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M. A. Phipps

Honorary Brit. Fiction Addict. Author.

The Kill Order (Maze Runner Series)

The Kill Order - James Dashner

In many ways I liked this book better than The Maze Runner trilogy. It was suspenseful, fast-paced, interesting, ominous...so many good qualities that I look for in a novel. It was gripping and I got through it much faster than any of its sequels. It was interesting to see the origin of the Flare virus as well as the initial days following the sun flares, and the Cranks in this story were even more terrifying than those in the original trilogy. However, there were quite a few elements that let it down. Although it was fast-paced in a good way, it was also too quick at parts, leaving me wanting more but ultimately not receiving it. I also didn't feel a real connection to any of the characters and we never got to really know them before they inevitably succumbed to the virus. You know from the get go that none of these characters will survive but I suppose I was hoping for a more emotional end for each. The actual ending was on the brink of being at that point and yet never quite got there as much as I hoped it would. Some of the dialogue was also unnatural and frustrating considering the circumstances but saying that, I did enjoy the relationship between Mark and Alec. There were parts that were too fleshed out when I would've preferred to see that level of detail elsewhere, but overall, I felt it was a strong book and a really fascinating take on an apocalyptic scenario. Enjoyed this book greatly and would highly recommend.

The Death Cure (Maze Runner Series)

The Death Cure (Maze Runner Series) - James Dashner Love love loved it! The best of the trilogy hands down. I've always enjoyed a dark book and this one really showed the horror of what could happen to civilisation in the event of a widespread disease like the Flare. There were truly heart wrenching moments (one in particular) and I liked the irony of the "good" guys not being good and the "bad" guys actually being good to some extent when all was said and done. A really satisfying ending to an otherwise harrowing tale.


Unmapped - Nektaria Markaki I had the pleasure of connecting with this author nearly two years ago through a writing competition. This marks the second book I've read by her and I have to say, something needs to be said for this author's bravery considering English is her second language. I never once felt that anything was lost in translation and the read as a whole was lovely and romantic. The character interaction was enjoyable and I particularly liked how Manu helped Lexi to relax in life (she was wayyyy too high strung in the beginning!) I'm also a fan of the places they chose to visit throughout the story (I am obsessed with Paris and I've lived in London). I think this was a great debut and considering she has a fan base already, I expect we'll see great things from her in the future.

Rubies Fall

Rubies Fall - Rebecca M. Gibson Just like with its predecessor, I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Rubies Fall. What I thought was interesting about this book is that while it's a sequel, it follows the protagonist from the first volume's son, leaving a berth of nearly twenty years between them. I knew I would like this book before I even began reading it as I'm immensely interested in stories set during both the First and Second World Wars. Gray's story was heartwrenching but also necessary in many ways, as I felt it really dealt with the subject of PTSD quite well. Seeing how it affected not only him but the secondary characters was an emotional ride that I won't soon forget. I'm always a bit of a sucker for a tear-jerker, but I'll admit that I'm glad there was a ray of happiness at the end of this otherwise sad tale. Another enjoyable tale from newcomer Gibson. I look forward to seeing what else she produces in the future.

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner Series)

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner Series) - James Dashner I honestly have no clue what to say about this book. I loved it. I hated it (but in a "I actually loved it" kind of way). I've never been more stressed out reading a book as I was when reading this one. There were loads of twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat and every moment was exhilarating. But it genuinely caused me anxiety because so much happened that was just confusing and made absolutely no sense at the time. It was basically one big spiral of WTF. But that's also what I loved about it. I like not being able to guess what's going to happen and this book was impossible to figure out. Ended on a pretty brutal cliffhanger so I'm excited to start the last book. Hopefully I'll actually get some answers with that one.

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Series)

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Series) - James Dashner Having seen the film first, I can honestly say I was surprised to see how different it was to the book. Having said that, both were extremely good in their own regards. In the first pages alone, the comparisons to the Lord of the Flies was immensely obvious (not a problem to me, that's one of my favorite books) and as the story progressed, I found it difficult to put down. There were parts I felt a bit annoyed with (like Thomas constantly repeating the unusual nature of his amnesia and the peculiar language used by the Gladers. I mean, come on, these are teenagers. They're going to swear!) but I was able to easily overlook those when the rest of the story so easily drew me in. It felt raw and real and I could feel the fear of those kids as I read it. The maze itself was so extraordinary to read about, I'm almost sad it's no longer part of the story! Loved Newt and Minho's characters and I'm looking forward to finding out more about WICKED as well as what's happened to their world. Overall a really engaging read and I have to say, for being a young adult book, I was glad that it contained violence and death. That might sound a bit grim but it made the story more real and believable to me and almost made me forget that we're dealing with teenage characters. Looking forward to reading the sequel!

