Moth Girls – Anne Cassidy

moth girls

Helplessly drawn like moths to the light, two girls go missing in an evocative and gripping tale . . .

They called them the Moth Girls because they were attracted to the house. They were drawn to it. Or at least that is what is written in the newspapers that Mandy reads on the anniversary of when her two best friends went missing. Five years have passed since Petra and Tina were determined to explore the dilapidated house on Princess Street. But what started off as a dare ended with the two girls vanishing. As Mandy’s memories of the disappearance of her two friends are ignited once again, disturbing details will resurface in her mind.

I was given this book by Tori from The YA Circle because she is a generally fab person. As such, I feel honour bound to actually post a review of it! Also, I had totally forgotten I had a book blog for a while there and was mostly using Tumblr and Instagram. Whoops!

Moth Girls is set in London and swaps between present day and five years earlier when Petra and Tina went missing. The two periods are narrated by Mandy (present) and Petra (past) respectively. I have to say I enjoyed Petra’s sections a lot more. I felt they were a lot more compelling than what Mandy was getting up to five years later (mostly guilt and boy problems). It’s not all that surprising since Petra’s sections is where the actual events leading up to the disappearance occur. I spent a lot of time trying to preempt what was going to happen and was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t figure it all out.

The characterisations of the three girls and their families are really well done as well. Mandy, Tina and Petra are all very different girls and well developed characters. How they interact with each other is very believable which I loved. Even though we don’t get to see any of the events through Tina’s perspective she still stands up as well as Mandy and Petra.

Overall it was a solid book and I enjoyed it but it’s not likely to be one I’ll reread. I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA since I prefer fantasy/dystopia/sci fi etc but if that’s more your style you may love this.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Similar Reads: Risk by Fleur Ferris, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

Moth Girls was published in 2016 by Hot Key Books. ISBN: 9781471405112.

These Broken Stars – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets to the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder – would they be better off staying in this place forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

I wasn’t going to get a copy of this book initially – I’d glanced at the blurb in my local bookstore a couple of times but sounded too similar to Beth Revis’s Across the Universe for my liking. Last week I had an hour to kill at my library volunteer job and a shiny Nexus tablet to play with. These Broken Stars was promoted in Google Play so I downloaded a sample and was sucked in by Tarver and Lilac almost immediately and bought a hard copy in my lunch break!

This is a story about survival, courage, love and fighting for what you want. I really liked the way Tarver and Lilac’s relationship developed over the narrative. When Lilac and Tarver first meet they are clearly attracted to each other but there is no instalove. Instead they are set against each other, initially because of their wildly differing positions in society and later by their own pride. As Lilac and Tarver begin to work together they each gain the other’s respect and THEN fall in love.

With that blurb you’d be forgiven for thinking that Lilac spends the whole time rocking a damsel in distress thing (and that does happen for a little while after the crash landing) but Tarver and Lilac both have strengths and weaknesses which round them out well as the novel progresses. Love me some developed protagonists! They both want to protect the other one but from different threats and it manifests in different ways in both of them.

Another bonus: Australian author! Well, Amie Kaufman specifically. She’s a Melbourne native but I can forgive her for that. 😉 I love learning that books I love are written by locals!

This probably would have been a 4.5 or 5 star rating if it hadn’t been for the ending. Explanation will be a little vague here to avoid spoilers so I’m sorry about that! I wasn’t a real fan of the last few chapters, particularly the planet’s inhabitants and how the final problem Lilac and Tarver face on the planet is solved. It’s a little bit rushed and doesn’t really make a lot of sense with the rest of what the reader knows about the world. I also wasn’t entirely happy with the Icarus crash in the first place – the book never really gives us a reason for it. I can come up with a few guesses but, again, spoilers! Wish my friends would read this so I had someone to discuss it with! Haha.

Kaufman and Spooner have a trilogy in the works for this world but it looks like they’ll be companion novels rather than direct sequels. You can check out the info on the upcoming novel This Shattered World here. It introduces two new characters: Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac and is due in November.

Rating: 4 stars

Similar Reads: Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.

These Broken Stars was published in 2013 by Allen & Unwin. ISBN: 978-1-74331-852-2.

Directive 51 – John Barnes

Set in mid 2020’s USA, Directive 51 opens with protagonist Heather O’Grainne investigating a social phenomenon known as ‘Daybreak’. Made up with people from all walks of life and beliefs, united by their desire to take down what they call the ‘Big System’, Daybreak is about to become a terrible reality. With civilisation rapidly collapsing as biotes and nanoswarm devour anything plastic or electronic, the US government struggles to minimise the damage and maintain control.

This isn’t just Heather’s story though; Directive 51 is told from a large number of perspectives. The reader gets a feel for what’s going on around the USA, from both sides of the conflict, but it means the story feels fragmented and, particularly in the first third of the novel, very slow to get going. It also made it kind of difficult to engage and empathise with the characters as they are pretty one-dimensional for a while. I did become invested in a few of them by the end of the novel.

The writing is dense and has a serious amount of unnecessary exposition going on (not helped by the small print in my paperback copy) so it took me a while to get through this novel. Realistically it could have been a much shorter novel (and a better one for it). It’s also very heavy on the US Constitution – most of the conflict in Directive 51 isn’t to do with Daybreak and the end of the world as we know it but with issues surrounding the continuance of government. If that kind of novel bores you to tears, I suggest you give this one a miss.

