Tag Archives: The Host

YA – My top 10

Hello, Hope this post finds you all well! So much is happening in real life that I’m struggling to find time to post to all you lovely people. My sister is getting married in just under 1 week  so it is a very exciting time for the family :).

Young Adult literature can be traced back to WWII where our teens found themselves needing a form of book that could bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood. Many books can be seen as YA (The Lord of the Rings, Catcher in the Rye) but it has been the sudden increase in popularity (thanks to Harry Potter) that has seen an emergence of some great YA books.

Today I thought I would share my top 10 of YA books and series. Some of them will have been reviewed on here but some haven’t so take a look and see if you would add any to this list! (not in a particular order)

#1 – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Yes I thought I would start with the most obvious YA series and one that is on everyone’s list. The Hunger Games is a great trilogy and I feel that the films are just as good (quite an anomaly). It follows Katniss as she volunteers for her sister in the 74th annual Hunger Games, a disgusting reminder of the power the Capitol has over the districts of Panem after the destruction of the USA and the uprising that occurred. Portrayed as a ‘competition’, this is really a way for the government to remind the citizens that they can kill anyone who crosses out of line. Unfortunately for Katniss, in trying to keep alive she unwittingly becomes the face of the new revolution.

#2 – Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

An excellent series that has spawned the spin off of Dangerous Creatures. Far superior to the film (which completely changes the ending). Whilst I haven’t really enjoyed Garcia and Stohl’s stand alone novels, Beautiful Creatures has great main and supporting characters, interesting plot and well crafted romances.

#3 – Shiver Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater

This trilogy was just equisitly written. A werewolf romance story is the basic storyline but it is so much more. When the tempreture gets below a certain level, Sam has no choice but to be a wolf. He is ripped from his human form no matter the place or time. If he wishes to stay human for longer, then he needs to stay warm and not just pull a jumper on warm. Grace has always seen the wolves near her garden, in fact she had a strange interaction with one when she was little and now always sees him as her wolf. When she discovers what he is, they fall in love but can they cope with the pressures of this lifestyle and can Sam keep returning into his human form?

#4 – Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

From my last post you could have probably surmise that Vampire Academy was going to make it onto this list. The story of friendship, love and high school mixed with vampires and guardians makes Mead’s first foray into YA a truly great one. The characters are great, the twists surprising and the plots enjoyable. A series of 6 and it seems to end too soon.

#5 – Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

Luckily, Mead must have thought it ended too soon to as she carries on the world forged in Vampire Academy in Bloodlines. Instead of following Rose, Dimitri and Lissa, we follow Sydney, Adrian and Jill. Sydney was a secondary character appearing in a few of the VA books. It’s interesting to see her as she is so anti-Vampires to begin with and has to overcome this prejudice but in return is shunned by her own people for this acceptance. A very different problem to that of VA but one that seems much more realistic and poignant in today’s world.

#6 – The Girl in the Box series by Robert J Crane

Robert J Crane is a self-published author and someone who has been kind enough to help me with my MA. He recently answered some questions for me towards one of my case studies. Besides being a lovely man, he is also a great writer. The Girl in the Box Series is excellently written, edited and set out. It’s very professionally done and I would highly recommend that if you have never read a self published work before, start with Crane’s. Writing with a female protagonist as a man must be hard but Crane has managed to get all the teenage girl angst so true and congratulations to him for being the only male writer on this list!

#7 – Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu

The Legend Trilogy is like a cross between The Hunger Games and The Divergent Trilogy. There is the shunned part of the city (as District 12 is) and the elite part of the city (think Panem). However, there are classes like there are in Divergent that the elite can partake in. We see that this new country is flawed and our two protagonists are thrown together. The ending is better than both of the above mentioned books. It doesn’t let you down as much as The Hunger Games does and it doesn’t destroy you as Divergent does. Great solid trilogy and a worthy option within this list.

