Monday, 30 January 2012

Book Review- Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed (Matched, #2)Title: Crossed
 Author: Ally Condie
Series:  Matched #2
Published:  1st November 2011
Length: 367 pages
Warnings: Violence, romance 12+
Source: Spinebreakers
Other info: I reviewed the first book in the series, Matched, here. Book three should be coming later this year.
Summary : In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.
Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

Review: I enjoyed this a bit more than Matched. But considering I didn't really enjoy Matched, it's not saying much.
It's simply a continuation of Matched, where Cassia lost Ky and started trying to find him in the Outer Provinces. Meanwhile, a rebellion is rising, which will most likely engulf them both.
I still maintain that Cassia's society is a rather nice place to be, and that there was nothing wrong with Xander. But, for the sake of plot development, she ran after him. Oh well.
The plot to this doesn't seem to go very far in the second installment of the series. We get Cassia meeting Ky again, and a few more characters, and we also find a revolution rising. But not that much actually...happens. It's just dragging on...and on...and on... Some of the things that happened just didn't seem that interesting. I really hope that the rebellion in the final book will be big, and leave us thinking a lot, because otherwise this series will have been quite boring.
I loved the double point of view. Cassia, by the end of book one, was quite annoying, and Ky's perspective was an interesting addition. I hope we'll see a bit more of him in the next book.
The main characters I never really cared for. While I really want to see what will happen to them, and how their society will turn out, it didn't matter to me if they died at any point.
I really felt for the minor characters, though. Maybe it says something about Ally's writing, but I loved the characters we met in Crossed and only have  a small part in the general storyline a lot more than the characters we knew from the start.
I don't know.
The writing is good, and as I said, I really liked the fact Ky got to narrate the story too. But I did have issues with the fact that the perspective changed without repeated indication. Ok, if you're going for a one-sit read, you're fine. But if you put it down mid-chapter, and then go back... Due to not much difference between narratives,  I got halfway through a chapter before realising that Ky was talking, then had to re-read it with Ky in my head. 
Despite this, I'd still like to see what happens at the end of the series.
Overall:  Strength 2 tea to what I hope is suffering from second-book-syndrome, which will give us an amazing finale.

Weekly round-up #3

It’s been a rather slow week in terms of...everything. Aside from homework. Got quite a lot of that. The next week might be kind of slow in terms of reviews and things getting posted. But I’ll try.

So, here’s what I got...
Starters by Lissa Price via Netgalley
Blood Red Road by Moira Young from library
0.4 by Mike Lancaster from library

And I don’t think much has really been going on in the blogging world either... but Strange Chemistry are holding an Open Door month, with more details to be found here... Larissa from The Howling Turtle is holding a Hunger Games read-along, which looks like fun...and because Amazon's terms are too restrictive, Goodreads needs your help rescuing their books. If not enough data is provided from sites other than Amazon, the books' data will be deleted. For many books, this is fine. But if you tend to read obscure books, books published first in other countries, or by small name publishers, then go take a look, because there might be a few books they miss.

By the way, if there's anything you want me to feature on this weekly news thing, such as giveaways, or things like that, then please say. Comment or email us, and we'll put something up.
Have a good week.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Book Review- Birthmarked by Caragh O Brian

Title: Birthmarked
Birthmarked (Birthmarked #1) Author: Caragh M O’ Brian
Series:  Birthmarked #1
Published:  2 May 2011 by Simon and Schuster
Length: 361 pages
Warnings: Violence, executions, a little romance. 12+
Source: Library
Summary : IN THE ENCLAVE, YOUR SCARS SET YOU APART, and the newly born will change the future.
In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the walled Enclave and those, like sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone, who live outside. Following in her mother's footsteps Gaia has become a midwife, delivering babies in the world outside the wall and handing a quota over to be "advanced" into the privileged society of the Enclave. Gaia has always believed this is her duty, until the night her mother and father are arrested by the very people they so loyally serve. Now Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught, but her choice is simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.
A stunning adventure brought to life by a memorable heroine, this dystopian debut will have readers racing all the way to the dramatic finish.
Review: In this dystopian world, the lucky live in luxury in the Enclave. Those who don't live outside, struggling to survive. Gaia Stone is one such girl. She's also in training to be a midwife. So the first one she delivers by herself, she delivers to the Enclave. Why? She doesn't know. All she knows is that a quota of babies must be handed in. Soon after, everything changes when her parents are arrested for keeping a code, or record of some kind. Determined to save them, Gaia breaks into the Enclave and, with the help of Leon and some other people, and must unravel the code.
I like the concept to this. Genetics interests me, and so when it's put in a dystopian setting, it's sure to make an intriguing read. Sadly it didn't feature quite as much as I'd have liked, but this was made up by the awesomeness in the rest of the book.
Gaia is a strong, resourceful heroine with a strong set of morals and a huge dose of determination. This makes her a very likeable character that I was rooting for throughout the book.
The system to this dystopia makes a little more sense and is a bit more interesting while actually in the pages and not on the back.
I loved the little code that Caragh thought up, the one that Gaia is forced to dechiper. As well as letting us see Gaia's mind at work, it has the added benefit of giving us some nice backstory regarding the family.
The third person narrative wasn't that engaging. While I got a good idea of what was happening, what the setting looked like, and so on, I just didn't feel like I was in this dystopia.
The ending was great. It ended on a huge cliffhanger with the fate of a rather major character being unknown. And while I think I know what's happened, knowing these books I'm totally wrong. And therefore I really want to get hold of book two.
Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a really good dystopian with a load of adventure packed in.

