anna get her French kiss?
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Yeeeah, I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to buy this book, beyond the fact that about five people have now recommended it to me personally (people keep recommending The Book Thief and I've literally no desire to read that one). It's not my usual kind of book. I tend to shy away from anything that is billed as primarily a romance. It's just not my thing. 

However, I actually enjoyed this book. I can't say I loved it or even really liked it, but I did enjoy reading it. Mostly. The strange thing to me is that, actually, it's not really just about a romance. It's about Anna Oliphant, a senior from Atlanta whose father sends her to spend a year at boarding school in Paris. She's not exactly happy about it. A good seventy per cent of the book is about the other aspects of Anna's life - her home, her family, her friends, her education. The remaining thirty per cent is her falling in love with St. Clair, but it's not in blocks, it's all muddled in together, which is exactly what I would have wanted if I'd thought about what I really wanted from this book.

Anna's moving to a strange country where she doesn't know a single person. And she's not going in her freshman year, either, which means that she's leaving behind friends and she'll be attempting to fit into existing friendship groups in Paris. As someone who spent a semester studying in the US during uni, I related to this quite strongly, though I was lucky enough not to have to worry about a language barrier. There were a lot of things about Anna's family and friends that resonated strongly with me, and these were the parts of the book that I enjoyed the best.

Saying that, there's nothing wrong with the romance, and I appreciated the fact that it was diluted by all the other things going on. There aren't whole chapters dedicated to talking about St. Clair's hair or voice or whatever, which was good because I wasn't that bothered about him. He seemed okay, kind of a jerk if you ask me, and I didn't exactly swoon for him. Honestly, I think he wasn't so much hot as he was just the hottest guy around. He had comparative hotness. And yes, that is definitely a real, academic term that I can use in a professional review.

I enjoyed this story and I liked the writing, though I was unsettled by the occasional drifts into what I consider unnecessary melodrama, but overall it was good. I wanted to see more of Meredith, and I wouldn't have minded seeing a little more of Paris - despite my general aversion to Paris (this is a story for another day, but suffice it to say that the mere mention of Paris can make me feel panicky) - but I think this book could still appeal to people who aren't interested in straight-up romance books. If only they could lose the cheesy title and cover (although this one is a vast improvement on the previous one)



Thursday, 13 February 2014

HUSH, HUSH

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Romance was not part of Nora Grey's the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.
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Ohh, I am such an idiot. Essentially, this is a book that became a big hit off the back of the Twilight phenomenon, and there is a reason the two are often linked. Because they are essentially the same book. I mean it, almost identical. This is slightly darker, but that doesn't make it better. And in fact, if you'd told me that Becca Fitzpatrick was Stephenie Meyer writing under a pseudonym, that would not surprise me one little bit. Now, before I go any further, I should probably say that I actually like the Twilight books. They are not well-written, they are not great literature, but I enjoyed them. I didn't enjoy this book.

There are two distinct problems with this book that I can point to, the first being the whole fallen angel aspect. This is clear from the front cover and the blurb. You would have to have a ridiculously low IQ not to realise that Patch is a fallen angel. Everyone knows. I knew two years before I even picked up the book that it was about a fallen angel. Want to know how long it took main character Nora to figure it out? 248 pages. And, actually, that's not even when she figured it out. That's when she started to realise that maybe something wasn't right and also a lot of stuff with angels seemed to be happening around her.

I wanted to punch her. And I'm not a violent person.

Well, not really.

My other problem was the relationship between Patch and Nora. Now, sorry to throw it back to Twilight again, but I kind of have to. See, for years people have been criticising the relationship between Bella and Edward, throwing around words like abusive and stalker and scary. I don't necessarily agree with everything that's said about them - yes, he is a bit stalker-y to begin with, but abusive is a big word that I think gets thrown around a bit lightly when this particular topic comes up because I don't see Edward subjecting Bella to physical or psychological abuse - but I think it's definitely true of this book. Patch actively frightens Nora, she is scared of him. Actually afraid of the guy. And yet she's still hooking up with him and thinking about him all the time. This bothered me because I really don't think it's a healthy relationship to show impressionable readers. I think it's kind of irresponsible, actually. Also, it made me want to punch Nora again. If you are afraid of a guy, don't invite him into your kitchen and make out with him. Lock the door and either call your parents or the police, depending on how exactly the situation is playing out. It's really not that difficult, is it?



