Friday, 11 August 2017

Quick Picks ~ This Week's Top 3 Reads

It's been awhile but Quick Picks is back!


A massive thank you to all of you guys for being patient with me over the last couple of months as I took a bit of a health hiatus from blogging and reviewing. Taking a break to focus on my health is a decision I am truly thankful I made, but I missed reviewing and am so, so happy to be back!

This past week I've indulged in some great reads. 

Today I'm bringing three of these to your attention: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, Nightstruck by Jenna Black, and The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan.

Each of these reads had something in common.

All three novels had plots whose unique concepts captured my imagination from the start. I hope they will intrigue you, entertain you, and above all have you falling in love with them just as much as I did.

A big thank you to Allen & Unwin, BloomsburyPan Macmillan Australia, and Penguin Random House Australia for sending me these copies to review.

Let's get listing!

#1: The Bone Season

The Bone Season
By Samantha Shannon

Genre(s)Fantasy, YA, Science Fiction, Paranormal
Pub Date: February 2017
Page(s): 560
Price: $24.99 (AUD)

Rating4 out of 5 stars

One sentence summary: A powerful Dreamwalker, leading a double life and dabbling in crime, is abducted by a race of immortals and must fight to escape.

Best part(s): I have always envied authors who seemingly pluck incredibly imaginative concepts out of thin air. And Samantha Shannon has been officially added to that list!

There is something so intriguing about the idea that there are 'types' of clairvoyants: Soothsayers, Augurs, Mediums, Sensors, Guardians, Furies, and Jumpers (each with their own 'sub categories' of clairvoyants). It really ignites your imagination as a reader and makes you consider how each type of clairvoyant differs and how these differences make for a great plot basis and storytelling.

From the very first page our protagonist Paige is an amusing narrator, managing to balance the book's current line of plot and action with backstory. There is no information dumping, and the introduction of futuristic or paranormal elements is made with relative ease.

The dialogue is another treat in The Bone Season, with many quotable lines and vivid imagery. The combination of steady plot pacing and quality dialogue leads to satisfying character development. Even though Paige is the book's focal point, the reader is also easily able to invest in the story's secondary characters.

Overall, I can understand why The Bone Season has been a frequently recommended read - it is a book that is easy to become lost in as you visit a unique and thrilling dystopia.

Least favourite part(s): There is some predictability in The Bone Season's plot, as it follows quite a few 'well travelled' YA pathways and tropes.

Although this may, for some readers, make it harder to digest (as it lessens a reader's anticipation) I myself am not totally against the use of cliches and well-used plot complications, etc. in YA fiction. I think, when well-written and combined with fresh concepts, they can still provide readers with quality reading material.

The Bone Season was still any enjoyable read overall...however I do hope that future books in the series rely less on cliches and instead emphasis Samantha Shannon's own unique creations.

Find out more about the book & add it your Goodreads bookshelf today! 

'"Paige. I'm trying to help you."
"Go to hell."
"I already exist on a level of hell."
"Exist on one that isn't near mine."'

#2: Nightstruck

By Jenna Black

YA, Horror, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Pub Date: April 2016
Page(s): 304
Price: $14.99 (AUD)

Rating4.2 out of 5 stars

One sentence summaryA young woman struggles with the quickly blurring line between reality and nightmare, as people start missing only to emerge again crazed and violent when the sun goes down.

Best part(s): It's been such a long time since I've read a book with really good horror elements. Nightstruck not only has a stunning cover (and title!) but its story paints a portrait of terror and struggle.

One of my favourite parts of the book was Chapter 1 and the ingenious starting scene of our protagonist coming across an abandoned 'baby'. The imagery of the baby turning to dust, the way this scene haunt both the reader and the protagonist...I loved it! I know it probably sounds like I'm fangirling far too much over a single scene haha, but it was just so unique. So perfect - a truly impactful way to kick off a novel and the reader's expectations for it.

The whole way through the book there is this undercurrent of unease. I truly admire books that steadily build up a sense of wrongness - keeping the reader on edge until the main twist or plot event is revealed.

Least favourite part(s)This may just be my least favourite thing about YA haha, but YA romance tends to come across sometimes as trying too hard. I felt like Nightstruck's plot was such a solid construction that it only weakened it to have the addition of the semi-rushed 'romance'. It added nothing to the plot and didn't, in my opinion, contribute much in regards to character development for our protagonist - which was a shame.

Find out more about the book & add it to your Goodreads bookshelf today!

'I had the brief thought that maybe I should try to stop her as she sauntered to the front door.

(...) In the end, I let her leave. It's a decision I will regret for the rest of my life.'

#3: The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy

The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy
By Rick Riordan

Genre(s): YA, Fantasy, Mythology
Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
Pub Date: May 2017
Price: $22.99 (AUD)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One sentence summary: A god-turned-mortal journeys across North America in an attempt to discover what is affecting the Oracles.

Best part(s): Rick Riordan is the master of weaving mythology with YA fiction. His books always contain an equal amount of comedy and heart - making you laugh, and at the same time playing on your heartstrings as you become super attached to his motley cast of characters.

When it comes to YA mythology Apollo is always one of my fave characters. Jennifer L. Armentrout's version of him in her Titan series is the most hilarious thing I have ever read, and Riordan also does a phenomenal job of bringing his multi-faceted character to life.

Apollo is by far one of the book's more endearing characters and there are certainly characters who could take a leaf out of his book (*cough* Meg *cough*). The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy once again points a spotlight on the series' most intriguing concept: the differences between an immortal and a mortal. Their temperament, their priorities, their wants and needs. Watching Apollo adapt to mortal life and slowly seeing his priorities shift is one of the highlights of the book. It's not every day you get to glimpse a god's mortal side...without some kind of retribution!

Least favourite part(s)The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy was just as entertaining as Riordan's past works. did take me awhile to get into. I struggled to understand why. I mean, I adore anything to do with Camp Half Blood and as an ancient history undergraduate I am such a fangirl when it comes to YA mythology fiction. But something just wasn't clicking 

I came to the conclusion that it may have been my addiction to Riordan fiction that was actually getting in the way of my enjoyment. After reading practically every one of his books to date, I've become used to his writing style - to the patterns in his writing, the punchlines, the character types, the journey twists and turns. I can almost predict the path the plot will take and although it's always a joy to dig into a book that feels like a friend you've known forever, it can lessen the sense of anticipation you have going in. True, the format of The Trials of Apollo differs from some of Riordan's earlier works, but after awhile it too falls into a slight pattern.

That said, I did enjoy The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy once I managed to get past the first few chapters or so. It became easier to fall into a natural reading pattern - to disconnect from my brain's chattering commentary and to just go along for the ride.

Find out more about the book & add it to your Goodreads bookshelf today!

'The girl's eyes were like fractured prisms, swirling with unanchored thoughts and waking nightmares. I knew that look too well. Over the centuries I'd seen many mortal minds broken under the weight of the prophecy.

"Apollo." She let out a burst of giggles as if her brain had developed a leak. "You and the dark. Some death, some death, some death."'

Which book will you be adding to your TBR? Have you read any standout books this week?

Let me know in the comments below!

Although I was provided with a review copy by the author and/or publisher, all opinions expressed in the this post are purely my own. To find out more, please visit my disclaimer page.

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