Tuesday 31 July 2012

Book Review- Shift by Kim Curran

Title: Shift
 Author: Kim  Curran
Series:  N/A
Published:  4 September 2012 by Strange Chemistry
Length: 416 pages
Warnings: a lot of gore, 11+
Source: Publishers
Other info: Shift is Kim’s debut.
Summary : When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he's not so average after all. He's a 'Shifter'. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he's ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.

Review: Scott Tyler is a Shifter. He's able to change any decision he's ever made and replace the time with a different set of event. He loves the idea, but soon realises that not all Shifters do so with the intention of winning a bet. A few Shifters have gone rogue and are trying to stop the deterioration of Shifting abilities after adolescene using really...unconventional methods.
The idea behind shifting is original and really really cool. It definitely gets you thinking, as does the prologue.
Things get going really quickly. Aubrey, ARES (the organisation that organises Shifters) and the concept of Shifting come in within the first 50 pages, and are easy to pick up.
The training/getting to grips with the powers takes up about half the book. It's definitely intriguing and nice to see him make friends with fellow Shifters and learn theory and whatnot, but there were times when I wanted the story to note on a little bit. And then it did. We get a short overview of the time, and then a the
mystery builds up with mysterious killings and Shifts to cover these up. Ooh. In terms of interest levels: high, then dip a little, then really up high until the end.
The characters are likable in various measures. Aubrey and Scott were good characters that kept you rooting for them. Benjo...I have no idea how to describe him. He's a little bit lovable, but really quite disgusting when you think about it. My favourite (collectively)has to be the group of Shifter kids. I would have liked to see a bit more
development from all of them though.
The writing was good, clearly conveying Scott's attitude to things. I love how Kim doesn't shy away from graphic descriptions. This book is not for the squeamish,especially round the halfway mark.
The ending was a bit sudden, but logical and really nice. It's sudden because everything's ramping up and you know there's only a couple of pages left but you can't see how it's going to end and then it does in a really awesome way.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a novel with a fun idea and a fast moving plot that
keeps you reading to the end.

Guest Post- Willow Rose on the inspiration for Savage

Hello! Today, we welcome Willow Rose,  to talk about her inspiration for her fantasy/paranormal romance, Savage.

Where did the inspiration to Savage come from? I get that question a lot and it is so hard to answer in just a few sentences. Because where do inspiration come from? I for one have no idea. I get it from everything and everyone around me. From people I meet, from articles I read and movies I watch. For me a book starts with the characters. The characters and their story come to me. I like to say that they "pop up" in my head. That is the best way I can describe it. The characters are just there all of a sudden with their backgrounds and problems and then they start to do stuff and talk to other people and soon there is a whole story that I simply have to tell or else I will burst. The main character Christian in Savage is somewhat inspired by my husband. Back in '83 when he was 19 years old he was sent to Florida by his parents to live with a very wealthy family just like Christian in Savage. My husband's experiences coming from a small country Denmark to the big USA in the 80'ies are very similar to those of Christian, yet they do not share backgrounds.  Christian has lost his mother in a young age and that has had a huge impact on who he is and why he acts the way he does. He matures a lot throughout the book and love changes him from being a selfish self-centered boy into a young man.

The female characters that Christian meets in the haunting house next door are my favorites in this book. They are so innocent and childlike yet very wise and magical. I like to say that they are inspired by my daughters and I have also dedicated the book to them. I have two young girls of four and six years and then I have a wonderful step-daughter who is twenty-three. Those three combined makes this world a magical place. As does the female characters in Savage. I simply adore them and I know everybody else will too. They are so lovable. I have a hard time letting go of them and think I will write many books about them. First of all I will write three books about the main character Christian and his great love Aiyana.  It is sort of a family-saga really. In the first book he is in his twenties and so is she. In the second book they have kids of their own and are in their thirties with all the problems and seriousness that comes with being that age. In the last book they will have young teenagers and face completely new challenges. I am also planning on doing a book about Aiyana, the magic spirit-filled Native American girl that he falls hopelessly in love with. About her and when she first discovers who and what she really is. I might also do a book about her sister who does telekinesis and their grand-mother who predicts natural disasters. I love those characters so much that they each deserve their own book. Sometimes I love them so much that they themselves become an inspiration to me.

