Thursday, 10 April 2014

Review: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner
Edition: Chicken House Paperback
Released: July 2010
Series: The Maze Runner #1
Pages: 371 approx.
Links: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book!

When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he's not alone. He's surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade - a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze.

Like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they came to be there, or what's happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything to find out.
I pretty much bought this book a couple days after the movie trailer was released. After watching the trailer for the first time and being blown away by it, I decided then and there that I was going to have to read The Maze Runner before the film's release. And I did. Though I didn't love it, I'm still glad I read it and can go into the movie knowing more of the backstory behind it!
First of all, let me stress how hard it is for me to get along with a male lead. I don't know why, maybe it's because I'm female and have no first-hand experience of the male brain but, incredibly, I didn't want to break Thomas in two. I actually got along with him. *gasps* This is a big deal for me - you may see me reviewing more books with male narrators now! Even though Thomas wasn't the best character, he was smart, reliable and possessed a number of qualities you'd look for in an admirable leader. I never didn't understand something he'd do - I could always see the reason behind why he was doing it and could admire him for it. There are very few characters you can point at and say they'd make a great leader, Thomas is one of them.
The actual plotline of the story wasn't as complex as I would have liked. It was slightly underwhelming. However, this made the book more of a light read - which I know a lot of people enjoy when all they've been doing is reading heavier novels. I can say though, with almost complete assurance, the ending of this book (I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!) has set up a more complex storyline for the sequel, The Scorch Trials. There were points in this book that, admittedly, I did find slow-going and, at one point, I did sit the book down and leave it there for a few days but the build up to the ending was more fast-paced and thrilling and I found myself flicking to the last page much sooner than I'd expected because I was so hooked.
To conclude, The Maze Runner is a novel I enjoyed and am glad to have read. Although it wasn't complex plot-wise and sometimes slow-going, there were redeeming qualities - the main character and the unforeseen plot twists. I'll probably pick up the sequel, The Scorch Trials, at one point or another but I'm not making it a priority. I do recommend you pick The Maze Runner up if you enjoy action/adventure stories and if you're interested in going to see the movie when it comes out!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: If you were planning on buying The Maze Runner but are now a little discouraged, go check out Sunny's glowing, five-star review HERE! :)

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new young adult series of adventure mystery stories by Iain Reading.

This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations. 

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty's adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada's Yukon.


Back Where The Entire Adventure Began

As soon as the engine began to sputter, I knew that I was in real trouble. Up until then, I had somehow managed to convince myself that there was just something wrong with the fuel gauges. After all, how could I possibly have burnt through my remaining fuel as quickly as the gauges seemed to indicate? It simply wasn't possible. But with the engine choking and gasping, clinging to life on the last fumes of aviation fuel, it was clear that when the fuel gauges read, "Empty," they weren't kidding around.

The lightning strike that took out my radio and direction-finding gear hadn't worried me all that much. (Okay, I admit it worried me a little bit.) It wasn't the first time that this had happened to me, and besides, I still had my compasses to direct me to where I was going. But I did get a little bit concerned when I found nothing but open ocean as far my eyes could see at precisely the location where I fully expected to find tiny Howland Island—and its supply of fuel for the next leg of my journey—waiting for me. The rapidly descending needles on my fuel gauges made me even more nervous as I continued to scout for the island, but only when the engine began to die did I realize that I really had a serious problem on my hands.

The mystery of the disappearing fuel.

The enigma of the missing island.

The conundrum of what do I do now?

"Exactly," the little voice inside my head said to me in one of those annoying 'I-told-you-so' kind of voices. "What do you do now?"

"First, I am going to stay calm," I replied. "And think this through."

"You'd better think fast," the little voice said, and I could almost hear it tapping on the face of a tiny wristwatch somewhere up there in my psyche. "If you want to make it to your twentieth birthday, that is.  Don't forget that you're almost out of fuel."

"Thanks a lot," I replied. "You're a big help."

Easing forward with the control wheel I pushed my trusty De Havilland Beaver into a nosedive. Residual fuel from the custom-made fuel tanks at the back of the passenger cabin dutifully followed the laws of gravity and spilled forward, accumulating at the front and allowing the fuel pumps to transfer the last remaining drops of fuel into the main forward belly tank. This maneuver breathed life back into the engine and bought me a few more precious minutes to ponder my situation.

"Mayday, mayday, mayday," I said, keying my radio transmitter as I leveled my flight path out again. "This is aircraft Charlie Foxtrot Kilo Tango Yankee, calling any ground station or vessel hearing this message, over."

