Saturday 27 July 2013

Guest Post- A Ghost by Any Other Name by Bryony Pearce

Hey guys! Today, we have Bryony Pearce ,author of The Weight of Souls, to talk about how she made her ghosts different.

I have spoken elsewhere about how heavily influenced I am by Stephen King (also Macaffrey and Gemmell). King’s ghosts however, are generally evil (think the Overlook hotel), mine are not.

One of themes that runs through my work is ‘man as monster’. My last book, Angel’s Fury, opens with a Nazi murder and deals with the darkness inside the human spirit, the terrible things that man has done to man. In it we look askance at serial killers and Nazis, soldiers, terrorists and more.

The Weight of Souls has at its core a murder mystery, another terrible action that man has done to man. The monsters in The Weight of Souls are not the ghosts; the ghosts are the victims of the monsters.

That does not stop me from making some of them as creepy as possible.

When I first conceived of writing a story about a girl who sees ghosts, I was concerned that it had ‘been done’. Who hasn’t heard “I see dead people.’?

So I had to think of ways to make my story new.
My first change was to make sure that Taylor did not simply see ghosts, she sees murder victims whose deaths have gone unpunished. If one of these ghosts touches her, Taylor is compelled to seek their justice.
Although I knew from that point that I would be writing a murder mystery, I did not want to make Taylor a Nancy Drew character, after all I thought, where is the realism in a teenaged girl solving crimes that the police cannot? And how would she punish the murderers? Make them do her maths homework …

So I gave the ghosts a power. If they are able to touch someone who has Taylor’s power (or curse), they confer upon their skin a black Mark. This Mark (which deserves the capitalisation) calls something named The Darkness to come and take the bearer away for justice.
Obviously Taylor’s job, if she is wearing a Mark, is to find the individual who truly deserves to be bearing it, and transfer it across. Then she can stand back while the Darkness takes them away.

Usually Taylor’s job is easy. The ghosts tell her who killed them. She simply has to locate the killer, touch them and walk away.
The meat of The Weight of Souls lies in the death of one of her schoolmates, a boy Taylor does not even like. Justin is murdered, but he died in such a way that he believes it was an accident. He does not know who his killer is. But his touch has transferred a Mark to Taylor. She has to find his killer before the Darkness comes for her.
There are rules too, to my ghosts and how they can interact with the human world, best explained by Taylor herself …
“I’m not sure how it works exactly. I know you can’t touch anything living, attached to a living thing, or that a living thing is touching directly. … You can sit on your seat, but you can’t touch mine while I’m sitting here. You can’t affect the living in any way. Mum thought it was something to do with resonances. I don’t know.”
“So I could pick up a knife, but not stab someone with it.”
“You don’t have any substance, Hargreaves. You can feel yourself touch things, even knock things over. But you can’t pick anything up; people would notice stuff floating around.”
He frowned. “Okay. You’re touching this bus. Shouldn’t I fall through the floor?”
“Everyone on the bus is wearing shoes, Hargreaves. No-one is touching the floor directly. You won’t fall through it.”

In fact Taylor uses these rules to escape the ghosts who haunt her.

A whoop whistled out of me and I hurled myself towards the road. As the bus passed, I reached for the pole, leaped and swung myself on board.
Immediately I turned. The dead girl was only two steps behind. Quickly I lifted my hand out of her reach, but kept contact with the metal pole. She grinned and reached out, already jumping towards me.
As her hand went straight through the metal her eyes widened. So, she was new enough not to have known about that. Or maybe she was just stupid.
She hit the floor with her chest, her feet dragged on the road and she scrabbled desperately, trying to get the rest of her body onto the bus.
I crouched just out of her reach and looked at her in silence.
“Please,” she begged. “I know you can help me.” She stretched out her hand, as though I’d take it.
I watched her without moving until she lost her grip.

I knew from the outset that I wanted to write a love story, that my human girl would fall in love with my ghostly boy. But I have also wanted for a long time to write about an incubus. With the Weight of Souls I was able to do both.
When Taylor and Justin fall in love and have their first kiss, Taylor is weakened and Justin is suddenly able to change the rules; he can touch things that Taylor is touching and his old girlfriend can see him. It becomes gradually clearer that through the intimacy of their kisses Justin is taking her life force.

Sadly this is not a recipe for a healthy relationship; the living and the dead are not mean for romance.
This is clearly a doomed love.
Or is it?

To find out more about Bryony and her writing, please visit her website, follow her on Twitter @BryonyPearce or like her facebook page BryonyPearceAuthor.
The Weight of Souls can be foudn on Goodreads and on Amazon.

These ghosts sound cool, right? If you can't wait, or you need a little more convincing, you can read an extract of The Weight of Souls here. Thanks for the post, Bryony!

Finally, you NEED to go visit the rest of the sites on the tour! Big giveaway! More info at Bryony's website :)

Wednesday 24 July 2013

News-I've been busy and then I won't be.

I have been incredibly busy and lucky these past couple of weeks!

Firstly, nice people at Chicken House sent me The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher. Then, nice people at Quercus sent me The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock. I read The Glass Republic as soon as it came in and wowwowwow the ending I really can't wait for book three it's going to be amazing and further fangirling will happen another day! Also got Netgalley access to Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond, and Student Bodies by Sean Cummings-thanks, Strange chemistry!

Saturday 13th- Wonder of Words festival run by Darren. I met Holly Smale, Conrad Mason, Will Hill, Rob Lloyd Jones and Liz de Jager (and of course, Darren) and they're all lovely people. Holly is a fun speaker, and the guys all had interesting things to say in response to Liz's questions. I also got to ask the guys about what they thought about their books being marketed as boys books, which I think I'll turn into a discussion at some point.

