9 September 2014

The Boy with the Tiger's Heart by Linda Coggin

Series: Standalone
Publication date: September 4, 2014
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genres: Modern fable
Format: Paperback - review copy
Source: Received from Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 229

The wild is danger. The wild is fierce. The wild is freedom. 

Raised by dogs and feared by humans, Nona must run from the authorities with the only people she can trust: a frightened boy called Caius, a mixed-up boy called Jay - and a bear by the name of Abel Dancer.

A haunting and unforgettable modern fable about nature, society, and what it is that makes us human.

For the fear of saying to much I'm keeping this on the shorter side!
There's actually a longer summary for this book, but I think this one sums it up the best without giving too much away. I believe this is one of the books you have to go into without knowing much - the hauntingly beautiful cover is enough! I mean, look at it, it's truly remarkable.

I was expecting a great book  but maybe not something mind-blowing that would be a favorite for the rest of my life - which this book turned out to be. I was definitely not expecting what I received. I found this story to be beautiful, poetic, wonderful, scary, uplifting and all kinds of phenomenal. I loved every character and enjoyed every little bit of it.

We have Nona, who actually starts out as nameless (no name - Nona), Caius and Jay - along with some animals. I liked Nona, she was definitely unlike any other character I've come across. She was raised by dogs and the found by a human called Thomas Bailey. She meets Caius and Jay in the forest while running away because she is wanted for the murder of Thomas Bailey - she have not killed him though (this is a minor spoiler since it happens 5 pages in or so). I loved how the characters want nothing to do with each other and then becomes companions and help each other escape.

Something that really blew my mind was the world. When I first read the synopsis and found out it was a modern fable I was not expecting it to be with a dystopian world thrown in - it creeped me out but left me wanting more. A thing that really chilled me to the bones was the fact that children under the age of 7 have to be harnessed - they are wearing dog collars with chains attached to them due to the fear of them running away. I also think it's horrible that people can be imprisoned for basically anything.

I especially love how this book begins, it is so hauntingly beautiful;

The snow falls heavily that night and in the morning lies in deep drifts, 
which smooth over the shapes of the jagged rocks and grassy knolls. 
It hides the bog holes that lie at the edge of the marshes and covers
 the wrecks of the burnt-out cars. It sparkles like crushed diamonds. 
It is pure, white and perfect, but to the girl when she 
looks out from her hiding place it is a bad omen.
Today the trackers will surely find them.
She pulls her fur-lined hood over her face and scans the horizon. 

I absolutely loved and adored this book, I originally gave it 4.5 but I have to give it a solid 5 star rating due to the epicness and adventurous story. I loved every bit and I can't recommend it enough. Even though this is quite a short book it doesn't feel short because the story is so "big" - I have no idea how this is only 200 pages long.

Did you know that you can read the first chapter for free on Hot Key Books? Just click here and you will be referred to it.

7 September 2014

Land by Alex Campbell

Series: Standalone
Publication date: September 4, 2014
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genres: YA Dystopia
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 370

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The sea rose. Civilisation was wiped out, countries drowned. Out of the ashes of a desperate refugee camp, a new society was born, with a new place to call home: Land. Trapped by an aggressive sea, its citizens were bound to rules that saw the weak removed, marriage and children by approval only, and designated work for all. All for the greater good......

Decades later, and seventeen year-old Christy's life is on the cusp of irrevocable change. She has become eligible for the Pairing, a carefully selected marriage of political and social convenience where romance is out of the question. Her grandmother, Cons, has also reached a significant age - sixty-six: soon the Selection Truck will arrive to take her away forever.

Christy’s only hope for protection lies with her missing rebel father…..but nothing goes as it's supposed to. As Christy finds a Pair who might offer a new opportunity for love and security she also uncovers a destiny that has been hidden from her; truths that have been disguised as childhood lies. With Cons’ life under threat, Christy is forced to face a whole new world, one where she must choose between those she cares about and the greater good….a new life where she must play the reluctant rebel, the revolutionary, the lover.....the assassin.

I really enjoyed this! It feels like a mash-up of a bunch of my favorite dystopias!

Let's start with talking about the world. The place where they live is called Land - hence the title - and it's only a small part of the world - not the entire world. They can't leave since there's water all around. I think Land is, hands down, horrible and this is why;
Land decides everything, whom you get to marry, who get's to have children - and when, which job you get, when you die and so on. Something that really scared me was probably that women who got pregnant without being allowed to either dies or gets sent to the brothels
There is a lot of rules and not that much freedom - if any. I hate Land because it is too controlled I mean, you even have to wear certain colors so people know which part of the hierarchy you belong to.
I think the world is leaning towards our more typical dystopian world since it has all the rules, but I also think it stands out because it's sitting in the midst of water without any options for leaving - I don't think I've read a dystopian novel with the world surrounded entirely by water.

