Thursday, 20 March 2014

Hauntingly Beautiful ~ Our Song by Jordanna Fraiberg Review

Our Song
By Jordanna Fraiberg

Rating: 4.4

'Their red beaks let out what sounded like a distress call, a discordant, screaming cacophony, as if they were at war with the swaggering hunk of brass. But as they dispersed into the open sky, their squawks became less urgent, blending into a harmonious song they belted out in unison. With their bright green wings, they glided through the clouds as one, singing at a pitch I'd never heard before.

(...) "You know what that is," Nick said, looking up at the sky. "That's the sound of freedom."'

They say near-death experiences change you. But no one ever said 'for the better'.

Olive Bell had a near-fatal car accident. Yet there was nothing near about her experience. Olive died. Her heart stopped beating for almost three full minutes.

But paramedics brought her back to life - forcing her to face a world she's no longer sure she belongs in.

'It felt like I was looking at a tableau frozen in time before the accident. As if a thin layer of gauze had fallen over the entire neighbourhood, enshrouding it from the rest of the world like a cocoon. This must be what a parallel universe is like, I thought. Everything looked the same, but I suddenly felt like it wasn't. Like everything had been taken apart, brick by brick, flower bed by flower bed, and put back together in the wrong order. Like me.'
How can you move on when you're stuck living in yesterday?

Our Song is a story about adapting to change. About second chances. And about realising who you are and accepting what you find.

Olive's world turned upside down after the accident. And the situation only becomes worse as she continues to live in 'Olive World' - the world of yesterday, where she's the perfect daughter, gets good grades, and has an amazing boyfriend who she adores. She doesn't realise that everything has changed.

That she has changed.

Sometimes we as human beings need to take a step back from our lives and gain a different perspective. To re-assess where we stand, who we are, and what we're doing. People tended to suffocate Olive, pressuring her to be the Olive they all knew. The whole Olive. The happy Olive. The Olive who had never experienced true loss or true pain.

Sometimes we need someone to guide show us the way through the darkness and into the light.

Nick is that 'someone' for Olive. He has no expectations of her - he sees the new Olive, and likes her for who she is. Nick gives Olive the chance to view the world as never before - showing her the little things like hidden places, different facets of society, the thrill of adventure, the beauty in the world around us and the magic in the simple moments. 

And Olive in turn begins to see that perhaps the accident wasn't the end for her. That maybe she was given a second chance at life for a reason.

"It's just that, do you ever wonder what if things happened differently? Like, what if we actually died and there was nothing near about it? What if we weren't supposed to come back?" I'd avoided thinking of my accident and the events leading up to it for so long that I'd barely thought about what would have happened if it had all really ended that night.

He was quiet for a second. "All the time."
"Then sometimes I think we must have survived for a reason. But what are we supposed to do with that?"
Music is a healing force - soothing both mind and heart.

The story also has snippets of a gorgeous song, whose melody I would simply love to hear one day. The lyrics are interwoven through the storyline, bringing our two characters, Nick and Olive, closer together.

'I see your face all over the place
Like a haunting from above
The only way for this to pass
Is to let go of your love.

Your voice is like an angel
I can hear without sound.
My leaden heart starts floating
Whenever you're around.

When I wake I see your face
Even through the fog that leaves no trace
I will hear you long after you're gone
Mingled with the earth your heart beats on.

On the infinite horizon
Where you and I belong
As the silver moon is rising
That's when they'll play our song.
Read more about Olive's journey and pick up a copy of Our Song today!

Booknut's Song Pick: White Lines & Red Lights by Between the Trees

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Claire's Song by Ashley King ~ Review

Claire's Song
By Ashley King

Rating: 4.5

'This girl will either be the death of me or be the very reason I breathe.'

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Everyone has a story. Some are just darker than others.

Claire's Song is an oxymoron - a book that is one of the saddest books you'll read, and yet also one of the sweetest, at the same time. There is no other way to describe it but as bittersweet. Fragile moments of happiness intertwined with times of pain and sorrow. Raw, emotional and a balm to the heart, this novel is refreshing as it ditches stereotypes and provides readers with reality.

What is reality you may ask?

Reality is pain. Or more correctly, reality is the understanding that there will be pain and you can't escape it. But you can get through it.

Often novels try to give readers the illusion that mental illness was created by Hans Christian Andersen. It's tragic, but it's a fairytale. People can fight through it on their own, and if they sink deeper into it, they have no one to blame but themselves. 

Or, worse, they show mental illness to be something you can cure with the wave a magic wand.

But that's not reality. The reality is that we need to ask ourselves a very important question:

Why do we so often forget the people side of things?

Yes, things like depression are an illness of the mind. But they're affecting a person's mind. And that person has feelings, a past, emotions and as many rights as any sane person does. 

Claire's Song warns its 21st century audience about the dangers of judging.

