Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Book Review- The City's Son by Tom Pollock

Title: The City’s Son
 Author: Tom Pollock
Series:  The Skyscraper Throne #1
Published:  2 August 2012 by Joe Fletcher Books
Length: 422 pages
Warnings: violence, sexual abuse, adult themes
Source: publisher
Summary : Hidden under the surface of everyday London is a city of monsters and miracles, where wild train spirits stampede over the tracks and glass-skinned dancers with glowing veins light the streets.When a devastating betrayal drives her from her home, graffiti artist Beth Bradley stumbles into the secret city, where she finds Filius Viae, London’s ragged crown prince, just when he needs someone most. An ancient enemy has returned to the darkness under St Paul’s Cathedral, bent on reigniting a centuries-old war, and Beth and Fil find themselves in a desperate race through a bizarre urban wonderland, searching for a way to save the city they both love. The City’s Son is the first book of The Skyscraper Throne: a story about family,friends and monsters, and how you can’t always tell which is which.
Review:  There’s more to London than you’ve ever people in statues. Trains with minds of their own. Electric dancers. And an evil god in the skyscrapers. Beth, after one last act of betrayal, has been thrown out of her school and her home. After unexpectedcly coming across a pair of fighting railwraiths, she then finds Filius Viae, the Son of the Street, the son of Mother Thames, the goddess of London who has been absent for years. Together, they face adventure, danger and all kinds of things as they try and find a way to keep their London safe.
I love London. I live about 30 minutes from there and I think that wandering round and looking at landmarks and pretty buildings and such is a great way to spend a day. Books set in the UK are good because I understand them and the language and idioms and such. Set in my favourite city? Huge bonus.
I also love urban fantasy. And if there was ever  a book to describe that term, this would be it. Pollock has created creatures that you couldn’t think about ever. The originality in coming up with the city’s underworld is amazing. This is a drawback in some ways. For example, on my first reading, I was tired and I just couldn’t envisage these things .  This is one of the few books where I recommend  a rereading, because a second time round, I got a lot more brilliance from this. There isn’t much world building, more a take it as you go along. This adds pace to the story and if you can handle it, you’ll love it.
The characters are really good. Oh Fillius, I love you. I’m not sure why, but you are just generally awesome. You go through a lot, you stay strong and you are the most unique character I’ve come across. Beth is just as good a main character, feisty, talented, and really brave. I also really liked Parva, Beth’s best friend who should have featured a little bit more. Beth’s father, you feel for a lot, and Victor provides welcome humour. The other secondary characters are all distinctive and really well written.
The plot is really interesting. I like the fact that Reach is simply an ever present threat, not up and in your face too much. The preparing and going to war was really interesting, and there’s a few character storylines too that just make you want to go up to almost every single one of them and hug them.
The writing is good.  The writing of action scenes and the description of everything are the best features of this, but for a really dark and gritty book (a lot of adult themes running through this) there’s some snatches of humour that are welcomed.

Overall:   Strength 4.5 average (1st reading 4, second a 5) rounded up to a  5 tea to urban fantasy in the best sense of the word.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Book Review- Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Title: Alice in Zombieland
 Author: Gena Showalter
Series:  White Rabbit Chronicles #1
Published:  5 October 2012 by Mira
Length: 404 pages
Source: Publisher
Summary : She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.
Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.
Her father was right. The monsters are real….
To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….
Review: When I first saw the title, author and cover, I got REALLY excited. Having highly enjoyed Intertwined, (review here) and with a name and cover like that, you’d think that you were getting a reimagining of Carroll’s original, but with zombies involved. Not so. Instead, there’s a contemporary paranormal story with a heavy dose of romance. And (as I remember) no chance to wear that dress (I don’t mind pretty dress covers as long as they’re relevant to the plot). The only connections with Carroll’s story are the fact that Alice is called Alice and the chapter titles are quotes with undead spins. Now we’ve cleared that up, we can move on.
It’s Alice’s birthday when their car crashes. Alice is the only  survivor, and as she wakes, she thinks of her now dead family. And the monsters surrounding her car. She starts a new school, where she is accepted by part time hospital buddy Kat into the friendship group and introduces her to the group of tough guys, with the likes of Cole, Frosty and the others. There, she is told what actually happened: It was zombies! Alice decides that she will eradicate all zombies ever. That’s once she’s trained with Cole.
After being disappointed at the lack of Alice in Wonderland, I got a bit disappointed by the way the plot of Alice in Zombieland panned out too. It’s really heavily romance orientated, which is fine if you like this. It’s just really not my thing, and I don’t feel it was done amazingly. Luckily, there is a good amount of zombie slaying, which is more up my street.
Alice could have been a great character, but I felt there was something a bit lacking around her. My favourite character is Kat-she’s cool, witty, and a good friend. Close second comes Alice’s grandparents and their failed attempts to be cool.
The pacing. Started out really nicely with awesome stuff happening. The middle was dragged out a lot and the ending could have been really amazing and emotional, but ended up over before it had really begun.
There was some good points though. The characters, that weren’t fitting the mean/tough girl/guy stereotype were  really good. And the zombies! While I don’t approve of the sparkling qualities, the idea of spirit form and the emphasis on spirit as opposed to corpses is generally awesome.

