Friday 29 June 2012

Book Review- The Selection by Kiera Cass

Title: The Selection
 Author: Kiera Cass
Series:   The Selection #1
Published:  7 June 2012 by HarperCollins
Length: 327  pages
Age rating: 13+
Source: Publishers
Other info: Kiera’s first novel was called The Siren. Book two in this series will be called The Elite.
Summary : For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
Review: Prince Maxon is coming of age and needs a wife. And so they hold a selection-thirty five girls are sent to the palace to compete for the title-and Maxon’s heart. America Singer is one of these lucky girls, but she doesn’t really want to be.  But then she meets Maxon, and he really isn’t as bad as she thought he’d be. But then there’ns Aspen, the guy she was ready for a life with before she got selected. And so she has to decide her future.
This has way more romance in it than I thought there’d be. Next in influence is the reality TV show element, which I can’t help thinking is influenced more than a little by things like The Hunger Games publicising everything. The dystopian aspect, contrary to what I’d heard before reading this, is played down a bit, unless the fact that one girl will be forced to marry the prince whether she likes it or not-even though the majority of them do like it.
America’s name was really offputting. Why would anyone name their child after the country they live in? Then it turns out their nation is called Illea. And there’s still countries such as China existing. Global world building doesn’t happen until three quarters of the way through. And while there’s a reason, it’s annoying. National world building, with the caste system, was easy to pick up and go along with.
America is definitely different, what with having the nerve to talk back to Maxon and stand up for herself, as compared to the really quite superficial girls that go to the palace too. However, she’s not really that interesting. Same goes for Maxon-more likeable than America’s narration made him out to be, but not as strong as he could be. My favourite characters are the king and queen.
There’s always something happening. It may vary in conflict/interest levels, but there’s still something interesting happening. The plot develops slowly and steadily, but just about fast enough to keep me interested. It’s a nice idea to not have the Selection completed by the end of the first novel. I’ll definitely read on, just to see who gets chosen.
Love triangle. Damn. Ruined. She’s in a long term relationship before being selected. And then she leaves him both physically and emotionally. She still has  feelings for Aspen, but he’s out of the way and he’s been a jerk and love triangle is seemingly forgotten. AND THEN HE COMES BACK. I was so annoyed at this.

 Overall:  Strength 3 tea to an interesting fairy tale/reality TV crossover.

Thursday 28 June 2012

Book Review- Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
 Author: Kendare Blake
Series:   Anna #1
Published:  5 July 2012
Length: 384 pages
Warnings: sex references, a lot of gore, black magic & voodoo 13+
Source: Hachette and Tor both sent me a copy for review. Thank you!
Other info: Kendare also wrote Sleepwalk Society. Book two will be called Girl of Nightmares. Kendare has a book coming some other day called AntiGoddess.

Summary : Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story... Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.  So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
And she, for whatever reason, spares his life

Review: Cas kills the dead. He’s been doing it ever since his dad was killed doing the same job ten years ago, and hopes that one day, he will avenge his father. Anna kills the living. She’s been doing it ever since she was murdered in 1958, her throat slit from ear to ear, and she hopes, not much. She just keeps killing. So when Cas and Anna meet, something stops her from killing him. And as they uncover reasons why that is, coming with it is ghosts from the past for both of them.
I really loved the idea. From the one line summary (Boy meets girl, girl kills people), I was drawn in and really wanted to read it as soon as I could. And the proof copy from Hachette came with awesomeness on the cover from many other bloggers.
So, from the start I was drawn in. It starts with a snapshot of Cas’ job, so he kills a hitchhiker. That was already dead, before you start worrying. We soon see him move to Ontario, join the school, fit in easily with those at the top of the social ladder. And then he meets Anna.
It’s not the ideal first meeting. He’s been knocked out by a plank of wood being smashed down on his head and he’s lying on the bottom of the stairs. Everything in this scene, and pretty much throughout, was really well described, and I could really see it all happening.
This book is definitely n the whole film-format. Action start, then back to normal, then building and building. I can see this being made a film. But it meant that I could not stop reading this. Apart from when I had to because actual life got in the way, but I got back to it soon enough. This is one of those books that makes you feel like you have to read on to see how it will go, because there’s always something happening that makes you think.
Cas and Anna are both really good protagonists in their own ways. Cas was not your normal protagonist at all, and I really liked his narration style. I really wasn’t sure what to make of Anna to start with, but as we learn more and more about her, I just fell in love with her and felt bad for her. Her past especially was interesting.
The whole idea of ghosts on a large scale, not just a few isolated ones, killing people was really interesting. The lore surrounding the ghosts was easy to pick up on, and I liked the way that Kendare brought in other, less mainstream, religions like Wicca and Voodoo, and made them useful to the plot, but not in a clichéd way.
The rest of the characters were good. I was very glad about the fact that Cas didn’t end up with Carmel, and found it really cute that Thomas did.
The only thing that I had a problem with was that it wasn’t scary. Maybe I’d hyped myself up after all the amazing reviews, but while I was gripped totally, I just didn’t get  the feeling of having to leave the lights on or stay awake. But in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t take anything away. Just denied me of something that I never had. It’s still a really really good book.

