Monthly Archives: September 2012

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Pic © Kirsty Stanley

 

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What’s Left of Me – Book Review

Contains some spoilers

Kat Zhang (@KatZhang) has written a superb novel. Like many books I seem to be reading What’s Left of Me (affiliate link) is the first of a series (Hybrid Chronicles) and another one whose sequel I really, really don’t want to wait for.
I simply devoured this – it was so easy to read and I just felt for the characters straight away.

The book starts with an intriguing premise, that everybody is born with two souls but somewhen in early childhood one of the souls just fades away – this is called settling. Those who don’t – hybrids – are feared and children are put in institutions with the intent of ‘therapying’ away the weaker soul.

Addie is 15 years old, she learnt through therapy not to talk about Eva, the other soul inside of her but Eva never went away. When a sister (Hally/Lissa) and brother (Devon/Ryan) from her school identify that she is a hybrid (because they both are too) Eva pleads with Addie to let them teach her how to take over their body for periods of time. It’s difficult, but a budding relationship with Ryan drives Eva to achieve this. I felt for both girls here, Eva for never having had a voice and Addie for giving up and losing her control, seeing another’s happiness build as yours is disappearing.

But, of course, they are all found out and sent to an institution, where they discover that kids have gone mad, or died. We really feel Eva and Addie’s sense of betrayal because their parents ‘let’ them go. Also they are missing their little brother Lyle. Finding out that they are performing trial soul extractions (think Daemon splicings from His Dark Materials) the trio need to find a way to escape and quick because Hally and Lissa are next on the list.

Whatever Zhang did it really just drew me into the world and the pace of the story carried me through it. It was clear who was speaking via the layout so I didn’t get confused. The souls each have such a different personality and even the secondary characters such as the other kids in the institution are unique. The main point of view character was Eva the recessive soul, this clever choice was what made us root for the hybrids. I really wanted to keep reading as the book finished and suspect I shall take another trip back to the beginning before much longer.

I can’t rate it highly enough and 5 stars is well deserved. If my review hasn’t convinced you check out the book trailer here.

Thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy  – the opinions and adoration of this book are my own.

You can read What’s Left of Me on 27th September 2012 – pre-order it now and clear your schedule.

Carnival of Souls – Book Review

Contains some spoilers

This is the first Melissa Marr book I have read and because I’m going to have to wait for an age until the sequel of this one comes out I may need to nip back to her Wicked Lovely series (I’ve downloaded Faery Tales and Nightmares as a stopgap).

I have to admit that when I first picked Carnival of Souls up late one night it didn’t get my full attention, but I blame complete tiredness because when I picked it up the second time, I started from the beginning again and only stopped half way through because I had a prior arrangement. Then I kept thinking about it until I could pick it up again a few days later and finished it in the second session.

To me this book contains five strong main characters that I really cared about, Mallory, Aya, Kaleb, Zevi and Belias.

The Marchosias is the vicious ruler of this world which has a caste society with street scabs at the bottom. This is a world of Daimons, Witches were thrown out into the human world and only a few now exist as slaves. Once in a generation daimon fighters fight in the Carnival of Souls for their chance to become a member of the ruling caste.

Aya, as a woman, only really has becoming a wife and a breeder open to her until she finds out that there is no rule preventing women from entering the competition. Her former betrothed Belias is pitched against her – that was never going to have a good ending.
Belias, despite having his marriage offer rebuffed, is determined to protect Aya so enters the competition for this purpose.
Kaleb is a Black Mask – hitman for hire and a low caste Cur – he is determined to provide for his pack mate Zevi. He has also been tasked by the Marchosias brother to kill Mallory – a task that becomes impossible for him as he develops feelings for her.
Zevi, saved from the Untamed Lands outside the city is determined to protect Kaleb, he is a skilled healer and speedy. Kaleb underestimates Zevi’s ability to look after himself.
Mallory, lives in the human world. She has been raised by Adam, a witch, who has taught her to fear and despise daimons, not realising that she herself is one, offspring of the Watcher Selah (who although lived with her for her early years has since left) and Marchosias himself. She thinks she is human. Adam who took her in revenge for the killings of his family has grown to love her and makes her train to protect herself. They move constantly. She develops feelings for Kaleb, but believing him to be human decides she needs to keep away to keep him safe.

This book focuses on both the fights and the attempts to get Mallory back to the daimon world. There is danger at every turn for all of the characters, from the Night Market to the Watchers. There are lots of twists and turns, many involving Adam’s sister Evelyn. Aya realises that winning the fight is not going to help her achieve her aim and so she pitches in to support Kaleb. The book ends as Mallory finds out who she really is.

The only real negatives I have to give is that I didn’t really get much of a feel for Marchosias character. At one point he is referred to as Marc by a Watcher which indicates he might not be all bad. It’s got me interested to find out more about him though. I also wanted to find out more about Selah and what happened to cause her to leave. This is a series though so hopefully those anwers are to come.

Poor Mallory and Kaleb are in for a tough test of their relationship in the next book, especially when Mallory finds out exactly what sort of relationship they do have.

Another case of rich worldbuilding and vivid characters. I’m glad I watched the book trailer after reading because it gives more away than I do here. The characters don’t really look like how I’d imagine them but I think this gives the impression that this would make an awesome film.

You can find out more at the Carnival of Souls website – just be warned be prepared to jump If you click on Judgement with the volume turned up – I just did.

I’m going to give it 5 stars on Goodreads.

Thanks to HarperCollins for the ARC – the opinions and love of this book are my own.

If you’ve read it let me know what you thought below.

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