Showing posts with label The Novl. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Novl. Show all posts

Monday, October 10, 2016

ARC Review: Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

CloudwishTitle: Cloudwish
Author: Fiona Wood
Source/Format: The NOVL; Paperback ARC
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Poppy; October 18, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

For Vân Uoc, fantasies fall into two categories: nourishing or pointless. Daydreaming about attending her own art opening? Nourishing. Daydreaming about Billy Gardiner, star of the rowing team who doesn't even know she's alive? Pointless. So Vân Uoc tries to stick to her reality--keeping a low profile as a scholarship student at her prestigious Melbourne private school, managing her mother's PTSD from a traumatic emigration from Vietnam, and admiring Billy from afar. Until she makes a wish that inexplicably--possibly magically--comes true. Billy actually notices her. In fact, he seems to genuinely like her. But as they try to fit each other into their very different lives, Vân Uoc can't help but wonder why Billy has suddenly fallen for her. Is it the magic of first love, or is it magic from a well-timed wish that will eventually, inevitably, come to an end?
After reading the synopsis for Cloudwish by Fiona Wood, I decided to give it a fair chance. I read it, and it was an okay read. This book certainly had its strengths and weakness—elements that I liked, and others that were just sort of meh. So, yeah, I had some mixed feelings about it.

Cloudwish was about Vân Uoc and how she makes a wish for her crush to notice her. Sounds fine, right? Well, the idea itself wasn’t bad, and there were so many ways that kind of concept could have gone. And, for the most part, the plot was okay. The story wasn’t bad. The writing was fine and the pacing was good, but I did have some problems with it.

One thing I didn’t like was Billy Gardiner’s character. The way he behaved just sort of left a bad taste in my mouth, and at some points I wondered what it was about him that Vân Uoc found so appealing. He was described as being something along the lines of model-worthy handsome, an outstanding athlete, and smart. But he was also kind of a jerk. There was character growth, but in my eyes, it didn’t really redeem him much. There were also some parts that seemed a little stereotypical in terms of expectations and family/home life for Vân Uoc.

What I did like was Vân Uoc’s skepticism about Billy’s sudden attention. There was something refreshing about seeing her resist his advances—especially when they were otherwise without good reason—rather than just give in and accept her sudden unexplained stroke of luck. There wasn’t much of a magical aspect to it, but I did like the wish part. It was simple, nothing flashy about it, but still nice. Plus, Vân Uoc’s friends were interesting, and I especially enjoyed the scenes when they were present.

So, Cloudwish wasn't all bad. I haven’t read anything else by Fiona Wood so there is a possibility that I would consider giving another one of her novels a try, only if it seems like something of interest to me.
This copy of the book was provided by The Novl (Newsletter; Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Fiona Wood is the author of young adult novels, Six Impossible Things and Wildlife. Her third book,Cloudwish, will be published in the US in October. Before writing YA fiction, Fiona worked as a television scriptwriter for twelve years, writing everything from soap, and one-hour adult drama, to children’s drama. Prior to this she dropped out of law and completed an arts degree, both at Melbourne University, worked in marketing and in arts management, did some freelance journalism, and studied screenwriting at RMIT. She has served as a judge for the AWGIE Awards (Australian Writers’ Guild) and is an ambassador for The Stella Prize Schools Program. She has two YA children, and lives in Melbourne with her husband...

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

ARC Review: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Wolf By Wolf (Wolf By Wolf, #1)Title: Wolf By Wolf
Author: Ryan Graudin
Source/Format: The Novl Newsletter (publisher), ARC
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy, Alternative History
Publisher/Publication Date: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, October 22, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball. Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?
Hold on I need a second, to, you know, catch my breath…

**deep breaths**

Alright, Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin was absolutely fantastic, and one of the best books I’ve read this year. Period. End of Discussion. But I can’t end the review yet, I have to actually talk about the book. So here goes nothing…

From the start I was interested in Wolf by Wolf because it’s an alternative-history novel, a “what if such and such didn’t happen/end as we know it” kind of book—a genre I enjoy but haven’t read enough of (A good example of this type of book would be Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan Trilogy). So, I had pretty high expectations, and Wolf by Wolf did not let me down.

What if the Axis powers won the war?

This book ultimately explores those possibilities by using its setting and time period to tell the story of Yael. Yael’s experience was nothing short of horrifying. These things were revealed by alternating chapters that told the “then” combined with the present, the “now”. The “then” told Yael’s history, showing her experience through her eyes when she was a child rather than just telling about it later. These chapters were essential to understanding Yael—her fears, determination, all of it. Yael was a complex and interesting character, like many of the others—Luka, Felix, Adele—they all had layers and stories to tell.

The concept of an alternative ending to World War II and a race that spans across continents was fantastic. The idea of skinshifting was also pretty cool. The world building was handled really well, and it was easy to get into the story. Even with all of the different things going on, it worked.

There’s so much more that I could say, but this review would never end. So, final thoughts. The ending left me with some questions, like: What’s in store for Yael next? I want to know, because Wolf by Wolf is a story I’m invested in. It made me root for the characters to succeed every step of the way. And that’s a good thing in my book.

Now the wait for book two begins.
 This copy of the book was provided by The Novl Newsletter (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
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