The year is 1983. Christian is 22 years old when he leaves his home in Denmark to spend a year in Florida with a very wealthy family and go to med-school. A joyful night out with friends is shattered by an encounter with a savage predator that changes his life forever. Soon he faces challenges he had never expected. A supernatural gift he has no idea how to embrace. A haunting family in the house next door. A spirit-filled girl who seems to carry all the answers. An ancient secret hidden in the swamps of Florida. One life never the same. One love that becomes an obsession. Two destinies that will be forever entangled.
twitter: @madamwillowrose

Monday 30 July 2012

Book Review- Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Title: Lies Beneath
 Author: Anne Greenwood Brown
Series:   Lies Beneath #1
Published:  12 June 2012 by Random House
Length: 303 pages
Warnings: Violence, killer mermaids, a little romance, 12+
Source: netgalley
Other info: Book 2, Deep Betrayal, will be released March 2013
Summary : Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

ReviewCalder is a merman.  A killer one. He and his sisters Maris, Tallulah and Pavati prey on humans, kill them for food. But this time, their target is different-they’re targeting Jason Hancock, who they blame for their mother’s death. Calder is told to seduce the daughter, Lily. This doesn’t work. Calder falls in love with her. In time though, Lily starts thinking more and more about those legends of the monsters in the lake, and Calder’s cover may be blown. On other counts, the sisters want the love interest’s father dead. Really soon.
KILLER MERMAIDS. That sums up why I really wanted to read this.  I kind of dislike mermaids that are generally boring. But these are really interesting versions. Oh, and we also have killer mer-MEN too. Sea creatures are generally female, so this was a nice breath of fresh air.
Lily and Calder fall in love really easily, which is a bit annoying. Actaully, it’s very annoying. Instalove is not good, just because i wonder how it happens. I’m sure it doesn’t happen  in real life. It’s also half-stereotypical circumstances they fall in love with-guy is meant to be doing something bad to girl, girl is in real danger, they fall in love anyway. Actually, not half stereotypical-very stereotypical. It would be nice if the guy fell in love with the girl and then killed the girl/her family anyway.
It’s really nice seeing things from the non-human POV. And from a merman’s perspective.  Whose sisters get  a little crazy in the insane, psychotic, way. Water based creatures are interesting but not seen enough of. It’s interesting how the mermaids can survive perfectly well on land and in the air.  Typical mermaid lore puts them in the water full time, and there’s nothing to say they’ve been enchanted or anything. So you can’t really call them mer-people. More like amphi-people.
Lots of different things happen, some of which you care about, many of which you don’t. It’s a bit predictable and simple, and I don’t really care. The romance took up too much of the plot considering we were promised much more interesting things in the summary, and it’s all quite typical in terms of what paranormal romance things were incorporated.
The male POV, and the general writing style, is good. You understand everything  that happens and it’s easy enough to  pick up on the surroundings, what with the description and stuff. It’s also quite slow and filled with some obligatory lifesaving scenes and tortured male love interest feelings.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a book with a nice idea, that didn’t turn out as well as it could have done.

Sunday 29 July 2012

News Update #20

So...in terms of getting stuff, I've been good! Only got a copy of Unfed by Kirsty McKay (thank you, Chicken House!), which means that my bookshelves get a rest, and I have a chance of reducing the pile above my bed. Yay!

In terms of news though....

On Wednesday (1st August) at 1pm, Penguin are running a Flash Snog at Covent Garden to coincide with the release of Girl Heart Boy.  Two minute long kissing fest with yoghurt and books...not really my thing (well, the books maybe), but maybe any of you want to go? More info here.

The Strange Chemistry family is growing bigger! Ingrid Jonach has been signed, with When The World Was Flat (and we were in love). It's a fantasy/paranormal worldy thing that I really want to read some time. More info here.

What you can do with  hours to waste...random internet scrolling lead me to this! It's a library flowchart of dystopian books!

UKYA are taking nominations for the best UK YA! I found it hard fill-realising that some of your favourite authors are American is so annoying.
Here's my choices...
  • Hollow Pike by James Dawson
  • Department 19 by Will Hill
  • Entangled by Cat Clarke
  • Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls
  • Shift by Kim Curran
  • The Declaration by Gemma Malley
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • (and from the first few chapters of it) Geekhood by Andy Robb
Go and add your own nominations!

The Month Before Halloween needs more participants! At the moment, we have Peter Salamon, C.J. Skuse, Sean CummingsJames Dawson and Bethany Griffin, as well as Georgie, Lilia and Midnyte Reader. But that's not enough for a whole month's worth of spooky awesomeness!
Dear bloggers, and any authors that may be reading this, if you're interested, sign up please!

And finally.... I'm taking part in CampNaNoWriMo, because I think that it'll be a lot less stressful than doing it in November. I'll still be around the internet in August, but maybe a little less than normal. I'll still be on the internet more than is probably good for you though.

Friday 27 July 2012

Book Review-Angel Dust by Sarah Mussi

Title: Angel Dust
 Author: Sarah Mussi
Series:  N/A
Published:  2 August 2012 by Hot Key Books
Length: 352 pages
Warnings: violence and romance, 11+
Source: Publisher
Other info: Sarah has also written The Door of No Return and The Last of the Warrior Kings.
Summary : Would you move heaven and earth for the one you love? ANGEL DUST is a powerful, gritty and utterly modern tragic love story with a twist. When Serafina, the brightest and most beloved of all God's angels, is sent to collect Marcus Montague - the original badman - and take him to Hell, she finds herself powerfully drawn to him and makes a decision that places her in the middle of a war between Heaven and Hell. Can Serafina fall in love without falling from grace? Can Marcus's soul be saved? And just who is the mysterious and ever-so-helpful stranger Harry?

