Sunday, 20 March 2016

And about this time of every year, the line will go to the ocean pier, and walk right off into the sea, and then we fall asleep.

Salt to the Sea
Publication Date: February 4th 2016
Publisher: Puffin
~An (unsolicited) copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review~

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

Salt to the Sea is the kind of book that sneaks up on you. Going in, I honestly don't know what I was expecting, as it says in the back, the story, the ship, is not a tragedy a lot of people know, I sure didn't. It may have taken me a while to get into Salt to the Sea, but once I did, and the inevitable happened, it snuck up on me how much I actually cared about the story, the characters, what it represents and what happened.

 I think the reason why it took me so long to get into Salt to the Sea is because of the perspectives, and how short the chapters are, we just start getting to know a character before it switches again in between, Joana, a Lithuanian, Florian, the Prussian, Emilia, the Polish, and Alfred, the German sociopath that reinforces Hitler’s ideology. But what I did love about the chapters, was how it held the suspense, we slowly get threads of their lives and secrets until they're sewn together. 

The characters, eventually (minus the sociopath) get easier to connect to, to feel for the characters and real lives that are lost to the sea in a bigger tragedy than Titanic, and honestly, I didn't know how invested I was until the end.

Salt to the Sea is a mixture of desperation and fear, a desperation and fear that nobody should have to go through or witness.

Rating: 4/5



Sunday, 13 March 2016

She should keep in mind, she should keep in mind, there is nothing I do better than revenge.

The Revenge Artist
Publcation Date: November 18th 2015
Published by:
~A copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review~

They say money can't buy you love. Becca Williamson begs to differ.

Once upon a time, Becca was the Break-Up Artist, tearing apart unhealthy relationships at her school for just $100 via PayPal. But after a job went really wrong, she went legit for love and now brings couples together. Crushing on that supercute guy in Chemistry but too shy to say hi? Becca has the right formula. Pining for that artsy girl who vowed never to date a jock? Becca will ensure love conquers all. She's even engineered a relationship of her own: the funny, sweet and unbelievably cute Fred Teplitzky, the one guy who knows exactly what to say to make our unflappable heroine&amp...well, flappable.

But before she can pick out a graduation robe and enjoy her last months at Ashland High, Becca has to deal with a new Break-Up Artist on the block. And this master manipulator is dead set on one thing: revenge. Someone is going around destroying all of the couples she's worked hard to unite. Now Becca has to outwit and outscheme her new foe in a dirty cat-and-mouse chase filled with hacked emails, video surveillance, reputation ruining and a few candy hearts. Especially when she realizes that the Revenge Artist's number one target is her and Fred.

Looks like there are no such things as clean breaks.

I really enjoyed The Break-Up artist last year, it was a fun quick read full of personality and drama. Although my main problem with it was the high schools weird obsession of having a boyfriend, which was everything and you were obviously a poor suffering alien if you weren't a couple. Thankfully, that wasn't an issue here, considering Becca is no longer The Break-Up Artist, and more of a matchmaker, but it seemed like everyone learned a lesson and weren't so obnoxious. 

So, Becca's now a relationship engineer, for the same price via PayPal, she now brings people together, and with her also having a boyfriend now, she's a little less cynical (but she's always going to be cynical). Enter...The Revenge Artist, who, well, wants revenge by attacking the very couples Becca brings together, and her own relationship with Fred.

Of course there is still drama.

I think, the thing about Becca is, she's stubborn, and I mean stubborn to the point that it works very easily against her, especially with The Revenge Artist, who coincidently, does very little compared to what Becca did to break up couples. But she's realistic in that way, we don't want or like it when people get the best of you, when someone's playing your game, you want to win. Becca goes through a lot of growth, and although she does cause most of the things that happens, it also shows her what she really wants. She's uncertain about what she wants in her future, and who she wants with her. It's something you can relate to.

I did figure out who The Revenge Artist is, after all, keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer. Overall, The Revenge Artist is a great follow up to The Break-Up Artist, but if you weren't so fussed on The Break-Up Artist, the follow up might be more to your liking, because it also has a tooth achingly adorable epilogue, and for once I'm not being sarcastic.

                                                                           Rating: 4/5



Sunday, 6 March 2016

Up on this hill, in this uncanny house, the wind makes this place creak, the lights they are flickering.

The Haunting

Publication Date: February 11th 2016
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
~A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review~

Some curses grow stronger with time…
People say that all Cornish inns are haunted, but the Waterwitch’s history is particularly chilling. Built from the salvaged timber of a cursed ship, the guest house’s dark secrets go further back than anyone can remember.
Emma is permanently confined to a wheelchair after an accident at the Waterwitch which took place when she was ten. Seven years later, she decides to return to the place where the awful event occurred. But the ancient inn still has its ghosts, and one particular spirit is more vengeful than ever…
A chilling new title in the Red Eye horror series from the author of Frozen Charlotte.

I loved Frozen Charlotte last year, creepy dolls + sociopathic tendencies = my kind of book, so I was wondering how Alex Bell was going to top it. Some things in Frozen Charlotte, (the writing, the pace) stayed the same in The Haunting, whilst other components (the characters, the creepy) were different.

So, did The Haunting top Frozen Charlotte? 

Short answer: Yes.
You want the long answer anyway? Yay. 

The Haunting, is creepy as hell, I described Frozen Charlotte as psychologically disturbing, well, I take it back, because this was so much more disturbing and scary and I had to turn the light on at one point. 

The characters are quirky and I felt more of a connection with them. Emma, in a wheelchair and with help from her assistance dog, lives a relatively normal life, she has her days, but she doesn't let it stop her from doing what she wants. She's also feisty and points out the way people react to people in a wheelchair, stereotyping. Jem and Shell are still reeling from leaving their abusive father behind, have barely any money, Jem’s protective of Shell, and Shell, is a little eccentric.

The Haunting, as I said is more disturbing and it messes with your head because you're not quite sure what's real or not or if it's mass hysteria. Since we have three perspectives, Emma's, Jem's and Shell's and a haunted place, two nonbelievers and a believer (guess who that is?) it'll have you believing one minute, and then the more you discover of their pasts, second guessing yourself. 

If you've read Frozen Charlotte, you'll remember the lack of romance, which was refreshing, and it's the same in The Haunting, even though I was hoping to have some romance in there, but it's still refreshing to have the story be focused on the plot and the emphasis on friendship and family. If you liked Frozen Charlotte, Alex Bell doesn't disappoint with The Haunting.

Rating: 4/5