Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Name on Your Wrist - Helen Hiorns

So here it is, as promised.  My review of 'The Name on Your Wrist' by Helen Hiorns, the winner of the Sony Young Movellist of the Year Award.  You can read the first three chapters free on the Movellas website here: http://www.movellas.com/en/book/read/201304061745300627
Before we begin, I want you to know this is a fair review because my jealousy disappeared after chapter one once I fell into the story.  Here is my honest review of 'The Name on Your Wrist'.  I have to say I'm proud of myself for manning up and reading it.

A Spoiler Free Bit About the Book

'The Name on Your Wrist' follows Corin who lives in a society where your soul mate's name is written on your wrist and you are expected to search for them and start your life with them.  Corin, however, doesn't want to search, but more than that.  She doesn't want to be found.

My Review

I'll start of with my biggest problem with the book.  It was arty-farty and pretentious.  The sentences sometimes just went on and on.  There were far many words, a lot of them unnecessary.  Sometimes what was trying to be said could've been done so in a couple of words.  I was almost tired reading these long sentences, having to stop sometimes and wonder what I was meant to have taken from a sentence.  I don't know about you, but I thought it was too much effort to read sometimes.  I felt like I had to think way too much and I was concerned on numerous occasions that I'd misunderstood.  It was the kind of style that publishers love and readers do not.

The style may have added to why I found it difficult to like Corin at first.  Her sarcasm, cynicism and disregard for other's feelings made it difficult for me to sympathise for her.  It also felt as though the character was telling me how superior she was to me.  It was also tiring.  I don't want a character to be sassy and arrogant the entire way through the novel.  It's exhausting.

As well as disliking Corin at the beginning, because I must say I grew to like her, although I never loved her.  I'm not sure I even cared how she was going to turn out.  But I also disliked her sister, Jacinta, who also had a large part to play in the novel.  Jacinta I found whiny and impossible to relate to.  My reaction to Jacinta was the opposite to Corin.  I think I disliked Jacinta more and more as the novel progressed.

Here we go again, prepare yourself.  There were too many adverbs in 'The Name on Your Wrist'.  I can't say anything new about adverbs and my hatred of them so I'll just repeat myself.  They add nothing and only take away from a novel.

A little thing that also annoyed me - although it could've been because of the format I was reading it on as I was reading it on my laptop instead of a Sony E-Reader as I don't have one.  It could be a technology fault, I know that.  But every time italics were used they were underlined.  I've never seen the underline tool used in a novel before and it looked wrong and clumsy.

Another little style choice was the use of brackets.  Brackets are fine but I think unnecessary.  'The Name on Your Wrist' uses them a lot and with the complex sentences made even more complex, it was way too much to handle.  This was not an easy book to read.

After all that, though, I enjoyed the main bulk of the novel.  I loved the idea of your soul mate being on your wrist and that Corin questioned it.  Although the soul mate thing is over done, the idea of being as against it as Corin is during the novel I don't think is.  It was a breath of fresh air in this type of genre.  It was a very thought-provoking and intelligent novel.

I thought the pace was very good.  The secrets and the reveal of them was just right.  I always wanted to know more and I never had too much new information to process at once.  I was always asking where the plot was going and wanted to know about the society Corin lived in.

I also have to say that Helen Hiorns has captured human nature perfectly in 'The Name on Your Wrist'.  There were some brilliant observations of human features and behaviours that I'd never noticed or thought of before.  It helped you get a grasp on the characters better and it was an effective method of showing and not telling the reader.

My favourite line in the whole novel is: "In short, I was a damn genius."  I had to share it with you because I thought it was brilliant.  There were a few occasions where a line would stop me reading because I liked it so much and had to share it with whoever was around me.

However, I was so disappointed with the ending.  I was expecting so much more.  There was all this build up and I felt like it turned into nothing.  I felt as though there was no conclusion and I was left hanging but not in that cliff-hanger exciting kind of way.  I was left feeling irritated and cheated.

Evaluation

Plot Idea - 8/10 - I liked the take on soul mates and that the novel wasn't clich├ęd.

Way Plot Was Pursued - 6/10 - I didn't like the inclusion of many parts taking place in high school and the dynamics of high school - but I don't like that in novels anyway.

Characters - 4/10 - I found it difficult at first to like the main character and I also didn't like her sister who was vital to the plot.

Style - 2/10 - too many adverbs.  Pretentious sentence construction. 

Pace - 8/10 - good reveal of information throughout.  I perhaps would've liked more action and confrontation though.