 

#8 – Duff by Kody Keplinger

This is coming out this year as a film and I felt I should get the book in before that occurred. From the trailers I can already see that they have changed certain parts of the book so I am not too happy about that. This book is one that I feel all girls will be able to relate to. Duff stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend and whilst the Duff doesn’t need to be fat or particularly ugly, she is the one who isn’t as pretty as her friends. However, we see that all girls feel that they are the Duff at some point in their lives. All girls seem to have this ability to only see the bad in themselves and see how perfect that is in one of our friends whether it be they have better legs or eyes, when in reality you have better hair and smile. As a girl, give this a go and as a boy, read it to discover that what bad you say will stick with girls longer than the multitude of good things you say and do.

#9 – The Host by Stephanie Mayer 

If anyone has read my review of The Host will know, I found this highly superior to the Twilight series. The storyline of a love box in three bodies is excellent. How you are never confused between Wanda and Melanie shows just how strong the characters are when they share the same body and space. Mayer may have hit gold with Twilight in terms of fans and money but it is this book that should be her crowning moment. Better written, better characters and a nicer love story, The Host is the Mayer book you should be reading.

#10 – The Testing Trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau

A very recent read of mine and an excellent one at that. Similar to the other’s in that it is dystopia, we find people who are chosen by the city to be potentially educated at the University. Here, the 16 year olds must pass tests of logic, memory, ruthlessness and leadership. They forge alliances, create friendships, enemies and learn how far they are willing to go. Once successful, their memories wiped and they know nothing of the horrors of what they have done… or do they? A brilliant read.

I could have added Harry Potter but I feel everyone knows that this will always be in any book lovers top 10 so I felt it needed to let other books take centre stage! If there are any you think I should have added, let me know in the comments!

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Richelle Mead

All I ever seem to do on this blog is apologise for the delay in writing a new post but as it is has been the festive period I won’t this time. Christmas and New Year are the busiest time to be working in any form of customer service and working in a nightclub just adds to this. So yes, I have been busy working and studying (*cough* relaxing *cough*).

So as the perceptive of you would have noticed, there is no book title above. Just “Richelle Mead”. No I haven’t forgotten to put one up there, I just don’t see the need to with Mead. So far I have read 20/23 of her books and I cannot give any a lesser mark than the other. If you have read my Vampire Academy review, you can see how much I gushed over that and the following series’ have been the same. You may be wondering why I haven’t just written about an author before but the answer is simple. Richelle Mead is the first author since Enid Blyton that I can honestly say I will read any of their work. I kid you not. I love Rizzoli and Isles but haven’t read any of Gerritsen’s others; Harry Potter is one of the greatest series’ ever written but I am not enthralled by Rowling’s other narratives; I could perhaps say they same thing about Stephanie Mayer later if she writes any more but only due to my love of The HostTwilight never really putting itself into the ‘must read every year’ category on my shelves.  From this we can surmise that I love characters. I will follow them to the ends of the earth and back. Their relationships, quests and challenges enthral and amuse but I often find authors to be disappointing in other areas. Take Garci and Stohl from Beautiful CreaturesTogether they have created these characters and world that mesmerises and amazes, yet separately and on separate stories, I found them uninteresting.

Back to Mead. It started with Vampire Academy which lead onto the spin off series of Bloodlines. From there I decided to give the Georgina Kincaid series a go and then The Age of X and now, finally, The Dark Swan series. I am literally devouring every one of her novels as quickly as she can produce them and have even accepted the £5+ charge for the e-book editions (something I usual avoid doing – you don’t get the physical book so why pay more than £3?) Every single one has had a developed plot line, interesting main AND support characters and twists that are sometimes completely out of the blue (I’m looking at you Dimitri from VA!) The first two mentioned are YA books but this doesn’t take away from a developed Adult writer. All Mead did was tone down the sex scenes (which are quite detailed in some of the books – when you write about a succubus who feeds off of sex that tends to happen) and take out the swear words. The essence of Mead’s work stays the same, excellent dialogue and believable stories.

In conclusion; if you are struggling for a book to read, a friend to buy for or just want to explore a new author give Richelle Mead a go. Every one of her books are easily a 10/10. Trust me, you wont be disappointed!

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy, YA

Caged – Amber Lynn Natusch

Have you ever read a book where you had forgotten the blurb? It is a very confusing/interesting experience. On KindleCaged was recommended to me so I checked it out and obviously liked what I saw and then downloaded it. However, I didn’t read it straight away. I left it for a few months. I tend to do that. I buy books in bulk and then it means I have a few to get through. However, I totally forgot what the blurb said about this book. I figured it was probably a crime book as that is what I tend to read and as I had chosen to download it, it must have seemed ok so I began to read it with no clue of its premises. I can tell you now that this is not a crime book!

