Monday, 14 April 2014

Book review- A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke

Title: A Kiss In The Dark
 Author: Cat Clarke
Series:  N/A
Published:  3 April 2014 by Quercus
Length: 384 pages
Warnings: brings up sexual assault

Source: publisher
Other info: Cat has written Entangled, Torn, and Undone which I read and reviewed. She also wrote Falling, a shorter story, which I read and enjoyed.
Summary : When Alex meets Kate the attraction is instant. Alex is funny, good-looking, and a little shy – everything that Kate wants in a boyfriend. Alex can’t help falling for Kate, who is pretty, charming and maybe just a little naive… But one of them is hiding a secret, and as their love blossoms, it threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their lives.
Graph: This is a new feature I am trialling which I will use when my opinion of things or levels of devices like scares, tension, interest, fun, laughs (anything really) fluctuate  throughout a  book.  Tell me what you think of it and if I should do more.
Review: Alex gets to know Kate via the internet. Alex meets Kate at a concert. They start going out. They're perfect for each other. Except Alex is a girl (I don’t feel bad for telling you that because we learn this within the first 15 pages). And Kate doesn't know.
Cat Clarke is one of the authors whose name guarantees I'll read a thing. I wasn't sure what to expect from this, but it was totally different to anything I may have wanted to expect.
Cat Clarke always manages to write perfectly real characters, and those in A Kiss in the Dark are no exception. they interact and react well, and all  the  minute of emotions that Alex and Kate feel about being in love is valid and accurate.
I am in love with all characters in the Before. Alex slightly less than Kate because while I see why she would do that, it's quite a big thing to not be open about, and I prefer my romantic couples to not have secrets this big. I didn't like Kate in the After. I get it, finding out your boyfriend is a girl is quite big and she has the right to be upset with Alex for keeping such a big secret. But I really dislike people who do what she did. she redeems herself in the closing pages, but still. My favourite character was Jamie  Alex's brother. He's supportive, a bit funny, and loyal. I found Astrid a little annoying.
The best thing in this was the tension, especially in the first half. From the moment Alex chooses not to tell Kate she's a girl, and they go out, as the romance builds, which I think is one of the most adorable things ever despite my general wariness of romance when they’re keeping such huge secrets from each other, you’re just thinking ahead to what's going  to happen when she finds out; so every kiss and every smile they share, is slightly tainted by the fact you just know it’s going to broken and you just have to keep reading to see how it goes. and  then ohmigosh Cat puts in 14 words that ramp up the tension so much and then it all happens and ugh perfectness. The day I read this, I highly disliked school. It stopped me reading this.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a to a truly unputdownable book.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Book Review- Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott

Title: Fire and Flood
 Author: Victoria Scott
Series:  Fire and Flood #1
Published:  25 February 2014 by Chicken House
Length: 336 pages
Source: publisher
Other info: Book 2 will be called Salt and Stone. I highly approve of the alliteration.
Summary :  Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place.
Review: Tella’s brother is dying. Her parents move them all out to the remote areas of the land, away from all civilisation. Still, Tella receives a blue box inviting her to the Brimstone Bleed, a competition taking place in jungle, desert, sea and mountains, the winner receiving the Cure for any illness whatsoever. Tella accepts it, and finds herself in a competition a where everyone wants to win.
 I’ve heard lots of people compare to The Hunger Games. This is accurate.  One person wins only. People die. People really want to win. Happy upbeat announcer at all stages of the game. I like the added motivation for competitors of the chance to have the chance to save a loved one.  
 The Pandoras, protector animals that have been created specially to help the competitors, are essentially  were pokemon, but a little more normal. I loved Madox, and the fact that the differing ways people treated their Pandoras said quite a lot  about them.
I didn’t really care much for the characters, apart from Cody (dying brother who is absent for most of the novel) and the twins. Tella doesn’t really do much compared to other dystopian and survival heroes, instead, love interest Guy does most of it. Not saying boys can’t do things, but for a heroine, it would be  nice if she did more than tag along.
It was fun to read in some places. Tella’s voice is funny, and the story moves through the areas quite quickly.
I’d like to know more about the world. Technology must have advanced somewhat to get Pandoras, but other than that, we don’t know how the world differs to ours. There’s hints of it towards the end, but I’d like to see more in future.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a book that is quite like The Hunger Games, but with added pokemon and less strong characters.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Book Review -The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