Sunday 14th- Doctor Who Proms. KDFJLAEDKJKLDJ THIS WAS EPIC THEY PLAYED EXCELLENT MUSIC AND STRAX WAS AMUSING AND JENNA COLEMAN WAS ADORABLE AND THE ORCHESTRA IS CRAZY TALENTED AND I was worse than this when coming out. They played all my favourite pieces. Films and actors and monsters and orchestra. An excellent day.

Thursday 18th-Windsor Firestation Bookswap. Books and cake. Count me in. There was a friendly chat between the two hosts, Marie Phillips and Scott Pack, and the two guest authors, Naomi Alderman and Viv Groskop. All were funny, went down really random lines of conversation, and made it a great night, despite literary fiction/memoirs not really being my thing. I swapped a proof of Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne with Paul at My Favourite Bookshop for The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien. Looking forwards to it.

Saturday 20th- Livestream of Macbeth. I'm going to be studying Macbeth versus The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, something I'm really looking forwards to. And so then my teacher said about this livestream and so I booked tickets and I left a friend's birthday party but it was worth it because the acting from Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston and everyone else was excellent and the staging was unique and just amazing.

Other things that have happened...
--I'm in the top 1% of Goodreads Reviewers! They're also celebrating 20million users, so I'm in the top.... 20,000,000/100=.... 200,000 reviewers, which doesn't sound quite as awesome, but I'm still proud to be one!
--Lucy's UKYA fortnight is going well! Great posts, and spotlights on new books! Yay! Go check it out.
--Planning for Rainbow Reads is gaining pace nicely. But big plea. Please fill out this form to contribute to discussions. I've seen loads of you spreading the word, but hardly any filling it out. You don't have to do it all. Just add a couple of lines to things. Please?
--School's out for summer! Six weeks of not having to wake up early, not having to suffer headaches, not having to see my classmates. Will be good. Then back to year 11 and GCSEs XD Still, six weeks of niceness first!
--I have completely failed word count target of CampNaNoWriMo. But I'm further in the book than if I hadn't signed up, so I think I'm doing well.
--Jo Staply's LQBTQ YA Month has been doing really well! (So many posts that I can't do due to them being covered here XD I'll think of something though) Go have a read of this fantastically organised event!
--Jane Austen is going to be on the £10 note. This is a great step, less so for literature, more so for women and representation. Stop it. You are pulling the world back a million years. Just....*rages against the world*

Things that will be happening...
I'm going on holiday with my mum tomorrow. Well, in about four hours.
I'm taking with me writing stuff, and also some books. Stuff for Rainbow Reads (Luna by Julie Anne Peters, The Burmudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson, Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez and whatever lgbt stuff I can find on my kindle), and stuff I've had on wishlist for ages (American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger, and The Beautiful andthe Cursed by Paige Morgan, and whatever I come across on my kindle).
 There's wifi, but you have to pay for it. And I'm taking my kindle, on which typing is awful. I have some blog tour posts scheduled, and I'll hang around the internet as much as I can. But no promises! I'll see you lovelies  back on the blog another time!

Awesome of the day/week/however long I'm gone: Playing Chess properly

Saturday 20 July 2013

Guest Post-Shifting in Real Life by Kim Curran

Since I read and really enjoyed Shift, I've wondered what would happen if you could actually shift, and what implications it would have. Also, what Kim would do if she could too. And now she's here to talk about it.

Ever since coming up with the idea of Shifters – kids who have the power to undo any decision they make – I’ve asked myself what decisions in my life would I change?

Maybe I wouldn’t introduce one of my best friends to my ex-boyfriend. Or change my decision not to apply to Oxford University, despite the encouragement of my tutors. Then there was that job which made me miserable that I stayed in for too long.

But more often than not, after thinking things through, most of the time I settle on one answer: nothing.

Maybe it’s easy for me – as an adult – to say that. I have the distance that comes with age to look back on my decisions. The pain of actually living through the immediate consequences has passed and I can see with clarity how my choices – good and bad – have shaped the person I am today.

But I remember when I was a teenager I would make one bad choice and then beat myself up about it for months. One bad word thrown at a friend in anger. One drink too many. Guilt was a major feature of my life. (My catholic upbringing certainly helped with that.)

That guilt has made me, I hope, a kinder, more thoughtful person. I’ve seen how my actions affect those around me and I work hard to make sure I don’t make those bad choices again.

In my books, there are lots of kids with the power to undo their choices, but it’s only the protagonist Scott Tyler who can remember the changes he’s made. The other characters wipe away their mistakes like chalk off a board: a worrying idea I explored in CONTROL – the sequel to SHIFT.

As Scott himself says:

“Don’t you see? It’s only because you’re a Shifter that you allow yourself to make mistakes. Because you know you can wipe it away. Like… like a rough draft of a story. But pretty soon, we’re going to have to learn how to write our lives in permanent ink. With no erasers or delete buttons. And we’re going to fuck up and make mistakes. That’s what real, normal teenagers are supposed to do. They mess up and they learn from it. But Shifters never do, do they? They just blink and it all goes away. No need for second chances. No need to live with where you went wrong. So what kind of adults is that going to make us?”

If we don’t have the power to learn from our mistakes, we’ll end up making them again and again. So maybe that’s the real super power I wish we all had. As people and a society. The ability to look back, see where our choices have failed us, and make better ones next time.