Links: | Goodreads

Friday, 27 January 2012

Book Review- Anya's Ghost by Vera Brogsol

Anya's Ghost
Title: Anya’s Ghost
 Author: Vera Brogsol
Series:  N/A
Published:  27 June 2011 by First Second
Length: 221 pages
Warnings: N/A 12+
Source: Library
Other info: This is Vera’s debut, but she’s worked on other things.
Summary : Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “Forever” part... Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.
Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.Or so she thinks.
Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya’s Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining debut from author/artist Vera Brosgol.
Review: After a really normal school day, Anya's heading home. But, due to being lost in her own world, she falls into a well. And makes a friend. You can call her a friend, can't you, if she's been dead for ninety years? Due to a little technicality, ghost Emily can follow Anya around as long as Anya is carrying Emily's fingerbone. It seems like a great friendship-keeping Anya from being lonely after failing to fit in for being one of two Russians in the school, and the other one being a complete geek; and a nice change of scenery for Emily. But the when the whole best friends forever thing starts to be taken literally, Anya starts realising maybe it's not the best idea after all...
And another one of those books I don't realise is a graphic novel, not a wordy novel. Will I pay attention to the captions on goodreads? No. I'll carry on with the suprises. Oh well.
I love the idea. It's not often I read books centred totally around friendship, even if it is a paranormal friendship. That's actually a genre I'd be interested in reading a lot of. Romance has been done to death, so maybe...Vera's on to something!
The drawings were extremely cute. The style is consistant, making use of block shades of purply-grey colour, depending on your lighting.
Anya is the typical outsider girl; jealous of the popular one, a semi-friend (best way of describing Siobhan) and gets lost in her own world. She's so happy that she's found a friend in Emily that she does everything that Emily tells her, even if it's not quite what Anya had in mind.
Emily undergoes a lot of development, something I don't normally see in ghosts. Or maybe it's just showing what she's really like. Either way, she undergoes a drastic transformation from dandelion to...something else.
There was a nice range of supporting characters that turned out to be deeper than we think when we meet them properly, for example Dima and Elizabeth. Dima grew on me after a bit, and I think Elizabeth could have done if we knew more about her.
The unfolding of events was clear and logical, but throughout I just wanted to keep reading on. Many questions are answered in the final quarter, such as how Emily ended up dying in that hole, and we also get some unexpected history.
I honestly think that some day, paranormal friendship WILL be a big genre in YA lit. We've seen vampires, werewolves, ghosts and the like and we know that people love falling in love with them. But, as friends, paranormal creatures aren't really cared for, unless main character is romantically involved with another of that type. Hopefully one day, there'll be more books giving us the supernatural element, but with little romance, and with said romance being human on human. More on that another day.
Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a spooky fun little read that makes a refreshing change. I'd love to read more by Vera.

Links: | Goodreads | Author website

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Book Review- This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor FrankensteinTitle: This Dark Endeavour
 Author: Kenneth Oppel
Series:  The Dark Endeavour #1
Published:  23 August 2011 by Simon and Schuster
Length: 304 pages
Warnings: Slight romance, gory/disturbing scene near end 13+
Source: Library
Other info: The sequel, Such Wicked Intent, will be out this August.  Oppel has also written the Silverwing series.
Summary : The purest intentions can stir up the darkest obsessions.
In this prequel to Mary Shelley’s gothic classic, Frankenstein, 16-year-old Victor Frankenstein begins a dark journey that will change his life forever. Victor’s twin, Konrad, has fallen ill, and no doctor is able to cure him. Unwilling give up on his brother, Victor, his beautiful cousin Elizabeth, and best friend Henry begin a treacherous search for the ingredients to create the forbidden Elixir of Life. Impossible odds, dangerous alchemy, and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn. Victor knows he must not fail. But his success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science and, love -- and how much he is willing to sacrifice.
Review: Victor Frankenstein's twin brother Konrad has become ill and none of the doctors can think of anything to cure him. But Victor has found a book in the secret library detailing instructions on making the Elixir of Life. He, his cousin Elizabeth and friend Henry all go on a quest to find the ingredients. It's a quest he can't afford to fail, but many things get in his way-impossible tasks, alchemy, and a love triangle involving himself, his cousin, and his brother.
When I saw the summary, I was interested. Young Frankenstein? Heck yes. And a random twin and a love triangle? High hopes.
We start with a lighthearted intro to all the protagonists, which quickly moves on and keeps moving throughout.
The adventure kept me turning the pages wanting to know more at every turn.
I loved the romance in this. We get our fair share of love triangles in young adult literature, but none of them ever come from the boy's perspective. It was interesting seeing something we're used to from a different pov, and the fact the two boys in this look identical, leading to midnight deception, added a bit to the normal love triangle template.
The alchemy in this was thought out with clear rules. Our antagonist Polidori has a lot more to him than we first think, leading to a climactic showdown at the end.
The characters all developed in huge ways, with  Elizabeth coming more into her own and Konrad developing in a big way. Victor himself gains depth and complexity, and I can't decide if he's  a better or worse character by the end of the book.
By the very end, we're left on something in the middle of closure and a cliffhanger; This Dark Endeavour is clearly finished, but we have a clear motive for what will happen later in Victor's life-the part that Mary Shelley wrote about.
Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a prequel/retelling done excellently. I  can't wait to see  what Victor and co do next.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Book Review- Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb by MJA Ware