I think that was one of parts of this book that stayed with me most. How Claire was so, so close to moving on from what had happened. But she was confronted with it every day. Which was thanks to the immature people around her - hateful, spiteful people who hide behind their ignorance so as to come out on top in an imaginary power struggle. It shows how every person had an obligation to treat others with respect, and to never judge someone lest you be pushing them further down an already rocky path.

Love music? This book is for you!

This book not only gives readers a great story, but one of the best playlists ever! Claire and Ryder have amazing taste in music, and the songs they listen to throughout this book are great picks to listen to at any time - or even whilst you read this book :)

A journey of self-forgiveness, Claire's Song is another classic example of an NA novel that delivers what it promises, and will find its way into readers' hearts.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

An UpTown Girl & A Backstreet Guy ~ These Broken Stars Review

These Broken Stars (Starbound #1)
By Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Rating: 4.4

'Uptown girl
She's been living in her uptown world
I bet she never had a backstreet guy
I bet her mama never told her why...'

Note to readers: that was not an actual quote from this book!

As much as it would have amused me to have read about Tarver Merendsen singing a rendition of Billy Joel's Uptown Girl, that's not at all what happened in These Broken Stars

But those lyrics basically summarise the underlying issues in this story.

Love. Social hierarchy. 'Her dad doesn't think I'm good enough' drama. Basically, if you watched Titanic you'll understood 65% of this book.

Except, no boats sink. Instead a spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. No icebergs involved!

Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen - who met at a party and got along until Tarver realised she was the daughter of the richest man in the universe - are now stuck on a planet. Together. All alone. 
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They need to survive. And, more importantly, find a way off the planet. But how can they do that successfully when random stuff keeps happening to them? Stuff such as:

- Random wild creature attacks
- Random spotting of dead people
- People going psycho
- People almost-dying-but-not-quite
- Lilac complaining about ration bars
- People almost-dying-but-not-really

And after every catastrophe I was just like:

But no

Lilac tends to act like a selfish brat who doesn't realise that there is more to life than worrying over her rich daddy trying to off her potential boyfriends. 

I mean, you're stuck on a foreign planet and a smexy-as-hell guy with soldier training is stuck with you and if you don't lighten up you're going to die, so snap out of it, sweetheart! Honestly, Lilac:
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And then there were the Tarver scenes...

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I mean, if Lilac doesn't want him...I'd be more than happy to have him! 

All in all it was a great book with unique concepts. It's just that the love story was a 'tale as old as time', so to speak. But I enjoyed it anyway :)

If you're a fan of Alienated or Across The Universe, These Broken Stars is another great YA sci-fi novel to satisfy your bookworm desire for intergalactic travel, cool gadgets and relationship drama.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess ~ ARC Review

Death Sworn (Death Sworn #1) 
By Leah Cypess

Rating: 5

'"Pretty, isn't it?" he said. "Didn't the Elders tell you about this?"

"Of course," Ileni said stiffly, letting the magelight vanish. 

What they had said, actually, was 'Parts of the caves are very beautiful, but don't let that distract you from the evil within them.''

The good thing about losing everything, is that you've got nothing more to lose.

Ileni had everything - her magic, her society, a future, and even love. And like anyone, she expected those things to be permanent.

Until the day they weren't. Until the day she lost her magic.

Faced with such a crippling revelation about her abilities, Ileni was given an ultimatum by the Elders: to live a purposeless life shunned by society, or to become a magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins.

Enter a whole new world where death is a part of everyday life and each and every person has more than one weapon up their sleeve.

Willingly, Ileni leaves behind the only life she's even known to tutor assassins in the ways of magic. But that isn't her only task. Two of Ileni's predecessors died beneath the assassin's caves under mysterious circumstances, and Ileni is determined to discover why...and by whose hand.

Secrets will come to light...but which ones?

Ileni tries to balance staying alive with solving the mystery before her, whilst keeping her own secrets safe. But nothing that goes on beneath the assassin's caves is truly secret...not from the Master of the Assassins. And he is not someone Ileni wishes to have as an enemy - not when his words hold such sway over the assassins. Even assassins like Sorin.

Unlikely allies can be found in the darkest of places.

Against her better judgement, Ileni is drawn to Sorin - a skilled assassin, who is all the more dangerous due to his hidden streak of independence. Walking a fine line between obeying the Master and embracing freedom, Sorin offers Ileni his protection and his aid in discovering the killer of the previous tutors.

Yet, when loyalties are tested, will Sorin choose Ileni...or the life of an assassin, the only life he's ever known?

Dangerous. Addictive. Stunning.

Death Sworn is as sharp as a sword, with a twisting plot that readers will not be able to tear their eyes and imaginations away from. A cross between Sarah J Maas' Throne of Glass and Maria V Snyder's Poison Study, it is another fantastic tale filled with bravery, wicked weaponry and exemplary characters who will not disappoint.
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