Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Book Reviews: Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn, Parallel by Lauren Miller & The Ruining by Anna Collomore.


Eerie, atmospheric, and at times downright confusing; while Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn is a highly original and stunningly written debut, it is also one that’s set to divide readers with both its ambiguous nature and its total love of gore.

Missing for almost a year, Annaliese Rose Gordon turns up out of the blue with a head injury and zero knowledge of her whereabouts for the past year.  While the doctors attribute her amnesia to the head trauma, Annaliese knows better; she knows she’s not the girl she used to be. That’s why she doesn’t remember, not the details of her life, or her parents, who she now refers to as ‘the mom’ and ‘the dad,’ for they are not her own, nor the boy she used to love, ‘Rice 16,’ who begs forgiveness for past sins; not that Annaliese remembers what he did, because it didn’t’ happen to her. While she was away Annaliese changed; and it’s not just that she’s uncomfortable in her own skin – it’s that she’s a whole other person entirely.   Aided by flashbacks, a boy who films death and a girl who talks to ghosts, Annaliese must find out the truth before her haunted past catches up with her once more.

Another Little Piece should come with a warning. So, I’ll give it to you now: This book will mess with your mind. It will make you ask all the questions; and it will frustrate.  It will make you think, and ponder and wonder.  It is such a strange book that, in fact, I labeled it a ‘WTF book’ on one Goodreads status update. But, you know what; for all of that I pretty much loved it. It’s lucky for me that I’m drawn to the ambiguous (I’m a huge Twin Peaks fan, after all), and it helps that I love horror too. If you don’t then Another Little Piece probably isn’t for you, because it doesn’t shy away from the bloody stuff, that’s for sure. It’s also not the book to read if you want all the answers – because you won’t find them here.  But if you’re looking for something thought-provoking and different from possibly anything you’ve ever read before then check this one out – it’s a book with real ‘heart.’ (That’s a little in-joke right there for anyone who’s read the book!)


In short: Mind-Blowing.


 Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn.  Publisher: HarperTeen.  Released: June 2013. Ages: 14+    Rating:  4 out of 5.   Source: Received from publisher for review.
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Cosmic forces collide to create multiple parallel worlds in a debut that sometimes confuses and often over-complicates.

Abby Barnes had a plan. Right now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she should be preparing for her first semester at Northwestern University as Journalism major. Instead, because of a split-second decision which saw her opt to take a drama class, Abby spends her days on a Hollywood movie set and her nights partying in pajamas with the hottest not-so-young actor in Hollywood. It might seem to you like Abby’s living the dream, but it’s not her dream, and so when Abby wakes up to a whole new world, and finds herself in a dorm room at Yale, it looks as though maybe, just maybe all her dreams have come true. But how did this whole new life come to be? And will it last? Thankfully Abby’s best friend, gorgeous geek Caitlin is on hand to help, along with an eccentric professor who provides the (boring) science.

Hmmm…I’ll tell you one thing – Science and me – we just don’t mesh. We never have.  I also have a problem with time jumps when they are overly complicated, as they are here. I found myself flipping back through the pages of Parallel more than once wondering what the hell was going on; and often when I thought I’d gotten to grips with the point of this plot, I’d go and lose it all over again. Because it’s not just Abby’s parallel life and the reasons for it that we’re dealing with here, there’s also another version of Abby (One-Year-Ago Abby) who makes choices that directly affect this (Former-Hollywood-now-Yale) Abby’s life.  Got that? No – me either. Not really. There's also a love triangle, and when parallel universes are involved matters of love become especially tricky; for tricky read messy as all hell.

So, I had some issues with this book, but that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. I did. Just not the science. Or the confusion. But I liked the idea of it. I loved the writing – and would certainly read more from Lauren Miller in the future. Also, while I while I didn’t totally connect with the character of Abby in this one (I found her too interfering by far at times in the lives of others), there are some great secondary characters in Parallel; Astronomy Boy who is a total cutie and Caitlin, Abby’s best friend, the most well-developed character in the book and the true star here for me.


In Short: Confusing. 

  
Parallel by Lauren Miller.  Publisher: HarperTeen.  Released: May 2013. Ages: 13+    Rating:  3½ out of 5.   Source: Received from publisher for review.


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Desperate to escape her none-too-happy home life and the dark secrets that plague her past, Annie Philips is over the moon when she lands the enviable position as nanny to the practically-perfect-in-every-way Cohen family; but what Annie doesn’t realize is that no family is perfect – all have their secrets, and far from heralding her new dream start, Annie’s arrival on Belvedere Island to start a new life in the palatial home of Walker Cohen and his glamorous young wife Libby is the beginning of a nightmare that will haunt Annie’s life, and her mind, forever.

