Sunday, 20 March 2016

The Heartless City by Andrea Berthot

Series: The Gold and Gaslight Chronicles
Author: Andrea Berthot
Page Count: 241
Published: August 17th, 2015
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
  4 Stars ★★★★

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review.

It's 1903 and London is quarantined. A drug that turns humans into 'Hydes',  monsters of great strength which tear out peoples' hearts, has devastated the population. 

Elliot Morrissey, son of one of the physicians searching desperately for a cure, is an empath due to an experiment gone wrong. When he meets Iris, he can tell that there is something different about her, and he's right. After she appears to return from the dead, she is offered a room in the palace, and it is discovered that she can heal herself amongst other amazing abilities.

During her stay in the palace, Elliot and Iris grow closer, and secrets are revealed about those he thought he could trust. Not all is as it seems, and he and Iris are determined to get to the bottom of things.

I'm usually not a fan of historical fiction but when I was approached about a potential read and review, I thought I'd give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised and I can say that this book truly impressed me.

One interesting thing about it is my feelings towards the characters. Whether or not I liked or disliked a character was absolute and there was no in between, which was a nice change from previous reads. The characters themselves were very unique and the protagonists were incredibly likeable. They were not cut-out characters, archetypes or cliches. 

The world it was set in, a quarantined historical London, was so well set up it often felt like I was really there with the characters. I understood everything about the world, descriptions were very clear and whenever I sat down to read I was instantly sucked into the story.

The plot seemed a bit reminiscent of the whole zombie infection thing at first, and I was wary I would be getting a run-of-the-mill monster virus story. But I was wrong! This is, so far, the best "virus"-themed story I have ever read. The backstory was intriguing, the effects were truly devastating and the whole idea of using something to gain or maintain power was expertly intertwined with the "virus" concept. 

The romantic aspect of the story was incredibly well done. While not fading completely into the background amid the overall plot, it didn't overshadow the main conflicts of the story. Forbidden romance always excites me and there was a sprinkle of that in here as well. 

The only thing that I took issue with was the occasional overuse of descriptive words. At times I felt a bit overwhelmed with descriptions and adjectives, but this became less and less as I progressed through the book.

Do I recommend? Absolutely! If you read young adult fiction or historical fiction add this to your list! If "virus"-themed books are your thing this is a must read. I really enjoyed this book and I am hoping to read the sequel.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Series: Touch
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Page Count: 252
Published: December 23rd, 2008
Publisher: Hyperion
4 Stars ★★★★

Camelia has a strange encounter with a boy whose touch literally saves her life. Thinking that she will never see him again, she is surprised when he shows up at her school three months later. His name is Ben, and rumors circulate that he is suspected of murdering his girlfriend.

Drawn to Ben and his mysterious touch, Camelia starts receiving strange phone calls, gifts, and threats. As she grows closer to Ben, her fear escalates, and she worries that whoever is sending her these threatening messages may act on them.

This was a fairly quick read, yet very enjoyable. I liked the way the author balanced the romantic tension with mystery, and did not let the romantic aspect completely overshadow the greater plot. I thought the idea of a potential stalker was well executed, and the notes and threats were intriguing, creepy, and kept me reading on.

I appreciated that none of the characters came across as 'stock' characters. They weren't just copies of other YA protagonists and clich├ęs. Ben was a great love interest for Camelia, and I liked that this wasn't a case of love at first sight or random attraction, but that there was actually a good reason for them to be drawn to each other.

I wasn't expecting that twist at the end, and I was very surprised at who was behind all of the stalking and harassment. I found that quite impressive because many mystery books I've read have been predictable, yet this one threw me off. As for the conclusion of the book, it left me wishing I had the sequel on hand! I want to know how Camelia and Ben's story continues.

I definitely recommend this book, especially to YA and mystery lovers. If you like mysteries with a little romance sprinkled in, this one would be a good choice. If you're looking for a short yet enjoyable novel, look no further.