I keyed the mic off and listened intently for a reply. Any reply. Please? But there was nothing. There was barely even static. My radio was definitely fried.

It was hard to believe that it would all come down to this. After the months of preparation and training. After all the adventures that I'd had, the friends I'd made, the beauty I'd experienced, the differences and similarities I'd discovered from one culture to the next and from one human being to the next. All of this in the course of my epic flight around the entire world.

Or I should say, "my epic flight almost around the entire world," in light of my current situation.

And the irony of it was absolutely incredible. Three-quarters of a century earlier the most famous female pilot of them all had disappeared over this exact same endless patch of Pacific Ocean on her own quest to circle the globe. And she had disappeared while searching for precisely the same island that was also eluding me as I scanned the horizon with increasing desperation.

"Okay," I thought to myself. "Just be cool and take this one step at a time to think the situation through." I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing, slowing it down and reining in the impulse to panic. Inside my head, I quickly and methodically replayed every flight that I'd ever flown. Every emergency I'd ever faced. Every grain of experience that I had accumulated along the long road that had led me to this very moment. Somewhere in there was a detail that was the solution to my current predicament. I was sure of it. And all I had to do was find it.

Maybe the answer to my current situation lay somewhere among the ancient temples of Angkor in Cambodia? Or in the steamy jungles of east Africa? Or inside the towering pyramids of Giza? Or among the soaring minarets of Sarajevo? Or on the emerald rolling hills and cliffs of western Ireland? Or on the harsh and rocky lava fields of Iceland?

Wherever the answer was, it was going to have to materialize quickly, or another female pilot (me) would run the risk of being as well-known throughout the world as Amelia Earhart. And for exactly the same reason.

"It's been a good run at least," the little voice inside my head observed, turning oddly philosophical as the fuel supplies ran critically low. "You've had more experiences on this journey around the world than some people do in their entire lifetime."

"That's it!" I thought.

Maybe the answer to all this lies even further back in time? All the way back to the summer that had inspired me to undertake this epic journey in the first place. All the way back to where North America meets the Pacific Ocean—the islands and glaciers and whales of Alaska.

All the way back to where this entire adventure began. 

Now on to the exciting part! If this book has caught your eye, you can enter to win one kindle version of it. The giveaway will be open from 8th April until the 16th April at 00:00AM. Anyone can enter because it's an e-book copy, just make sure if you're under 14 years old, you have parents permission. Also take into account that I will have to pass on your email address to the publishers so they can send you a gift copy through Amazon. If all this is okay with you, then all you need to do is enter via Rafflecopter below! :)

Good luck!
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Monday, 7 April 2014

Something to make you think...

Okay, so a thought has just struck and, while it's fresh in my mind, I need to blog about it.

The primary role of a book blogger is to review books. We all know this, of course. It's not exactly a theory. But, if you think about it, book bloggers, though they can enhance a reading experience, can also taint it.

Once you've read a review of a book, parts of it automatically go into your subconscious. You may not realise it but, during the time you're reading that particular book, you're picking up on the little things bloggers spoke of in their reviews. Whether good or bad. Small things which you might not have picked up on otherwise. Sometimes you can be grateful for it - it may make you appreciate the novel in a different way or help you understand a particular plot twist - but, horrifyingly enough, sometimes it can affect the way people enjoy the book.

It was rather slow paced to begin with.
This character got rather irritating after a while.
I didn't get the instant attraction.

I have more or less said these things - as well as numerous other comments - in my reviews at one point or another. Does that mean that I'm responsible if, after reading my review, that person also found the start of the story slow-paced or thought the romance was too much like insta-love? Maybe. Maybe not.

We all know about the hype monster. When the blogosphere just blows up over a particular book. Everyone raving here, there and everywhere. This book's incredible. This book's AMAZING. This book's perfection! Those of us who haven't yet picked up this 'fantastic' book instantly have high expectations. More often than not, for me, personally, anyway - and I'm sure for a lot of other people as well - the book falls short. You simply expected too much from it.

Quickly flash-back to when you didn't blog or when internet wasn't as popular. You opened up a book with no expectations. Nothing. And you loved it. You loved it a lot. You loved it because you, and you alone, read it through untainted eyes. You perceived it the way you did. There was nothing niggling away in your subconscious. Sometimes I miss that feeling. Knowing you really did love it, it wasn't because someone said this or someone said that. It was all you.