Title: Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb
 Author: M.J.A. Ware
Series:  N/A
Published:  5 September 2011
Length: 204 pages
Warnings: light violence 10+
Source: Author in exchange for review
Other info: This is MJA Ware's debut novel, but he's written other sets of short stories. And sometime ago, MJA Ware gave us a post on how to best deal with the undead. Go have a look at it!
Summary : When life gives you lemons, kill zombies -- turns out lemon juice neutralizes the undead.
After a failed attempt at running away, best friends Nathan and Misty return home expecting to face angry parents. Instead, they discover the military has destroyed the bridges out of their rural town and everyone's fled--except a small horde of the living dead. The stress of flesh-eating zombies may be more than their already strained relationship can handle.
Even with the help of the town geek and lemonade-powered Super-Soakers, there's not enough time to squeeze their way out of this sticky mess. Unless the trio eradicates the zombie infestation, while avoiding the deadly zombie snot, the military will blow the town, and them, to pulp.
Their only shot is something with a lot more punch. Something like the Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb. But even if their friendship survives, there's another problem: Someone has to lure the undead into the trap
.Review: Nate and Misty find themselves in a bit of a bad situation. With bad meaning there are zombies out roaming the streets and our two heroes had to fight for survival. Along the way, they meet a young boy called Kali, who they end up taking along for the ride, and find an unconventional weapon for use against the undead-any liquid with a high pH value- the most accessible of this being lemon juice!
It all starts very quickly, with the mayor being bitten and turning into a zombie  within three short chapters. Our main characters soon realise there is a zombie apocalypse is happening, and steal a car. I loved that scene. Two teenagers in a stolen vintage car driving through zombie ridden streets? Awesome. The only disappointment here was that they never actually hit the zombies in the car. Really, when you get a car chase with zombies, you just want to see them flying up in the air, don’t you? I get disappointed easily... Luckily this was resolved nearer the end!
It would have been nice to see a couple more characters, although I think we did get really close to our main three, Nate, Misty and Kali. There wasn’t much development, but I still liked these characters. To start with, Kali was infuriatingly know it all, but this slowly grew on me and I really felt for him.
The take on zombies was really good. they were funny, and the fact that something as simple as lemon juice kills them deader? Amazing.
This book played to my sense of humour really well, especially the opening. Partway through, the humour was toned down slightly to make way for the survival aspect. The writing wasn’t particularly complex, but kept the story going and me interested. The structure was simple and fun.
Overall: Strength 3 tea to a fun zombie book by an author I’d quite like to see more from.
Links: | Goodreads | Author website

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Weekly update #2

First things first, I’m sorry about the completely unplanned hiatus! A mix of Sherlock, school-work, and laziness meant I didn’t post anything all week. But I did do some reading! And I got a lot of good books...and I had a good trip in London!

So... what I got this week...
  • Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin, for review. Thank you,  Anne Walls and G.P. Putnam’s and Sons. It’s not what I normally read, but still. I am trying to expand my  reading tastes (emphasis on the trying) and so... Let’s see if I like this!
  • Professor Moriarty: Hound of the D'Urbervilles by Kim Newman. Forbidden Planet is a very bad place for me. As well as being the only place I have seen Anna Dressed in Blood, Dragonswood  and many other books actually in print in England, whenever I go, I come out with a small bag of books, less money and a much bigger to-read list. Well, when I saw this I thought "literary mash up? Awesome. Must read". And so I got it.
  • Switched by Amanda Hocking. I didn't actually know she was signing, but I went in and there was a customer announcement "Amanda Hocking is signing at 1 o clock!". Cue my frantically searching for my dad and feeding the parking machine (those things are ridiculously expensive) so I could be there. Oh, and I found Ana from The Book Smugglers there too.
  • A hug from Amanda Hocking. I love hugs. What can I say?
I think I did well.