Overall:  Strength 4.5 tea to a ghost story with strong characters, a lot of gore and the ability to keep your reading on and on and on and on and on get the idea.. Let’s hope Girl of Nightmares is just as good.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Waiting on Wednesday- Level 2

Waiting 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:  Level 2
Author: Lenore Appelhans
Release Date: 15 January 2013 by Simon & Schuster

Link to / Summary from Goodreads:Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow prisoners, Felicia passes the endless hours downloading memories and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and the boy she loved, Neil.
Then a girl in a neighboring chamber disappears, and nobody but Felicia seems to recall she existed in the first place. Something is obviously very wrong. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, she learns the truth: a rebellion is brewing to overthrow the Morati, the guardians of Level 2.
Felicia is reluctant to trust Julian, but then he promises what she wants the most—to be with Neil again—if only she’ll join the rebels. Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself in the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.
Why I want it:It's an interesting take on an afterlife, and everyone who's read it said it's good. The cover, the title and the author's name are all really cool too.

What are YOU waiting on this week?

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Book Review- Ash by Malinda Lo

Title: Ash
 Author: Malinda Lo
Series:  N/A
Published:  4 March 2012 by Hodder
Length: 291 pages
Warnings: 11+ Chaste romance, domestic abuse
Source: Library
Other info: Malinda has also written Huntress
Summary : In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.
The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love

Review:  Aisling, or Ash, is ten when her mother dies. Her father soon follows, but not before he marries Lady Isobel. With him dead, Isobel reduce sash to a slave. One day, she ventures into the forest, and meets Fairy Sidhean. They exchange stories, and see each other a few times. On her other days of freedom, Ash is with the King’s Huntress Kaisa, who lets Ash into a world that her stepmother would never have let her in to.
The first thing I heard about this was “a retelling of Cinderella, where Cinderella is a lesbian”. This could go either badly or well. But the romance between Ash and Kaisa is done well, developing naturally, with a long period of friendship beforehand.
There was a lot of fantasy built in, which I really liked. The fairy world was incorporated a lot, and used well in terms of plot development. The novel also has a timeless, placeless quality to it with the aspects being easily picked up or explained.
At the start, Ash’s age is a bit annoying. She starts off age ten, a few chapters later she’s older, and a few paragraphs later she’s sixteen. From there, it evens out, and it’s easier. But still, time passage is a little confusing meaning I took a little more time reading it than I do most books.
It’s really similar to the original Cinderella, but with changes to who she ends up with. It also explores the fairy world fully, developing it into the beautiful world that you get some times. Sidhean is the “fairy godmother”, them male fairy who knew Ash’s mother and is now granting wishes to Ash.
The romance is slow, and as I said before, came about from friendship. It’s believable, and you get the feeling that Ash and Kaisa would do anything for eachother. It’s also nice seeing Ash fall for Sidhean.
Ash develops a lot, slowly developing the courage to break free from her stepmother’s rules, get out of the house, and escape for a better life. It’s nice how it’s her who gets herself out of the domestic abuse,  and not somebody else.
Everything develops slowly and believably. You get a real insight into Ash’s life, how she goes from being a happy young girl to a girl with no prospects in a house of cruelty.
It’s nice to see same sex couples not get any more attention than other sex couples. It seems like choosing Kaisa over Sidhean is the more socially acceptable, or normal, thing to do-fairy versus human huntress. Unlike other LGBT books, it doesn’t cover issues like coming out. It just happens. Criticising Ash for being a lesbian fairy tale is like criticising Harry Potter for dark magic. It’s a plot point, important, but not everything’s focused on that.  
The prince features as somebody who is choosing a wife, and holds balls. As a plot device, he gets the family away from Ash. And not much more.
The writing style is amazing. A little poetic, the nature aspect, and the forest and the fairies all come to life, and it’s a writing style I love.

Overall: Strength 5 tea to a really beautiful fairy tale retelling.   I definitely want to read more from Malinda.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Giveaway- The Lure of Shapinsay by Krista Holle

Ever since Kait Swanney could remember, the old crones of the village have been warning her to stay away from the selkies. They claim that like sirens of old, the seal men creep from the inky waters, shed their skins, and entice women to their deaths beneath the North Sea. But avoiding an encounter becomes impossible when Kait is spotted at the water’s edge, moments after the murder of a half-selkie infant.
Unexpectedly, Kait is awoken by a beautiful, selkie man seeking revenge. After she declares her innocence, the intruder darts into the night, but not before inadvertently bewitching her with an overpowering lure.
Kait obsesses over a reunion deep beneath the bay and risks her own life to be reunited with her selkie. But when she lands the dangerous lover, the chaos that follows leaves Kait little time to wonder—is it love setting her on fire or has she simply been lured?