Wednesday, 12 February 2014

THE GATHERING STORM

The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.

The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?
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I have an uncanny ability to pick up books about vampires without having any idea they're full of vampires. Seriously. It's amazing. All I read was the synopsis posted above. As you can see, not a single mention of vampires. Not a one. Some people might say that necromancer was a bit of a giveaway, but I disagree. In my experience, necromancers spend more time hanging out with zombies than they do with vampires. So, I had no idea this book would be about vampires. That might put a lot of people off, and it might have put me off, actually - I love vampires, but I'm a little bored of them right now - but it shouldn't. Not really, because this book is actually pretty good.

I have something of an obsession with books set in Russia, stemming from my love of the film Anastasia. My knowledge of Russia is in fact slim, but I am drawn to books set there. I think, though, that the setting could have been drawn more distinctly. Beyond the names - of characters and places - and the use of the word tsar, there actually wasn't a whole lot that marked it as being set in Russia. There isn't much evidence of Russian customs, or food, or clothing. Honestly, you could have changed the setting quite easily just by doing a search for tsar and St. Petersburg.

The names are quite tricky, too. Or perhaps I should say the titles. There's an author's note at the start of the book explaining how names are constructed in Russian - which I was really grateful for, otherwise I would have ended up with basically no idea what was happening - but it didn't address the issue of titles. Every character has about four different titles, which are frequently used instead of a given name, and I kept finding myself hopelessly lost. By the end, I think I'd figured out who everyone was, but I'm not entirely sure.

This is a nice read. I enjoyed it and I'm planning to read the second one, but it was also quite a difficult read. And there are vampires. Don't let that put you off too much, though, because they're not cheesy vampires. They're more like blood-drinking witches than anything else. Okay, that sounds cheesy, but trust me, it works.



Sunday, 9 February 2014

THE LEGO MOVIE

An ordinary LEGO minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary MasterBuilder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the universe together.
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Emmet is an ordinary construction worker living in a town that I believe is called Bricksburg (this information does not appear to be on the internet, and neither does the *awesome* song that I still have stuck in my head. I think perhaps my internet is broken. Or the world. I've suspected the world is broken since I discovered you cannot buy cuddly toys of the trolls in Frozen. That is a topic for another day, however.) Emmet is content with his life, even though he's kind of lonely in it. He follows the instructions issued by President Business to the letter, but doesn't understand why it doesn't result in happiness. Then he finds a magic brick and his whole world is turned upside down. 

This film is pretty damn awesome. Now, I've been keen to see it since I saw the first trailer - Lego and Batman, what could be better than that? I was even prepared to overlook the fact that Will Ferrell had a starring role, but again, that's a topic for another day. The thing is, I was expecting it to be brilliantly naff. You know, so bad that it's good? It's not. It's just flat out good. 

It's so clever. So, so clever. I don't want to go into just how clever it is, because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone, but it's clever. It's not just a kids' movie. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's actually not a kids' movie, and a lot of kids would just be bored by it. It's a smart, funny, slick film, with some amazing graphics to boot. It'll sound stupid, because I knew that it was going to be a film where everything is made out of Lego, but it didn't hit me that everything would be made out of Lego until I saw it. There's a bit at the start where Emmet takes a shower - totally not in a seedy way, promise - and I was just so impressed by the animation of the water. I'm kind of a dork.

Along those lines, this film actually really moved me, too. I know, I know, I can hear you rolling your eyes from here. When Bad Cop - voiced by Liam Neeson no less - shows Emmet the video of his neighbours and co-workers talking about him, I cried. Seriously. Not a lot, true, but an actual tear escaped. And then at the end when...ending-spoilery stuff happens, I wanted to cry again. I thought I was going to cry again. It was beautiful. Also, Will Ferrell did not ruin it for me.

Do yourself a favour and go see this film. Seriously. Even if you're sceptical of it, even if you think it's just for kids, even if you've never liked Lego, you should go and see this film. Although if you've never liked Lego, you should go see someone about that first and then go enjoy the film. Because you will enjoy it. I promise.



Monday, 3 February 2014

ONCE WAS LOST

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

Samara Taylor used to believe in miracles. She used to believe in a lot of things.