And in news....

  • YA imprint of Angry Robot (my favourite publishers who I swear only publish stuff I enjoy) Strange Chemistry have their first two authors! Kim Curran and Shift and Sean Cummings and Poltergeeks have been signed. Both books look great. More info here.
  • We blacked out in a Sopa protest. Sopa could be a big deal if it passes, and we should do what we can to stop it. I understand that people have lost a lot of money from illegal downloads, but censoring the web is not the answer. 
  • Scott Westerfeld's The Manual of Aeronautics has a cover!  Pretty? I think so.The Manual of Aeronautics: An Illustrated Guide to the Leviathan Series  

Sunday, 15 January 2012

In My Mailbox 9 And Other Things

Going to have another go at updating the mailbox thing regularly...let’s see how well I do XD

Here’s my library stash... 
Card Games by Collins. Long story, but you know our book club is also an "argue, eat, read, argue" club? Well, it's morphing into an "argue, eat, read, argue, play cards, argue" club. 
Shakespeare Made Easy Hamlet & The Merchant of Venice. No, not studying either. I just love it when people re-write Shakespeare into modern language. 
The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar. Had it on my to read list for a while, saw it in my library, picked it up. 

For Review
Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown via Netgalley. Mermaids don't get enough love. 
Lies Beneath

Witchblood by  Emma Mills. Vampires in Manchester? Sorry, but it's just that I don't think I read enough paranormal books set in England.

News (I'm also going to TRY and update with any news that I can think of. This may or may not work.)
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (review here) has been shortlisted for the Kitschies Golden Tentacle 2011 award for debut novels. For more de  tails, go here (sorry about the website name. It's not what you think and is perfectly safe for work), or here for info about what it's up against.
  • There's an extract of Infamous!!! HERE! And I love our (The UK) cover!

Any other exciting things happen this week? 

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Book Review- Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Sing You HomeTitle: Sing You Home
 Author: Jodi Picoult
Series:  N/A
Published:  1st March 2011 by Atria
Length: 446 pages
Warnings: open discussion of sexuality, drink, sex, abortion, self harm, profanity 14+
Source: Library
Other info: Jodi Picoult has written many other books dealing with issues in a courtroom.
Summary : One miscarriage too many spelled the end of Max and Zoe Baxter's marriage. Though the former couple went quite separate ways, their fates remained entangled: After veering into alcoholism, Max is saved in multiple senses by his fundamentalist conversion; Zoe, for her part, finds healing relief in music therapy and the friendship, then romantic love with Vanessa, her counselor. After Zoe and Vanessa, now married, decide to have a baby, they realize that they must join battle with Max, who objects on both religious and financial grounds
Review: After ten years trying and failing to get pregnant, Zoe is close, but it still goes wrong. After yet another miscarriage, her husband Max files and gets divorced, and he turns to drink and his brother's religion. Zoe meanwhile is focussing on her work with Vanessa, and soon finds herself in love with her. Then Zoe thinks once again of the embryos that she created with Max, and has found another way of starting a family. But simply asking for his permission to use them soon turns into a legal battle featuring the Church, Gay rights, and a huge question about what makes up a family.
I was already a huge fan of Jodi Piccoult, so this is just another one that I'm reading because I already knew and loved the author. This tackles new moral questions, this time concerning families and homosexuality, and does what Piccoult always does, and shoves it into a courtroom. Despite the fact it follows a similar outline to her other novels (introduce family with big issues, all-for-all in the courtroom, semi-happy ever after), it never gets old and this one is no exception.
The characters, I got very attached to, especially Zoe, Vanessa and Liddy. I never liked the Pastor or Wade, possibly because of their views on Zoe and Vanessa raising a child, or maybe just because of their attitudes to people in general with different opinions. I think Max was the one who underwent the most development from start to finish.
These issues about families and homosexuality were well addressed. Throughout I was very firmly on Zoe and Vanessa's  side for getting the embryos, but I could see where Max's side were coming from, at least on the personal level of wanting the best for what would be his child and so thinking it would be best to give the embryos to his brother and sister-in-law. The other reasons, the ones provided by the church he belongs to, saying that Zoe and Vanessa would make terrible mothers because they're lesbian, are completely terrible, and I don't see how Wade managed to get the Court to see things from that point of view.
The plot unfolded well, with some things we expected and some things we didn't cropping up at various turns. The development in the case towards the end was completely unexpected, but the final ending was predictable on two counts. I won't spoil the suprise.
I love the multiple perspective style of writing. It gives everyone a voice of their own, and gives the characters some real backstory and depth, as well as letting us see the main plot as the opposition sees it.
Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a well woven book about what a family is by modern standards.
Links: | Goodreads | Author website