Would I recommend it? - Yes, if you liked soul mate stories and were looking for a new one.  Not if you said "What should I read?".

Would I look up the author? - No.  I didn't like her style of writing or the characters enough to want more.


'The Name on Your Wrist' was a quick but not an easy read.

Have you read 'The Name on Your Wrist'  or any other soul mate stories?  I'd love to know.

Molly Looby
Author / Wrimo / Editor / Reviewer / Writing Coach / ZA ready

Contact me about writing, reading, zombies, vampires, werewolves and the like here: molly.looby@hotmail.com

Friday, 16 August 2013

ZA - Molly Looby

So I've just finished reading my novel 'ZA' for the final time before its release on Monday.  I didn't think it'd be fair to do a review so I'll just promote it instead.

Here is the front cover:

Created for me by the brilliant James Terry who can be contacted for art and graphics tuition, if you want his artistic ability, or if you are interested in his other art work.  You can contact him on jrterry95@gmail.com

So 'ZA' has only taken up two years of my life - almost.  I started 'ZA' for NaNoWriMo in 2011 and succeeded in writing the 50,000 words in 30 days.  The story of 'ZA' speaks to me because I've always loved zombie stories.  (If you also love zombie stories you have to check out 'The Forest of Hands and Teeth' by Carrie Ryan, who is also a Wrimo.)  I love zombie stories not only because of the gore and the violence, but also because of the social problems and changes.  I was especially interested in how relationships would form and change in a Zombie Armageddon.

Not to toot my own horn or anything but I think the pace of 'ZA' will be just what you readers are looking for.  There isn't much faff in 'ZA' at all, thanks to it being written in 30 days.  It is a quick and easy read.  Here's your proof.  I've had to read 'ZA' over maybe half a dozen or so times for it to be ready for others to read and I'm still not sick of it.  And that's not because I wrote it.  God knows I got sick and tired of 'Gambling a Fairytale' before it's release date, I was happy to send it off in the world. 

With 'ZA' I do so with a hint of sadness.  'ZA' is a story I wrote because myself, my brother and my dad are obsessed with zombies.  We even did a zombie photo shoot and the first ever UK Zombie Run (a run where you face obstacles and  zombies.)

See:

This was the first Zombie Run UK which took place in Lincoln, it was a long drive for us living down in Essex.  We dressed up as ZA survivors - of course.


Me, my boyfriend who is the amazing artist James Terry, Gemma - one of my brother's best friends, my brother James.




This medal means I survived the Zombie Run.  Not to brag or anything but I still had all my life tags at the end.


Me, my dad, my brother James.



This was our family photo shoot in 2010.  Of course we had to do some ZA ready ones.





The character of Jai in 'ZA' is my brother James through and through.  There's even a direct quote from him that features in the book: "You know what would be awesome? . . . If I could have a machete."


So as you can see, the idea of killing zombies was a familiar concept to me.  The phrase "ZA ready" was coined in my household, it means "to be prepared for the Zombie Armageddon" and the conversations I've had with my dad and my brother directly inspired me to write about zombies.

I will let 'ZA' go though.  It deserves a bigger audience than just my family and friends.  Who knows, it might help you become ZA ready.

'ZA' will be released into the world for all you readers on Monday and as a gift from me because I think everyone should read zombie stories - it's free on Amazon's Kindle.

I would love to hear what you all think next week!  Don't hesitate to leave reviews and ask questions!

While you're waiting, here's the 'ZA' Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ZAzombiearmageddon?ref=hl


But for now, "Get supplies.  Stay hidden.  If they come, run.  Fast."


Molly Looby

ZA ready/ Wrimo / Author / Editor / Reviewer / Writing Coach


Contact me about books, writing, zombies, vampires, werewolves and the like: molly.looby@hotmail.com

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Blood Red Road - Moira Young


A Spoiler Free Bit About the Book
Blood Red Road follows Saba on her journey to find her brother Lugh, who’s been taken by some cloaked men.  Saba has to leave Silverlake, the only home she’s ever known, to go and find him, risking her life to get her twin back.
Blood Red Road is set in an apocalyptic future where there are no laws.  Saba, Lugh, their younger sister Emmi and their pa all live so far away from anyone that they don’t get into any trouble.  However when Lugh is taken, Saba more or less goes running for trouble and shoving it out of her way.  Blood Red Road is set in the Dustlands and the settings are all rocks and sand and harsh, like Saba’s world.