Shift is available from amazon here, and Control is available from amazon here, and on goodreads here. Kim can be found at her website and at twitter.

Friday 19 July 2013

Blog Tour Post- Japanese Mythology in Ink by Amanda Sun

Hi guys. So I read Ink a few days ago and quite enjoyed it. The best thing was the inclusion of Japanese mythology (I love all forms, epecially the ones you don't see too much of). And then I got this post and...yeah!  Excellent post from Amanda. Enjoy.

When I was little, my mother bought me a wonderful book filled with myths. These weren’t just the rich Greek and Roman myths you might grow up with, but the pages were filled with mythologies I’d never heard of before. Mesopotamian, Inuit, Australian Aboriginee…and Japanese. This was where I first encountered the myth of Izanami and Izanagi, and their child Amaterasu, who became the goddess to which all Japanese emperors would claim lineage.
As I grew older, I spent a lot of time watching animes, reading manga, and gaming. A lot of the Asian myths reappeared in these formats, sometimes quite directly and other times as subtle inspiration. At the same time, my love of mythologies was growing. I spent most of my time reading MG and YA Fantasy books, delving deeper into traditional western mythologies and starting to write Fantasy novels of my own.
In university, I majored in Classical Archaeology. Finally I was able to pursue my love of myths on another level. I soaked up everything I could find. At the same time, I took courses in Asian History and Japanese, still fascinated by the culture I’d learned about as an exchange student in Osaka.
A strange thing happened, then. My interest in Egyptian history and beliefs combined with Japanese beliefs and mythology. The Egyptian hieroglyphs I was learning contained a lot of snake symbols, but in most cases on tomb walls, the snakes had been chiselled through the middle breaking them in two. Why? Because the scribes were concerned the hieroglyphs would come alive in the After Life and bite the Pharaoh entombed.
Drawings coming to life in dangerous ways.
At the same time, Japanese kanji came from Chinese characters, originally used for talking to the spirit world. I loved the idea of these drawings coming to life and connecting with Japanese mythology, but I was still writing YA Fantasy—the traditional kind—and hadn’t really made the connection yet.
Did I mention I also took Art History in university? (Yeah…I kind of took everything. Also Linguistics and English Lit.) I loved learning about Japanese calligraphy and the ink and wash paintings that looked as if they could come alive.
Then I started reading YA influenced by Asian history and mythology, like Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon and Half World by Hiromi Goto. Like lots of other readers, I loved my share of vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and other paranormal YA, but I was excited about these brand new origins of myths or creatures.
It all made sense, how I could combine my love of YA and Japanese mythology and art. I started researching the myths more closely, and at the same time looking at how Japanese history developed. I looked for key historical figures, and any strange rumours surrounding them. I decided to link the two together, hoping you couldn’t find where I stitched up the seams.
One thing I really love about Japanese mythology is that, like many older stories in the world, the morality or the flow of the story often doesn’t make sense to modern readers. Try it with any ancient myth—you won’t always follow how they made those judgement calls, or why they said or did what they did. I liked how unpredictable the stories were, how dangerous and untamed they often felt. And I wanted to make Japanese culture accessible to an outside audience the way they’d been made accessible to me in other YA titles.
A lot of the mythology in INK is based on those original stories I read in the myth encyclopedia my mother gave me as a child. I hope that you’ll come to enjoy the unfamiliar tone of the myths that inspired INK, and that the same feeling of an unpredictable outcome. That’s the thing about Japanese myths—they aren’t safe, just like the ink.

Beautiful post from Amanda! Ink can be found on Goodreads and Amazon, and Amanda can be found here.

Thursday 18 July 2013

Book Review-Switched by Amanda Hocking

Title: Switched
 Author: Amanda Hocking
Series:  Trylle #1
Published:  5 January 2012 by Tor
Length:335 pages
Source: bought
Other info: Other two in the series-Ascend and Torn. Amanda has also written My Blood Approves, The Hollows and Watersong.
Summary : When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers her mother might have been right. She’s not the person she’s always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel—all because of Finn Holmes.
Finn is a mysterious guy who always seems to be watching her. Every encounter leaves her deeply shaken…though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she’d ever admit. But it isn’t long before he reveals the truth: Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth—and he’s come to take her home.
Now Wendy’s about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that’s both beautiful and frightening. And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she’s meant to become…

Review: Wendy Everly has always been different, and she’s known it since she was six and her mother tried to kill her because she wasn’t her child. Eleven years later, Finn shows up at her house ,and takes her away to Forerning, the home of the Trylle (trolls, but spelt differntly because they’re special).She learns that she was switched with her mother’s real child, that she’s the princess of the Trylles and that there’ll be a lot of things resting on her in the future.
This was hailed as an ebook sucess, and noticable enough to be picked up by a major publisher. So if millions of people like it, then I should too, hopefully. On another note, I was around for Amanda’s signing and I picked up a copy and got  a hug.
Forbidden love, boring to “special”, this book takes a lot of YA paranormal romance cliches and mixes it with trolls, which I like for the differentness of the creature, but in the grip of paranormal romance, doesn’t work.
Wendy doesn’t do much. She gets pushed into a new world, and I get that she’s confused and getting used to new things, but she’s not a kickass protagonist. Finn is a bit more actiony, but of course there’s the class divides that make their romance illicit. Max and Rhys, the two human boys, are the most grounded, real, and nice characters.
The Trylle world is built up through lessons and questions. It’s interesting, with the royalty and the magic, but  I got a little bored in places.
Looking back at the blurb, there’s a bit about “the fate of Forening rests in Wendy’s hadns and the descisions she and Finn make could change all their lives”. I’m sorry, I kind of missed that. There’s a lot of Trylle-world politics and romance and building up things for further books.  
In the same way, the Vitra (evil band of trolls) make an appearnce at the start and an appearance at the end. I didn’t feel any sense of threat through them, and when I  they came back it was just a “meh. Them.”

