Chrissi Cupboard Month

All posts in the Chrissi Cupboard Month category

The Kiss Of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) – Mary E. Pearson

Published May 20, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.

What did I think?:

When my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads told me I had to start this series I have to admit that although I trust her opinion of what I’m going to enjoy implicitly, I was slightly unsure. I’m not a big fan of romance heavy books, they tend to be a bit sickly sweet for my liking and I was worried the cheese factor might be a bit too much for me to take. Well, Chrissi was right once again. I actually LOVED this book, so much in fact that I gave it a physical hug when I had finished. Embarrassing to admit? Maybe but never mind, eh?! It’s the perfect mixture of fantasy with magical elements, intrigue, twists and turns with a wonderful independent female lead and even a love triangle that was beautifully understated and amazingly, didn’t get on my wick.

Our main character, Princess Lia is from the land of Morrighan and is due to be married off to a prince from a neighbouring land that she has never met before, purely for political alliance purposes. She, understandably, is less than thrilled with this prospect and decides to run away with her best friend and maid, Pauline. They ensconce themselves under the radar in a fishing village miles from home, working locally and trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible. However, Lia does not manage to stay incognito very long. There are now two men that come into her life that are both after her for different reasons. One is the thwarted prince that she was meant to marry, the other is an assassin sworn to take her life (again for political reasons). Their names are Rafe and Kaden and they are both deadly in different circumstances but the brilliant thing about this novel is that we don’t know which is the assassin and which is the prince inviting bucket loads of intensity, tension and drama in an action packed plot that I simply adored.

So as I mentioned in the first paragraph of this review, I am in no way a romance fan. I never have been but after reading The Kiss Of Deception I am now starting to wonder have I just been reading the wrong sort of books? The romance in this novel was so tender and lovely to read that I even experienced a little flutter at certain moments of the narrative, something I thought could never have happened to a cynical old heart like myself! More surprising, I actually enjoyed the love triangle part of this story, normally something I despise in YA fiction. In the first novel of The Remnant Chronicles it just feels somewhat different – I’m not sure if I can explain it. I think it might be down to the character of Lia and how she deals with the intentions of both Rafe and Kaden. She has sass, a fiesty “no nonsense” nature and her strong personality in general coupled with her insistence that she can be independent and work a normal job, sort of an anti-princess so as to speak really made me respect her and made her more believable and the romance aspect less sickly sweet. I had such a positive reaction to this book, it was so pleasantly surprising and on finishing it I immediately asked Chrissi if she had finished the second book yet so I could read it, that’s how desperate I was to continue the series as soon as possible, a VERY good sign I think!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

Asking For It – Louise O’Neill

Published April 27, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

What did I think?:

I first came across the amazing Louise O’Neill with her debut novel, Only Ever Yours which won a host of acclaim and the YA book prize back in 2015. Just looking at the title, Asking For It, I knew this was going to be a raw, emotional read but I certainly wasn’t prepared for the feelings it would give me while I was reading it. The author approaches difficult topics, things we don’t necessarily talk about much (but SHOULD) with ease and panache and I finished this novel angry with the world but strangely quite empowered and wanting to do something to change it.

If you haven’t heard already, Asking For It is the story of eighteen year old Emma O’Donovan. Her life is pretty much perfect, she has a host of adoring friends, she is popular, beautiful and clever to boot and is the apple of her parents eye. A lot is expected of Emma, especially by her mother and it is interesting to note how the support network around her fails spectacularly after one night when her whole world falls apart. Emma is under the influence of alcohol and drugs when the event occurs and was so wasted that she has no recollection of it at all. Turning up a bit bruised and worse for wear on her doorstep might have just been another night partying a bit too hard? Until school the next day when her friends ignore her, mock her or just plain won’t meet her eye. For there are explicit photographs of Emma and what happened to her plastered all over social media and she has become the laughing stock of the school. Emma has had a bit of a reputation prior to the incident but she was obviously too drunk/high to give her consent… was she asking for it?

