Category Archives: 80% – <90%

Croak by Gina Damico

Title: Croak
Author: Gina Damico
Published: 20th March 2012 (paperback)
Format: E-reader
Pages: 320
RRP: £5.74
Rating: 13/14+

Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby has sucker-punched her last classmate. Fed up with her punkish, wild behavior, her parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape. But Uncle Mort’s true occupation is much dirtier than that of shoveling manure.

He’s a Grim Reaper. And he’s going to teach her the family business.

Lex quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated entirely by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. Along with her infuriating yet intriguing partner Driggs and a rockstar crew of fellow Grim apprentices, Lex is soon zapping her targets like a natural born Killer.

Yet her innate ability morphs into an unchecked desire for justice—or is it vengeance?—whenever she’s forced to Kill a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again. So when people start to die—that is, people who aren’t supposed to be dying, people who have committed grievous crimes against the innocent—Lex’s curiosity is piqued. Her obsession grows as the bodies pile up, and a troubling question begins to swirl through her mind: if she succeeds in tracking down the murderer, will she stop the carnage—or will she ditch Croak and join in?

The premise of this book really caught me eye so I just had to join in the book tour! I was not let down. This book is very fun to read and provided me with a lot of enjoyment.

Uncle Mort was, at first, pretty scary but I think he was one of my favourite characters because he was both mysterious and hilarious. When I first read his name I thought of the French word mort which means death… the upcoming interview with Gina Damico shows it was unintentional, though!

The entire idea behind this new way of death and the subsequent afterlife is completely new and different from what has been portrayed in books and TV before… so at first it was all a bit confusing with new vocabulary but like in other fantasy books it becomes easy to pick up on.

Many other reviewers felt the same as me about Lex at the beginning. Being a juvenile delinquent means she is pretty hard to like but she grows and finds out answers throughout the book.

The book was written in third person so I felt that it was slightly more difficult to relate to Lex, since we did not get to delve completely into her mind. Other people’s opinions and thoughts were not usually looked at so a better choice would have been first person, so as to fully enjoy Lex’s character.

The overall writing quality however was really slick and I just plain enjoyed this book. I am glad this is a series because I would like some more answers!! I am sure there is more to some characters than meets the eye…

A fun, slightly mysterious and dark book with a good helping of comedic banter and romance. A great blend!

Rating
Plot: 8/10
There was a lot of action and events and that kept it thrilling.
Writing Quality: 9/10
Gina Damico has a lovely, in-depth writing style and the quality is great.
Originality: 9/10
Personally, I have not encountered a paranormal book about grim reapers…!
Characters: 6/10
The characters were developed and fun to read about.
Descriptions: 7/10
The descriptions provided were great.

39/50 = 80%

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Thank you so much to Teen Book Scene/Netgalley for the copy of the book.

Undead by Kirsty McKay

Title: Undead
Author: Kirsty McKay
Published: 1st September 2011
Format : ARC
Pages: n/a
RRP: £6.99
Rating: 13/14+

It was just another school trip – stuck on a bus with a bunch of freaks…

When their ski-coach pulls up at a roadside cafe, everyone gets off except for newbie Bobby and class rebel Smitty.

They’re hardly the best of friends, but that all changes when through the falling snow, they see the others coming back.

Something has happened to them. Something bad. Soon only a pair of double doors stand between those on the bus and the Undead outside.

The time has come to get a life.

Undead, I am ashamed to say, was my first ever zombie book. I thought the blurb was really intriguing so I said yes to an ARC copy from the lovely Chicken House. I was initially a little bit scared, I have to admit. I knew Undead was aimed at teens but that meant it could easily have been really scary.

Thankfully, it dealt just as many comedic cards as well as thrilling, horror and a touch of L-O-V-E, loooove. Being my first “zom-com” book, I didn’t have very high expectations pertaining the plot, specifically. I’ve watched plenty zombie based television programmes and films, but to be honest I have never understood how a book could chill you to the bone. Turns out, it’s actually quite possible!