My Review
To start with, I struggled with Blood Red Road.  This is because the writing style is so different than anything else I’ve come across.  The whole novel is narrated in Saba’s speech patterns, for example: git instead of get, an instead of and, jest instead of just.  Because of this, a lot of it is also grammatically incorrect which didn’t bother me but I feel it may bother some readers.  It was difficult to grasp but once I fell into it somewhere in the first fifty pages, I loved it.  I don’t think it should’ve been written in any other way.  My favourite example of the way this is written I have to share with you.  It’s the word exactly.  In Blood Red Road it is spelt like this: “ezzackly”.  I think it’s brilliant.
Another style choice – much stranger than writing the novel in Saba’s speech patterns – was the decision not to include speech marks.  This was much more difficult to get on with as sometimes I was unsure what had been said aloud.  But I was shocked to find that it wasn’t impossible to get on with.  If Blood Red Road has taught me anything about writing, it’s that you don’t have to listen to the rules.  And sometimes you’ll get on just fine without them.

Blood Red Road has again done things differently with its way of chaptering.  The chapters are separated into places – it’s more like parts when I think about it.  Each part ends when Saba arrives in a new place and it’s much more interesting like that.  The breaks in between the chapters can sometimes be very small, less than a page sometimes, which makes it very easy to read and get into.  And most important of all it makes it easy to pick up and impossible to put down.  But I never felt like the sections were ever too short or going too fast.  I thought the pace was spot on from start to finish.

I felt the characters speech patterns made them even more endearing and lovable.  I felt it made it that much easier to feel what Saba felt and because of it I felt really connected to her and I wanted to follow her every step of the way and to the ends of the earth to find Lugh.  The other characters are all so different that it makes it that much easier to fall in love with them.  There wasn’t one character in the book that I didn’t like (who I was supposed to like).  Even the ones I disliked I liked, if you know what I mean.  Everyone loves the bad guys really.
The plot amazed me.  That’s all I can say.  Unlike most books you – literally – cannot guess where the plot is going to take you next.  Well, you can try but you wouldn’t be right.  I loved that about Blood Red Road, there was so much going on and most of it I could’ve never predicted.
Speaking of this, the final climax at the end just goes on and on.  I was breathless, just reading and turning pages, knowing there was no way I was putting the book down until the end, that was certain.  I even had to cover up the end of a section where I could see a break so that my eyes didn’t wander.  I just needed to know what was going to happen!  To say my heart sped and so did my breaths would not be an exaggeration.  This book had a real physical reaction on my body.  I was there in the moment with Saba and the other characters and I was fighting side by side with them.
Also, a mark of a great book.  It made me cry.

Evaluation

Plot Idea – 10/10 – I loved everything from start to finish.  The plot was thick and fast and never did I question the relevance of anything.  It was all important.  It was amazing.
Way Plot Was Pursued – 10/10 – I love post-apocalyptic novels and I loved that Saba went from place to place.
Characters – 10/10 – they were all amazing.  Good, bad, ugly.  Perfect.  I loved them all.
Style – 9/10 – the only reason this is not a 10 is because it was difficult to grasp the style at first until you got into it and I think it would put some people off.
Pace – 10/10 – there’s nothing to say but it was perfect.  Start to finish.

Would I recommend it? – Yes.  To everyone and everything.

Would I look up the author? – Yes.  I can’t wait for more.

Blood Red Road captured me and took me for a ride that started on the first page and ended on the last.  Book perfection if it ever exists.  Sorry Delirium, although you are the best love story of the year, Blood Red Road trumps you at being my favourite.  Look at those stats!  I’ve only given a ten once before now.  Blood Red Road earned four, that’s all I’m going to say.

Anyone else think of an amazing post-apocalyptic novel?  Recommendations are always welcome.

Molly Looby

Author / Editor / Ghost Writer / Writing Coach

Got something to say, want me to do some freelance work or perhaps to tell me something I might not know about writing (go on, test me!)?  Emil me on: molly.looby@hotmail.com

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Crossed - Ally Condie


Before we begin I will state for those who do not know, ‘Crossed’ is the second book in a trilogy, the first being ‘Matched’ (which was amazing!).  I always write my reviews as spoiler free as possible but in this case that is just not possible.  So below when I state that it’s spoiler free, it only is if you’ve already read ‘Matched’.  You have been warned.

A Spoiler Free Bit About the Book

Having been separated, both Cassia and Ky are desperate to find each other again without knowledge of where the other is.  Cassia is further away from Oria than ever before and learns how different life is without the Society.  For Ky however, it’s more like returning home.