Review: Serafina is an angel, who has been sent to collect dead souls. One night, she goes to a night club to collect Marcus-but then falls in love with him. Because she can, she makes a deal with mysterious Larry as an extension on Marcus's life. Serafina now has until Halloween to get Marcus to repent- otherwise he goes to Hell.
The first thing I picked up on was Serafina's voice. It's got a distinctive quality to it that I can only really describe as being whiny. There's a lot of refering to Heaven and such, and also a lot about her-more than I'd expect an angel to. Serafina is also over-excited about something-there's an overabundance of exclamation marks, at least to start with, and then a little further on.
The characters are good. Marcus's friends are all your stereotypical London gangsters, but Marcus and his family had a bit more to them. Serafina, while not being all that likable due to her narration style, is built up well.
The Heaven and Hell that Sarah's built up is good. It's not the most interesting one I've seen, but the set up was what we're familiar with, with all happy clouds for Heaven and smoke for Hell.
I was slightly disappointed in the Devil character. He was fun, but not that deep. Same goes for all the characters really.
The romance was nicely done, with Serafina's love for Marcus being evident from start to finish-even if I couldn't really understand why she was in love with him for a reason other than a pretty face.
I liked the plot idea and the setting. It was well developed, and there's a slightly gritty feel to it.
The ending is a little bit confusing. It all happens quite fast and it does feel like, for little bits of it, in-world logic has been twisted to create the ending.
The story of Serafina's standing in Heaven due to her love is the most interesting thing. The most satisfying thing is seeing her dropped into the middle of London, and her being unable to get by without money. With the use of scenes like this and her confrontations with various characters, Serafina's definitely grown up.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a different take on angels with good romance and setting. Best not read if you want a heroine you don't want to kill for her narration skills.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Book Review- Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

Title:Dark Inside
 Author: Jeyn Roberts
Series:  Dark Inside #1
Published:  2 September 2011 by Macmillan
Length: 368 pages
Warnings: Violence,gore, 11 +
Source: Library
Other info: Book two will be called Rage Within. Dark Inside is Jeyn’s debut.
Summary : Since the beginning of mankind, civilizations have fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs...and now us. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening: An ancient evil has been unleashed, and it's turning everyday people into hunters, killers, and crazies. This is the world Mason, Aries, Clementine, and Michael are living in--or rather, trying to survive. Each is fleeing unspeakable horror, from murderous chaos to brutal natural disasters, and each is traveling the same road in a world gone mad. Amid the throes of the apocalypse and clinging to love and meaning wherever it can be found, these four teens are on a journey into the heart of darkness--and to find each other and a place of safety.

Review: After worldwide earthquakes...a tonne of crazy stuff happens. People become killing machines, turning whenever, turning on friends, lovers, family. There’s no explanation for it, but it throws survivors into chaos. Months pass with everyone unable to trust others to keep them alive. Michael, Aries, Mason and Clementine are four teenagers who are trying to stay alive. Each are succeeding, but only  just. Continued survival depends on thngs they don’t have. And the killing goes on.
It was a nice idea, but not a must read thing. Post apocalyptic things like this where there’s random survivors thrown together are always interesting, with a lot of stereotypes being available for use, invertion and playing around with. Jeyn brings a lot of new things to this, while still keeping some stock characters.
Clementine and Aries are two girls who don’t seem that different to each other.  Mason and Michael are also similar in their ways. It’s nice that they all have their own reasons to keep going, carry on surviving in this carzy world, but they’re not amazingly developed and at some points I was wondering if they’d die so I could be happy. The best character is Chickadee, who’s strong even while dealing with all of this and her diabetes, but still tries to carry on.
It’s different to what I expected-the summary makes it seem as though they’re all somewhere near each other throughout. In reality, it takes a fair bit of the novel for them to meet and interact. So slow on that count.
It starts off really well, with the earthquakes and first wave of things happening really quickly, showing us the characters as they deal with all of this stuff. But from there, it drags out a little.  switching between the four focuses, not perspectives as it’s in third person aside from one part which I’ll say about later, was a bit confusing to start with and it feels a bit all over the place, and it’s a bit samey.
The writing’s not that good. it’s not very engaging when it comes to showing our four protagonaists and their fights to survive, and I couldn’t really care much about it.
Saying that, the parts written from the perspective of “Nothing” are amazing. They’ give a creepy air to the novel and are intriguing enough to make me want to find out more about his “Nothing”.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a postapocalyptic novel with some upsides, but not much.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Book Review- City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones
 Author: Cassandra Clare
Series:  The Mortal Instruments
Published:  2 July 2007 by Walker (Margaret McEldery books too)
Length: 442 pages
Warnings:  13+
Source: the library
Other info: The rest of the series are: City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls.  Victorian spin-off The Infernal Devices are called Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess. Another series set in LA 2013 will be published some day. A film of City of Bones has been cast.  
Summary : When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy? This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . . 