Plot

We meet out leading lady, Ruby, under some dire straits. She seems to be able to see after a long time of not being able to but is attacked by a gang of men. We see she is saved by an ‘angel’. We have no idea who this man is but we see Ruby again a year later. She is now running her own shop selling jewellery and appears to be quite successful in this venture. However, she is completely cut off from the world. Perhaps due to the fact she was born blind and is now a medical marvel as she has regained full use of her eyes, she feels slightly in awe of human interaction. Fuelled by her desire to be social, Ruby sets forth to a club. Here she is once again caught in the terror of a man and is rescued by Sean who she recognises as the ‘angel’ who rescued her before. Shocked by this turn of events, Ruby runs from Sean.

Later, Sean finds Ruby and they embark into a rough friendship. However, on a night out, Ruby is inexplicably drawn to Eric. A man Sean seems to know and loathe. Ruby goes out with Eric and lands herself into a whole heap of trouble. She is exchanged by Eric for some goods into the hands of a (SPOILER ALERT) pack of werewolves who want to ‘mate’ with her. Here she meets Cooper who helps her escape from the pack and back into Sean’s world.

Opinion

I’d recommend reading a book when you have no idea what is supposed to happen. It makes for an interesting ride! However, I thought this book was mediocre.

I have read quite a few Werewolves, Vampire, Magical books as seen through my reviews so you can see that I do like this genre. Natusch just seems to want to prolong your knowledge of this fact. You don’t discover that Ruby is a werewolf until about 60% of the way through. You don’t find out why she was born blind and now isn’t. Nor why Sean is following her around, even before he knows what kind of ‘special’ werewolf she is. Why does she have such attraction to Eric? This is a first in a series so maybe these will be explained later but I don’t really have an interest in reading them after this one.

Ruby as the main character is awful. She is the most stupid, naive little girl I have ever met and she is meant to be 28… She should have more sense than she does. Especially with the level of intelligence she shows to have through her Uni degree and excellent wit. Perhaps Natusch is trying to go with the anti-heroine type character like Orissa from the Contagium Series but it is never fully successful as Ruby is just annoying.

Natusch also seems to brush over anything sexual. Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with there being no sex or nothing overtly sexual happening in books. The Host is a love story yet doesn’t really broach the subject of sex. This book has strong sexual themes running through it but seems to be embarrassed to show them and this creates confusion. Is Ruby raped? Is she gang raped? Is she just ‘pawed’ at? As this is quite a pivotal point in the storyline it needs to be explained fully. Natusch either needs to tell us what happened or just not put it in. Either is fine, what she does do isn’t it.

Overall, a mediocre read. I finished it but aspects of the plot need to be explained better so a 5/10 for me I’m afraid. Very average.

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The Twilight Saga – Stephanie Mayer

I have decided to review all four books as one. This is because I find the saga as a whole difficult to analyse. Twilight is a phenomenon but why? Don’t get me wrong, I do have a fascination with them and read the whole series more often than I care to admit. I also read these books before they were the phenomenon they became (the perks of working in a library). The storyline is intoxicating and uses a tried and tested topic. Vampire stories have always been popular since Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. Our fascination of the undead can be chartered throughout literature, whether it be Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” to Elizabeth Kostova “The Historian”, Vampires and Monsters hold our attention. Mayer has drawn on that and I feel that it wouldn’t take much writing ability to make it a story people would happily want to read. It isn’t a subject matter that has to engulf you fully to make you want to carry on to the bitter end. Having said that, Mayer obviously got something right to keep us intrigued and glued to the pages.