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Book Review- My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

Title: My Soul to Take
My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1) Author: Rachel Vincent
Series:  Soul Screamers #1
Published:  2009 in America. 2011 in England by Mira Ink
Length: 345 pages (plus bonus material)
Source: Won from Mia @ Gripped into Books
Other info: The others in this series are My Soul to Save, My Soul to Take, My Soul to Steal and Soul Thief. Rachel Vincent has also written the Shifters series for adults.
Summary : Something’s wrong with Kaylee Cavanaugh. She can sense when someone near her is about to die. And when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally. Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest boy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about the dark forces behind Kaylee’s power than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no reason and only Kaylee knows who’ll be next, she realises that finding a boyfriend is the least of her worries.
Review: Kaylee Cavanaugh has a weird, unwanted, supernatural talent. If someone near her is about to die, she can sense it and she screams. A lot. And as girls around her start dying for no reason, it’s up to her, her somewhat-boyfriend Nash, and others to work out what’s happening and what they can do to stop it.
Rachel Vincent uses this to write about banshees, Irish creatures who scream/sing when death is close. Banshees are often overlooked in YA paranormal fiction, and it’s nice having a good variety of creatures to choose from. Reapers also feature in this book, adding a little more interest to it.  The fact two under-represented creatures are in this is something that made me want to read it. Even though I didn’t know about the reapers before I read it.
It gets going very quickly. The club at which the first girl dies is literally the first chapter, and said girl is dead  by the end of the next one. This fast pace is kept up throughout, keeping me interested and wanting to read on.
To me, Kaylee and Nash become real people by the end of it, as did the world of bean sihdes (banshees) and reapers both of these incorporate very very well into “real life”, if you get what I mean. They kind of slot together well as if they were always there and the author was just pointing them out.  So the paranormal elements locked in well with real life.
Kaylee undergoes a lot of development, learning about her power, how to controlit and other things with Nash. They make a great couple together, both powerfully and also romantically. My absolute favourite character is Tod, because of his personality and the fact that he’s a reaper.
I like Rachel Vincent’s writing style. It flows well and moves the plot along. The romantic scenes were written well, and so were the action scenes towards the end.
Overall:  Strength 4 tea to an original  series. I would definitely like to carry on reading series.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Cover to Cover USUK & Through a Series- Soul Screamers

Someone said that they wanted to see more cover, random you are!

Today, I'll be looking at both the American and English versions of covers in Rachel Vincent's series, Soul Screamers. US on the left, UK on the right.

My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1)     My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1)
My Soul To Take (2009)
The red and black cover makes it seem a bit vampire-y, despite the book being about banshees. The UK cover raises questions as to why she's screaming, and the paler colour scheme makes it stand out. UK WIN. (Non-cover related note, the review, I thought I posted. I obviously didn't....Come back for that!)

My Soul to Save (Soul Screamers, #2)     My Soul to Save
My Soul to Save (2009)
Both have a bluer emphasis, but the black and white "other colour" (I don't know what to call it!) remains clear. I don't really like the model in the US version. Maybe it's her, or maybe it's the photographer. I don't like it. DRAW

My Soul to Keep (Soul Screamers, #3)    My Soul To Keep (Soul Screamers, #3)
My Soul to Keep (2010)
I don't understand the use of the flower. Well, I haven't read the book, but as someone looking on it, I don't get it.  US WIN

My Soul to Steal (Soul Screamers, #4)     My Soul to Steal (Soul Screamers, #4)
My Soul to Steal (2010)
The US cover just screams VAMPIRE! WHY?  The smoky effects look good though. I also don't understand the use of the butterfly, but as I prefer butteflies to lowers, UK WIN.

If I Die (Soul Screamers, #5)  If I Die (Soul Screamers, #5)
If I Die (2011)
What happened to the title? Random change in titles...unless the rest of the series is If I *insert action*. Which, apparently it isn't. Right. I like the US version here, with a huge touch of magic coming from the girl. Oh, and it diverged from the formula of same accent colour... interesting.  US WIN.