Review: You probably know the whole story anyway, but for the sake of consistency with my other reviews, I’ll recount it here it’s a normal night at Pandemonium Nightclub when Clary Fray and Simon go. But Clary starts seeing things-a boy with a knife that no one else seems to be able to see. She walks in on him,and two others, killing someone. And from there, she is pulled into the world of the Shadowhunters, demon hunters that have been in existence for many years. As well as handling this, and dealing with the disappearance of her mother, she learns a lot about lots of different thngs. For example, that a war may be on the verge of breaking out. And that her family is totally different from what she thought it was.
I read the first three in this series a long time ago, but never really getting into it. Then I started blogging. Then there was a huge hype over City of Fallen Angels and Lost Souls. And I really enjoyed the steampunk version...so I had another go with The Mortal Instruments...and I’m really glad I did.
The world is one of the best things about City of Bones. It takes into account lots of mythological creatures and works them in small degrees-I’d definitely like to see more of these obscure paranormal entities.  
The Shadowhunter world is full of likable characters. And unlikable ones. Most of these are built up in such a way that we know enough for one book, but there’s still things that can be found out later on in the series.
As with The Infernal Devices, my favourite character is Magnus Bane. He’s cocky, clever, wears glitter makeup, and holds parties for his cat. That last thing makes him, by default, awesome. Then there’s Simon, who’s really cute. Jace, Clary, Alec and Isabelle were interesting, but I didn’t really care much for them in the  present day. Backgrounds for all four of them though should definitely be explored further on in the series. And the MagnusxAlec hintings. Yay! They’d make such a cute couple...
Plotwise, there’s a lot of aspects. The race to find the Mortal Cup and Simon and Clary’s introductions to the paranormal world combined makes for a lot of exciting things. like Simon transformation- the set up to which made me laugh. Throughout, something is happening-you’ll learn something, something’ll happen which needs to be acted on, or there’s some other big hook.
Cassandra writes with a nice balance of description, action and sark. All characters are distinctive by mannerism and dialogue, and  there’s something about it that keeps you reading. You definitely need a whole day to get through this.
The Jace and Clary romance. It was going so well and seeing them all loved up was really nice. And then the big reveal. Yes, it was a good plot furtherer. But it made everything really really awkward. Incest...not really my thing. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment, but it just made me a bit uneasy about everything that happens between them.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a series I can’t wait to get back in to.

Monday 23 July 2012

Book Review- The End by Nora Olsen

Title: The End (Five Queer Kids Save the World)
 Author: Nora Olsen
Series:  N/A
Published:  15 December 2010 by Prizm
Length: 270 pages
Warnings: Sexual longings, not too much actually happening 12+
Source: Author
Summary : When World War Three breaks out, seventeen-year-old Julia is on a school trip to Amsterdam, while fourteen-year-old Marly is trapped in a prison for delinquent girls. They both discover magical amulets, and try their best to save themselves and those around them. But it looks like their best will not be enough, as nuclear war threatens the survival of the human race.
 On her journey home to New York, Julia is joined by three other queer teens--the mysterious and alluring Ginger; lipstick lesbian Vikki; and five-thousand-year-old Skilly, who has an amulet that grants him eternal life. When Julia and Marly meet, they are immediately attracted to each other. But romance has to take a back seat as the five friends learn the true powers of the amulets. Can they travel through time to save the world from total destruction?