It's certainly something different! Selkies really aren't seen that often (well, not at all really) in YA fiction...

Krista is giving away a copy, a tee-shirt, a bookmark and a bookplate. It's international, and Krista recommends that it's entered by those 15+.

To enter, you need:
An address to send the prize to.
To comment on this post leaving a broken email address, such as deathbooksandtea at gmail dot com
Earn 1x extra entry by answering in your comment "What other little-seen creatures would you like to see in mythology?"
Earn 1x extra entry by spreading the word somehow and leaving a link.
The giveaway ends 8 July 2012

Good luck!

Saturday 23 June 2012

Book Review- Mister Creecher by Chris Priestly

Title: Mister Creecher
 Author: Chris Priestley
Series:  N/A
Published:  3rd October 2011 by Bloomsbury
Length: 400 pages
Warnings: Gore, light romance 12+
Source: Library
Other info: Chris has also written The Dead of Winter and the Tales of Terror series.
Summary : Billy is a street urchin, pickpocket and petty thief. Mister Creecher is a monstrous giant of a man who terrifies all he meets. Their relationship begins as pure convenience. But a bond swiftly develops between these two misfits as their bloody journey takes them ever northwards on the trail of their target ...Victor Frankenstein. Friendship, trust and betrayal combine to form a dangerous liaison in this moving and frightening new book from Chris Priestley.
Review: Billy is a young thief on the streets of London when he meets Mr Creecher- a giant, mismatched man who is extremely mysterious. However, it doesn’t take long for them to form a strange friendship as together they journey north, following one man in particular- Victor Frankenstein.
In case you haven’t guessed Creecher is Frankenstein’s Creature, and (not so obviously) Billy is Oliver Twist’s Bill Sikes (but much younger). We also meet other characters such as Justine (the girl who hangs after Frankenstein’s Creature kills someone), and such. Points to Chris for including fictional characters into his own fiction. Extra points for including real life figures in this as well, such as Mary Shelley.
I enjoyed the Tales of Terror series of books, so I should have enjoyed this. And I’m glad to say I did. The atmosphere and world building, this time of Victorian London, is excellent, and elements of gothic horror come through a lot. The back end of London is portrayed fully and you get quite attached to the characters.
You don’t get that many teenage horror novels, and this is a good addition to the pool. If I hadn’t read Frankenstein by then, I would have probably done after reading this.
The writing is good. As well as building atmosphere and tension, there’s a nice quality to it that doesn’t censor gore, but keeps you thinking about the events,
Creecher is shown in a really pitiful light, more so than the original Frankenstein. There were many times throughout where I just wanted to hug him, but there were also enough times to remind us that at heart, he was a monster. Seeing him learn about things such as reading was really nice seeing him develop in ways that we take for granted.
Billy and Creecher’s relationship (non-romantic) is nice to watch develop. It grows slowly as both develop, and it’s nice seeing it happen. It also means that these two characters, both the antagonists in their respective classics, are really likeable in this book.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a strong horror novel for younger readers.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Book Review- Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Title: Wither
 Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series:  Chemical Garden #1
Published:  2011 by Harper Voyager
Length:358 pages
Warnings: 12+
Source: Library
Other info: This is Lauren’s debut. Book two, Fever, is out. Book 3, Sever, should be out next year.
Summary : What if you knew exactly when you would die? Thanks to modern science, males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out. When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home. But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

Review: In this world, people know when they’re going to die. After experiments fail, women life to 20 and men to 25. Rhine is sixteen, giving her four years to live. Like many other girls, she is kidnapped and forced into a marriage with Linden. And unlike her Sister Wives, she dreams of escaping. Together, she and house servant Gabriel attempt to escape and live the lives they have left to the full.
This is one of those books that I hear about, then don’t get round to reading for a long long time. still, I’ve read it now. I like the idea, as it’s different and I like thinking about what would you do if you knew how long you had left.
It starts really quickly, with world building coming after the action. you get used to this society, the polyamory, and short life spans really easily, and you’re soon pulled in.
Rhine is a believable character and interesting to read about. I love the fact that she wants more than a life inside the mansion, but a part of me just wants to shout at her. Compared to her old life, and the fate of some other girls out there, she has an amazing life. Her husband is nice, he doesn’t force himself on her, and she makes friends easily. Still, she doesn’t whine as much as –somebody-.
Linden, Gabriel and the Sister wives, and the servants are all really nice, fleshed out, and you really want to get to know them. They don’t change that much in terms of attitudes, but they do go through a lot.
The only exception to this lovable cast is Vaugn, who is a protagonist that forces Rhine to think differently and stay alert.
My favourite character is Rose, despite the fact that we don’t see that much of her. Second favourite is Deidre- adorable servant who is amazing at dressmaking.
After the quick start, it slows down a little. Then it speeds up. Then slows down. The pace and interest levels fluctuate a lot,
Rhine thinks in metaphors. I enjoy elaborate writing, but I find it hard to believe that this teenage girl thinks completely in metaphors.
This isn’t the best book I’ve ever read. But it’s definitely gripping, and by the end of the book, you really want to read on. I’ll definitely read Fever soon.
Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a different dystopian novel that will leave you wanting more.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Waiting on Wednesday-The Program by Suzanne Young