I also loved how this book starts out - naturally - explaining the world, how it is as it is and why. I loved that the world building comes in the form of a story about Cons life. We are therefore naturally plunged in and we get to know all the important things about Land before we actually start reading Christy's story.

In the beginning I really liked Cons, Christy's grandmother, then that totally changed when all the plot twists came along. Now I'm left not knowing whether I like her or not since I understand a bit why she did as she did, but I also hate her for doing it.
Chrisy I like - except for her inability to make choices, she just let others pull her along and letting them choose for her. She missed a bit of back-bone but it came through in the end!  I loved the fact that she is an assassin - I've actually never read a book with assassins, so it was totally new for me and I liked it! I think it makes you sit on the edge of your seat or "makes you hold your breath without knowing". Nonetheless I think it was quite intriguing and I liked that she wasn't this stone cold assassin. Christy had feelings, she was nervous when killing a human being.

I really enjoyed reading about Christy and Land - and I enjoyed having this big of a story in a standalone instead of a trilogy, it made it much more fast-paced and enjoyable.

And before we end this I have to say that I really love the cover, I think it captures the story wonderfully and I absolutely love that the main character, Christy, has red hair, like me. I also love that it's so colorful opposed to just being black with a few colors thrown in. 

I little extra: I talked to the author, Alex, and got her to describe this book in three words and she came up with so many great descriptions! Here's some of my favorites: 

Death becomes destiny
Control is power
Pain that I am
Lies hide choices

3 September 2014

The Memory Keepers by Natasha Ngan

Series: Standalone
Publication date: September 4, 2014
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genres: YA Dystopia
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 410

Goodreads ⎜ Amazon  Book Depository

"No one can take your memories from you... can they?"

Seven is a thief with a difference - he steals downloadable memories from banks and memoriums to sell onto London's black market, trading secrets and hidden pasts for a chance at a future of his own. He makes sure he keeps some special stuff back to 'surf' himself though - it's the only real form of entertainment he can afford. But one night, as Seven is breaking into a private memorium in a wealthy part of London, he is caught in the act by one of its residents; Alba, the teenage daughter of London's most famous criminal prosecutor. Instead of giving him away, Alba promises to keep Seven's secret - as long as he allows her to go memory-surfing herself. In doing so, they discover a hidden memory about Seven's past, revealing a shocking secret about Seven's childhood, the government and a mysterious experiment known as The Memory Keepers...

Now Seven and Alba will have to race against time to unlock the maze of The Memory Keepers - but can they keep themselves out of harm's way before the London Guard - and Alba's father - catches up with them?

This was my first Natasha Ngan book and I have to say, I have a feeling she's going to be one of those authors where you just buy her books without knowing anything about them.

Need to know
- The memories aren't erased, they're basically just 'recorded', and you can actually trade them.
- The book takes place in 2144
- We are dealing with a bunch of characters in this book; We have our two main characters Alba and Seven. Seven's friends Loe and a little girl called Mika. Alba's handmaid Dolly and Alba's parents; Alastair and Oxana White.

My thoughts
I think the world building and plot was absolutely fantastic. When I started reading this I had no idea it was set this far in the future, but I quite liked it anyway. I love the concept of memory-surfing, where you basically experience the memory again - you feel everything and hear everything that was originally recorded, it's not exactly the same as just thinking back. I was also quite intrigued by the whole memory-thieving and selling the memory's illegally, everything was just so imaginative and mind-blowing.
I think Natasha has an amazing imagination and I can't wait to read her next book.

Throughout the entire book I felt sorry for both Alba and Seven, they have both had quite a rough time growing up and I really sympathized with them. Alba, the Norther who is deeply neglected by her parents and only has her handmaid Dolly. Seven, the Souther who has lost his parents and doesn't really have anyone besides Loe and Mika. I really enjoyed getting to know both of them and watch the two of them evolve and begin to get out of their comfort zones and let love take hold of them.
I immediately loved the relationship between Alba and Dolly, I love that they have this special bond and how they treat and take care of each other. Their relationship was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole book.

I really enjoyed the whole story, I liked how we were introduced to the characters and we learned everything about 'memories' so naturally and gradually instead of learning everything at once and not remembering anything. I think this story is one of the best I've read this year so far, and I've read a lot. This story has everything, it has wonderful world building and lovely characters. There's love, hate, family - all with and edge of the futuristic.

I could not, for the life of me, put this book down. If I had had the time I would probably have devoured the whole book in a single sitting - that's how good this book is. In a way I'm sad that this book has ended, we don't get to see more of Alba and Seven, but on the other hand everything was wrapped up so nicely that it would almost be a sin to continue the story.

If you hadn't guessed it already, I absolutely loved this book and devoured it quite quickly. I enjoyed both the characters, the plot, the world and the story. Natasha Ngan has touched my very soul and I felt like her heart is all over those pages. I definitely recommend this book to everyone who likes 'different' books and like the futuristic.