REVIEW: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Series: Mara Dyer #1
Published by Simon Pulse UK on 1st March 2012
Pages: 452

When Mara Dyer wakes up in hospital with no memory of how she got there, or any explanation as to why the bizarre accident that caused the deaths of her boyfriend and two best friends left her mysteriously unharmed, her doctors suggest that she start over in a new city, at a new school, and just hope her memories gradually come back. 

But Mara's new start is anything but comforting. She sees the faces of her dead friends everywhere and now she's started to see other peoples deaths before they happen. Is she going crazy? As if dealing with all this isn't enough, Noah Shaw, the most beautiful boy she's ever seen, can't seem to leave her alone. But does he have her best interests at heart, or another agenda altogether?
Thrilling, dark, addictive and haunting, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was surprising and not what I originally was expecting. I have heard so much about this series, and have been so excited to read it! Yet I did finish this feeling a little disappointed; I was expecting so much, I purposefully kept myself in the dark about the plot due to it being a psychological thriller, and although I was certainly left surprised and really wanting to read the rest of the trilogy, it was certainly not what one expected. But this cover! It is so mysterious and haunting, especially paired with the rest of the trilogy.

This novel is about Mara Dyer, her alias, who is involved in an accident which kills her two closest friends and her boyfriend. But Mara doesn’t remember anything, she is just left feeling stuck within her inner thoughts. Her family is hovering constantly around her, and Mara needs to get away and move to a new town. But unusual things are beginning to happen more frequently. Mara is seeing her dead friends and boyfriend, and things seem real that aren’t. But when those around her start dying exactly how Mara imagines, things begin to get confusing for her, yet the unlikely Noah Shaw might shine more light on the situation.

Mara Dyer is an unusual character, due to the circumstances of this novel I found it rather interesting in trying to understand her. The bottom line is, I don’t think one ever will understand Mara throughout the whole series. Mara is a complex and dark character, but not only that, she is kind hearted and compassionate, yet Mara is also dark and unforgiving. Mara's character and personality works well with the plot, and although to begin with and especially throughout it is hard understand, you have to keep reminding yourself of the situation Mara is in.

I loved the character of Noah Shaw. At first I was thinking, great this is going to be the typical bad, mysterious guy, but I actually really liked him. He was compassionate and caring, whilst being invested in his education and having other interests other than the stereotypical. Noah was too an interesting character, like Mara I liked how there was more to them than meets the eye. They both had a bit of mystery behind them, but I was surprised and certainly pleased.

The plot of this is what I had a bit of an issue with when reading. I felt sometimes when I was reading, there was a paragraph missing at times, because multiple times I had to go back and reread the page to try and gain a better understanding of what is happening. Additionally, sometimes sentences didn’t seem to make sense to me, I had to sometimes keep reading those too just to try to understand, but still didn’t. It was such shame. But the plot was so addictive none the less, it was thrilling, dark and suspenseful. There were so many twists, the main one I felt was pretty obvious, just because of the letter at the beginning, but otherwise the ending really did surprise me; I wasn’t expecting it at all.

I am very excited and intrigued to read the rest of this trilogy!

REVIEW: Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1) by Heather Demetrios

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Series: Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Published by Corgi Children's on 9th October 2014
Pages: 480

A jinni of tremendous ancient power and Empress to Arjinna, Nalia was sold into slavery on the dark caravan, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their masters’ every command. She’d do anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raifthe enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother. But freedom comes at a heavy price and danger is everywhere.

In this gorgeous fantasy debut, Heather Demetrios brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.
Magical, thrilling and dark, Exquisite Captive was captivating and enchanting, yet dangerous and cruel, but certainly a unique twist on Jinnis’. This cover is beautiful, it tells you everything you need to know about the novel, but it is a shame they changed the covers for the sequels; I much prefer this one.

Nalia is the last of the Ghan Aisouri, captured and sold into slavery on the dark caravan on earth, and forced to grant the wishes of her master Malek. She is the last heir to the throne, Empress of Arjinna. Nalia has been in disguise as a Shaitan to ensure the Ifrit don’t realise they missed killing one. But now they know, and when Nalia meets the Revolution’s leader Raif, Nalia realises her freedom may come sooner than she ever realised, but at a greater cost than she ever imagined.