Waiting 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:  The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
Release Date: 30 April 2013 (Simon Pulse)
Link to / Summary from Goodreads: Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone.
With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.
Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in.
And The Program is coming for them
Why I want it: A dystopian take on mental illness. I definitely want to see how this is pulled off. Though I don’t really like the last line of the summary. A little cliché. Aside from that, I definitely want to read this.

What are YOU waiting on this week?

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Book Review-Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Title:Clockwork Prince
 Author: Cassandra Clare
Series:  The Infernal Devices #2
Published:  6 December 2011 by Walker
Length:496 pages
Warnings: 13+
Source: library
Other info: This is book two. The first, Clockwork Angel, was reviewed here. The Infernal Devices is a prequel series to The Mortal Instruments.
Summary : Love and lies can corrupt even the purest heart... In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, while her desire for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will – the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do? As their dangerous search for the truth leads the three friends into peril, Tessa's heart is ever more torn, especially when one of their own betrays them... 

Review: We’re back in Victorian London with Tess, Jem, and Will. They’re still on the lookout for the Magister, and brother Nate. On another count, we get Jem and Will opening up a huge amount to Tess, meaning she’s caught in an epic love triangle. There’s also someone betraying all of the Institute’s secrets, and things just go from there.
I’m really getting into Cassandra Clare’s writing. Having enjoyed both the  books in the Infernal Devices series, I really want to go back to The Mortal Instruments and get more of this world that works well in Victorian London.
It’s nice how accurate the London that Cassandra made is, with all her alterations stated in an author’s note.
The love triangle actually works well in Clockwork Prince. And it is actually a triangle, with both boys loving and being loved by Tess in a romantic way, and they love each other in a strong platonic way. The parabatai idea is really nice, generally interesting, and adds a lot to Jem, Will, and the way we see them.
I really liked the fact we learn a lot about will, both character and background wise. He’s still a bit annoying and cocky, but a little less so. And we get reasons, so  we can just about excuse him.
My favourite character is Magnus. He’s funny, interesting, and different in a way that not many immortal characters aren’t. You also get a lot of character development, and a full likable cast-with the exception of a couple of characters.
I enjoyed the recurrent use of poetry at the start of each chapter and at random points during the novel. It broke up the really long chapters and blocks of text, and added a little extra interest. I also really loved The Demon Pox Song.

 Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a series and author that’s really growing on me.

Monday 18 June 2012

Weekly Update #17

So...not much has happened in personal terms, but in booky  terms...WOW.

 I learnt this week (I'm a lot slow) that Ray Bradbury died a few weeks ago. I really liked Something Wicked This Way Comes, and I really need to get round to reading Farenheit 451. RIP Ray Bradbury...
On a much happier note,  A Monster Calls won both the Carnegie AND the Greenaway, a historic event that will probably be hard for any book to repeat. Oh, and Patrick Ness won twice in a row. You can read about us fangirling here.

Here's what I got this week...
Won from Raimy-Rawr, Queen of Teen compilation book.
From libraries:
Wither by Lauren Destefano
Shift by Em Bailey
The Coming of the Terraphiles by Michael Moorcock
Clockwork and Corsets -compilation
Dark Inside- Jeyn Roberts
Ash-Malinda Lo
Shadows on Baker Street-compilation
Clockwork Prince-Cassandra Clare

I only just remembered that the name for a compilation is an anthology. Oops. week is Japanese Fiction Week. It's an extension of the Japanese YA Week Caroline (Portrait of a Woman) and I did, only this time we get Laura (Sister Spooky) and Andrew (The Pewter Wolf) too! Have fun this week.

Saturday 16 June 2012

Book Review- Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid

Title: Black Heart Blue
 Author: Louisa Reid
Series:  N/A
Published: 10 May 2012 by Penguin
Length: 256 pages
Warnings: domestic abuse, teenage pregnancy, other controversial issues 14+
Source: Publishers
Other info: This is Louisa’s debut novel.
Summary :  Hephzibah: You've no idea what it's like having a freak for a sister. Rebecca: Born first, prettier, Hephzi's always been the popular one. The Father: When he was busy with his bottle we were usually safe. Usually.  The Mother: Her specialist subject was misery and lessons of painful silence ... Hepzibah and Rebecca are twins. One beautiful, one disfigured. Trapped with their loveless parents, they dream of a normal life. But when one twin tragically dies, the other must find a way to escape. Because if she doesn't, she'll end up like her sister.