Review:Skilly is sailing, Ginger and Julia are on a school trip, Marly is in prison and Vikki is out of rehab for bulimia when nuclear war looms. Fate brings them together, these teenagers (aside from Skilly, who’s thousands of years old) who have amulets blessing them with various powers. Romances quickly form, but they have other problems- an ancient goddess is rather upset with her husband and is hellbent on destroying the earth.
 It’s really nice seeing books with LGBT characters in which the main focus isn’t their sexuality/gender. We do have another plot, underneath the tangle of romances, of Muldoona plotting her destruction and our heroes trying to stop her. It’s nice also seeing a genderqueer character-the T part of LGBT is hardly ever represented. Marly becoming comfortable with sometimes not feeling like a girl, not always feeling like a boy, and sometimes feeling like “a gender free mutant with magic powers” is a development that you could easily see coming and felt natural.
In terms of sexual orientation and gender, we have a diverse range of characters. But on other counts we have a lot of variation too. Age wise, personality wise, and species wise –we have a random selection of deities from multiple cultures. Vikki I found a little boring, as she seemed a bit stereotypical and she didn’t do that much, but the others were good. Ginger is my favourite,  Marly is independent and Skilly is nice in that he’ll try things out for the rest of the team, even if it extends to living out a month again because his time travel theory wasn’t quite right.
That whole time travel thing was a little bit hard to get my head around. Not because it was time travel (I do quite well in understanding it, unless you mess it up like Stephen Moffat does in Doctor Who), but because all characters revert to the bodies that they had. In this case, our five main characters become four years younger. Leaving Marly age ten. It’s hard getting used to a ten year old heroine, when, from many books and this book too, you get used to them being a bit older. Still, ten year old Marly is a good character, even though it does take a little bit of time getting used to them.
This whole timeskip does lead to some rather awkward situations too. We have Ginger lamenting not being able to carry on a relationship with Skilly because she is now in the body of a thirteen year old, while (with his immortality amulet) he is in one of a seventeen (I think) year old. And, before the timeskip, we have a fourteen year old asking an eighteen year old really bluntly “Do you want to have sex now?” I get that they’re in a post apocalyptic environment, but they’ve only known each other two months and I don’t know what fourteen year olds Nora knows but most of us don’t want sex at our age.... I don’t like young (under sixteens) people in sexual situations. That’s something that bugs me. Aside from that, the romance is good and built up nicely.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a LGBT novel with a lot of action, romance, and cuteness.

Sunday 22 July 2012

News Update #19 (I think)

So...It's Summer. I'm off school for six weeks. And it looks like the conventional vision of Summer at the moment, as opposed to the British meaning. Yay!

So...what's been going on?
Er, I've gotten lots of books.

School library
-A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
-Paper Towns by John Green
-Coraline by Neil Gaiman
-Transformation by Mary Shelley
-We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
-The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
-The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
-Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
-W.E. by John Dickenson
-Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Other places
-Frostfire by Zoe Marriot (from Walker)
-Devilish by Maureen Johnson and a lot of bookmarks (from Michelle @ Much Loved Books)
-Fallen by Thomas Sniegoski (from Lisa as a book swap)
-The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (from Scholastic)
-Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz (from Mira)
-Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden (from Caroline @ Portrait of a Woman)
-Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel (from Random House)

Big thanks to everyone who sent me stuff!

And other news...
Emma Mill's Witchcraft and Witchlove have got covers! Well, Witchcraft already had one, but then they changed it.

We now have a very pretty trilogy! For more info, go here.

Cait and Liz's Contemporary Summer is still going! Well, it's nearing the end, but if you like that stuff, go check it out!

We're getting three more books from Will Hill and Harper Collins! Two more in the Department 19 series (which I love) and a standalone.   Can't wait!

I think we have more cast for the City of Bones film! I think we're doing well now... The cast as it is.

I'm still happy for signups for The Month Before Halloween!

And...I'm sure we have some other stuff going on. But I don't have time to go over all that now.

Have a great weekend!

Friday 20 July 2012

Summer Reading time!!

Holiday time! Yay! Anyway, as a book club, we set summer reading challenges. And to encourage me to do it, I’m posting it up here.  And if  any of you guys want to join me and the Noisiest Book Club in the World in our attempts to broaden our horizons, then please do.

CHALLENGE A- Read 2 books from the first three, OR Birdsong
CHALLENGE B- Read and enjoy at least one book on list B, any subsection.

List A.
Hollow Pike -James Dawson
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulkes

LIST B-Books
The Bell Jar-Sylvia Plath
About a Boy-Nick Hornby
We- Yevgeny Zamatin
We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Schriver
Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
My Best Friend’s Girl-Dorothy Kamson
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Unseen Academicals-Terry Prachett
The Picture of Dorian Gray-Oscar Wilde
Brave New World-Aldous Huxley

LIST B-Set texts
An Inspector Calls- J.B. Priestly
Of Mice and Men-John Steinbeck

LIST B- Something by these authors
Agatha Christie
John Green

This is a rather wide ranging list full of books I’ve been meaning to read sometime soon. I’ve read Hollow Pike, The Bell Jar, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Picture of Dorian Gray and loved them to varying degrees, and the majority of the other books are on my TBR.

This challenge is a great thing to remind me to read these things. I’m reading Fahrenheit 451 also as part of the VlogBrothers’ Readalong challenge, and I really want to read We, Clockwork Orange, Life of Pi, Brave New World and something by John Green  soon. I also desperately need to read the set texts-something tells me they’ll be a bit more interesting if I’m not studying them to death!