When your father's a pastor, it's hard not to buy in to the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reasons to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town is kidnapped, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel.
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As an atheist who finds the idea of faith utterly intriguing, I found this a really interesting book to read. Sam's father is a pastor so she's always had a firm belief in God, but then things start to fall apart and she starts to question her faith. Her mother's in rehab, a friend from church disappears, and her father might be having an affair. Sam's left alone and struggling to deal with everything that's going on in her life. Having never had an faith of my own, I always find it interesting to listen to people that do. 

It's not exactly heavy on plot or characterisation, but there's a blend of both that builds quite a vivid picture of Sam's life. I could almost feel the heat and humidity as she lay in her un-air-conditioned house, or worked on making the garden more desert-friendly. Her slightly awkward friendships with Vanessa and Daniel also resonated strongly with me - they get along and they do things together, but Sam is aware that they frequently do things with other people that they don't invite her to because she's the pastor's daughter. She lives entirely in his shadow, and it affects every area of her life. 

Something I found particularly interesting about this book, though, was that I didn't try and guess what had happened to Jody - the girl who is kidnapped. There's all this talk about finding her, but less about someone taking her. I was so wrapped up in Sam's personal crisis that I didn't even wonder who might have taken her after a certain point, and actually overlooked a large clue. Normally, I would have spent all my reading time agonising over who was responsible, and I wonder if the fact that I didn't is a good or a bad thing. Either way, I'll be looking out for more of Sara Zarr's books in the future.



Sunday, 2 February 2014

BAD GIRLS DON'T DIE

Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude.

When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in.

Alexis wants to think that it's all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening--to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president. Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey -- but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?
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Look at that creepy cover! Look how creepy! Honestly, I thought this book was going to disappoint me, but it didn't, I found it genuinely creepy for a portion in the middle. Sadly, once the strands of the plot started to draw together, it lost it's creep factor, but for a time I really did find it quite unsettling. As in, had-to-turn-the-lights-on-to-walk-around-my-house-at-night unsettling. Not that I just randomly walk around my house in the dark. That would just be weird.

So, basically, Alexis' annoying little sister is being possessed by a super creepy doll. Now, dolls are pretty creepy anyway, so that helps to build things. I wasn't convinced by the start, with the ball of light hovering in the garden, I could have totally lived without that part, but it soon got up to speed. 

I loved the portrayal of the family dynamic, it was utterly believable to me. They don't really talk to each other, they don't really like each other. They're just all occupying the same space and trying to get on with things without it getting more unpleasant. Alexis flinches away when her father touches her shoulder, she'd rather he just completely ignored her. It was a nice change to see parents who were around, almost constantly present, but at the same time just as absent as the usual parents you find in a young adult novel.

Alexis as a character was a bit trickier for me, though. There were aspects of her character that I liked. I loved her passion for photography. I know nothing about photography really, but I found the opening with her setting up her shots really interesting. In fact, I would have liked the photography to play a bigger part in the climax - perhaps she could have photographed Kasey during her possession and used this to prove something? Other aspects of her personality, though, I struggled with. She's vehemently against the cheerleaders, but she also can't stand the other people who vehemently hate the cheerleaders, the group she has dubbed the Doom Squad. I would have liked it if instead of interacting with these people, she just pretty much ignored them. There was no reason for her to have anything to do with the Doom Squad and it bugged me. Maybe I'm just being picky. I don't know. But the whole set-up of Alexis as an outsider didn't really work for me because she wasn't actually an outsider.

Overall, this book was pretty creepy, which is what I wanted from it. There were some aspects that I didn't get along with so well, including the convenient explanation of everything that had been happening. I think it would have worked a lot better in a small town setting, something that I didn't really get a sense of while reading. It was just a generic town, it could have been anywhere and it didn't really seem all that small, so the plot seemed kind of off to me, though I don't want to spoil it for anyone by going into why. Honestly, it's a fairly enjoyable book, though I can't see how it's spawned two sequels.



Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Point of the Cover Reveal

So, this week, I've been thinking about cover reveals - when the cover of a new book is revealed for the first time, usually online. I can understand why people get excited - authors and readers alike - but recently I've been a bit troubled by the idea. You see, I totally get cover reveals for standalone books, or even books that are the first in a series. What I don't get is making a big deal over the reveal for a sequel, or a later instalment in a series. This was cemented for me a few days ago, when the cover of Cassandra Clare's City of Heavenly Fire, was revealed. This book is the sixth in the Mortal Instruments series. This is it.


And these are the other five covers in the series.