Review: Hephzibah is beautiful. Rebecca is not-she was born with Treacher Collins syndrome. They live with their abusive parents and dream of escaping some day. Then Hepzhi dies. And Rebecca must try even harder to get out.
As you can tell, this really isn’t my normal kind of book. But if lots of people say it’s good, I’ll have a go with it.
It’s surprisingly easy to get into. it starts out sad, and just gets sadder as you learn more about the two girls and the way they’re treated by their “parents”.  The pacing is brilliant, with subtle things happening throughout furthering the story.
I like the fact that the two narrations intertwine, despite narrating a different time frame. The writing really is amazing in this book. it details everything, keeps you interested, and really pulls you in. Throughout, you keep waiting for knowing the details behind Hepzhi’s death, but we don’t get to learn until the end. The way we are told about the After makes you really want to know about the Before.
The characterisation is really good. You get into the desperate mind of the two girls, and you really feel sorry for them. You also manage to feel a bit bad for the mother, who I think only acts the way she does because of the father. The father was a really terrible one, I have no idea how he passed himself off as a vicar. You really have to hate him and the way that he kept everything that most of us get from parents from his children.
Rebecca definitely develops. She becomes a little more comfortable with her condition, and also gains a huge amount of courage.
You can’t enjoy it because of what it’s presenting. I think it’s because of the way it’s presented, with everything happening. Disfigurement, bereavement, drinking, and domestic abuse. It presents them in a mature way that makes you think a lot about them. There’s also a list of discussion questions that really make you think.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a really powerful, hard hitting book.

Friday 15 June 2012

Book Review- Dark War by Tim Waggoner

Title: Dark War
 Author: Tim Waggoner
Series:  Nekropolis #3
Published:  by Angry Robot
Length: 410 pages
Warnings: violence, sex references 14+
Source: Library
Other info: This is third in the Nekropolis series. It started with Nekropolis, which is reviewed here and carried on with Dark Streets.
Summary : Matt Richter won’t let a little thing like death keep him from cracking his latest case. But there’s a new evil power rampaging through the streets of Nekropolis. The last battle has begun.

Review:  After falling to pieces and getting thorough all of that, Matt Richter really just wants to settle down with half-vampire girlfriend Devona. But, this being Nekropolis. That’s really unlikely. After sorting stuff out in  parallel world, he goes home to find even more problems. The Arcane (witches and wizards) are blaming the Demonfolk for recent Arcane disappearances. The Demonfolk aren’t happy and a war threatens to break out. But there’s something else bugging Matt…
Following my total love for Nekropolis and Dead Streets, of course I had to get hold of this. I like the fact that old favourites are brought back especially Lazlo, his tazi, and Vavara. I didn’t like the return of Gregor, but that’s only because he’s annoying and hard to understand. But he is essential to the plot, so I can’t really complain.
The darkly funny, slightly sarcastic writing style from the earlier books acre carried over into this one. I love Tim’s writing style and there’s always something to make me laugh.
There’s a ridiculously varied cast. From zombie detectives to demon overlords (well, lady. You get the idea) to scarily intelligent oversize bugs- you name it, you’ll find some variation on it.
Plot wise, it’s a bit different, with all out war between (factions? Districts? Denominations?) of paranormal creatures brewing. I like the fact it’s something a bit different, but still believable for this kind of book.
Benny makes a welcome, major-y appearance. I really love Benny in both forms. Because demon-y thingys that shift gender every few seconds are just cool like that. Vavara comes a close second, followed by Matt, Devona and Varney the Vampire (reporter that tags along to everything). I feel really attached to all the inhabitants of Nekropolis now…
The ending. Damn. The really important bit happens in eleven lines, and leaves your imagination to run wild. I can’t spoil it for you, but wow. A whole new world just waiting to be explored. And no news of a fourth book.
Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a strong finale(?) to a series I really love.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Carnegie & Kate Greenaway 2012

So…A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness won the Carnegie Medal! But that's not it's only achievement...
For the first time ever, one author wins twice on the trot. And, also for the first time ever, the same book won the Kate Greenaway along with the Carnegie.

As you know, we’ve been shadowing the Carnegie for a few months. And seeing as we didn’t go to the awards ceremony, we had a party at lunchtime instead.

This being The Noisiest Book Club in the World, the first thing any of us cared about was the food on the table. So we got that out of the way, and then we looked at the emails. Nothing from Carnegie.
We then had a vote on what we thought what SHOULD win, and then on what WOULD win.
Between Shades of Grey came out top in terms of what we thought SHOULD win. I think this is because most of us loved it, it was really hard hitting, and generally beautiful.
My Name is Mina came out top in terms of what we thought WOULD win. Because we know the judges and how they like to pick the books we don’t like to win (Example-The Graveyard Book).

