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NightShade Blog Tour!

2011 is shaping up to be a FANTASTIC year and I'm really excited about being on the Nightshade tour! You can find my stop here on the 8th January and I'll be reviewing the book that week too!

Book Review: Entangled by Cat Clarke


The same questions whirl round and round in my head:

What does he want from me? 

How could I have let this happen? 

AM I GOING TO DIE?

17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with a table, pens and paper - and no clue how she got here.

As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she's tried to forget. There's falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there's something missing. As hard as she's trying to remember, is there something she just can't see?

Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?

A story of dark secrets, intense friendship and electrifying attraction (from Goodreads.com)

I went into Entangled not really knowing all that much about it. I wasn’t even sure what genre it was…contemporary or paranormal? I’d read a vague and intriguing synopsis and knew I really wanted to read it. This was completely the best way to go into this book as reading it was every bit a journey as its troubled protagonist’s, 17 year old Grace.

The book starts with Grace as she plans to end her life, but at the last minute a mysterious boy, Ethan shows up. Then she wakes up a prisoner in a white room with nothing but a bed, table and paper and pens. Ethan comes and goes but remains every bit as mysterious and it’s up to Grace to work out through writing down the tangled mess of her life who he is, why she is here and discover the truth she has been hiding from herself.

And that’s as much as I’m going to tell you, because to say anymore would spoil the book and everyone should have this on his or her wish list for 2011. What I will say is that Cat Clarke’s Entangled is one of the most haunting and stunning books I have read, provoking every possible emotion in me.

Told from a first person point of view from Grace, the author takes the brave step of making her unlikeable. Her behaviour as she tells us about the past which lead her to this point is the type that evokes disgust in many. She’s self destructive in the extreme and at first some may find it difficult to feel much sympathy for her, but as we delve deeper into her broken life and we see how vulnerable she really is, she emerges as a victim of her circumstances. Everyone knows a Grace, has probably sneered and never considered why they behave the way they do, how much they may be hurting. For me it was a little closer to home, and I saw a tiny bit of myself as a teenager. In some ways reading from Grace was like going back in time, and Cat Clarke completely gets the neediness, paranoia, feelings of self-loathing and self-harm I remember experiencing. It sounds a clichĂ© to say she was believable and real, but it’s scarily true. Even those who can’t directly relate to Grace will recognise some of her feelings or be able to experience them through Clarke’s fantastic ability to convey them onto the page, and will certainly take away a greater understanding of people from this book.

The mystery of Ethan and the white room remain as such throughout the book. I came up with many different theories while reading, none of which ended up correct but along with Grace’s voice kept me turning pages and unable to leave until I’d finished. The ending is somewhat ambiguous and definitely open to interpretation. I know what I think and I’m sure others have different ideas. I loved this, it wasn't annoyingly open and unresolved, and it allows you to really think. I went to bed last night thinking about it and woke up again this morning thinking about it. Whatever your interpretation though, one thing I can guarantee is that it will leave you with tears. It’s tragic, but beautifully hopeful for the future.

I've read some amazing books this year, and Entangled is up there with the best of them. I couldn’t put it down and read all 370 pages in one sitting, something I haven’t done for a while. I won’t forget this book and can’t wait to see what Cat Clarke writes next. The only word of caution I have is that with some explicit and graphic scenes it probably isn't suited to a younger audience and I would hesitate to give it to under thirteen’s. Apart from that I can’t recommend this book enough.

Published January 2011 by Quercus

Thanks to the publishers for sending me an ARC of this book for review.

Book Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

St. Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school—it's a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St. Vladimir's—the very place where they're most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy's ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world's fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever. (From Goodreads.com)

I'd heard lots about Vampire Academy, lots of good stuff that had me marking it as a series to get round to soon. With the release of the 6th and final book in the series (Last Sacrifice) this week I was offered the chance to review the whole series and agreed eagerly.

Vampire Academy is very different to any of the YA Vampire books I've read, that's for sure. The first instalment took me by surprise I must admit- it's fast paced, sexy and feisty right from the start... and I loved it! As soon as I started reading this book I felt 'wow'.

Then sadly it kind of went downhill a little for a while after the first 20-30 pages. I was just so confused and had to check I hadn't started book two by mistake. As the girls are returned to the academy we are introduced to so many different characters, of differing breeds it feels a lot to take in. Back-story is slowly revealed through flashbacks to the past and while I usually love this style of story telling, I didn't enjoy it so much here and found it a little jumpy. If it wasn't for Rose, whose point of view we read from and is definitely up there with my favourite girl characters ever, I may have been tempted to quit. Thankfully I didn't and the final 100 pages are fantastic!

What I did like about this book was that I didn't really know where it was going. While the middle was slow going, the final third of this book really does grip you. With plenty of unique and fascinating takes on Vampire lore it certainly stands out. But my favourite part of this book was the relationships between Rose and Vampire Princess Lissa and Rose and her mentor Dimitri. Both are intense and very interesting, and while Lissa herself left me feeling a little ‘meh’, Rose's fierce loyalty towards her really intrigued me. All I can say about the relationship with Dimitri is...wow-Hot! There's a seriously sexy scene or two in this book and the tension between the pair is electric. This is no simpering romance though...its on fire!

Conclusion: After a fast and feisty start Vampire Academy was a little shaky at times for me. There's a lot of series setting which does get a little tiring at times but is worth persevering with for the fantastic climax and promises a breath taking series to follow.




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