My Review
I didn’t like ‘Crossed’ as much as ‘Matched’ but I believe that was always going to happen considering how much I loved ‘Matched’.  So it doesn’t mean that the book isn’t written as well or anything.  I just knew nothing could top ‘Matched’.
Part of the issue I think is that the book starts with Ky’s perspective in chapter one.  There’s nothing wrong with Ky’s narration, it’s just that I wasn’t used to it, the whole first novel being narrated by Cassia.  I would’ve liked to start off with her to ease me back into it, especially as I read ‘Matched’ at least a year ago.  I couldn’t remember where Ky was or what he was doing.  And to top it all off, as the pages turned I found out I didn’t care.  To be blunt, chapter one was boring.  This is awful for Ally Condie!  Because it was so boring I put the book down at the end of the chapter, back on my ‘not read’ section of my bookshelf and I feared it’d never get picked up again.  To be fair, when I did pick it up it was dusty.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a review of chapter one only.  I finished the book.  But I picked it up for the first time straight after finishing ‘Matched’ and was expecting so much more.   Over a year later, remembering this, I gritted my teeth and skim read chapter one and the rest I had no problem with.  It’s just such a shame that for an otherwise great book it has this hanging over its head.  To be honest, I have no idea what drove me to pick up ‘Crossed’ again, maybe I couldn’t stand ‘Matched’ sitting there on a different shelf alone.  I knew this was its final chance.  I also almost did the exact same thing after enduring chapter one again.  I don’t know where the book would be now if that’d happened.

I’ll continue with my issues while we’re on it.  There was nothing wrong with the plot.  It was interesting and intense and I really didn’t know how it was going to turn out in the end.  But it was no ‘Matched’.  That (apart from chapter one) was probably the biggest issue – it was constantly being compared, of course it was.  One of the things I loved about ‘Matched’ was the Society and we see less of it in ‘Crossed’ which I thought was a down side.

Also, I could not for the life of me picture what Condie was describing most of the time.  I just could not understand the geography of it all.  They were climbing and then they were in the same spot as earlier without having dropped and then I thought they were in a cave but they were in fact out of the open.  Maybe it’s because I live in Essex, England.  It’s green and grey here, grass and roads.  Crossed’ is set in red and orange, rocks and caverns.

The characters restored my faith in the trilogy.  I was excited by the return of Cassia, Ky and Xander and after chapter one I fell back into it with ease.  We learn so much more about Ky in ‘Crossed’ thanks to his perspective half the time and this makes it so much easier to understand him, what he’s like and what he’s done.  It’s so much better when you can see both sides of the story.
To add to this though, I loved the introduction of new characters.  The complexity of their back stories was genius.  I understood and empathised with everybody and understood their motives throughout the whole novel.  I also enjoyed the new characters because they were unlike Cassia and Ky but also because they were.  It was so believable that everyone was different but brought up in the same way have their similarities.

The best thing about ‘Crossed’ was that I felt as though it nurtured my soul.  I felt I learnt a lot from it about what really matters when you think about it.  It did something magical that I can’t explain.  I didn’t feel like I was that involved with the story and yet I was turning the pages with a hunger and letting a couple of tears roll down my cheeks.

I only feel sorry and guilty because I don’t know how much I enjoyed ‘Crossed’.  Although I devoured it in three days, on the last day reading from about mid-way to the end.  I must’ve liked it but I’m unsure by how much.

Evaluation

Plot Idea – 6/10 – although in places I didn’t know where it was going, it was a somewhat predictable sequel.

Way Plot Was Pursued – 7/10 – I liked having both sides of the story.

Characters – 8/10 – the introduction of the new characters made this book.

Style – 6/10 – there’s just something I can’t put my finger on that makes me question why I didn’t love it and I think this was it.

Pace – 9/10 – perfect, although missing out on full marks because of chapter one.

Would I recommend it? – this is a tough one because it’s a sequel.  If you loved ‘Matched’ and want to know what happens next then of course yes.  But if you were content to leave ‘Matched’ as it was, I would say no.  Because of my uncertainty about my liking this book, I’m going to say no.

Would I look up the author? – I hate myself for saying it, but I wouldn’t.  I will read ‘Reached’, the third instalment but only because I want to know how it all ends.  I will not be looking for Ally Condie’s other novels.  No.

Although I felt my soul cleansed from reading ‘Crossed’ I had my problems with it.  I don’t think I’ll ever truly know why.

I would love to hear about your opinion on the trilogy and on the Society.  As always, I’m always available to talk books.

Molly Looby

Author / Editor / Ghost Writer / Writing Coach

Got something to say, want me to do some freelance work or perhaps to tell me something I might not know about writing (go on, test me!)?  Emil me on: molly.looby@hotmail.com