While reading this novel, I couldn’t stop thinking about the issue of consent and responsibility that the author has explored in such a visceral, honest way. I’m sure you’ve all heard about the amount of rape cases that actually end in a conviction i.e. very few and as a result, many women feel scared to come forward as they fear they won’t be believed. It is only widely known that the prosecution only need to get a whiff of “she had been drinking,” before the issue of consent becomes a very blurry one. This just makes me so angry. What right does anyone have to use alcohol as an excuse to not convict someone who has brutally invaded a private, personal space? In Asking For It, Louise O’Neill makes our emotions and attitudes whirl considerably more as Emma O’Donovan is not a likeable character in the slightest. She is rude, bitchy and a nasty piece of work and initially, she was so rotten I felt I couldn’t possibly feel sorry for her. Until the party. Until she becomes a wreck, a broken shell of herself, possibly ruined for life and intensely pitiable. Of course, no matter someone’s personality/past actions, absolutely no one deserves to be violated like that.

We have to start talking about this issue, we simply must try and lift the shame behind having this happen and treat victims the way they should be treated, as a human being with basic rights to their own body that no-one should take away unless they explicitly consent to it. This is why this book is so great – it makes you think, it makes you emotional, it makes you desperate to see change and it makes you worry about every single woman that this has happened to. Certainly nobody is EVER “Asking For It.” A huge thank you to Louise for writing such a strong, passionate story that really opened my eyes.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

Checkmate (Noughts & Crosses #3) – Malorie Blackman

Published January 4, 2017 by bibliobeth

17426231

What’s it all about?:

Can the future ever erase the past? Rose has a Cross mother and a nought father in a society where the pale-skinned noughts are treated as inferiors and those with dual heritage face a life-long battle against deep-rooted prejudices. Sephy, her mother, has told Rose virtually nothing about her father, but as Rose grows into a young adult, she unexpectedly discovers the truth about her parentage and becomes determined to find out more. But her father’s family has a complicated history – one tied up with the fight for equality for the nought population. And as Rose takes her first steps away from Sephy and into this world, she finds herself drawn inexorably into more and more danger. Suddenly it’s a game of very high stakes that can only have one winner . . .

What did I think?:

Checkmate is the third book in the fabulous Noughts & Crosses series by a woman I’ve come to think of as a YA genius – Malorie Blackman. I am going to try and write this review as spoiler free as I can for anybody who hasn’t started the series yet but it gets harder with each successive book in the series. I heartily recommend anyone who is interested in dystopian fiction, prejudice and racial tension to read these books and discover the magic of them for yourself.

Our main character from the first book, Sephy is back and she has had a daughter, Callie Rose whom she is raising by herself with the help of her mother and Callie’s father’s mother. Callie is growing up in tough times where black people (known as Crosses) are the “superior” race and whites (known as Noughts) are treated with scorn and derision. Callie’s problem is that she has a Cross mother and a Nought father, so in effect is mixed race and suffers terrible prejudice from both sides of the divide. Checkmate is Callie’s coming of age story as she grows up in a hostile world, tries to connect with her often emotionally distant mother and finds out things about her family that may have been better left hidden and may have dangerous consequences.

To be perfectly honest, this book did not have as much of an effect on me as the previous two books in the series, Noughts & Crosses and Knife Edge, Apart from the ending that is, which is quite literally explosive and incredibly tense, paving the way for a potentially devastating final book in the series. I loved Callie Rose as a character and could see a lot of her mother in her young self but found myself becoming quite frustrated with Sephy at times as her wariness around her daughter was truly heart-breaking to read. I loved the way that this novel was told from the perspective of multiple characters once again, this is one of my favourite ways to read as I feel it gives you a much deeper insight into the mind of certain characters, especially ones where you can’t quite accept their motives. Say no more….apart from please start this series if you haven’t already and let me know what you think!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

December 2016 – Chrissi Cupboard Month #6

Published December 2, 2016 by bibliobeth

photo

It’s December. And that means (drumroll please)….. it’s Chrissi Cupboard Month!

Hi everyone! It’s nearly Christmas and what better way to finish off this year than a whole month of reading books loaned to me by my beloved sister, Chrissi Reads? This is what I’ll be reading for the month of December.