Gone Girl

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn I really struggled to decide what I should rate this book. On the one hand, it is immensely well written and gripping. On the other hand, I hate stories where I don't root for anyone. In the beginning, Amy comes off as the sympathetic character and you really start to dislike Nick, feeling that he's the one to blame for everything even if he didn't kill her. Still, when we find out the truth about Amy (I already knew since I saw the film first. The book was far better than the film although the film followed it pretty exactly. Some stories are best in book form I guess!) you realize "Well, shit. She's no better than he is. She's even worse." But knowing that doesn't make you like him any more than you did before because at the end of the day, he's still a terrible human being. Overall though, I really enjoyed it. It was thrilling, had a great narrative, and it was entertaining to see the story from both protagonists' point of view. At the end of the day, however, not liking either character (and ultimately, the ending) are what stopped me from loving this book and left me at only liking it.

Diamonds Fall

Diamonds Fall - Rebecca Gibson I was fortunate enough to get to read the ebook of this prior to its June 30th release. I loved it so much I am preordering the paperback to have a permanent copy on my bookshelf. It was an amazing story not only of self-discovery but of the very real prejudice against the lower classes in the 19th century—as well as the persistent entitled attitude of the wealthy. I truly felt for Annabel's character. Over and over again she was brought down by her circumstances only to find the strength to rise up against them. She became a better person for it even when she was fighting a losing battle. The romance aspect was truly touching as well with an absolutely brilliant ending that certainly opens up the possibility of a sequel. This is a brilliant debut and I think we have many more wonderful novels to look forward to from this author. Five stars well deserved.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - Claire North Really cool premise and different take on time travel/reincarnation. Occasionally got too caught up in the philosophy and scientific talk and there were parts that felt more like filler. The ending was a bit quick and anticlimactic but really enjoyed the book as a whole.

The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold Both the book and the film were hard for me to stomach even though I loved them. Mainly because the idea of murder—especially that of a child—is something that normal people try not to think of. This story did an excellent job of portraying how the death of a family member, especially through horrific circumstances, can either destroy a family or bring them back together. Also loved that the book was told from Susie's perspective. Great read.

Let the Right One In: A Novel

Let the Right One In - John Ajvide Lindquist It took me a while to remember if I'd actually read this book as I've seen both the Swedish and American film adaptations a few times. When I scanned through it recently I remembered reading it—and I remembered how AWESOME it was. What a dark, gritty story. A really unique take on the whole vampire phenomenon and I loved the horrific gore. If a book can creep me out and make me cringe, it's definitely done it's job.

Something Wonderful

Something Wonderful - Judith McNaught This was a book I wanted to love but didn't. I thought the concept was absolutely brilliant and loved the way the stories wove into one another but with the way the book was written (the first half of each story first followed by the second halves in reverse order) I felt too much time was spent away from each story to even remember what the characters had been through. The only story we saw in one segment was ironically the hardest one to get into because of the dialect. Which devastated me because the post-apocalyptic future was the story I was looking forward to the most (I had seen the film prior to reading the book). The whole time I was reading this book I kept waiting for something...more. And I just never got it. I think the film did a much better job of getting the stories across—and emotionally affecting the reader. The endings of each story in the book just felt deflated and rushed, as if the author realized "oh, this has been going on for 400 pages now, better wrap it up." Absolutely gutted I didn't love this book.

The Hobbit

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien Anyone who knows me knows I am absolutely obsessed with anything related to the Lord of the Rings. I remember reading the Hobbit as a small kid and getting absolutely immersed in Tolkien's world. Even as an adult, I still geek out over it just as much (if not more) than I did as a child. Love love love. That is all.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

What a gripping and raw read. Such a fantastic book and I think it should be read by all teenagers, especially those struggling with the issues that are present and dealt with in the book. Really emotional read that stuck with me for years and still does to this day.

Fifty Shades Trilogy

Fifty Shades Trilogy - E.L. James Okay. I read the first one because all of my friends were raving about them and I'd never read smut before so thought "why not?" What a train wreck. Took me three months to get through the first one because I couldn't get past the SEVENTY-SIX TIMES the main character said "oh my!" So annoying. I only read the sequels because I hate leaving series unfinished but could've easily left it and wouldn't have missed out. Terrible not to mention dangerous books, promoting a really unhealthy relationship and distorting it to make it seem romantic. Because who cares if a guy is creepy and abusive, it's okay if he's rich and handsome!

The Road

The Road - Cormac McCarthy Horrifying. Disturbing. Heartwrenching. Everything I'd look for in a book dealing with the themes The Road touches heavily on. Easily the best post-apocalyptic book that I've read. Particularly loved how we never learn the characters names and I liked not knowing what caused the end of the world—left more to the imagination. I don't scare easily but the cannibals did it for me. Whew, that basement part was terrifying. Absolutely wicked book.