Plot

In “Twilight” we meet Bella, our heroine. She is leaving her desert home of Arizona to the rainy, green land of Forks. Here she now lives with her father, the local sheriff and attends the town public school. This is where we first meet the Cullens. An extraordinary family. They are all intelligent, beautiful and have golden eyes. The youngest boy is in Bella’s science class and she seems to cause a very strong and powerful reaction within Edward Cullen. So much so that he tries to change his classes so he is never with her and then does not return to school for numerous days. When he returns, he seems much more amiable to Bella, though he does warn her away. We later find out why as Bella discovers his secret after talking to the local Native Americans and her childhood friend Jacob Black. The answer is simple, he and his family are actually a coven. A coven of Vampires. The rest of the book goes on to describe how Vampires came into existence  how the Cullen family came to be and shows the growing love that Edward and Bella have for each other. It ends on a battle of Edward and a stranger vampire fighting for the right for Bella or rather, the right to keep her alive or drink her blood.

“New Moon” begins barely after “Twilight” finishes and Bella’s birthday causes alarm as she suffers a paper cut in the middle of a Vampire Coven. This causes Edward to re-evaluate his relationship with Bella and makes him leave her for her own good. Bella is heartbroken and takes comfort in the friendship she has in Jacob Black. However, this friendship is also fraught as a Vampire called Victoria vows to kill Bella for Edward killing her mate at the end of “Twilight”, meaning the Quileute children become shape-shifters who take the animal shape of a wolf. Jacob joins in this pack and we have Bella once more involved with dangerous creatures. Edward believes Bella to be dead (due to a prophecy of Alice and pig-headedness of Jacob) and tries to commit suicide by revealing his presence in the home town of the Volturi (Vampire Elite and police). Bella and Alice race off to Italy to rescue him, in the process revealing  Bella to the Volturi.

Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse“Eclipse” again begins a short while after its predecessor and we see Bella forcing Edward and Jacob to accept that they are both important to her and that they are both in her life. Hard as they are sworn enemies. However, Victoria is back and this time making an army of new-born vampires to try to kill Bella. The Quileute wolves and Cullen vampires join forces for the first time in history to destroy this invading army and save Bella. Bella asks Edward to changer her into a Vampire but Edward will only allow her to be changed by him if she agrees to marry him first. He was after all born in a different era where virtue was honoured.

“Breaking Dawn” could easily be two books as the two films based on it show. The first half we have the wedding, honeymoon and Bella’s pregnancy and the second half we have Bella being a newborn vampire, Renesme being seen, building up an army of witnesses and the Volturi descending on the Cullen family.

Opinion

As I mentioned briefly above, I am not fully convinced by Mayer’s writing ability after the Twilight Saga (However, “The Host” proves she can for me). I wasn’t enthralled by the prose of Mayer. Some of her writing is confusing and didn’t always make sense. The problem could be due to her writing from a 16-year-old perceptive. Her dramatic improvement in writing for her book “The Host” suggests that this might be the case. This doesn’t reprieve it though. Many books can be written from a teenager’s point of view or 1st person and still be well written. Writing prowess aside, this book has the ‘X-Factor’. Maybe that Edward is just so darn romantic or that Jacob is your best friend turned hot boyfriend type that we are kept entertained or the fascinating friendships and relationships that take you on a roller-coaster, Twilight has something. You are invested in each of these character’s lives and whether it be the romantic triangle (Team Jacob by the way) or the bonds of loyal friendships, Mayer has stumbled on to something great. All in all one great storyline that keeps you for 4 books and one you can re-read.

My verdict is 8/10. Worth a read though I don’t believe the films do the books any justice and I prefer to keep the characters separate in my head as Pattinson and Stewart just aren’t my idea of Edward and Bella (I know I shall be stabbed by many Twihards for the Pattinson comment!).

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Filed under Book Review, Stephanie Mayer, Twilight, Young Adult

The Host – Stephanie Mayer

Stephanie Mayer is famous for her Twilight Saga. The intricate web of love, honour, suspicion and hate kept everyone captivated throughout 4 books and 5 films. While I certainly don’t think the Twilight books are well written or that ingenious of an idea they do have a type of magic about them that keeps you hooked. The Host, has nothing to do with Vampires or Werewolves. It’s about Aliens. Now don’t panic. It’s not your typical little green men type book. It’s all the best parts of Twilight mixed with a new idea and written well. Plus it’s apparently set to be a trilogy with “The Soul” and “The Seeker” becoming the second and third.