Nalia is an interesting character. She is certainly likable; Nalia is strong, independent, and has a strong head on her shoulders. It was intriguing to watch her character; throughout she experiences new feelings and hopes, ones she has been forced to abandon previously due to her training. Her feelings towards Malek were intriguing. When originally reading reviews, many complained that the feelings between Nalia and Malek were weird, and turned them off the novel, seeing as Malek is her master and due to the awful things he has done. Although one does completely understand how this perspective could have come about, when reading what I saw was a woman whom was confused in her environment, she has never experienced any form of affection, whether that is family love or romantic love. Therefore, I found it was understandable that Nalia would become confused and drawn to the affection pointed her way. I am not saying it is right, but that it is understandable, and Nalia soon comes to realise this herself, and thankfully makes the right decisions. Therefore, you certainly see Nalia grow and adapt throughout the novel.

"She was the current that carried boats on its back and the foam that slept on sandcastles. She was the roar and the whisper and the stillness.
She was nothing.
She was everything."
Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios, page 216 (Paperback)

What I also really enjoyed when reading this was that we got to read from the perspective of Raif, the leader of the revolution, sworn and expected to hate Nalia. He was a refreshing perspective in the plot and environment they were in. Raif was a fun, sometimes humorous character, yet also serious and loyal. I thoroughly enjoyed understanding and witnessing his background and the two differences between the people from the perspective of him in their homeland compared to that of earth.

The plot I must say did start a little slow, but it was expected as Demetrious is creating a brand-new world and trying to describe this to the reader. There is a brilliant key at the beginning of the novel to help you understand the words, and this was extremely appreciated and I wish more novels included this. To be honest I think the map was a bit pointless, but maybe it will be of more use in the sequel. The plot soon became fast paced after the world was established. It was dark, gritty and violent, yet addictive and captivating. There were many twists throughout, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I also enjoyed the ending, it wasn’t how one expected it to end, and I am really looking forward to seeing how the plot progresses.

REVIEW: With Malice by Eileen Cook

With Malice by Eileen Cook
Published by Hot Key Books on 7th June 2016
Pages: 316
Source: *Received from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Wish you weren't here…

When Jill wakes up in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast, the last six weeks of her life are a complete blank. All she has been told is that she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy and had to be jetted home to receive intensive care. Care that involves a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…. wasn't just an accident.

With no memory of what happened or what she did, can Jill prove her innocence? And can she really be sure that she isn't the one to blame?
Intriguing, mysterious and cautious, With Malice is a brilliant psychological thriller that will have you itching to know the truth. This cover is brilliant, simple, and mysterious; and I love the colours used.

Jill wakes up in the hospital, unable to remember anything that happened over the past six weeks. Apparently, she went to Italy on the school trip that she has been waiting all year for. She was in an accident. But she has a lawyer. If she was in an accident, and she is innocent, why does she need a lawyer?

Jill isn’t the most likable character. She would sometimes say things that would make you agree and like her, yet in the next moment Jill would make you strongly dislike her. Jill is obsessed with describing her friendship with Simone and those at her school, how everyone views her and what she was like to others. It is almost like she was trying to encourage the reader to believe her. It was certainly a brilliant way to write it, but Jill was definitely not a character that one would like; I believe Cook must have done this purposefully in order to make the reader suspicious and question her.

"She always believed the ends justified the means, that a person did what a person had to do. But I didn’t believe that. Or at least I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to believe that the world was a better place than that. That there were people who did the right thing for no other reason than it was right."
With Malice by Eileen Cook, page 211 – 212 (ARC)

The plot was intriguing, it wasn’t overcomplicated or far-fetched; it was believable. And this is what made it that much more addictive and thrilling. It wasn’t a plot that you would throughout be thinking that this would never happen, it was believable and therefore had me on the edge of my seat and trying to devour this book as quick as I could. I loved how Cook set up the novel, you have one chapter of the current events with Jill, and then the next chapter would contain either police reports, interviews, psychologist’s reports, texts, blog posts and comments, emails, letters or postcards. It was a brilliant way to read the novel, and really painted the pictures of the information you are receiving as the reader. It helped to see the multiple sides of the story that the police and lawyers were seeing. The only issue I had with this was the ending. I did like the ending, don’t get me wrong, I was surprised and it left me wanting more, even though I knew we wouldn’t. But I felt like it was a little anticlimactic. But I guess it went with the nature of the plot, it was simple and straight to the point.