Also in terms of summer reading, I have a fair amount of review copies and books that have accumulated randomly. These six weeks of summer will be full of NaNo-ing (thanks to you guys for holding CampNaNoWriMo in August-much less stressful than trying to write around school in November!), torturing my violin, and reading.

Over to you guys now! Anything on here that you think’s amazing, or that you really want to read?
And final little plug, if you want a little publicity in October in exchange for writing a post or answering some questions on spooky books, fill out THIS form! Thank you!

Book Review- Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen

Title: Dark Kiss
 Author: Michelle Rowen
Series:  Nightwatchers #1
Published:  29 May 2012 by Mira/Harlequin
Length: 348 pages
Warnings: violence, romance 12+
Source: Publishers
Other info: Michelle has also written other series, mainly for adults.
Summary : I don't do dangerous.  Smart, ├╝ber-careful, ordinary Samantha-that's me. But I just couldn't pass up a surprise kiss from my number-one unattainable crush. A kiss that did something to me...something strange. Now I feel hungry all the time, but not for food. It's like part of me is missing-and I don't know if I can get it back. Then there's Bishop. At first I thought he was just a street kid, but the secrets he's keeping are as intense as his unearthly blue eyes. If he's what I think he is, he may be the only one who can help me. But something terrifying is closing in, and the one chance Bishop and I have to stop it means losing everything I ever wanted and embracing the darkness inside me.... NIGHTWATCHERS When angels and demons must work together, something beyond evil is rising... 

Review: Samantha is your normal girl-not that popular, not that pretty, not that amazing. But at a party, she gets kissed by a boy, Stephen, and is subsequently noticed by everyone. From there, she meets Bishop, who she falls for, and learns what she has become-a Gray, that feeds on  souls with kisses. As well as this,o Bishop is an angel and she ends up running around with two angels and two demons.
It's not the most original concept of all time, but it's pulled off quite well. It's really nice having angels that get bloody often. We also get a long talk about the angel and demon lore in the Night Watchers series, which makes sense and is really nice. The second part of the lore, explained by Natalie, was narrated quite flatly so it made me case less about it.
About Natalie. She's a fairly important character in terms of her  relationship with Sam and so on, but she comes along halfway through out of nowhere. And we've only known her for a few pages before her big reveal.
The other characters aren't that standout-y, but they're good enough for me to care about them. The whole  Bishop and Kraven thing was totally unexpected but wasn't explored too much. It'd be nice to see it develop in later novels.
Samantha started off a bit of a stereotype that didn't improve when the popular guy kisses her, but slowly, by the end of Dark Kiss anyway, she's grown into someone interesting who you like. The voice is full of not that deep thoughts, mainly stating the obvious.
Plot-not that original or unpredictable, but still enjoyable. Some twists I saw coming, others I didn't. There's a few plots moving underneath the main one, but it's not complex or hard to follow.
The end is satisfying, but not the kind that leaves me desperate for more. However, it is a good world that Rowan has developed and I'll read Wicked Kiss if I get the opportunity.  

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a novel that plays with angels and demons well.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Book Review- Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Title: Masque of the Red Death
 Author: Bethany Griffin
Series:  Masque of the Red Death #1
Published:  2 August 2012 by Indigo
Length: 336 pages
Warnings: drugs, romance 12+
Source: publisher
Other info: Bethany has also written a YA contemporary, Handcuffs. Book two will be called Dance of the Red  Death.

Summary : Everything is in ruins. A devastating plague has decimated the population. And those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles to pieces around them. So what does Araby Worth have to live for?
Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery make-up . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all. But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club. And Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither boy is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does. And Araby may find something not just to live for, but to fight for—no matter what it costs her.
Review: This was not what I expected. It’s not a straight retelling of Eggy Ally’s (Edgar Allan Poe’s) story; instead it takes the original and builds a fuller world around it. Here, there’s not that much to live for. Araby Worth lives for nights at the Debauchery Club, where dresses, makeup and drugs help everyone to forget about the people dying outside. Here, she meets Will, owner of the club. There’s also her best friend’s brother, Elliot, nephew to Prince Prospero. And Araby gets to learn all their secrets.
While it wasn’t what I expected, the world building was smooth and created a world that’s beautiful in a decaying, rotting kind of way. Corpses are everywhere and have to be collected off the streets, everyone wears masks to keep out the disease, the poor and children either stay inside and die. The Debauchery club, in stark contrast, is full of glitz and glamour, but Araby and everyone else are still a bit mindful of the plague that could easily kill them.
It takes a fair bit of time to get going. Yes, I get that learning more and more about both Elliot and Will are meant to be plot developments, but that only really occurred to me that they were the plot points when I was nearing the end of the novel. At the time, it was all a lot of character development  on everyone’s parts.
Elliot and Will are both lovely in their own rights, each with their dose of bad-boy in a refined manner. Araby isn’t the whole badass girl like Katniss or the girl from Strange Angels, but she’s also smart and compassionate and likeable. The love triangle doesn’t have a clear outcome, so it’ll be interesting to see who she ends up with. Her best friend April is annoying. The supporting characters are good and the children are really sweet.
The whole fear of everything, dependence on the masks, the things people do to try and block out the world of pain and suffering, comes through really well in this. The writing isn’t always that of a teenage girl, but it’s descriptive, full, and really nice.
 It’s interesting that it’s an unnamed plague that’s keeping everyone in these masks and fear. The Red Death that I’m more familiar with only makes its appearance about half way through, and its emergence is an important plot point.
It ends with Prospero, a minor character, believing he can escape the Red Death and Araby, Will and Elliot wondering what to do next. The ending is quite sudden, with me believing that there’s meant to be something after what is actually the last paragraph. I really want to see what happens next. And I really hope Araby gets to Prospero’s masked ball.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea. Slow start, but really quite beautiful extension of a story I love. Definitely want to read the next in this series.
Links: | Goodreads | Author website