I love the idea of keeping the accent colours the same throughout, but with a pale or dark main part. The US drew the prettier font, and the UK got the readable one.   This one is definitely a well deserved draw.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Book Review- The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1)Title: The Name of the Star
 Author: Maureen Johnson
Series:  Shades of London #1
Published:  29 September 2011 by Harper Collins
Length: 372 pages
Warnings: Violence, kissing, 14+
Source: library
Other info: Maureen Johnson has written other things such as Little Blue Envelopes and the Scarlett series. Book 2, expected in October, will be called The Madness Underneath.
Summary : The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago. Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target?
Review: Rory moves to London to start at Wexford Borarding School, Whitechapel. And while she’s there, there’s a set of copycat killings. Being ‘Whitechapel, all they’re copying is the murder spree of Jack the Ripper. Like they were in the 1800s, the police in the 21st century are once again useless, even while aided by technology such as CCTV. But then Rory sees a man on the school grounds, who no-one else can see despite him being the creepiest thing ever. Soon enough, she’s bulled into a world of ghosts, mystery and Jack the Ripper.
From the moment I read the summary on Goodreads, I knew I’d want to read this. And that I’d have high hopes for it. A modern take on Jack the Ripper? Count me in.
I really liked Rory. She taught me a few things about America. ((well, I say taught. She made comments about England such as “my schedule didn’t have the day in day out of back home, I’ll never remember this” and I just thought “Do you guys really have the same thing first period every day, second period every day and so on at school?” )). Jazza and boo were both fun girls who I’d love to be my real life friends. Jerome, the love interest of this novel, wasn’t my favourite boy in YA of a ll time , but he was fun and interesting.
I love the take on Ripper II. The spin on ghosts in this novel is a unique idea,. And the exorcism process is seriously cool. These new ghosts and the world around them is awesome! The plot twists and turns a lot, at unpredictable places, which makes it interesting and keeps me going.
Rory has her own strong voice- chatty, descriptinve, and easy to read. I got through The Name of the Star fairly  quickly, owing partially to the narrative, partially to the plot, and partially to my general interest in Jack the Ripper.
Overall:  Strength 4   tea to a book that has given me a new look on many things.
Links:  Goodreads | Author website

Sunday, 8 January 2012

What do you want to see here?

What would you actually like to see here? Because I've looked at my schedule, and it reviews...more book reviews...1 year celebrations...hiatus due to our going to France on a language review.... Just a little bit samey, isn't it?  But I'm really uncreative when it comes to this kind of what would you like to see here? I've put a poll in the sidebar, and comments are appreciated. In other news, I'm getting through a few books I'm quite enjoying, and I'm currently waiting for this hour to go past so I can watch Sherlock. How's everyone else's New Year going?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Book Review- Night School by C. J. Daugherty

Night SchoolTitle: Night School
 Author:  C.J. Daugherty
Series:  Night School Series #1
Published:  5 January 2012 by Atom
Length: 451 pages
Warnings: violence, skinny dipping, nearly a violent/romantic (this is hard to describe) encounter, 14+
Source:  Publishers via Atomics
Other info: It is a series !  ( C&P from author, “The first book in the Night School series.
Published January 2012 by Atom”). And this is her debut work.
Summary : Sometimes school is murder. Allie Sheridan's world is falling apart. She hates her school. Her brother has run away from home. And she's just been arrested. Again. This time her parents have finally had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to a boarding school for problem teenagers.
But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Its rules are strangely archaic. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there's the secretive Night School, whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch. When Allie is attacked one night the incident sets off a chain of events leading to the violent death of a girl at the summer ball. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, Allie must learn who she can trust. And what's really going on at Cimmeria Academy.
Review: After her brother runs away and she’s arrested for the third time, Allie Sheridan is shipped off to Cimmeria Academy for a new chance. But everything is odd...there are no traces of the twenty first century, and the rules... who knows why some of them are in place? And then there’s the students... filthy rich Sylvain, bad (or maybe good) boy Carter, mysterious Jo and her boyfriend Gabe. Throw in a headmistress with plenty of secrets she’s trying to keep, and a dead girl at the ball, and soon Allie realises that trust is not going to be easy here at Cimmeria.
If you can’t call this mystery, I’m not sure what you can call it. Although the first bit was a bit boring, once we got to see a bit more of the school, I was guessing and wanting to keep going throughout. And some of these things don’t even get resolved. The titular Night School, we don’t ever find out exactly what they are and what they’re doing. I don’t think there’s any paranormal elements, but I’m still not sure. 
There’s the standard stock range of boarding-school types, with the bad boy, the rich one, the prefect, the really horrible girl... and they all had their own personalities. Most of them have something to hide, and new things about them all unfold at various parts of the story, adding depth and unpredictability.
The romance in it was actually done well. Kind of. It was good in that it actually moved the plot along, instead of just being a side story that could be removed without affecting the story at all. The romance with Sylvain was rather central to moving along, both for Allie’s development and to a slightly smaller extent, the general plot.
Allie definitely develops a lot. Along with finding things that maybe she should have left alone, she matures and starts understanding that trust is not something that should come easy.
Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a great start to a series full of intrigue. I definitely want to read the next book and see how events will unravel.
Links: | Goodreads | Author website

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Book Review- First Born by James Goss