Overall:  Strength 2 tea to a paranormal book that’s a bit samey.  

Monday 15 July 2013

Book Review-The Zero Dog War by Keith Melton

Title: The Zero Dog War
 Author: Keith Melton

Series:   Zero Dog Missions #1
Published:  15 Februrary 2011 by Samhain Publishing

Length: 288 pages
Warnings: violence, adult jokes
Source: bought
Other info: Keith has written other things like The Nightfall Syndicate and Ghost Soldiers.
Summary : The first bullet is always free. After that, you gotta pay.
After accidentally blowing up both a client facility and a cushy city contract in the same day, pyromancer and mercenary captain Andrea Walker is scrambling to save her Zero Dogs. A team including (but not limited to) a sexually repressed succubus, a werewolf with a thing for health food, a sarcastic tank driver/aspiring romance novelist, a three-hundred-pound calico cat, and a massive demon who really loves to blow stuff up.
With the bankruptcy vultures circling, Homeland Security throws her a high-paying, short-term contract even the Zero Dogs can’t screw up: destroy a capitalist necromancer bent on dominating the gelatin industry with an all-zombie workforce. The catch? She has to take on Special Forces Captain Jake Sanders, a man who threatens both the existence of the team and Andrea’s deliberate avoidance of romantic entanglements.
As Andrea strains to hold her dysfunctional team together long enough to derail the corporate zombie apocalypse, the prospect of getting her heart run over by a tank tread is the least of her worries. The government never does anything without an ulterior motive. Jake could be the key to success…or just another bad day at the office for the Zeroes.
Product Warnings
Contains explicit language, intense action and violence, rampaging zombie hordes, a heroine with an attitude and flamethrower, Special Forces commandos, ninjas, apocalyptic necromancer capitalist machinations, absurd parody and mayhem, self-deluded humor, irreverence, geek humor, mutant cats, low-brow comedy, and banana-kiwi-flavored gelatin
Review: Captain Andrea Walker, pyromancer, heads the Zero Dogs, a team of mercenaries made up of a werewolf, a succubus, a vampire, a creature summoner, a demon, a failing novelist, and a fake ninja, who run around and destroy things. Unfortunately, their latest act of destruction was not what was required of them, and now they’re further in the red than before. Luckily, they’re offered $25million  by the government if they complete this job-take out a necromancer with  a horde of zombies at his disposal. Only one problem- they’re forced to take Captain Jake Sanders their team. As the inter-team dynamics change and the UST between Andrea and Jake grows, all of them must focus their efforts on stopping the zombie takeover of the gelatin market.
Read the official summary. You will see why I really wanted to read this. And I’ve had this on my wishlist for a while (I think this was the first thing ever on my goodreads to-read), but never got round to reading it. But now I have, and I’m really glad I did.
It starts off with a typical mission, which results showing the personalities of most of the team really well, and their ability to mess things up. It soon gets into the contract for the zombie-necromancer mission, and is set up from there.
I love all the characters. Andrea is tough talking and stands up for herself  a lot, and the fact that she is a pyromancer  raises the awesomeness levels by about a million times. All the supernatural creatures are the opposite of their stereotypes, and they’re all totally different characters. Jake, when he first gets in, is very overwhelmed by them and their banter, as is evidenced by when he tried to give a briefing (that scene reminded me of a class playing up for a supply teacher who ends up either terrified, traumatised or highly concerned for the students’ sanity), but once we know him more, compliments them well. They all work together as a close team, and it’s nice seeing the bonds they have. The necromancer, Jeremiah Hansen, is an amusing antagonist, doing all he does for financial profit in the gelatin industry.
Andrea narrates with  a fair bit of sass, and in conversation comes up with more. The plot happens quickly, instantly pulling you in with an action scene and getting to know the characters, and moving on to the main plotline. I like the shifts to third person narration to follow Jeramiah and his adventures with the zombies.
I laughed my way through this book. The events that happen, the characters reactions and interactions and the general way this book is written what with parodying tropes of supernatural mercenaries and just being totally unexpected. The Zero Dog War cannot fail to brighten your day.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a really fun paranormal investigation with a cast full of lovable characters. Really hoping there’ll be a second coming soon.

Friday 12 July 2013

Mini reviews-Guy Adams

Guy Adams in an author who does many things in sci-fi/fantasy etc. He's written Torchwood novels, the Sherlock Holmes casebook, the World House series and some other things.
Today, I'm reviewing The Good, the Bad and the Infernal and Deadbeat:Makes You Stronger.