One – Sarah Crossan

Gathering Blue (The Giver Quartet #2) – Lois Lowry

Rebel Belle – Rachel Hawkins

Evertrue (Everneath #3) – Brodi Ashton

Into The Still Blue (Under The Never Sky #3) – Veronica Rossi

The Daughter Of Smoke And Bone – Laini Taylor

The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children Of Ashton Place #1) – Maryrose Wood

The Drowning – Rachel Ward

Follow Me Down – Tanya Byrne

The Art Of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

As usual, I’m really looking forward to all of these books but in particular, continuing with The Giver series and finishing the Everneath and Under The Never Sky series. There are also a couple of books on this list, namely Rebel Belle and The Drowning that come highly recommended from Chrissi. Here’s to an excellent month of reading!

The Last Leaves Falling – Fox Benwell

Published November 22, 2016 by bibliobeth

20743633

What’s it all about?:

And these are they. My final moments. They say a warrior must always be mindful of death, but I never imagined that it would find me like this . . .

Japanese teenager, Sora, is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Lonely and isolated, Sora turns to the ancient wisdom of the samurai for guidance and comfort. But he also finds hope in the present; through the internet he finds friends that see him, not just his illness. This is a story of friendship and acceptance, and testing strength in an uncertain future.

What did I think?:

I read this book quite a while ago now (due to an incredibly long backlog!) and it’s taken me this long to try and collect my thoughts and feelings about it. Even now, I’m not sure if anything I say will make sense or if I can fully describe how this book played on my emotions or write a review that does justice to the beauty and brilliance of this fantastic debut novel but I’ll try my hardest. The Last Leaves Falling is not an easy book to read (emotionally speaking) by any stretch of this imagination and delves into some very murky places but if you’re strong enough to deal with a bit of sadness and despair, there are also a lot of rewards to be had in terms of the importance of love, friendship and family – all very prominent themes in the narrative.

Our main character is the wonderful Sora, who I instantly fell in love with. Sora is seventeen years old and is desperate for the life of a “normal” teenager but he is cruelly prevented from living his life the way he wants because of a terminal neuro-degenerative illness – ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease that is rapidly progressing through his body. He is now unable to attend school and relies heavily on his wheelchair and his mother to help him perform the menial tasks that we all take for granted, like getting washed and dressed ourselves. This is not only incredibly frustrating for a boy that used to be very active, but excruciatingly embarrassing for a young man of his age.

Sora spends most of his time online, reading the poetry of wounded samurai and emails he receives which describe an increasing number of individuals in Japan that contemplate or end up committing suicide. This is something he considers thoughtfully and intelligently, imagining how much worse life is going to get for him particularly when the muscles responsible for his breathing also fail him. At the same time, Sora just wants to be like everyone else. He meets two other teenagers online and strikes up a beautiful friendship with both, finally able to talk about normal teenage “stuff,” and not be the young man with a terminal illness. It is through the friendship and love of his new friends, Mai and Kaito that provides Sora with a reason for existing, hope and guaranteed assistance for the end of his life which will be devastatingly all too soon.

There are no words to describe how stunning this book is. From the beautifully drawn characters and their relationships with each other to the imaginative plot which is written in such a spectacular fashion, bringing me close to tears and making me appreciate my own life, friends and family even more. I struggle with a chronic illness myself and often have days when I rail at the unfairness of the world…until this book. Now I just count my blessings. As I mentioned before, it deals with some tough subjects like terminal illness, suicide, end of life care and as a result, was quite heart-breaking to read at many points but infinitely worth it. As a big fan of Japanese culture, I also appreciated the setting which was a refreshing change from other works of YA fiction that are set in the Western world and hugely applaud Fox Benwell for the diversity that was demonstrated in this book in general. I really urge everyone to read this book if you like what you’ve read so far, it’s an emotional journey but one you’ll be so glad you took!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

 

The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1) – Lois Lowry

Published November 1, 2016 by bibliobeth

3636

What’s it all about?:

This haunting story centres on Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colourless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he’s given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

What did I think?:

A huge thank you to my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads for recommending this excellent young adult novel to me. The Giver is the original dystopian novel, before all the hype about The Hunger Games kicked off and spawned a new rush of books in the genre, this is the story to turn to if you crave an alternative community that revolves around making life for its individuals as de-humanising as possible. Of course, the society in question that our main character Jonas is raised in, does not know any different and in some ways, their life could be thought of as fairly peaceful and problem free. There is no colour, no memories of the past, no decisions to be made but also no pain, no suffering and no complications. Your spouse is chosen for you, your children are allocated to you and a range of medications are available to suppress any strong, difficult feelings be they negative or the first stirrings of passion.