Torchwood: First BornTitle: First Born
 Author: James Goss
Series:  Torchwood, Miracle Day batch #1, Torchwood #16
Published:  2011 by BBC Books
Length: 253 pages
Warnings: Mild profanity, fantasy violence 14+
Source: Library
Other info: This is to tie in with the BBC series Torchwood, starring John Barrowman, Eve Myles and Kai Owen. This book is meant to be a prequel to the 2011 series 4, Torchwood: Miracle Day,
Summary : Gwen and Rhys are on the run. Rhys was hoping this meant a windswept cottage on a cliff top, but he's had to settle for a miserable caravan in the isolated village of Rawbone. With the locals taking an unhealthy interest in their daughter, Gwen and Rhys start to realize that something is very wrong - something with echoes of a life they thought they'd left behind. As they uncover the village's terrible past, Gwen discovers that Torchwood will never leave them behind, and now she and Rhys stand alone in defense of the Earth. And the children of Rawbone can only bring her closer to the secret forces that want her out of the way.
Review: You don’t really need to know Torchwood to read this, but ir dows help. It is part of the most recent batch of books, along with The Men who Sold the Earth and Long Time Dead, to follow on from the Children of Earth series and to be set before Miracle. Ex-Torchwood girl Gwen Williams nee Cooper and her husband Rhys are in hiding due to the many many people who wnat them dead. At the beginning they are chased out of their home, and they flee to Rawbone, a village in North Wales that has been cut off from the rest of the world. And the children there are a little too perfect. Then mysterious events happen, and Gwen realises she hasn’t left Torchwood behind at all.
I like reading TV tie ins. I’m not sure why, and we can discuss that some other time. I’ve also read the other Torchwood books and enjoyed them, so I had high hopes for this.
James Goss kept the main characters, Gwen and Rhys, true to their original selves, which was very nice but also not really surprising considering he’s written other Torchwood books. The characters he invented, such as Tom, Josh, Eloise, Sebastian and the rest of the Skions weren’t particularly well developed, but were still interesting to read about, if not the easiest to connect to.
The plot at times was hard to follow, particularly the ending where I was reading and thinking “what is the point of this?” The main bit up to it, particularly the middle bit and the whole subplot involving Anwen were interesting and kept me going.
I really enjoyed the switching perspectives. Most of it came from  the perspectives of Gwen and Rhys, but occasionally the natives of Rawbone had something to say too, providing a wider outlook on the whole situation of things. each character had a strong voice that really shone through in the writing.
Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a good addition to a well established, and loved (by me anyway) franchise.
Links: | Goodreads | Torchwood website hosted by BBC | 

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #32 Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

Such Wicked IntentWaiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where we show off books that we want to read but have not been published yet. 
Title:  Such Wicked Intent (The Dark Endeavour Chronicles #2)
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Release Date: 21 August 2012
Link to / Summary from Goodreads: When does obsession become madness? Tragedy has forced sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein to swear off alchemy forever. He burns the Dark Library. He vows he will never dabble in the dark sciences again—just as he vows he will no longer covet Elizabeth, his brother's betrothed. If only these things were not so tempting. When he and Elizabeth discover a portal into the spirit world, they cannot resist. Together with Victor's twin, Konrad, and their friend Henry, the four venture into a place of infinite possibilities where power and passion reign. But as they search for the knowledge to raise the dead, they unknowingly unlock a darkness from which they may never return
Why I want it: I really enjoyed This Dark Endeavour (review to come) and the fact that it is a sequel to a prequel of Frankenstein should be explanation enough.

What are YOU waiting on this week?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Book Review- Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)Title: Cinder
 Author: Marissa Meyer
Series:  Lunar Chronicles #1
Published:  3rd January 2012 in America. In England, 5 January by Puffin/
Length: 400 pages
Warnings: slight innuendo, 13+
Source: Netgalley
Other info: The others in this series will be called Scarlet, Cress and Winter. Cinder is Marissa’s debut novel.
Summary : Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Review: The premises to this was amazing. I love retold fairy tales. I love sci-fi. A mix????  Must read. The whole idea of having our beloved rags-to-riches girl being a cyborg of all things was just a really great idea. And it was carried off perfectly. As well as that, there’s an evil Lunar  queen trying manipulate those on earth, a plague that may or may not get out of control,  and the inevitable love story that comes with this kind of thing, and so it  definitely should be my thing.
And it was. From the first page, something is happening. And the action doesn’t stop. Aside from when she meets Prince Kai and is a little flustery, going against the tougher image of Cinderella that I was expecteing for this. Then it picks up, the next time isn’t as bad, and her sister is taken ill with the plague, and her evil stepmother signs her over as a test subject for finding an antidote. Yeah, a lot of things happen. And the writing style suited it perfectly. I could easily see it all happening, and that kept me wanting to read on and on and on.
Against all the odds, I loved the Stepsisters. One of them, anyway. Because of how she ends up acting and the way Cinder treated her, I ended up feeling for her and I don’t think she really deserved what she got. Prince Kai was an interesting guy with a lot shoved onto his shoulders at a young age.  Queen Levana was your untypical villain, that will definitely be interesting to watch her and her plans develop over the series.
The romance is done surprisingly well, with Cinder trying to be practical about it all (but obviously, kind of failing). It was really sweet watching their relationship develop.
The addition of the plague letumosis was an unexpected, but really intriguing aspect to this world. I loved the idea that any of our characters could fall ill at any time, another thing that kept me reading.
The revelation about Cinder at the end...that was totally unexpected. And then the book ended..... HOW COULD IT DO THAT? Really, that was quite horrible to leave it there. I can’t wait for book 2, Scarlet, which will be out next year. Really, how can they expect us to wait that long?
Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a great retelling with an original twist on it that made it something I completely loved.
Links: | Goodreads | Author website

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Things to do in 2012...