Title:  The Good, the Bad and the Infernal
 Author: Guy Adams
Series:  Heaven's Gate #1
Published:  11 April 2013 by Solaris
Source: Publisher
Review: There’s talk of a town that only appears once every hundred years, in totally different forms. But some things stay the same-it’s always called Wormwood, and  it provides a gate to the afterlife. This book follows a group of people aiming to get to it when it appears this time in the Midwest of America, and as they travel,  they face many many challenges.
I was sold this as western steampunk. Sounds awesome, right?
We start by following one character, who gets saved by an old guy, and dragged along the trip. We then meet some other people, and folilow them on their travels, and then they meet up towards the end of the book. this makes The Good, The Bad and the Infernal seem more like a collection of stories about characters, a bit less of a novel. However, this is the first of a trilogy, so maybe it’ll pick up.
The characters are an interesting lot, but I don’t remember very much about any of them. There’s a freak show lot, an old guy, a religious person, and some others.
Imaginative things happen to the characters on the way along. Snakes! It felt a bit slow and confusing to me in places, but at other times, you’re really pulled in.  The travels along America are good, and I liked the setting.
I think that it probably will pick up later on in the series, because the ending is a definite “something big happens next”.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a Western Steampunk book that’s totally different, but didn’t keep me entirely.
Links: Amazon | Goodreads |

Title: Makes You Stronger
 Author: Guy Adams
Series:  Deadbeat #1
Published:  11 June 2013 by Titan
Source: publisher
Review: Max and Tom are two good friends who are in the graveyard one night when they see a coffin being today. With a girl in it. who is breathing. Drawn into the shady world of health insurance and dealing in other things, they’ve uncovered a mystery, and they are going to try and solve it.
I quite like Adams’ other stories-works on Torchwood and he also did the Sherlock casebook. I was looking forwards to reading this.
Max and Tom have an easy friendship, with other like minds, and it’s nice seeing them work together and play off each other. I really enjoyed the random side stories.
The twist, I didn’t see coming, but it made a few things make a bit more sense. Protagonists of this nature always cheer me up, and the events surrounding it for Max are interesting.
Plotwise, there’s a lot of intrigue, with different trails and backstories regarding players.
There’s dual narration, and I liked reading from both Max and Tom’s perspectives. There’s some more perspectives too when the plot calls for it.
The antagonists were hilarious in parts, as were the situaitons that Max and Tom found themselves in.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a darkly funny mystery with a supernatural twist.
Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Thursday 11 July 2013

Book Review-The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctrow and Charles Stross

Title: The Rapture of the Nerds
 Author: Cory Doctrow and Charles Stross
Series:  N/A
Published:  12 April 2013 by Titan
Length: 336 pages
Source: Publisher
Summary: Welcome to the fractured future, at the dusk of the twenty-first century.
Earth has a population of roughly a billion hominids. For the most part, they are happy with their lot, living in a preserve at the bottom of a gravity well. Those who are unhappy have emigrated, joining one or another of the swarming densethinker clades that fog the inner solar system with a dust of molecular machinery so thick that it obscures the sun.
The splintery metaconsciousness of the solar-system has largely sworn off its pre-post-human cousins dirtside, but its minds sometimes wander…and when that happens, it casually spams Earth's networks with plans for cataclysmically disruptive technologies that emulsify whole industries, cultures, and spiritual systems. A sane species would ignore these get-evolved-quick schemes, but there's always someone who'll take a bite from the forbidden apple.
So until the overminds bore of stirring Earth's anthill, there's Tech Jury Service: random humans, selected arbitrarily, charged with assessing dozens of new inventions and ruling on whether to let them loose. Young Huw, a technophobic, misanthropic Welshman, has been selected for the latest jury, a task he does his best to perform despite an itchy technovirus, the apathy of the proletariat, and a couple of truly awful moments on bathroom floors.
Review: Huw is a Welsh technophobe. In a world where most people have uploaded to the cloud, he is one of the few(ish) remaining on Earth. Called to do jury service, judging whether or not a new invention will make the civilisation happy  or not (or not essentially being will it destroy us), he goes. Also, he discovers that somewhere along the line, he got infected and something wants to use him and..i’m not sure.
I was looking forwards to this. I’ve flicked through Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother and liked what I saw, and I read his contribution to Steampunked and loved it. this collaboration should be good, right?
And then I started reading.  OK, the first few pages made sense as set ups and then characters start cropping up and changing gender and I’m not sure what happened to the plot.   When I say characters cropping up, I mean Sandra being at her house, and then Huw leaving the house to go to jury service, and then Sandra showing up at the jury service with no explanation of what she’s doing there or how she got there or anything. This happens repeatedly.
Huw is a boring character who doesn’t do much. A little more interesting is the doctor whose name I forgot. The cast is very  varied in terms of beliefs and attitudes, but it doesn’t work for me and flow.
The whole cloud uploading, changing houses, products of snakes and things and such-all this futuristic technology was a bit beyond my ability to imagine.
I have absolutely nothing against genderfluid characters, but somewhere along the line Huw (who up until that point had been referred to as male and showed no signs of wanting to be referred to as female) starts getting feminine pronouns. Also, I don’t think that “acquire” is a word  best used in tandem with “gender dysphorria”.
There’s a lot of technobabble throughout. However, hardly any of it is explained and it’s hard to imagine and follow.
I’m not going to talk about the plot because as far as I could tell, I couldn’t make one out.
This book tries to be Hitchhikers, you can tell. The randomness, the futurism, the references to things like Doctor Who and other pop culturey things. but it doesn’t work becasue I can’t follow the  plot at all.

Overall:  Strength 1 tea to an impossible  book.

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Audiobook Review-Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Title: Girl of Nightmares
 Author: Kendare Blake
Series:   Anna #2
Narrator: August Ross
Published:  7 March 2013 by Orchard, 16 October 2012 by Audiogo
Length: 10hrs 4mins, 384 pages
Warnings: graphic gore
Source: audiobook publishers
Other info: I really loved book one in the series, Anna Dressed in Blood. Kendare has also written Antigoddess.