The Ruining by Anna Collomore is just the kind of book I love. A psychological thriller that will appeal to fans of Adele Griffin’s Tighter, The Ruining mixes The Turn of the Screw with The Yellow Wallpaper for a story where nothing is quite as it seems – or is it? Right from the start we know that Annie’s new dream life isn’t all that – but just like Annie, we want to believe in the dream. However, far from being the supportive ‘older sister’ character that she paints herself to be, it soon becomes clear that all is not right with Libby Cohen. At first Libby is supportive and encouraging of Annie’s choices; advising her on college courses, discussing boy-next-door Owen and Annie’s obvious attraction to him - but that soon changes. And as Libby reveals her true – petty, overbearing and vindictive - colours, we are left to ask if the glamorous young mother with a handsome husband, two adorable kids, and successful career really has it out for this girl; or if this unseemly turn of events exists only in troubled Annie’s mind.

Ah, this book was so promising, and I loved it right from the start. However, after such a great start, The Ruining took a turn for the awfully predictable, and I have to say that the ending of this one – after an initially great set up – was a real letdown. Books such as this need an ending that is either shocking or ambiguous; The Ruining had neither and that was a real shame.

However, the author has published the alternate ending on her blog, and if, like me you were a little let down by how things turned out in the book, you should take a look: CLICKY


In short: Anti-climactic.

  
The Ruining by Anna Collomore.  Publisher: Razorbill.  Released: February 2013. Ages: 12+    Rating:  3½ out of 5. 


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17 comments :

  1. Jessie Harrell19 June 2013 at 00:56

    Since I haven't read many books like The Ruining, and it's been on my radar for awhile, I still want to read it -- maybe it won't be so predictable for me (I hope!)

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  2. Becky @ Stories & Sweeties19 June 2013 at 10:54

    OH glad to see you recommend Another Little Piece---that is one I've been looking forward to for ages, and it sounds like just my kind of book!

    As for Parallel, I usually do ok with science, but nothing bothers me more that having to flip back and forth to follow whats going on. Hm..may skip that one!

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  3. I am so pleased to see that you enjoyed Another Little Piece Leanna, I was all for thinking that this book wouldn't be for me, but with all the praising reviews I've seen around I'm even more eager to give it a try. I've also had high hopes for The Ruining, so I'm sorry you weren't able to enjoy it as much as you hoped. Brilliant reviews Leanna!

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  4. daisychainbooks19 June 2013 at 13:53

    Another Little Piece is like nothing you've ever read, Becky - so twisted! It won't be for everyone, but I hope you enjoy. Can't wait to see what you think!

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  5. daisychainbooks19 June 2013 at 13:54

    The Ruining was good for so long, but the ending kind of, er, ruined it. I'll be interested to see what you think of Another Little Piece, Jasprit - I know it's a book that not everyone is going to love.

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  6. Wow...ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE sounds just breath-taking and powerful, and that really intrigues me. The others sound alright, too, but I'm really sold based on your first review. Lovely writing, as usual, Leanna :)

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  7. daisychainbooks19 June 2013 at 14:02

    Thanks, Melissa. Another Little Piece is breath-taking and powerful - I would love to see what you think of it as I know it's a book that will divide readers.

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  8. I love the way you've set out the reviews <3 Another Little Piece sounds fab - I loved Twin Peaks but I don't like horror so I'm a little nervous to try it after your comments :)

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  9. Jenny @ Supernatural Snark19 June 2013 at 15:55

    I've heard such good things about Another Little Piece Leanna, I really need to read that one and have my mind blown:) I agree the explanation for the events of Parallel were definitely confusing at times, but overall I enjoyed that one. Astronomy Boy in particular:) Loved these mini reviews!

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  10. daisychainbooks19 June 2013 at 16:39

    Another Little Piece is kinda gory at times - you have been warned!

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  11. daisychainbooks19 June 2013 at 16:40

    I liked Astronomy Boy too - he's a cutie. And I loved Lauren Miller's writing - I'd definitely read more from her. I can't wait to see what you think of Another Little Piece!

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  12. I cannot wait to read Every Little Piece, it sounds so messed up in a good way! lol great review Leanna!

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  13. daisychainbooks20 June 2013 at 00:59

    It is totally twisted - in a good way! ;)

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  14. Jess Hearts Books20 June 2013 at 15:00

    These are all books I've had my eye on for a while! I'll definitely be reading Another Little Piece soon after reading your review!

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  15. Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader20 June 2013 at 19:20

    While I'm usually hesitant to pick up stories that feature amnesia, I've heard nothing but glowing reviews about Quinn's Another Little Piece and am growing more and more tempted to pick it up myself. I find that the horror and thriller genres are woefully under-represented in books aimed toward the young adult age group, and I love that Another Little Piece sounds more daring and isn't afraid to get a little dark and messy. Psychological thrillers are always exciting, particularly when they feature unreliable narrators. This might just be the book for me. Also - *High fives a fellow Twin Peaks fan* ;)

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  16. daisychainbooks23 June 2013 at 21:07

    Horror is under-represented in YA, for sure. I'd like to see more of it! :)

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  17. daisychainbooks23 June 2013 at 21:07

    I hope so, Jessie! It had so much potential but the ending was a let down for me.

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