I would call them resolutions, but if Ido that, then they obviously won’t happen. So they’re things that I’ll try  do in 2012.

  • Get through at least 75 books on my goodreads TBR list. At time of writing (22 December), I have 1525 books on it, a fact I blame on participating in the Waiting on Wednesday meme and following so many of you that you feature so many books that look like my kind of thing. And when I say To Read, I actually intend to read them. 2012 is a new year-so why not?
  • Get through my entire physical pile. I’ve included a photo, which is about one third of the pile. The other stuff is downstairs and I’m not going to go down and take a photo because it’s warm here. This will count towards my TBR challenge, so is somewhat useful too!
  • Actually stick to my obtaining book ban. Because when I’ve tried before, I’ve ended up coming home with six books with the promise to myself that “They’re manga and I will get through them quickly”. This year, I’ll hopefully stick to them.
  • In the words of Haley, write my reviews a few DAYS after reading it...not a few MONTHS. Even if it is the easiest thing to finish a book, think “I’ll review it later” then realise many weeks later that you still need to write a review and you have forgotten almost everything about said book.
  • Think up more interesting things to post. Looking through the archive, I have mainly book reviews, Waiting on Wednesdays, and hops, with the occasional In My Mailbox, Cover to Cover, giveaway and news relating to books or us. Pretty boring in my opinion. What can I put though? Please tell in the comments! And wait for February, when there’ll be a big (in comparison to past ones) giveaway for being going for a full year!
  • Be consistent with scoring, both finally and with the warnings. When I look over the archive list, I think “Why did I only give Delirium a 3? And Jessica wasn’t quite as bad as a one. And I wish I could give Goliath a 6. And will I ever feel the need to give a book worse than one? So from now on, scoring will be as follows

  1. Really bad. Did not finish. Finished and wanted to give up but strange powers forced me to carry on. hopefully no book will get this. And Jessica, I’m sorry I gave you this. Lord of the Flies, I’m not. No, Twilight would not get this. Twilight would get coffee.
  2. It was good if you like this kind of thing. I just about got through it. Not too terrible, but nothing stand-out-good at all. read it if you’re a fan of the genre, and you might want to try and get hold of a copy for free. The later Vampire Knight volumes, White Crow, Skeleton Creek etc.
  3. It was really good. as in, you would want to keep this on your shelf to look back on. it’s a book that you really should read, even if it’s something you don’t normally. This should be the most common one coming up-unless of course, I love absolutely everything I read! Here, things like Vampire Hunter D, Bad Taste in Boys, Bakuman, etc
  4. It was really really good. read this, keep it safe, remember it. I really enjoyed it and I think you’ll enjoy it too. It was pretty much perfect, with just a little something missing. This’ll probably be quite common now too. Examples include Texas Gothic,  Cloaked, Anita Blake, To Kill a Mockingbird.
  5. It was amazing. Everything about it was perfect and blew me away and it was awesome in gigantic proportions. Things like Leviathan and Falling for Hamlet and Chain Mail and Mad Love and Between Shades of Gray deserve this rating.

So if something gets a 2, it’s not as terrible as it was while using the old system. Sorry everything!
Also, I’d like to try and be a little more thorough with the warnings I provide, which I do because there are only a couple of blogs out there that provide parental guidance and also I read things that are aimed at the YA spectrum, which could be anything. I’ll also try and put an appropriate age rating at the top too.
These rating systems come into use in 2012. Anything reviewed in 2011 will probably have a slightly higher tea rating. Half scores should be taken out completely.  Remember, the score shouldn’t overshadow what I put as a review!

  • Comment on your blogs more frequently. Recently I’ve been inundated by items in google reader, which take the “Blogs I’m following” list to 1000+ items. And I lose the will to sit and I click “mark all as read”. Sorry. Most of the time, I read all your things. and then rarely think of anything to say. So in 2012, I’ll try and comment on 5 blogs a day. I’ll try. No promises, but still.

Think that’s a good way to set up the new year? A nice list of things I hope to do? I think it is. Have you got anything you want to do this year?

Oh, and as a little way of kicking off the New Year, Digital Manga are letting you read Vampire Hunter D, volumes 1-5, for free online!