Is it just me or do they look a little similar? Like, very similar? I'm not picking on Cassandra Clare - who I am sure has almost nothing to do with her covers, the same as any author - or her books. I don't particularly like these covers, but that's not the point either. My point is that they're really similar. A city scape at the bottom, people without whole faces on display, a wishy-washy colour thing going on around them. I'm not complaining that they're similar, I get super mad when series of books don't match, but I object to them being revealed as if they are new and unique and special.

When the sixth cover was revealed a week or so ago, it was done so on a billboard. In Times Square. Somebody paid for a billboard in Times Square and bunch of coverage of an event, to reveal a cover that looks pretty much exactly like the five that came before it. And, might I add, kind of similar to Clare's other series of books, the Infernal Devices.


Again, not picking on Cassandra Clare or the people who design her covers, although it may seem that way and I should probably be digging around on the internet for other authors with series of books, but she had a recent release that a big fuss was made over, so she's sticking in my mind. But these books are incredibly similar, too. I have to stress, I like when series covers match. I love it. I hate when they change. But I don't get building up to a big cover reveal.

My first experience of the cover reveal must have been the Harry Potter series. I looked forward to finding out what the covers would look like, it was exciting, like I already had a little piece of the book that I was waiting so long for. But those covers, while matching, were different. They had unique illustrations on them, something that a lot of time and effort had gone into creating. They weren't just a stock photograph of a faceless figure on a smoky background.

Looking at them all together like this, you can see how different each one is, while still clearly being a part of the set. These are covers worth revealing. Take Deathly Hallows for example. None of us knew how the series was going to end, but look at all the little hints and clues this cover gave us. Are Harry, Ron and Hermione in Gringotts? Are they running from something or reaching for something? Is that a sword coming out of Harry's back? Who's holding the sword? Is that a house-elf? This cover gave us so many things to discuss and speculate, as did several of the others. In fact, the only covers here that didn't really give us anything to speculate about are the first and fifth, although the first did beg the question platform nine and three quarters? Whaaaat?

Since starting to blog about books and being more active on twitter, I see cover reveals all the time. And they're a good idea, they raise the profile of books and honestly, seeing a cover helps me decide if I'm interested in reading a book or not. It cements the idea of the book in my head, more so than a synopsis does. And I do kind of see the reasoning behind posting the cover of a series book online and saying ta-dah! But to go all out for a cover reveal, to make a big thing of it when the cover just looks like all the others in the series? Nope, sorry, do not get that at all.



SIX MONTHS LATER

Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards

When Chloe fell asleep in study hall, it was the middle of May. When she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can't remember the last six months of her life.

Before, she'd been a mediocre student. Now, she's on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he's her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won't speak to her.

What happened to her? Remembering the truth could be more dangerous than she knows...
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Long story short, I loved the first half of this book and couldn't stand the second. Honestly, I don't know what happened. Actually, that's not true. I know exactly what happened, the reason Chloe lost her memory was revealed and I just didn't like it. Not one bit. I won't spoil it for anyone who might want to read this book, but I found the reason to be dull, cliched and completely ridiculous.

It's a shame, because I was enjoying the writing and the characters so much. There was a sense of intrigue which kept me guessing, trying to figure out what had happened to her, but then BOOM. Gone. And I had to force myself to read the rest of the book. 

Thinking about it now, and skimming some other reviews on Goodreads, there are some other flaws to this book that I didn't notice at the time. Like the fact that Chloe claims to be determined to figure out what happened to her and her memories, and yet actually spends all her time wondering whether Adam really likes her or not. Adam, who is not mentioned in the summary, is the Bad Boy that she shouldn't be in love with because she's dating Blake, the Jock. They are both very, very pretty, though, so it makes sense that she should be in love with both of them. I know the book would have been a lot shorter - as in maybe just sixty pages long instead of 200+ - if Chloe had just demanded some answers from people, but I really don't know why they didn't. There was some gumph about her having panic attacks previously, so she didn't want people to think she was actually crazy, but I don't buy it. Also, I think the suggested link between having panic attacks and needed to be locked in an asylum was just...beyond. 

Wow, I'm actually starting to make myself mad now, so I'll just stop. I didn't hate this book. I loved the start of it, but I got bored. The plot was ridiculous, and now that I think about it, the character of Chloe was infuriating.  I thought I'd found a great read to follow Kasie West's Pivot Point, but I just ended up disappointed.