Overall:  Strength 2 tea to an underwhelming book with some good features, but not really my thing, despite first impressions.
Links: | Goodreads | Author website

Saturday, 24 November 2012

I Love Clubbing Or Why Every Book Lover Should Be In a Book Club, and Why My Book Club in Particular Is Awesome.

There aren't many things better than a good book. One thing that is, though, is being able to share your love. And I can't think of a better way than doing that than by having a group of like-minded people who meet regularly to pour out their feelings about fictional characters.
I must warn you, my book club is probably not the normal kind. We don't usually choose a book, read it and discuss it. Our meetings tend to involve food, fangirling and many things other than books. However, we do get a lot of things done.
Having been a member of the book club for three years, I have finely tuned my debating skills. We tend to be rather serious about matters like the supporting of Hermione and Fred as a romantic couple,  the use of An Inspector Calls and if we should be  novelling for GCSE. There isn't much that we'll agree on. Except maybe that The Twilight Saga is terrible, possibly only better than it's fanfiction that none of us care to, or should, read.   
We also debate on what to read. Well, not really. With our varied tastes, it’s impossible to choose something we're all willing to read, so we just have a prompt such as Fantasy or Mystery, and we can bring what we like. Because of this, we both share interpretations of  the word prompt,  as well as books that we think fit in. And the nice thing is that we all bring different things, often things we wouldn't normally read.  Even if it doesn't seem like your thing to start with, having one of your best friends sing its praises can really persuade you in the way that no blurb ever can.
We also find new books in other ways, for example shadowing awards. Our book club yearly follows the  Carnegie Medal, reading the shortlist and discussing it and saying what we think will win, and so on. This is great fun, even though we haven't gotten it right yet!
This leads to new experiences too. A couple of years ago, we one the Shadowing Competition to go to the awards ceremony. Meeting all the authors was amazing, I have a very embarrassing picture of me and Neil Gaiman, and we generally had a lot of fun. Other things we've done as a book club- had multiple parties and quizzes, and going to the British Library to see original manuscripts and make random comments.
All in all, that leads to my main reason for having a book club. You will find some amazing people who will become your friends. You may not be like us, where we spend every spare moment together, but no matter what, you'll have a group of likeminded people to hang out with, discuss things, and share the love of reading, books, and practically everything else.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Hollow Pike Winners

The only reason I have for being semi absent recently is the fact that none of us know what we're doing for textiles and will most likely fail it all and I've been trying not to. So yeah.

The winners have had their things shipped out, but our three lucky winners are 
  Vicky Walters
  Catherine/The Book Parade
  Andrea D 

Big thanks to all who entered or were somehow involved in The Month Before Christmas :) 
Proper blog post later/tomorrow!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

In Which I Fangirl A Lot.

So...this week has been, in terms of booky really quite awesome.

We have a Longlist for the CILIP Carnegie Medal.

Things I've Read and Enjoyed
  • Unrest by Michelle Harrison (Simon & Schuster Children's Books)
  • Itch by Simon Mayo  (Corgi Children's Books)
  • This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel (Random House David Fickling Books)
  • Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley (Bloomsbury)
  • Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid (Puffin Books)
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)
Things I've heard are good and will make a little more effort to read now.