Summary : Cas Lowood is no ordinary ghost hunter - he's in love with a dead girl. Her name is Anna Korlov. Anna Dressed in Blood. The girl who sacrificed herself to save his life. Racked with guilt, Cas sets out to do what he does best - hunt a ghost. But this time his aim is not to kill. He must rescue Anna from the depths of Hell. But Hell is also home to a creature Cas has battled before...Just your average boy meets girl, girls gets sucked into hell story.

Review: Remember Anna Dressed in Blood? Well,  *SPOILER FOR DRESSED IN BLOOD* she’s in a realm with the Obemann. Cas gets haunted by the ghost of his ghost girlfriend. With the help of Thomas and Carmel  and a new girl, Jestine , he gets information about Anna from the Order and tries to find her, before she suffers a fate worse than death.
I really liked Anna Dressed in Blood. Gory, great characters, ghost hunting and fun. I was  looking forwards to this one.
I don’t normally listen to actual audiobooks read by a person (I normally just let kindle text-to-speech read aloud to me on walks). When I started this, I listened to the narrator’s voice and just thought “8 hours with this guy. Damn. His voice is annoying”. It grew on me after a bit, but it isn’t the way I imagined Cas to sound.
There’s a distinct lack of Anna, despite the fact that she’s in Hell. For a series named after her, you’d expect to see a bit more of her, and I hoped there’d be a bit more because she’s really really cool. She was very save-me when she was here, not quite as...Anna as she was in Dressed in Blood. I also missed the focus on ghost hunting.
Cas wallows in pity about the lack of Anna a lot in this one. It gets  a little annoying. Thomas and Carmel add a bit more realisticness, and add a bit of depth. Jury’s out on Jestine-to start with, she’s a bit unlikable, but I think you warm up to her in time. I liked seeing more of Thomas.
It did the creepy thing a bit better in this one. There’s a scene where the team are  going through a forest with a lot of bodies of those who have commited suicide. DON’T TURN YOUR BACK DON’T LOOK AWAY DON’T BLINK GOOD LUCK.  Quantum locked corpses chasing teens through a forest. Fun times.  (Ok, they’re not officially quantum locked, but that’s the vibe I got from them)
The climax added to the intensity, with powerful forces at play and a lot at stake here.
The resolution, I have mixed feelings about. From an in-book, plotty way, it’s perfect-it concludes nicely but not in a particularly good way, reflecting that sometimes things don’t turn out the way you expect.  From a reader’s point of view,it’s all “no why did you do that???”

Overall: Strength 2.5, more a  3 tea to a disappointing end to a a duology that I loved the first part to.

Monday 8 July 2013

Mini-reviews- Ghost busting and vampire hunting!

Today, quick reviews of Hamlet II-Ophelia's Revenge by David Bergantino, Butterfly vol 1 by Yu Aikawa and Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis.

Title: Hamlet II-Ophelia's Revenge
Author: David Bergantino
Series:  Bard's Blood

Published:  4 February 2003 by Pocket Books
Warnings: sex and gore
Source: bought
Review: Cameron’s father was murdered, his ghost tells him his aunt did it, and he randomly inherits Elsinore Castle, which he’ll get control of when he turns 21. He and his friends go to Elsinoret o celebrate. So, bunch of young adults, alcohol, and fun times. But there’s a problem-the ghost of a girl who drowned centuries ago is back, and she wants her Hamlet.
I love Hamlet so much. This was an impulse buy because it was Hamlet and it was cheap. I wasn’t really expecting much.
Part of this is a straight adaptation of Hamlet shoved into a modern day setting, which I am not against in the slightest. The names got adapted ok (Laertes becomes Larry, Gertrude becomes Geri, the theatre players become rock band The Playaz) apart from Cameron, which is seriously random compared to Hamlet.
Ophelia in this, is a  ghost who leads to some very big things happening. She’s interesting as ever, and is the one who develops most as she possesses various people.
The writing isn’t amazing, and some parts of the book seem a bit forced.

Overall:  Strength 2 tea to a quick, spooky redo of Hamlet.
Links: Amazon | Goodreads | Author website | 

Title:  Butterfly
 Author: Yu Aikawa
Series:   Butterfly #1
Published:  1 March 2011 by Tokyopop
Warnings: suicide, violence
Source: bought
Review: Ginji is highly against anything to do with the occult, due to the fact that he is haunted by the ghost of his brother, who killed himself. When he gets into an fight at a haunted mansion, which leads to them demanding bills and reparations, he has no way to pay up. Until a child called Ahega shows up and asks him to help out. Ginji can earn 20000 Yen a job-with the job being ghostbusting!
 This was  cheap at the Tokyopop stall. I got it not knowing what to expect. It was better than I thought it would be. There’s some humour from the awkward train of thought that Ginji has when wondering about the job,  and other little spots here and then. Ginji and Ahega complement each other well in terms of abilities (destroying and creating illusions respectively). Ginji shows more depth now, but I’d like Ahega to have more development later-there’s an interesting backstory coming. The characters in the short-bit-mystery (the swimming chapter) were also well developed.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a supernatural manga with promise.