With Malice will certainly have you reading as quick as you can to finish and find out the truth, but some mysteries will always remain that, a mystery.

REVIEW: The End of Oz (Dorothy Must Die #4) by Danielle Paige

The End of Oz by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #4
Published by HarperCollins on 14th March 2017
Pages: 304
Source: *Received from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Ding dong—Dorothy is dead.

I watched as the Emerald Palace crumbled to the ground, burying Dorothy, the Girl Who Rode the Cyclone, under the rubble. And now that the rightful ruler, Ozma, has been restored to the throne…

Oz is finally free.

My name is Amy Gumm. You might remember me as the othergirl from Kansas. When a tornado whisked me away to the magical land of Oz, I was given a mission: Dorothy must die.

But it turns out girls from Kansas are harder to kill than we look.

Now the Road of Yellow Brick is leading me away from Oz to the dark world of Ev, where I have a new, powerful enemy to deal with: the Nome King. And—surprise—he has a gingham-clad bride.

With my magical shoes and a shrinking group of allies, I have one final chance to fulfill my mission, and save not only what’s left of Oz, but Kansas, too. As the line between Good and Wicked blurs even further, I have to find a way to get rid of Dorothy once and for all—without turning into a monster myself.

Dorothy once said there’s no place like home. Can I stop her from destroying mine?
Magical, spine-tingling and transporting, The End of Oz is a thrilling and enlightening ending to the Dorothy Must Die series. How amazing are the covers for this series! And I must briefly mention that it is worth getting the hardcovers just to see the actual hardback underneath the dust jacket!

Throughout this series, Amy has been an amazing character to watch develop into the strong and powerful woman she becomes, without losing herself in the midst of it. She becomes stronger, and is a powerful protagonist, making the reader truly appreciate what they have as Amy finds a way to learn to forgive those around her as she grows. Paige did a brilliant job in ensuring the reader understood Amy’s morals and what Amy’s thought process was, as many a times reading novels like this they are soon lost amongst the action of what is normal in the world they have entered. Amy was kind, compassionate and forgiving, everything one could want in a protagonist. Not only was she these things, but she did not whine nor moan, Amy had her own voice and stood her ground.

Not only did Paige create a brilliant protagonist, she created memorable and intriguing secondary characters, answering the reader’s questions flawlessly throughout about the characters and their pasts, allowing them to grow and develop throughout the series too. Their voices and backstories were brilliant and intriguing to read about and certainly makes me want to read the large variety of novellas published even more. Furthermore, the romance in this final novel did take a bit of a backseat which was appreciated so one could focus on the plot, but it was still certainly there and it was executed beautifully.

What I loved most about this last novel is that we got to read half the novel from Dorothy’s perspective, and it truly made the novel, and series. Dorothy is such a vile and disturbing character, yet one that you cannot help but be intrigued by and want to read about. Not only that, but the reader gains more of an understanding of what actually happened to Dorothy once she went home and then came back to Oz again. And this was certainly enlightening to read about and made me want more, so I am really, really hoping at least one of the novellas is about Dorothy’s past so one can read it in more depth. But ultimately, Paige made Dorothy’s voice incredibly distinct from that of Amy’s and it was very much appreciated as far too many times in multi-perspective novels do the voices just merge into one and sound like the exact same character throughout.

The plot of this finale was absolutely brilliant. It was fast paced, action-packed but also tied everything off perfectly. The novel takes place over only a couple of days, but being able to switch between both Amy and Dorothy’s points of view really painted a brilliant picture of the plot, whilst helping one to really understand the plot and what was actually happening in this world. Throughout reading this series, each novel has amazed me with its imagery and descriptive language. Paige’s vivid imagery will have you gasping whilst also recoiling in horror and hiding under your bed! She has created an incredibly powerful and vivid world that is equally both beautiful and enchanting, and terrifying and violent.

It was the ending, I really did not know how Paige was going to end this series, as I was really hoping she would help Amy’s character retain her morals. I was pleasantly surprised and was very satisfied with the ending. All my questions were answered and that, as a reader, is everything I asked for. I was certainly worried about how this series would be ended, but it certainly surpassed one’s expectations, and I cannot wait to reread this series again in the near future; I am also excited to see what Paige writes next!