  • Dead Time by Anne Cassidy (Bloomsbury)
  • VIII by H.M. Castor (Templar Publishing)
  • Dying To Know You by Aidan Chambers (Bodley Head)
  • After the Snow by S.D. Crockett (Macmillan Children's Books)
  • Mortal Chaos by Matt Dickinson (Oxford University Press)
  • Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (Hot Key Books)
  • After by Morris Gleitzman (Puffin Books)
  • To Be A Cat by Matt Haig (Bodley Head)
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Doubleday Children's Books)
  • All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls (Marion Lloyd Books)
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Bodley Head)
  • Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver (Puffin Books)
  • Burn Mark by Laura Powell (Bloomsbury)
  • Black Arts: The Books of Pandemonium by Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil (David Fickling Books)
  • This is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees (Bloomsbury)
  • Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (Indigo)
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Electric Monkey)

As well as these, there#s other books that I'm sure are deserving of their place, which I'll read if they get shortlisted. My book club shadows the award, so hopefully we'll all find something to enjoy, and maybe we'll manage to guess what's going to win. Last time, we failed (We said Between Shades of Grey, not A Monster Calls).

We've had a trailer for The Host. I've not read it, but apparently it's a bit better than Twilight (I'm not sure that's saying much though.) Still, if anyone does enjoy Meyer's stuff, then maybe they should see it.

We've also had a trailer for City Of Bones, a film which I definitely plan to go and see some time (although probably won't because I have a habit of saying I'll see something, forgetting, and ending up getting it on DVD. Films that don't get this treatment get seen twice...something's wrong with my organisation skills.) Here it is.

On its own, it's awesome. After reading a couple of posts about it, I love it even more. *fangirl mode is on*

Other fangirly thing: Aurelio Voltaire's book, Call of the Jersey Devil, has a cover now! And a back one! I got into Voltaire's music a few years ago, and when he said he was writing a book, I was all *squee* (I go all fangirly very easily, in case you haven't guessed).and from the excerpts on Facebook, I'm probably going to enjoy this.

And finally, please go help a new book blogger! Anne of Grave Fables was part of my book club, until she moved to France. She's really nice and reads practically anything, so go say hello.

How's everyone this week?

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Book Review- Crusher by Niall Leonard

Title: Crusher
 Author:  Niall Leonard
Published:  13 September 2012 by Random House
Warnings: sex and violence, 14 upwards.
Source: publisher
Other info: His wife wrote the infamous 50 Shades Trilogy. This is the first in a series.
Summary : To catch a killer,Finn Maguire may have to become one....Everything changed the day Finn found his father in a pool of blood, bludgeoned to death. His dull, dreary life is turned upside downas he become's the prime suspect. How can he clear his name and find out who hated his dad enough to kill him?
Facing danger at every turn, uncovering dark family secrets and braving the seedy London underworld,Finn is about to discover that only the people you trust can really hurt you....
Review: After another day at his dead-end job, Finn Maguire comes home to find his dad has been killed. With the lack of other DNA and other fingerprints, and because hte police have no one else ot go on, he is pinned as prime suspect. Now on his own, Finn has to try and clear his name. By doing so, he gets pulled into his family history, gang politics, rivalries, and various other sorts of danger.
I don’t normally read crimey things but I think I should, as I quite enjoy it when I do. There’s always interesting things happening and they’re often unpredictable.  Crusher is like this. I wouldn’t really call it fun, but I like it. There’s definitely a thrill.
It all gets going quite quickly, with the murder and  establishing Finn’s situation done within the first few chapters. The story then develops at the same fast pace throughout.
A thing stolen from my latin friend is the expression of interest levels on an updowny scale. The interest levels for this are high at the start, low middle at the middle,  middle a bit further, and high at the end. Thrill levels follow this pattern too. There’s some incredibly boring bits, and then there’s other bits which you just have to read on, including the scene from which (I assume) Crusher gets its name.
The women in  Crusher were the most interesting. Zoe seemed nice enough, but it didn’t work out well in the end (because it’s written by a guy? Most books written by men feature romances that don’t work out, women tend to write ambiguous or happy endings. A post for later?). Else, I  knew there was something off about her, but what happened at the end was totally unexpected and in any future novels, she should definitely have a major part in them. Finn’s mother is very secretive, and the ending finishes off Crusher well.
Finn, you do feel sorry for when you think about all he goes through. He is surprisingly clever despite his introduction as a dead end boy, and he thinks on his feet well. The whole danger from all sides is ok ish. It’s interesting, but also not in a way. It’s hard to describe. I do like the fact that the separate plots all come together after a lot of guessing.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a thriller with a lot of ups and downs.
Links: | Goodreads

Monday, 12 November 2012

Book Review- Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Title: Speechless

 Author: Hannah Harrington
Series:  N/A
Published:  August 28 2012 by Harlequin as an ebook. February 2013 by Mira in print
Length: 288 pages
Warnings: drink, homophobic violence, sex reference
Source: Netgalley
Other info: Hannah Harrington has also written  Saving June. 