Saturday 14 July 2012

Blog Tour- Andy Briggs on Jane, The Warrior Queen

As someone who enjoys modernisations of most things, this Tarzan modernisation by Andy Briggs is definitely one to catch my eye. Tarzan-The Jungle Warrior is the second in a series that started with The Greystroke Legacy. Here, we have Andy to talk about his main female character... 


Death, books and tea - not only the title of this blog, but the three main ingredients that perfectly describe Tarzan.

In reverse order: tea. The perfect drink for an Englishman, after all Tarzan is the rightful Earl of Greystoke. What a fitting drink tea is, and one he would have consumed by the gallon in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original books.

Books - Burroughs wrote 26 Tarzan novels and a handful of other authors have been allowed to continue the adventures of the character. Now, for the first time, I have been allowed to reboot, re-launch and re-invigorate Tarzan for the 21st century.

Death - Tarzan, the pale-skinned merchant of death, has always stalked the pages, and the small and big screens, as the dispenser of final justice. To face the wrath of Tarzan is like staring the reaper in the eye sockets. There is no remorse reflected there, only the cold glimmer of vengeance.

What a guy.

As we celebrate Tarzan’s centenary, I saw the opportunity to unleash him on to a new generation of readers. The first problem I faced was how much the world around us has changed since he first leapt through the pages of The All-Story magazine. We’ve had two world wars, countries have formed and collapsed, mankind has fully developed flight (which the Wright Brothers had only cracked 9 years early) to such a degree that we could now step foot on the moon. The more I studied Tarzan’s original world, the more I realised our current one was in fact the dystopian future we all feared. We are living it.

Imagine a world where war criminals enact terrible crimes and flee into the depths of the jungle to escape justice. A world where the environment is turning against us, yet we still mindlessly hack down trees because money has become king (money which is made from non-precious metals and woven linen, items of near zero-value). A world were we mercilessly slay animals because we believe in medicines that don’t work, and think disease-riddled meat is a delicacy - or a place where the rich can have any innocent endangered animal as a pet if they wish. It’s a stark world. And it’s the one around us at this very moment.

The first book, THE GREYSTOKE LEGACY, Jane Porter is thrust into the dark heart of the Congo, armed with the trapping of civilisation. Very swiftly she discovers that everything we rely on, mobile phones for example, are quite useless. Our civilisation has stripped away any skills we possessed to cope in the wild. Because for every apocalypse that bears down on us, the themes of mankind surviving against the elements doesn’t change and, even in the depths of the rainforest, survival comes down to tooth and claw.

In order to survive such and environment, Jane Porter had to change from the fragile, spoilt girl she was in Burroughs’ original works, to a more contemporary figure. A girl who could kick-butt with the best of them. I wanted my Jane to be the type of girl who could survive not only the jungle, but a post-apocalyptic zombie attack, should there be one. In the Greystoke Legacy, she is just finding her feet, finding her independence. I didn’t want her to be swooning over Robbie Canler, no matter how chiselled and good looking he is. Jane is a girl with a mind of her own and she is not going to follow convention!

By the time my new book, TARZAN: THE JUNGLE WARRIOR, begins, Jane has become proactive and determined. While she has been awed by Tarzan’s skills and raw power, she now knows how he thinks and proves herself as an indispensible ally who Tarzan must rely on as he ventures out of the rainforests and into unfamiliar lands...

Through this line of thinking, I discovered that Tarzan was a more relevant character now than he ever was a hundred years ago. The world has changed, but for the better? That’s an interesting debate. However, where Tarzan has become a role model for the ultimate hero, the eco-warrior, so should Jane now take her place as his equal. A Jungle Warrior in her own right.