Each member of the community has their own role to play when they turn twelve years old. Jonas like many children is nervous about which role he will be allocated and it turns out he is right to be. For Jonas is allocated the most terrifying role in their population of which there is only one. He is to be The Receiver, and the old man who currently holds the post is to be The Giver and transmit to Jonas all the memories from the past, both painful and pleasurable. For the first time, Jonas understands what it’s like to see a rainbow, sled down a hill, feel the pure happiness that comes from being in love but unfortunately he also learns what torture, war and devastation also feel like. With this newfound knowledge, Jonas must decide what’s best for the community and of course, himself as his mind is opened up to a different way of living – for better or worse?

I loved this book! As the first book in a quartet it sets the scene perfectly of a world that couldn’t be more unfamiliar than the world we live in today. Or is it? This book really makes you think and appreciate everything we take for granted but also gets you thinking about some aspects of our lives that could be thought of as quite controlled still. We are indeed able to see colour, feel strong emotions, love passionately and most of all, have individual choice and personal freedom but this isn’t the case for everyone around the world.

The Giver is also a coming of age story as whilst Jonas is trained up to become The Receiver he is also startled into adulthood. This is a moment we’ll probably all recognise from our own lives when we suddenly realise that the world doesn’t revolve around us, life is notoriously hard and at many points in our future we will have to make tough decisions. The characters are all wonderful, especially Jonas who seemed wise beyond his years but so personable and the plot rattles along at a thrilling rate culminating in a gob-smacking finale that you may not see coming. I cannot wait to read the second book in the series and enter this strange new world once more.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

 

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) – Marissa Meyer

Published October 21, 2016 by bibliobeth

13206828

What’s it all about?:

In this third book in Marissa Meyer’s bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she’s just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she’d ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

What did I think?:

Isn’t it strange how your opinion on a series can change so much from the first book? Mine certainly has. Not saying I didn’t enjoy Cinder, the first book in the Lunar Chronicles but it wasn’t a series I saw myself continuing. If it wasn’t for my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads assuring me how great the second book, Scarlet was, I probably wouldn’t have carried on! I’m ever so glad I did, because the world that Marissa Meyer has created is truly magical and each book in the series just keeps getting better and better.

Each book is loosely based on a fairy tale (and has the most fabulous covers known to man). So, with the first book it was Cinderella quite obviously, the second Little Red Riding Hood and in this third offering, Cress could otherwise be known as Rapunzel. She is an employee of Queen Levana, villain extraordinaire and a talented hacker for Luna. Levana has kept her isolated on a satellite for her entire life with her only point of human contact being Sybil, Levana’s head thaumaturge/flunkey. As a result, Cress is incredibly naive, quite socially awkward and desperately in need of friends and her freedom.

See where I’m going with this? Cinder, Captain Thorne, Scarlet, Wolf and Iko are all rattling around in a spaceship on the run from the evil Queen Levana and her dastardly plans (which I’m not saying anything about for fear of spoiling the series for anyone who hasn’t started it yet!). They immediately mount a mission to rescue Cress from her lonely, humdrum existence, guessing that her talents with I.T. could make her quite valuable to them in the future… Of course, this wouldn’t be an adventure if things didn’t go slightly haywire along the way and they do, for a number of our characters which could affect the whole game plan of overthrowing Queen Levana, preventing her hideous marriage to the wonderful Prince Kai and clearing the way for the rightful ruler of Luna to take the throne.

This book is quite a hefty, meaty read at nearly 600 pages but please don’t let the size put you off, it was so action-packed that I seemed to read it in no time at all. I’m loving the mixture of characters that the author is producing, they’re all so endearing in their own ways and I’m beginning to appreciate each one for what they bring to the narrative: Cinder and her burgeoning leadership skills, Thorne with his wicked sense of humour, Scarlet for her fiesty attitude and Cress for her sweet innocence. Then BAM! right at the end, we get introduced to a new character that will play a prominent role in the next novel – Princess Winter who appears to be all kinds of crazy but utterly bewitching. I literally cannot wait to see how this series is going to pan out.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0