Summary : Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret. Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.  Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse. But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

Review: Chelsea Knot is one of the popular girls. Until one night when she is drunk, walks in on something she shouldn’t have, and ends up being cast out of her friendship circle. Not because her blabbing about Noah and Andy got one of them beaten up and put into hospital, but because she’s the one who told the police that it was Warren and Joey. Realising  that her big mouth got someone badly badly hurt, Chelsea takes on a vow of silence.
Having highly enjoyed Saving June (review here). I definitely wanted to read this, despite it, once again, being out of my normal speculative fiction range.
I first like the originality of the concept-vows of silence you don’t hear about much in either fiction or real life, especially in 21st century contexts, so putting one in the middle of a  modern American high school society would definitely be interesting.
This is a very character driven book. Chelsea undergoes a huge transformation to being second in command in the hierarchy,  to being her own person with much healthier friends. Her morals and ideas change along the way, and watching this happen is definitely intriguing. This is one of the rare books in which my favourite character is the main one, not a random side character. This probably is to do with the fact that Chelsea develops so drastically, and into a much nicer person.
The majority of the other characters were likeable too (guess who wasn’t). My second favourite character was Asha, who is unbelievably kind and non-judgementnal. Sam is patient and sweet, and despite Noah being in hospital for the majority of Speechless, he makes much more of an impact on Chelsea and the reader than you’d expect him to.
 I found it especially refreshing that Chelsea didn’t end up with the popular guy, but with someone she may not have looked at twice before her vow of silence. Yet another sign of her change.  
 There’s a lot of things to think about, well guided by a list of questions at the end. Hate violence, bullying, homophobia, the effects of speaking, the effects of silence. Once again, Hannah treats her chosen subjects delicately and sensibly, and makes you think. In Speechless, Hannah captures teen dynamics, peer pressure, and the importance of friendship perfectly.

Overall:  Strength 4(.25) tea to another powerful novel one of my new favourite authors. Looking forwards to more from Hannah!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Lots of little stuff, including TMBH Giveaway Winners!

Just a quick update as to stuff.

I was at Expo and I got a pretty book :) It was a signed copy of How to Bag a Jabbawock by Jack Union-it's a nonfiction fiction guide book to monster hunting. 
I also went to the Notting Hill Book Exchange and gave in quite a few books. At some point, I may do a rant about usage of proof copies because I found a Headline Proof in there that clearly says not for resale. But anyway.  I have various swap lists around Goodreads and Facebook. These are now invalid.
I also came back with quite a few books, including Crypt by Andy Hammond (I think), The Wasp Factory, Alice in the Country of Clover-Cheshire Cat volume 2, and Zombieloan volume 2.
I have too much tech coursework! Dear teachers of the world,  when your entire class falling behind, you do NOT set them an extra page of stuff!
I'm falling behind at Nano (6000 words. I intend to catch up at weekends) and I can't think of any reasons why, having been reasonably comfortable and settled in at this new institute, my main characters would go out and get a move on and go and see about this prophecy thing. Well, I know about the function behind it. I just can't find a good trigger for going off. Anyone have ideas?

So....Giveaway winners!
 GEARTEETH-Two copies, international. Winners: Anne and Matt (Mattlibrarian).
HENRY FRANKS- Miss Lucinda and Becky.
UK Giveaways: Miss Lucinda, Hikma and Grell.
International giveaway: Zara

 Timothy is dealing with the Gearteeth winners. I'll order Zara's prize once I can put some money into my account that lets me do stuff over the interwebs. I'll send out Lucinda's, Grell's and Becky's prizes out on Saturday and Hikma's either then or once I get a response, whichever comes sooner.

Don't forget, there's  still a giveaway of Hollow  Pike going on!
So how are you all? Nanoing? Reading? Doing other stuff?


Thursday, 1 November 2012

The 'Month Before Halloween Wrap Up

Well that was great. Really.

I've had a load of bloggers contribute, as well as a few authors. We've had lots of giveaways, the winners of which will be announced soon. We've had lots of fun (well, I have, seeing everyone's posts and interview answers). I've learnt that I can actually organise an event (just about). And various other things have happened.

I'm really tired at the moment, so watch this space regarding a full list of contributers. It will come.

And news for November! I'm doing NaNoWriMo again! So in the upcoming month, the blog may feel a little abandoned.  Wish me luck!