At 12:50, we hadn’t got an official email. So we started watching videos of the judges’ thoughts. Which then turned into a discussion about Sophie Dahl staring into cameras -this is relevant-watch the video and you’ll understand. Or maybe not- and creeping everyone out. And we watched a few more.
Then it was one o clock, we still hadn’t got an email, and so I looked on the internet. Found. “Congratulations to Patrick Ness, Jim Kay and Walker on this historic achievement”. First reaction: Who’s Jim Kay? Then we worked out that A Monster Calls won both awards.

Book club reactions: High pitched yay, “Between Shades of Grey should have won”, “good for him”, “twice in a row”, “I’m happy for him…” and “Who ate all the chocolate shortbread? That was mine and I only got one piece.” I’m not entirely sure that last thing was a reaction to A Monster Calls or just Becca complaining about the fact we ate all her biscuits (which she did bring in to share with us. She shouldn’t complain when we eat it).

After initial celebrations/confusion/biscuit-searching, we got the email. The librarian wants to  complain.
I personally couldn’t get into A Monster Calls. From a literary perspective, yes, from an enjoyment one, no. I can see why it won and I’m really glad that he won.
Congratulations for winning both awards AND twice in a row. 

Saturday 9 June 2012

Book Tour Stop- Saving June by Hannah Harrington

So...for once, this isn't scheduled. I'm up at 25 minutes past midnight. Don't ask what we're doing. You don't want to know.
Anyway, this is a bit late but due to Kindles having no copy and paste facility (that I've noticed), here's Hannah's answers to some random questions I asked...

-What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
Writing the first draft of Saving June was actually not very difficult—from the start I had a pretty good sense of what the story would look like, and it came pretty easily once I sat down to write it. In general I do find middles the most difficult to write. It’s not too hard for me to come up with beginnings and endings, it’s all the stuff in-between that gives me trouble!

-Harper does a lot on their road trip, such as take part in a protest and bring friends along randomly. Did you draw on your own experiences?
Some of it does derive from my own experiences. When I was seventeen, some activist friends and I travelled by van to New York City to protest at the Republican National Convention, which was a pretty big deal for me at the time! I didn’t base any of the characters on specific people, but I did know people similar to them, which informed parts of the story.

-What was your favourite part in Harper's story?
I think my favorite part  of Harper’s story was her finally spreading June’s ashes, and the following scene on the beach with her, Jake, and Laney. It’s the moment where she’s achieved what she set out to do, and she really starts to let go and allow herself to begin to heal. It was very cathartic to write.

-Can you relate to any of these characters?

I relate to all of them, really! I think most people have been in Laney’s position, trying to be a supportive friend but being a bit over your head or not being sure how to make things right. I definitely share Jake’s love of music—though mine is not quite as rabid as his—and like him, I was somewhat unmotivated during my high school years and not sure what I’d do after I graduated. And of course I related to Harper; her quiet anger and feelings of inadequacy are qualities I shared at her age, and I also have a penchant for sarcasm!

-How important is music to you?
Very important! I can’t sing, and my guitar playing skills are very, very limited, but I loved listening to music. There are songs I associate with certain periods of my life, and music can affect my mood—it can remind me of people I know or things I’ve been through, it can pump me up and make me excited… it’s definitely a big part of my life!

Friday 8 June 2012

Book Review-Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Monument 14
 Author: Emmy Laybourne
Series:  Monument 14 #1
Published:  June 5 2012 by Feiwel and Friends
Length: 294 pages
Warnings: violence, sex references 13+
Source: Netgalley
Summary : Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.
Review: It’s a normal day. Dean and his brother are on their school bus as normal. they don’t know that it’s not a normal day. They don’t know that they’ll get caught in a hail storm, and forced to take refuge in a supermarket. Fourteen kids of different ages end up without adult supervision and you end up with  a post-apocalyptic Lord of the Flies.
It all starts off very quickly and promising, with the bus crash happening in what would be the first few pages if this wasn’t a kindle file.  And then the teacher leaves. And then....not much. Dean, Astrid, Jake and the other older ones have to deal with the little children. So there’s fourteen of them, in a supermarket, nobody knows where they are, or what’s out there. But with food, water, sleeping bags and enough to survive. so it should be ok...right?
The idea is definitely Lord of the Flies- (side note-in a creative writing thing we did while studying LotF, I’m sure one of my classmates did a bunch of kids in the supermarket) children left after a disaster, no adults to protect them, no real idea of what to do.
There are a few plot twists built into Monument 14, but they were all quite predictable. The virus-y thing was interesting though, something different, but it didn’t get too much attention, which is a shame. It did help move the story on though.
The characters break off and group up in the same way as LotF. You get the guy who thinks he’s the smartest and the toughest, the sensible ones, the ones trying  to keep the peace and so on.
Their interactions are on the fine line between believable and stereotypical (which are stereotypical for a reason). You get a good sense of the desperateness for familiarity, for survival, for normal life, but sometimes it feels as though it’s a little bit forced.
As I said, plot “developments” weren’t amazing. It’s nice seeing everything happen and such, but it just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. And the ending was really anticlimactic.