I don't quite know where I'm going with this post. This isn't an indirect way of telling you I'm not reviewing anymore. I will continue to review books because I love doing it. This also isn't a dig at book bloggers - I will also continue to read other book blogger's reviews. It just strikes me as interesting that a community such as our own can truly affect readers in different ways.

What do YOU think of all this?

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Divergent Week: Final Rankings!

So Initiation finished last night at midnight and the points for each faction were totalled up this morning. The final rankings for each faction are as follows:
The winning faction with 408 points is... Candor!

Divergent Week
Followed by Abnegation with 372 points, Amity with 268 points, Dauntless with 248 points and Erudite with 114 points!

I am so proud of all the factions and all the initiates who participated this week! On the risk of sounding cheesy, everyone is a winner in my eyes - I am humbled by the effort a bunch of you put in!

So, yes, that's Divergent Week over. I'm sad to see it go, I've had a lot of fun with it over the past seven days and I hope all you initiates have had fun too and, to my readers, I hope it's been something slightly different yet fun for you to read on this blog! :)
Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo

PS: Who knows, we may do something similar to this in the future! ;)

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Divergent Week: Miscellaneous!

Okay, so I got out of the cinema twenty minutes ago and I am determined to pick up some more points for my amazing faction, Dauntless.

how cool is this?

What I liked most in the movie:
  • The 'jumping off the train' scene. The cinematography of the scene where Tris and Christina jump off the train is amazing and perfect and I just love it so much.
  • The 'jumping off the building' scene. I LOVED this. It just looked so real
  • The zip line scene. It was, put simply, beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. It made me feel airborne and free, flying through the air just like Tris. The view/landscape during that scene was breath-taking too.
  • Plain and simple the movie brought to life my favourite book. 'Nuff said.
  • The pretty eye candy of Theo James - y'know, I am a female, can you blame me? ;3
Sidenote: If you'd like a more in-depth review (including what I didn't like in the movie) then tell me in a comment! I'm curious and may write up a full review once I've sorted through my thoughts!

Why I love the book, Divergent:

If you didn't know already, Divergent, is my all-time favourite book. I LOVE it so, so much. I'm actually reading it right now 'cause I always turn to it when I'm in need of comfort or in a reading slump (it's so fantastically amazing that it always gets me out of a slump)! One of the reasons I love it so, so much is the fantastic storyline. I love dystopian/action stories and the plotline in this one is so unique and perfectly paced. I just love the idea of factions, it's an amazing idea and I wish I knew where Veronica Roth gets her ideas from. I'm so thankful to that brilliant woman for writing my fave novel! Tris is also one of my favourite characters of ALL time. She is just so brave, strong and admirable and definitely my role model. I'd love to be as amazing as her. I see a lot of myself in her at times and so I never fail to empathise with her or understand where she's coming from. She's just so brilliant and I love her to pieces. I also love Will and Uriah - both are perfect side characters. Overall, I love this book with all my heart and soul and I definetly want everyone to experience its sheer awesomeness.

Specific Tasks for Dauntless:

I was brave and talked to someone new yesterday in my maths class. Though there is no way I can prove this, I can promise you I am not lying! I also, believe it or not, did something I'm scared of doing and that's going to the cinema. Yes, I went to the cinema tonight and I am super proud of myself. Though I can't give you proof that going to the cinema is actually quite a hard thing for me to do, I can give you some backstory. Basically, I have anxiety. I've been suffering from anxiety since I was about 9 but it's a long story to tell you how it came about. When I was going through a particularly bad phase of anxiety, myself and my family went to the cinema - now, I had tried to be brave and had, admittedly, kicked up a bit of a fuss before leaving the house but, because I was so young, I wouldn't have been allowed to stay home alone. So, as I was sitting in my seat watching, specifically, WALL.E - people who have anxiety can tell you that they remember little details when they're having a panic attack - when I felt a panic attack coming on. I felt extremely sick and my internal flight response was really kicking in. I had to leave because I was getting so worked up. Now I always get scared before going to the cinema because I subconsciously replay that scene in my head as well as other episodes I've had at the cinema. Even though it may sound a little unbelievable, I'm truly proud of myself for going to the cinema tonight. Especially since I was going to be so disappointed in myself if I left because I would be walking out of D. I. V. E. R. G. E. N. T. I had to leave Catching Fire last year because of my anxiety and it sure as heck was not fun, let me tell you! So I sat through it tonight and am proud. That's as much proof as I can give, I'm afraid.

Okay, so I have under five minutes left until Divergent Week is over. So I have to go now before none of these points count. Bye!

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo