Young Adult

Book Chat – The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (SPOILERS)

This post will contain SPOILERS. If you are looking for the review please go here. 
The usual review didn’t really cover all that I wanted to say about this book. I had so many notes, so much in my head and so much that I wanted to say. This post is a breakdown and chat (albeit one sided unless you comment) about the book and my impressions of it. It is spoiler filled, and probably a little ranty at times. Please feel free to join in the comments and discuss this book with me. 
The Characters.

Tana Bach – Tana was one of my favourite characters in the entire book. Her mother was infected and hidden in the basement when she was young. Tana let her out and was bitten on the arm, and then had to watch her mother turn into a vampire and be beheaded by her father and a shovel. She accepts that those events, and the subsequent years of her father not really being there, have damaged her. She doesn’t let this damage stop her from living, and fighting to keep that happening. 
Tana is amazingly strong. When she finds all of her friend’s dead, her ex-boyfriend chained to a bed, and a strange vamp boy in the corner of the room she wants to break down into hysteria. I love the scenes where she is simply willing herself forward and telling herself to wait for the right time. It is that same emotional strength that keeps making her go back to help people. She wants to survive but she also wants to save everyone else. 
Tana is pretty kick-ass but still really realistic for a seventeen year old girl. The things that she does don’t always turn out right. The scene where she fires an arrow at Lucien is a perfect example. She tells herself over and over not to pause, yet she pauses. She fires, and misses the heart. Exactly like a teenage girl with little to no experience of using a crossbow would. She’s imperfect and I like that so much. 
Aiden – Ugh. I have so much to say about this boy and not much of it is very nice. He is cocky, arrogant and annoying. He dated Tana after telling her stories about all of these “Crazy” ex girlfriends that he had. He tells her that he doesn’t want another one who tells him what to do or yells when he does something she doesn’t like. He wanted a “cool girlfriend” so Tana tried to be the coolest version of herself she could to please him. Then he went all out stupid. He kissed other girls and partied all of the time, making her watch. He challenged her to kiss other boys. He went all out to make her blow up and scold him so he could dump her. When she didn’t, he dumped her anyway. Who does that? Nasty pieces of work do that. 
As a vampire he is no better. He steals Tana’s marker, trapping her in coldtown, twice. Both times to ensure he had someone tied to him because he didn’t want to be alone. Then as soon as there was somebody else… poof, Tana was on her own and he was nowhere to be seen. 
Gavriel – I liked Gavriel, I just wish we had seen more of him in the story instead of all in flashbacks. His backstory was amazing (more on that later) but I would have loved to have seen more of him with Tana in the main story. 
Lucien – I actually felt kind of sorry for him. He was probably the worst bad guy, and the least nasty, I have ever seen. Maybe this was because the vampires in this book are badass vamps. They kill, they feed and they do what vampires do. Lucien just sort of watches. If it wasn’t for his backstory I would have considered him a total puppydog. This softness worked well for him though because it covered the fact that he was two-faced, vindictive and evil in a double-cross sort of way. Lucien’s slyness was what made him the bad guy here.
Midnight – I saved the worst for last. I really didn’t like her. She was shallow, two-dimensional and cliche. She should have died in the parking lot when Aiden jumped in for a quick snack.
The story
This story was so unique. I couldn’t put my finger on why at first. It kept me guessing for most of the book and kept the pages turning. Then, somewhere around three quarters of the way through it hit me. The story is not Tana’s!
The story, up until a point, is the story of Gavriel and Lucien, of their history and of Gavriel’s rage and search for revenge after being locked up and tortured by an ancient evil called the spider for a decade. It is unique because we see most of it through Tana’s eyes. Right up until the stories collide and she steals Gavriel’s revenge, it is not about her. I love that it is bigger than her from the very beginning. 
Another thing that I really adored was the realism. Tana kept destroying her clothing and having to get new. She kept track of her cash and how she was spending it. She used a solar charger to charge her phone. As a reader I didn’t feel like I was expected to just believe things. Nothing was left to imagination or fantasy. At the same time Holly didn’t sugar coat things or baby the reader at all. Nothing was overblown, just hinted and settled nicely and naturally into the story. 
It flowed amazingly. 
One, very short chapter drifted by me midway through the book. At the first read it didn’t make sense. Later, as I read something else, the chapter bounced into my head and instantly made sense. That, for me, is the sign of an excellent piece of writing. When a thread suddenly ties up and I loudly cry “Oh yeah! That makes sense!” so loud that I wake up my partner, child and next door neighbour. 

I will definitely be re-reading this book. I adored it from the first line to the last. But my favourite part was definitely the ending. 
After a whole book of dark, gore and huge climaxes, the quiet ending and the hint of romance was heartbreakingly beautiful. I wanted Gavriel and Tana to get closer right through the book. The little scenes here and there were like tasters of what was to come, but the full meal didn’t arrive until the last few paragraphs. I adored it, I still adore it. I want more!
This book is a standalone. It all ties up nicely and there isn’t much room for a series without squeezing too much out of it. My hopes for the future is to see it turned into a movie. 
I will also definitely be reading more from Holly Black as she is a new-to-me author.

Review #3 – The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Author: Holly Black

Publisher: Little Brown and Company

Published: 2013

Series: No

Acquired: Purchased

That first line: Tana woke lying in a bathtub.”