Sarcastic (and slightly facetious) Bobby, Rebel Smitty, Alice “Malice” and Smart Inept Pete are the main cast, and written so that they actually swear, have interesting but realistic personalities.

The quick pace of the novel means you delve straight into the action, meaning there is not time to stop as the zombies appear straight away!

What I loved even more about Undead was that the characters were aware of popular culture. You know in media such as books, tv and films where teenagers don’t seem to watch TV? I am happy to say that in this book the characters watch TV and have seen plenty of zombie films, much like real life! Huzzah!

All in all, Kirsty McKay has written a fabulous book, finally creating a YA novel in which the characters are relatable, average and normal. What’s even better is that the zombie aspect is well done and not in a clichéd or overdone way, either. Great plot twists and a fantastic twist (or even… cliffhanger?) at the end leaves me gagging for more.

Rating
Plot: 8/10
Fast-paced and action packed. Perfect for a genre like this!
Writing Quality: 9/10
I really loved the quality and style of Kirsty McKay.
Originality: 8/10
OK so zombies aren’t original at all but elements and the writing were definitely different and it made it very enjoyable to read.
Characters: 9/10
The characters were loveable, well developed and most of all  realistic!
Descriptions: 8/10
I really loved the descriptions of the setting, characters and the zombies!

42/50 = 84%

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Thank you so much to Chicken House for providing an ARC copy!

Undead will be published on the 1st of September (or thereabouts! :P)

Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin

Title: Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance
Author: Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
Published: 7th March 2011
Format: Finished Paperback
Pages: 240
RRP: £6.99
Rating: 13+

Teen TV celebrities Jenna and Jonah (real names, Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers) make more money in a month than most people do in a lifetime. They can’t stand to be in the same room as each other, but to boost the TV ratings their agents make them a ‘real life’ couple. Then the deception is uncovered by the paparazzi, and Charlie and Fielding have to disappear to weather the media storm. It’s not until they’re far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realise there’s more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.

This is a classic example of the story, boy and girl hate each other, then eventually find out they are perfect for each other (but will they..?). Although, when you are reading the book, it does not seem like a cliche. It is in fact a very original and interesting book.

Jenna and Jonah, also known as Charlie and Fielding, are the starlets of the Disney-esque type TV programme, Jenna and Jonah’s How to be a Rock Star. In the show they are in an “on and off” relationship, in ‘reality’ they are a loved-up couple. That is, to everyone but Jenna, Jonah and their protege. Really, Jenna and Jonah despise each other. For most of the book their witty and quick dialogue is really fun to read – they also have comebacks and insults to throw at each other – and that is one of the strong points of the book.

I really enjoyed reading about Jenna and Jonah’s lives. It was really fascinating to read about what might happen with teen stars behind the scenes, and it really has made me think more about how genuine these couples actually are in real life.

Jenna and Jonah as characters were developed so they were not perfect. I think if they were perfect it would either be beautifully ironic/tongue in cheek or just plain annoying. However, the characters were imperfect. How so? Jenna/Charlie acted like a diva behind the scenes of the show but only because she was so insecure about herself. She felt acting was the only thing ‘interesting’ about her. Fielding feels like he is stuck in a shell – his mum picked out the name Fielding when he was a tween and he is sick of being that person.

Overall, I really loved the characters and their development. I think both writers had a really good writing quality and it was definitely enjoyable to read. Although, I was a little disappointed with the ending. I think, rather than introducing a slightly different plot angle, they could have continued with Jenna and Jonah struggling to live normally as stars once the rumour got out. Nevertheless, my enjoyment was not effected too much!

Rating
Plot: 7/10
The plot took a strange U-turn, but the beginning and middle were really fantastic.
Writing Quality: 9/10
Both Franklin and Halpin had great quality of writing.
Originality: 9/10
This was definitely original – I really want to read more books like this!
Characters: 9/10
The characters were loveable (eventually) and had a lot of depth.
Descriptions: 8/10
Another one of the strong points of the book – essential for my own enjoyment of a book 🙂

42/50 = 84%

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Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing the review copy.