Overall:  Strength 2 tea to a book with a promising start, but from then, goes downhill.
Links: | Goodreads | Author website

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Book Tour Review- Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Title: Saving June
 Author: Hannah Harrington
Series:  N/A
Published:  1 June 2012
Length: 336 pages
Warnings: (safe) sex, smoking, drinking other things, mature 13+
Source: Publishers
Other info: This is Hannah’s debut novel.  Her second book, Speechless, should be published later on this year in the USA.
Summary : ‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’ Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why. When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going, California.  Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.  Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.

Review: June's the perfect one in the family. But that still doesn't stop her killing herself, leaving her family to pick up the pieces. Harper, the sister, isn't happy with the way the ashes are treated, and so she decides to take the ashes to California-where June always wanted to go. Along with musician Jake, best friend Laney and a few people they meet along the way, Harper goes on a journey for both her sister and herself.
This wasn't one I'd normally pick up. But there were many great reviews for this. So I decided to give it a try. And I'm really glad I did.
It's easy to get into the setting of this, to pick up what's happened, and the general tone of the book.
I liked Harper throughout, and she handles everything really well. Jake is a  really nice boy, with a different taste in music and generally really kind and caring for Harper. Laney was her own character, very different, and great to read about.
I really feel like I want to see more of June. Yes, she’s dead, and yes, there’s a little closure. But it would be nice to know what led her to suicide, and everything else.
The writing was full and kept you just wanting to know more. Or maybe that’s the plot. Either way, I really didn’t want to stop reading this.
The music side was a nice element. To me, music is a big part of life, and I think it is for most teenagers. The music covered in this book was different to what we normally think of when you think teenagers, but it worked for this. I’ve currently listened to the first playlist and love how it fits in with things. I definitely need to get round to the others.
This book handles death in a completely different way to the way I read the most of the time. This is one of the few books that presents it in a more realistic, calmed down way, that I still enjoy.  It’s presented through the eyes of someone who doesn’t understand why her sister killed herself, and it’s really easy to feel for her. It’s presented really maturely, and in a sensible way that fits the tone of the novel.
The other side things were handled well too. Sex, drinking, smoking. Because that’s what teens do. Everything about this book seemed natural. Jake and Harper having sex was a natural progression in their relationship, the dropping in on a gig because they were passing by, the meeting people from pasts. It all worked and fitted together nicely.  

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a powerful book that takes you on a journey on many different levels.

Monday 4 June 2012

Book Review- Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

Title: Dearly Departed
 Author: Lia Habel
Series:  Gone with the Respiration #1
Published:  29 September 2011 by Doubleday
Length: 451 pages
Warnings: zombies, violence, romance 12+
Source: Bought
Other info:  Book two, Dearly Beloved should be out some day.
Summary : Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie? In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

Review: Nora Dearly is your typical New-Victorian young lady. Having finished her year of mourning for her father, she is finally allowed to go out and do things. Party. Be social. Wear colour.  But maybe not find out what her father did for a living. Which leads her into a pack of zombies. Finding herself abducted, she ends up at a military base full of undead. Where there may or may not be a war breaking out. And she may or may not be falling in love with Bram. A zombie.
I heard about this one ages ago. And thought:zombies plus Victorians plus technology equals win. I wasn't so sure about the romancy side (it doesn't always work out, especially if one's falling apart), but I was definitely willing to see how it would go.
It actually begins with Bram being trapped underground with a dying friend. Nice action at the start. Then it cuts to Nora's normal life, giving us the chance for some world building, which comes as a block of text about what happened since mid-twentyfirst century to the setting of the book. It provides a nice explanation of how Victorian aesthetics are back in fashion so far in the future (even if you do wonder why), and what's happened in the meantime. Great future world history from Lia.
Nora was a strong character, but not totally amazing. It was realistic how she kept to her ideas ie protesting against wearing knee length skirts,  but it was a bit annoying. Bram was funny. Especially his initial  exchanges with Nora. He doesn't seem to develop very much though. My favourite character is either Pamela or Chas. Both are girls with a lot more to them than you think, with Chas rotting, and Pamela being another girl from high society. Chas’s dialogue with her boyfriend are so so good.
Pacing, it gets started quite quickly, but then some things started dragging a bit. The writing wasn’t of quite a high standard as I’d hoped. It was nice and it kept the story moving on really well, and it kept it flowing, but it didn’t make me laugh or keep me as enchanted as the summary did. The multiple POV was a bit over the top-I think we only needed Nora, Bram and Pam’s views on everything.
The zombies in this are amazing! Fighting zombies! Not just rotting and going after people’s brains (I like those kinds. But something different.  And no love triangle. YAY!!!