Links: Amazon | Goodreads | Author website | 

Title:  Hard Spell
 Author: Justin Gustainis 
Series:  Occult Crimes Unit Investigation #1
Published:  26 July 2011 by angry Robot 
Warnings: violence, suggestive situations, 
Source: bought
Review: Detective Stan Markowzi is on the Scranton’s Police Department’s Occult Crimes Unit. He does exactly what you’d expect him to do-run around dealing with it when vampires, werewolves, faeries and the like mess up. The main plot starts when someone gets killed with mysteriokus symbols carved on him. That someone is a vampire. As more killings happen and some guy shows up claiming to be able to tell them everything, Max 
 I remember trawling round the internet and finding someone describing this as pararnormal investigations taken to the extreme end of fun. definitely my thing.
Rachel was my favourite character-she was sensible, and did a bit for plot development (pace advancement really). Stan was a good narrator and had a tragic backstory that motivates him.
It’s definitely fun, though maybe not my kind of fun. it takes a lot of cliches, like lesbian vampires and the white witch, which I like in moderation but got a bit overdone in parts.
The writing  plays with sarcastic humour in places. I have huge love for the hellhound on the police team. Called Daisy.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea  to a... unique pararnormal investigation. I’ll definitely read on in the series.

Sunday 7 July 2013

News-the quickie

I'm doing CampNaNoWriMo about someone who accidentally buys a key that opens a gate to hell ,and also accidentally sells their soul. I'm writing it all on paper and my wrist hurts. I have 5000 words at the moment...

I have sports day this week. Aka a day promoting health by running for two minutes, then sitting around eating cake.

Things for Rainbow Reads are picking up a bit!
I picked up Luna by Julie Anne Peters and The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson from a bookshop. I also got I Am J by Cris Beam and Wildthorn by Jane England from the library.
Anyone want to help out by participating or contributing to discussions?
Emails being sent to all those already signed up shortly.

Anyone going to Wonder of Words festival next week? More info here.


Awesomeness of the week-What's this?   (via slasher-flicks)

Saturday 6 July 2013

Book Review-Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

Title: Spellbound
 Author:  Cara Lynn
Series:  Spellbound #1
Length: 341 pages
Source: I think the publisher. Or a gift. Forgotten.
Other info: Book 2, Spellcaster, was published last year.
Summary :  What's a girl to do when meeting The One means she's cursed to die a horrible death? Life hasn't been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Connor, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she's irresistibly drawn to— Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight. But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives— visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

Review:  Emma Connor moves to a fancy new school, after the latest near death experience is the last straw. Not much happens to begin with, but things start drawing her to Brendan Salinger. Such as his good looks. And his niceness. And the fact that they’re soulmates. Which shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but it is due to the fact that she’s meant to die horribly after she finds him. As they try to escape the evils of fellow   students and the while idea of the curse, Emma and Brandon realise how tightly together they are bound.
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from this, but it certainly wasn’t this!  It’s a nice new take on the concept, and it comes off really well.
Emma was very nice. You get into her head really well and she’s funny and real. Brandan was nice, but he has annoying habit of showing up to save Emma most of the time. I would have liked her to do a bit more, considering that she handles everything else pretty well-she shouldn’t need someone to come save her from the school bully. Angelique was my favourite character-the fact she’s a witch and also her general way of being makes me think that we’d be good friends. Anthony and Kirsten were realistic and good antagonists.
The thing I enjoyed most was the book of the legends and the stories they  tell-beautifully written and intriguing.
This is very romance, which works plotwise because of the way the legend has it all set up, but when translate into actual  happenings, it makes it all a bit instalovey, even when you know it’s all due to the legend.
Plot wise, interest levels vary. Low to medium to start with, then you get the legend, theyget higher, then it goes down a bit, then comes up for the climax.
I would have liked to see a bit more of the magic side to it all.

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a book for people who want a lot of romance with their magic.

Friday 5 July 2013

Author Interview-Robert L. Beck

Today, we have Robert L. Beck talking to us about Dawn of the Knight.

Tell us about your book.
My current release is actually my first book titled, “Dawn of the Knight.” It is a fast-paced, young adult, action/romance novel. It ‘s  the story of a fatherless Canadian high school boy, Lance Rock, who has been homeschooled and trained by the United States government’s former top operative. For his senior year, Lance decides to travel down to California via a student exchange program in the hope of finding a girlfriend as well as freedom from his regimented life. Once there, he inadvertently ends up in the home of a mother and her two teenage daughters—the oldest, Shannon, being the prettiest girl in the school! Lance is forced to use his skills to defend them and himself from the woman’s ex-husband—a crime-lord who has been terrorizing the family for over a decade! That is the basic plot. However, there are many sub-plots going on throughout the story

Can you tell us about the journey that led you to writing?
I never, ever, thought I’d be a writer. I never had any desire for it. I actually had a desire to be an artist/illustrator, but my life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. My oldest son was a communications major in college. I thought that he would be the one to take up writing. I did an search and bought three of the most highly recommended books on how to write fiction that I could find, and then gave them to him. He chose not to pursue writing, however. Three years ago I became extremely discouraged with my job and my life. I decided I would try to write a story as a means of escaping the boredom. But first, I read the three books I had purchased for him. They were so helpful that I’ve actually credited them in the acknowledgment section of my book! I’m a huge fan of operative type characters having grown up watching James Bond, Derek Flint, The Wild, Wild West, etc. When I was younger, I had read a 1960’s young adult teen spy series titled, “Chris Cool/Teen Agent,” by Jack Lancer, and I loved it. That series only lasted six books and I decided that if I would ever write a book series it would involve an operative type teenage character. I’m originally from Canada so I made the protagonist Canadian as well. I also knew I didn’t want him working for a government agency. I thought, what would happen if you put a teenage boy with operative type skills in a high school setting? The result is this story.