Plot

We start of meeting some form of Healer who as his title suggests, has just finished healing a body and implanting a ‘Soul’. We witness the body’s final moments as a human and see the terror that these ‘Souls’ have brought to the few remaining humans on earth. Our ‘Soul’ awakens to find her Seeker scrutinising her every movement and wants to know all of the humans memories. The healer names the ‘Soul’ Wanderer and we see her become frustrated with her inability to control her Hosts previous mind. She begins to worry if this means she isn’t strong enough for this world, ironic as her name comes from the fact that she has been to 9 other planets (unusual for Souls). We discover that her Host’s name is Melanie Stryder and she is in love with a man named Jared and has a younger brother, Jamie. Wanderer and Mel join forces on their dislike of the Seeker and embark on a journey together to find Mel’s Uncle Jeb (an extreme believer in conspiracy theories meaning he was able to disappear off the grid with the first invasion of Souls). Through their journey, Wanderer falls in love with Jared and Jamie due to Mel’s memories and the fact that the body loves them so alters Wanderer’s mental feelings.

They both find Jeb’s hideout and we come face to face with real humans. However, all the humans are distrustful of Wanderer as she is,

afterall, a Soul who has taken over Melanie’s body. Jared saves them but only through his inability to allow the body he loves to die.Within the commune, Kyle and his bother Ian try every day to see if Jared has left a gap in the defence of Wanderer to kill her. Eventually, the commune needs supplies and as Jared is the only one who is able to take a group of people and get them back alive as well as get all the supplies needed, he sets off with Kyle while Jeb promises to keep Wanderer safe until his return. During Jareds absence, Jamie comes to visit Wanderer and grows to love Wanderer as a separate person to Mel and is able with his young mind to talk to Wanderer and Mel as individuals enabling him to accept this new, strange way of family. With a twist, Ian begins to have feelings for Wanderer the Soul, not Wanderer in Mel’s body and here lies the crux of the story. Wanderer and Ian love each other, Mel and Jared love each other, only problem is 2 of them have the same body.

Opinion

I loved this book. It’s far far better than Twilight. I don’t know if because we see the world through something which is technically a few thousands year old instead of 17 or because Mayer has improved as a writer but her prose is much better than in the Twilight saga. Every character is understandable and due to this we can relate to them. The love ‘box’ of Wanderer, Mel, Jared and Ian is beautifully created and grows as you read. Ian was meant to be a background character who hates Wanderer all the way through the storyline but Mayer found that his personality was too difficult to ignore and seemed to shout at her to allow him to grow and evolve into this man who Wanderer herself says has “the mind of a Soul with the strength of a Human”. I am so glad Mayer was unable to ignore his shouts as he is one of the best characters in this book.

The relationship of Mel and Wanderer is similar to that of Eragon and Saphira in the Inheritance Cycle as they talk to each other and relay information through pictures and memories. Although only one body for two minds, they begin to develop an understanding and form a relationship closer to that of sisters as they battle the prejudices and hatred against them.

Jeb and Jamie are important to the storyline as they are the only two people to fully accept Wanderer/Mel as a package deal but through very different eyes. Jamie is very naive and is desperate to be a man where as Jeb is the leader of the commune and has the ability to understand everyone’s motives and arguments but continues down his own moral road.

It is these characters interactions and relationships which make this books so interesting and a joy to read. There are no epic battles and very few dramatic encounters but the subtle shift in feeling and prejudices towards Wanderer is a fascination to watch and you feel part of this life. You love, laugh and live with the characters and it is this fact alone which makes ‘The Host’ one of the best books I’ve read in a while. I cannot wait for the sequels, although I am apprehensive of a change in narrator as we witness the goings on in ‘The Host’ through Wanderer’s eyes and I would hope we stick to Wanderer or someone within the commune so we know what happens to Wanderer and co. A total change of characters but within the same world wouldn’t be able to encapsulate the magical bonds that we find with these characters and in my opinion, that would reduce the enjoyment level of the books. However, they haven’t been written yet so no point analysing them to early!

This book gets a score of 10/10. I’d recommend it to anyone. Read it. Or watch the new film that is set to hit cinemas at the end of this month! 

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Filed under Book Review, Eragon, Stephanie Mayer, The Host, Young Adult