I did enjoy the sci-fi side of Directive 51, particularly how the world begins to adjust to a post-Daybreak life and technology level though, of course, some manage better than others. Being a big fan of disaster movies, I love a good apocalypse scenario and the sudden and catastrophic failure of things like plastic and electronics is a great one. I really liked the premise of Directive 51 but the overall execution wasn’t the best, sadly.

Despite my expectations, the ending left me wanting to know what happens in the rest of the series. I get the feeling that my favourite characters are never going to catch a break but that’s the point in an end of the world thriller I guess. Whether or not I actually pick up Daybreak Zero remains to be seen.

Rating: 2.5 stars.

Similar Reads: Black Monday by R. Scott Reiss (also listed as Bob Reiss).

Directive 51 was published in 2010 by Penguin Group. ISBN : 978-0-441-02041-6.

Timekeepers – Catherine Webb

Now, fair warning. There are some minor spoilers for Waywalkers below so if you haven’t read it and are planning to then maybe give this post a miss.

The sequel to Webb’s first Sam Linnfer novel Waywalkers, Timekeepers resolves the duology. Sam finds himself cut off from his allies as the Pandora Spirits are used against him in a bid to release Cronus from his prison. New kids on the figuartive block, the Ashen’ia, offer Sam protection but the mysterious Master and Mistress who command them are manipulating Sam for their own ends. All the while Sam’s father, Time, demands he submit to his fate: save the universe and destroy himself in the process.

Since Sam can no longer rely on pretty much anyone we met in Waywalkers there are a lot of characters missing from Timekeepers. While we do get to meet a few new ones, such as the comically named Tinkerbell, the almost complete absence characters I was invested in frustrated me.

The actual plot wasn’t bad, with a lot of well written action and fight scenes which is appropriate since Sam spends basically the entire book on the run from one thing or another. There is an awful lot of build up for the final battle for the universe but, while there are some great action sequences and information reveals, the actual climax was almost boring and not very well described. There is also quite a lot unresolved in regards to some characters, Loki in particular.

Overall I enjoyed this series but I’m not sure if I would re-read it. If you’re a fan of magic and mythology but don’t like explicit gore in your reading then check out Waywalkers and Timekeepers.

3 stars.

Similar reads: Fated by Benedict Jacka, The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond.

Timekeepers was published in 2004 by Atom. ISBN: 1 904233 43 0.

Closure Limited and Other Zombie Tales – Max Brooks

Closure Limited and Other Zombie Tales by Max Brooks. Alternate cover.Coming in at a baby 124 pages, Max Brook’s collection of four short stories continues on from the amazing World War Z. It took me a while to pick up a copy of this, only because it was initially retailing at around $20 at my local bookstore and I couldn’t justify spending that much on a tiny book, even if its predecessor is one of my all time favourite novels.

I came to this with pretty high expectations. Of the four stories, I most enjoyed ‘The Extinction Parade’, by far the longest in the book, where Brooks adds vampires to his undead legions. I really liked the way he built their community and that it could be read as inhabiting the same world as World War Z or another one entirely.

‘Closure Limited’ and ‘Great Wall’ both fit well with his previous novel and are enjoyable reads but ‘Steve and Fred’ left me cold. It just felt like a bit of a nothing story to me, more of a place filler. It contrasts the thrilling ‘fictional’ world of zombies and the harsh ‘reality’ of Brook’s universe but there’s no pay off (which, to be fair, might be the point).

All in all it’s an okay read but you’re not missing anything if you skip this offering from Brooks.

3 stars

Similar Reads: World War Z by Max Brooks, FEED by Mira Grant.

Closure Limited and Other Zombie Tales was published in 2012 by Duckworth Overlook. ISBN 978-0715642931.

Waywalkers – Catherine Webb

Waywalkers - Catherine WebbAn oldie but a goodie, Waywalkers was published in 2003 by Catherine Webb. It’s the first of two novels about Sam Linnfer (or The Devil as he is more commonly known). He’s out to discover who is responsible for the murder of his half-sister Freya. Sam soon learns that Freya’s death is part of a much larger plot to control Heaven, Hell and Earth and whoever is behind it is now trying to eliminate Sam as well.

Webb draws from several mythologies for this series in a kind of religious free-for-all. We get Jehovah, Lucifer, archangels, and the denizens of Hell. In addition to these Judeo-Christian staples, the Scandanavian gods of Valhalla, Egyptian Seth, Greek Cronus and Buddha also make appearances. Rather than being seperate groups they are all part of the same family, spawned from personified concepts like Time, Wisdom, Love and Magic. Also included are the fey folk of many cultures. It makes a colourful collection for worldbuilding and Webb does a good job of tying it all together.

The pacing is good and we learn more of Sam’s history as the book progresses which builds his character nicely. I also liked the way Webb built up Annette’s character over the book. However, at points Webb swaps perspectives to random minor characters and it could be quite jarring. There were a couple of occasions where I had to read back to clarify what was going on and who’s perspective I was reading.

The climax of the novel was a great break point to lead into the second novel. It resolved enough of the mystery around Freya’s death and the battle for Heaven, Earth and Hell to be a satisfying conclusion while still leaving me invested in Sam and what’s to come in the second novel, Timekeepers.

3.5 stars

Similar reads: Fated by Benedict Jacka, The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond.

Waywalkers was published in 2003 by Atom. ISBN: 190423321X.