Friday 13 July 2012

Lauren Kate Q+A

So, last Friday, my school had Lauren Kate in on her tour for the last book in the Fallen Series, Rapture. She did a talk on her writing and publishing process, then took questions and did a signing. And after, she did another questioning session with my book club, the answers (or at least vague outlines of them-I couldn’t get everything down word for word) of which are below,

We started by watching the book trailer for Rapture, which you can find here. Then Lauren did a reading from the beginning of Rapture then went on in her talk. She told us about how her school teacher Miss Calloway encouraged her to keep writing on and on and on. Then we heard about the publication process-how many rejection letters she got-I think it was 76. The idea for Fallen came while Lauren was reading the Bible as literature-definitely an interesting concept. We then got news on the film-film rights have been bought and casting should start soon. Now, onwards to our Q&A...

BC = Book Club.  LK=Lauren Kate
BC: How do you name your characters?
LK: It depends on the character. Lucinda means light, which shows the journey she goes on, from dark to light, and Daniel is a name from the bible.

BC: What are you working on after Fallen?
LK: Another love story, in a different world.

BC: What authors inspire you?
LK: Roald Dahl, **Julie Blume**, Suzanne Collins and Philip Pullman.

BC: Have you always wanted to be an author?
LK: I was inspired by a teacher to keep writing.

BC: Handwrite or type?
LK: Type.

BC: What did your husband think of you basing your devil character on him?
LK: He loved it.

BC: Zombies or unicorns?
LK: I’ve always loved unicorns

BC: Favourite genre to read?
LK: It varies. Good books.

BC: Favourite genre to write?
LK: Romance, and any subgenres of that.

BC: What school subjects did you like?
LK: English and French. All bar history really. I was bad at art too.

BC: Kindles or real books?
LK: Real books.

BC: Do you like manga?
LK: I like Scott Pilgrim, though I’m not sure if that’s manga.

BC: What do you think of Twilight?
LK: There are other books that are my favourite.

BC: Do you like Harry Potter?
LK: I like it.
BC: Who’s your favourite character?
LK: Ron. Fred’s good too.
BC: What house would you be in?
LK: Ravenclaw.
BC: Is Hermione x Fred sacrilege?
LK: Yes!

BC: Finally, have you got any book recommendations?
LK: The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making.

I’d like to thank Lauren, her publicist and her editor for the tour and the random Q+A session.  

Thursday 12 July 2012

Book Review- Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Title: Starcrossed
 Author:  Josephine Angelini
Series:  Starcrossed #1
Published:  3 July 2011 by Macmillan
Length: 514 pages
Source: Publisher
Summary :  Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is--now it's getting harder. She's having nightmares of a desperate desert journey, visions of three women weeping tears of blood. And why is she possessed by the sudden, unstoppable urge to kill the handsome new boy in school, Lucas Delos?

Review: Helen Hamilton is your general shy girl. Lucas Delos is your general hot guy. Obviously, they fall for each other. But there’s big problems. From ancient warring families, they’re cursed to hate and kill each other. Despite this, they still want to pursue their relationship and therefore want to find a way of escaping the curse.
The first thing I got from this was that it was a really thick book for what was described on the back. And I wasn’t sure how a romance could be dragged out for that long. then I got into it, and found a lot more to it than just  love bringing two teenagers together.
The first thing that grabbed me was Helen’s dreams. They were written really vividly and the idea behind her actuallygoing to the Underworld was really interesting.
This book heavily relies on Greek mythology, slightly more relating to the heroes’ side of things. it’s not often you see anything relating to the humans rather than the gods that come up in these stories, so the four warring family set up was really nice.
Helen, I found a little bit boring, as well as really nice. She’s strong and able to defend herself, but she’s all quiet and drawn away, which I think puts me off her a little bit.  The family was good, with a lot of different dynamics. Actually, all the supporting cast was good. Lucas...I didn’t like him.
I don’t think I’m the only one to notice how similar it is to Twilight. Strange family, understated heroine, romance that’s meant to be nice and engaging  but doesn’t turn out that way. At least there’s some improvement-no love triangle and Greek mythology being the main bit.
The plot goes through a lot of changes, some not really making that much sense. What does make sense  makes up for it and the best way to enjoy Starcrossed is to pretend that half of it didn’t happen.
The whole plot element relating to Creon and his lot was the most engaging thing for me. It’d be nice to see how that carries on in Dreamless.
Josephine really plays with Greek mythology. A lot. She plays with it kind of well, but there are some bits where I do think that there could be improvement. Demi-gods being pretty much all powerful? Helen and Aphrodite? To someone who loves Greek myths, these things really stand out. however, I do like the added mythology of the wars between the demigod houses and such.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a book that I’d recommend if you want a dose of paranormal romance that’s fun and sticks to a familiar and (sometimes working) formula, but not really deep. It’s like junk  food-you know it’s not that good a quality, but you still enjoy it anyway. And I meant that in a good way.