Title: The Killing Woods
 Author: Lucy Christopher
Series:  N/A
Published:  October 2013 by Chicken House
Length: 369 pages
Warnings:  sex, alchohol, drugs, pstd
Source: publisher
Other info: Lucy Christopher has also written Stolen.
Summary : Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child? Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary, the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.
Review: Emily’s dad walks in one night with a dying girl. He is then accused of manslaughter. She’s sure he’s innocent, but how can she prove it? To try, she enlists the help of Ashlee’s (the dead girl) boyfriend, Damon, who may know something about how Ashlee died. Together, they unravel the mystery.
 I read this because 1)I got sent it for review and 2) so many people had been talking about how good it is and I had to know how good it was for myself.
The characters, I liked them to start with, but at times they were a bit dreary. I would have liked to know Emily a bit more other than the fact that her father is accused of manslaughter. I liked Damon, even though he is a bit crazy at times. I liked Emily’s father. I really like the fact that Lucy handles PSTD, drugs, and choices in what I think is a good way.  
I loved the Game. I wanted to know what that involved, and all the little hints as to what it was built up well for the reveal.
I started to guess vague details from around two thirds of the way through. I ended up guessing the reasons for Ashlee’s death, but not who had done it.
The pacing was good. I didn’t get bored with the way that the mystery was unravelled at all- I really wanted to know what happened and I read this in one day.
I liked the writing. It moved the story on along really well and really built up the setting of Darkwood really well.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a fast mystery that kept me gripped from the start.

Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Wednesday, 2 April 2014


So, a week and a bit ago, I got invited to the premiere of Divergent. Needless to say, I accepted!

The premiere was last Sunday, and I took one of my friends from school. We got to Leicester Square which had been transformed into a Fan Experience area, so there were lots of things for people to do. There were lots of Erudite and Dauntless faction members running around, doing tattoos, initiations, aptitude tests and more.

I met and got to run around with Rita, who runs Weaving Pages, which was great. For a short while (i.e. a few seconds) I saw Casey (Dark Readers), Ben (Benjamin of Tomes), Jim (YA Yeah Yeah), Debbie( Snuggling on the Sofa) and Hannah. People who I knew were there but never got to see include Jess (Jess Hearts Books), Ryan (Empire of Books), Cait (the Cait Files) Jax (Making it Up)  Amber (The Mile Long Bookshelf) and Amber (Books of Amber) and   . Lesson learnt-busy film premieres are not the place to try and do a "meet all the bloggers". Maybe another time?

I am most definitely not Dauntless
Back to the day. I met Rita, which was really good. My friend and I did the aptitude testing, which said we were Erudite within a few questions. Rita and I went on the rock climby thing, which she won by miles. We were going to do some other things, but then we saw how long the queue to get into the cinema was already and decided to go join it before all the good seats were gone!

 I'm not sure, but I think we were in the queue for over an hour. Not complaining-we're British, we know how to queue. While we were in that queue, all the important people started arriving. We were on the other side of the square, so we didn’t get to see them up close, but we could see them on screens and hear the fans screaming (I’m not sure if my ears have yet recovered from the cheers when Theo James arrived).

look! wristbands! 
Finally we got to the front of the queue. After an Erudite guy checked that we were allowed in (I am so jealous of all the people who got to spend a weekend pretending to be people from Roth's Chicago), we got on the red carpet and chose a faction, and we got wristbands that correspond to our chosen factions.

Ok, wristband designer, seriously? Did you not realise some people might like to take theirs off without cutting the thing? I pulled mine on normal tight, and my normal playing with things on my wrist tightened it even more. I was inside the cinema when I realised that it wouldn't come off. When I got out, I realised there were spikes keeping the fabric once it had been pushed up. I had to cut my wristband off. Designer gets negative consumer feedback.
the sad fate of my wristband
We then got seated by faction. Erudite were somewhere in the middle, which suited me fine. We got to see a livescreen of what was happening outside, ie everyone's interviews on the red carpet. I got a bit angry when they asked Shailene and Kate who designed their clothes but not Theo, and then remembered "we live in a sexist world that values women by what they wear" and tried to get not too annoyed before hopefully enjoying the film. Then a short presentation of the people involved. Then the film began.

The film was really good. It adapted the world really well, made Roth's Chicago come to life, and
Of course, there were some changes. Things got cut, i.e. the whole eye stabbing thing, which is the only thing bar the major characters, world and plot that I remembered, and some things got added. I'm sure there were more changes, but I've not read this series in ages.
Trigger warning for attempted rape. It's short, and in Tris's fear landscape thing, and I'm glad it's in there because people will talk about it and sexual assault is a thing that we as a society need to talk about and deal with, and it's nice that she gets praised for defending herself. But trigger warning is there.
They made Four an asshole in this. I know he wasn't the nicest guy at the start of the book, but by the time they were kissing, I honestly didn't see why Tris liked him in the film. He does get nicer after that though.
I love the way they did everything, especially the testing, the fear landscapes... everything about Dauntless really! The acting was really good, especially Jeanine, Christina and Eric. I left with a strong craving to reread Divergent (first review here). And Insurgent (first review here). And actually read Allegiant. Film wise though, I am definitely ready for Insurgent.