I don’t even know where to start with this review. I just don’t. Words, for the first time ever, have escaped me. 
If I was to describe it in one word I would use ‘Unique’. I will explain more about that in a later, spoilery, discussion post. But that word does just about cover it. 
Tana wakes up in a bathtub after a wild party that got a little wilder than she really expected. 
Her friends have all been murdered in a very brutal, and extremely bloody vampire attack. Her ex-boyfriend is infected and there’s a strange boy tied up in a bedroom corner. And let’s not forget that the vampires are still nearby. 
She needs to get somewhere safe. That place being the Coldtown, a place where vampires are quarantined, wannabes go to get turned and the whole thing is streamed like a massive reality TV show. Not exactly my idea of ‘safe’ but I guess it wasn’t me running. 
I expected some sort of cross between Twilight and Pretties with a lot of focus on the glitz and decadence. What I got was much grittier, messier and well… so far different to what I thought I was going to read. 
Holly Black has brought vampires back in a huge way. 
I couldn’t put this book down from the first page to the very last. Hence the five star rating. I read it in the bath, in bed, on the bus… you name the moment and I can guarantee the book wasn’t too far away from me. I would not only recommend it… I would happily tell you to stop reading this blog and go get it RIGHT NOW! Right this second… go on… scoot.
For a more in-depth analysis and spoilers see here

Review #2 – Partials Trilogy by Dan Wells

Partials Trilogy – Dan Wells – HarperCollins

I picked up the first book in this trilogy at my local library by unapologetically judging it by its cover. 
 I am not ashamed, and I am glad that the book’s innards didn’t let down its skin tone.
Partials is set eleven years after the world ends in a series of wars and the outbreak of a deadly disease. A disease which causes every newborn baby to die horribly shortly after birth.
The human race is ageing and dying out and they have no idea how to fix it. Kira Walker, a young medic, is determined to find a cure. At any cost.
I wouldn’t say the story captured me at first. The first few chapters were difficult to get my teeth into and I didn’t find myself drawn to the characters at all. This could have been due to a busy period in my life but honestly, if a book is going to grab me it would succeed whilst I was attempting to jump a lava filled volcano. A little shopping and cleaning wouldn’t stop it.
As the story developed I found myself clawing for a few more moments to read. “Just one more chapter” became my 4am mantra. I just couldn’t put it down.
♥ What I loved ♥
I adored the female characters, especially Kira and Heron. 
Kira is strong and grows through the series. She is smart and not afraid to take control when needed, or to let go when needed too. More amazingly Kira learns from her mistakes. This is something I don’t see enough of in a female protagonist.
Heron is another favourite, mainly because she is arrogant and extremely annoyingly fickle. She’s two faced and self centred… And not even sorry.
As for the writing, one thing that struck me after the first book, and especially by the third is how it developed into a formula not unlike we see in game of thrones. The story introduces more characters and tells the story in multiple voices. It isn’t easy to keep hold of multiple threads and multiple smaller stories within a big one. Its even harder to do that with a level of success and without leaving massive plot holes. Dan wells has managed it here and very well indeed. The stories all flow perfectly and every end is tied up nicely. The twists just keep coming all the way through the series so that the reader has to keep reading.
♥ What I didn’t love ♥
Any of the male characters. Not that I hated them, but none of them stood out and none of them really stuck in my mind. I think the story was too big and unless a character  was also big, like Heron, they got easily drowned. 

I would recommend this for – This book is amazing for those interested in genetics and science. I found the science very interesting and the constant through line of science vs morals. Great arguments came up regularly and gave so much more depth to what could easily have become just another dystopian story.
The difference here was that the problem wasn’t government or a group of people. It was science, biology and human nature. Not the easiest of enemies to defeat IMHO.

Review #1 – Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall – Rachel Hawkins – Hyperion Books

I adore YA Fiction, and I’m a huge fan of the whole fantasy/supernatural thing. But I can honestly say that I haven’t read much that involved witches, so Hex Hall was a bit of a random pick for me at the library. I also totally judged the book on it’s cover, but really… who wouldn’t. 
As it turned out the random pick was also a very lucky pick. Hex Hall was amazing!
Sophia Mercer is a teen witch who keeps getting into trouble with her magic. So much trouble that her absent father ships her off to Hex Hall, a boarding school for prodigium (magical kids for us muggles). 
Being forced into a school with other witches, werewolves and fairies isn’t Sophie’s exact idea of a good time. Then she gets roomed with a pink obsessed vampire.
♥ What I loved ♥
I loved Sophie as a character. She was pretty kick-ass from the first chapter, with just a big enough sprinkling of nerves. At no point in the book does she become annoying. I loved her from beginning to end. The other characters were all fantastic too. I can’t think of a single wasted character.
I also loved the school. I am not going to throw any spoilers in here, but the world building is fantastic and made me want to go to Hex Hall myself, if only to sit by the lake.
Hex Hall, as a story, is really well written. The story flows perfectly and I literally couldn’t put it down. There are so many twists that I was kept guessing right until the end. 
♥ What I didn’t love ♥
I didn’t love that this book is a part of a series – and that I didn’t realise until the end. 
Of course that isn’t the loss of a heart. The reason I gave this four hearts was because I felt that the language was a little simplistic. I think this may be because this book was aimed at the lower end of the age range for YA, but I do think that a reader at this level could cope with more detailed descriptions. 
I would recommend this for – Harry Potter Fans and fans of the movie “The Craft.