Overall:  Great premise, a little lacking sometimes, but still a good read. Strength 4 tea.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Book Review- What's Up With Jody Barton? by Hayley Long

Title: What’s Up With Jody Barton?
 Author: Hayley Long
Series:  N/A
Published:   31 May 2012 by Macmillan
Length: 249 pages
Warnings: light violence, romance 13+
Source: Publishers
Other info: Hayley Long has been shortlisted for the Queen of Teen! She has also written the Lottie Biggs series.
Summary : Me and my sister are twins. She's Jolene and I'm Jody. We've both got brown hair, we're both left-handed and we both have these weirdly long little toes which make us look like long-toed mutants. But apart from that, I'd say we're fairly different. Well, actually, we're a lot different . . . It's hard enough being one half of the world's least identical twins, without both of you falling for the same guy. Jolene's turned flirting into a fine art, but Jody? Not so much. And as if a twinny love triangle wasn't messy enough . . . there's something nobody knows about Jody Barton. Something BIG.
Review: Jody and Jolene are twins who are quite different, as people are. They're also a bit similar. Looking the same. Falling in love with the same person. Except Jody is a bit different. In a way Jolene doesn't know. What's Up With Jody Barton is the story of what happens when the secret gets out.
I feel really bad about writing this review. The big reveal thing is about halfway through the novel, which often happens. But in What's Up, the big reveal is something so big that I feel really bad about  saying it and ruining it for you. I'll try to keep this review spoiler free. But if you look at the tags (or if you got here by the tag), or if you have basic knowledge of name variations,  then you'll probably guess. Anyway.
The book starts off with a sketch, which forms part of the story. There's lots of these spontaneous illustrations, which adds to the feeling of this being a diary. Also, this book uses a lot of different font sizes to emphasise various things, which is a technique that sometimes work, and sometimes doesn’t. Luckily, in this, it did.
Pacing is ok. The first half is set up, with Jody and Jolene both  falling suddenly for Liam. Which actually works for Jolene, as they start going out. Jody is left on the sidelines. But after being left without Jolene with him, and finding out they have similar tastes in music,  and they end up alone. In Jody's bedroom. And they kiss. Or try to. This is about halfway through, where the events go downhill and many other things happen.
It's really a bit jilting when you realise you are about halfway through a novel and you don't know something major about your main character (even if it's a trend that seems to be cropping up a bit more). It's great writing on Hayley's part to be able to keep this up for a hundred pages.
It's good characterisation for all the characters. You get a really good look at Jody's feelings, and a good idea of all the supporting characters.
I'm glad that the Barton kids don't end up with Liam. By the end, he shows his true colours as being an absolute a******e, and they're both  better off without him. The issues raised in this were handled well,and realistically with many different attitudes to it being shown.
It's written in a young, style of a teenager in love, which is really nice to read. The voice is kept up throughout and it's easy to connect with.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea a funny coming of age story that's  a good look at what it is to be a [spoiler] teenager today.

Friday 1 June 2012

I am actually alive!

Sorry for the unplanned hiatus... homework and exams were a bit too much for me.
Anway, here's what I got since my last round-up thing.
I went a little bit overboard at the library. Just a little.
  • The Usual Suspects and Other Cliches
  • How to Sound Clever
  • A Guide to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • Eats, Sh*tes and Leaves
  • Steampunk! The Anthology
  • Dark War by Tim Waggoner
  • Unrest by Michelle Harrison
  • Birthday manga adaptation by Koji Suzuki
  • Soulless by Gail Carriger (again)
And I also got
From the library sale stand, The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan and Something Wicked this way Comes
From Strange Chemistry, Shift by Kim Curran and Blackwood by Gwena Bond
From Macmillan, What's Up With Jody Barton? by Haley Long
From Liz at Planet Print, Halo by Alexandra Adonnetto and Need by Carrie Ryan
From Jaspirit, Feed by Mira Grant
From Hachette, Dark Lord-the Teenage Years by Jamie Thompson
From Quercus, Taken by Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (anyone want to swap this? I've not read the others in the series...) and Shattered Dreams by Ellie James
Won from Demention(great dystopiany blog), Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Yay for that haul
So...sorry for the lack of updates. Had tonnes of stuff to do.
But I'm back this week! Kind of... I've got posts scheduled. Even though I'm in Spain. The logic of this worked out in my head. I'll try and keep in contact as much as I can through the chatbox, email and other things.And when I get back, after I've finished a five page report on Africa, I'll go through everything I've missed. Anyway, bye for now, and have a good week, everyone!