Anyway, after the film, I tried finding people. Mostly failed (see prior list of people who were there but I never saw). Outside  we saw this guy in a suit who had loads of people crowding him and fawning over him and he was only a few feet away and we might have got his autograph or something but by the time my friend and I had tried to work out who he was he was gone

Anyway, it was a great day. Thank you hugely to Entertainment One and Harper Collins for the amazing opportunity, and I hope that if you see Divergent, you do too!

Monday, 31 March 2014

News! So much has happened!

Argh!! Six weeks until exams! Totally not procrastinating. *procrastinates*  (I am actually getting some revision done. Of the stuff I get. *pretends that the Cold War is not on our syllabus after awful teaching*)

Anyway. Things are happening.

I have books. I have Essence by Lisa O Kane from Netgalley, which I'm reading for my stop on the Countdown to June 5th. It's going to be an epic tour, with lots of authors and bloggers. Thanks to Jim for hosting it!!
I also have Bone Jack (thank you Andersen Press), Hate (thank you, Indigo), and some other books I can't think of right now but will tell you I got from publishers when I  review them.

I also have lots of books I don't want. Shout if you want them. Usual postage costing rules apply.

Divergent premiere. So good. You should see the film when you have the chance. I'll tell you more in another post.

Laure Eve is holding a challenge! Paper vs Pixels! For all of April, we can only consume books in one format. Due to my giant pile, and my need to reduce it, I pick paper! It's going to be hard. Sorry, millions of netgalley things... I am still going to be using my kindle (half my revision stuff is on it!) but books will be paper only. What will you choose?

Fighting DreamerYou know how much I endorse queer fiction. LGBTApril is an event being held by Cayce (Fighting Dreamer) and Laura (Laura Plus Books). You can do anything, as long as you do something related to lgbt fiction. I am going to (after revision) do a post breaking down genre in major LGBT fiction, because off the top of my head, I think queer people are more visible in contemporary and fantasy, and not many dystopians, but then I got suggested a few dystopians and I'm all 1) how did I not know these existed? and 2)how do the numbers really add up?  Look forwards to that in a few weeks.

Marriage equality laws came into effect on Saturday! I am really pleased about this, because it means that queer couples do get their coupleness (actually can't think of a better word right now) recognized in the same way as people with different sexes do. But I can't help but find flaws in the system. Inherently human has a great post on inequalities with gender within the act, and I just think that the push for marriage equality has been at the forefront of lgbt activity, when there are a lot more less pretty, more pressing issues that need to be dealt with too such as youth homelessness and mental health care and suicide rates and intersectionality (lack of). However, marriage equality is a great step towards equality, and I'm happy for all the couples that got a day they'd been waiting for for ages. Here's hoping we can go further.

I'm sure none of you are unfamiliar with Lucy the Reader and Project UKYA. But in case you don't know, April will be a UKYA Extravaganza! Check out @lucythereader and @projectukya for more info.

Campers! Campnanowrimo is here for April! I'm not participating, as I have other things to do and just about have carved out a regular writing schedule. But if you can, and you want to, do. Awesome people will be writing with you.

Anyone here on twitter? If so, you should totally enter this competition held by Quercus.
"Tweet why you want a signed competition copy of Cat Clarke’s A Kiss in the Dark between the 31st March and 4pm on 4th April. Make sure you @Cat_Clarke & include the #AKITD to be in with a chance of winning. The winner will be announced on Friday 4th at 4:30pm. Good luck."
I have A Kiss in the Dark on my To-Read pile, and I'll be reading it for Paper vs Pixels. I recommend you read it because...well, it's Cat, who is a totally awesome author (find my love for her here).

So, that's it for now. Divergent post should be up soon. Reviews should be up soon. Enjoy your week. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Divergent Giveaway Winner

The giveaway for the tickets to the premiere of Divergent is now closed
Thank you, everyone who entered and shared!

 The lucky winner is

7, Hannah Mariska! Emailing you now. If I don't have a reply by 3.30pm, I'll assume you don't want it and draw another winner.

Sorry everyone who didn't win
 I hope we all enjoy Divergent when we see it!