Do you have a musical playlist you listen to while writing? If so, what kind of music?
I don’t listen to music while I write. I prefer complete silence in order to properly focus my thoughts. However, I do love music and in particular, movie music scores. I collect them. When I listen to them, I often envision specific scenes from my book. I also love soft rock/pop music—especially from the eighties. There are certain songs will make me think of specific characters and scenes in the story as well.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure if this is a quirk, but I actually never learned how to type! I “finger pecked” my way through an 85,000 word novel! I don’t recommend this for anyone else, however. I’m constantly making typos and having to go back and correct them. *laughs heartily*

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Three of my favorite authors are John Norman, Harry Harrison, and Daniel Defoe. All three have written action stories using a first person POV and this influenced me greatly to write from that perspective as well.

Do you have anything else to say?

I read fiction to escape the world I live in with all its ups and downs and to be entertained. I think “entertaining” should be the most important quality a fiction book possesses. I can honestly say that my story, “Dawn of the Knight” is highly entertaining, if nothing else.

Robert's blog is here and you can obtain Dawn of the Knight for free on Smashwords.  

Thursday 4 July 2013

Book Review-Immortal City by Scott Speer

Title: Immortal City
 Author: Scott Speer
Series:  Immortal City
Published:  5 April 2012 by Scholastic
Length: 405 pages
Source: won
Other info: Sequel, Natural Born Angel, is available now.
Summary : Jackson Godspeed is the hottest young Angel in a city filled with them.
He's days away from becoming a full Guardian, and people around the world are already competing for the chance to be watched over by him. Everyone's obsessed with the Angels and the lucky people they protect - everyone except for Madison Montgomery.
Maddy's the one girl in Angel City who doesn't breathlessly follow the Angels on TV and gossip blogs. When she meets Jackson, she doesn't recognize him. But Jackson is instantly captivated by her, and against all odds the two fall in love.
Maddy is swiftly caught up in Jackson's scene, a world of glamour, paparazzi - and murder. A serial killer is on the loose, leaving dead Angels' wings for the police to find on the Walk of Fame. Even the Guardians are powerless to protect themselves in the face of this threat & and this time it's up to Maddy to save Jackson.
Review: This world knows about the existence of angels, and the angels make a profit of it. Jackson Godspeed is a rising star in this world, and every girl wants to date him. Apart from Maddy. Guess who ends up the lucky girl? Anyway, among that, someone’s killing angels. And going by the pattern, Jackson’s next.
I generally love the world that has been set up here. The angels are wonderfully consumerist, refusing to save a guy from a car crash when they save the one sitting beside him because the first one didn’t have insurance. They’re also humanlike in other ways, chasing after celebrity and fame over the things that you would normally associate angels with. And in Jackson’s case, falling to emotions.
Maddy and Jackson are good characters that make a great couple. I like the fact that she’s not totally lovelorn with the angels, and that he cares enough for Maddy to majorly defy what’s expected of him in a society guided so tightly.
It was well paced. Something was always happening and I never found myself getting bored with the plot or world. It’s a little predictable, but a lot of fun.
I’m still really confused why Jackson was next on the list of angels. It might have been done by fame, but I don’t think he’d done anything major  in the angel world by then other than be born pretty. It can’t have been by age, because there was an older guy before him. It seems like a random plot point to be  fussing over, but I must have either missed it or not had it explained, and I get a bit picky over things like this,
I’m glad there’s room for a  sequel, what with the reveal of the antagonist. And then there is a sequel! I’ll read it some time.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a starry supernatural romance with a good murder mystery added in too.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Waiting on Wednesday-Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

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:  Between the Devil and the  Deep Blue Sea
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Release Date: 15 August 2013, published by Dial.
Link to / Summary from Goodreads: You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…
Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.
Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.

Why I want it: Gothic romance. Scary gothic romance. Featuring the Devil. And the sea. And the summary makes me think of  two songs by my favourite band, Birdeatsbaby (What the Water Gave Me and Tastes Like Sympathy). And gorgeous cover.

What are YOU waiting on this week?

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Book Review-Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Title: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares
 Author: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Series:  N/A
Published:   26 October 2010 by Knopf books. October 2012 by Mira Ink
Length:274 pages
Source: netgalley
Summary : “I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”
So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?
Review: Dash is doing his normal tour of bookshelves when he sees a red notebook among the books for sale. As it dares him to go find French Pianism , Fat Hoochie Prom Queen,The Joys of Gay Sex  and What The Living Do to make a message, he does it, and it ends up with him and this girl who set him the tasks
I was told lots of good things about this. How sweet it was, how different it was, and such. , Lily, passing the notebook back and forth, setting each other dares over the Christmas season.
The first half was very good. Dash and Lily send each other all  kinds of places, such as klezmer rock concerts, and Santa’s grotto, and it’s all a lot of fun. At some point it gets a bit samey and a bit boring and the magic is lost a bit. Like most romance books,
The idea is both good and terrible. It’s adorable in that they start really liking each other after a  shedload of written communication, but there was just a part of me thinking “I know your directions were really clear and I know most unsavoury types probably wouldn’t be interested in doing this but don’t you think there may be a few issues in setting up serous correspondence with a stranger who, despite your instructions at the start, might not be a teenage boy.”
Dash is cute in parts, super irritating in others. No one reads a dictionary and actually remembers it all. Especially not teenage boys. And it’s nice that he’s well read and all, but sometimes he shows off about it to the point of annoyance. Lily’s the same. She starts off sweet and happy and then she starts talking about gerbils and complaining about everything and i  don’t even know about Shrilly. I just didn’t care.
There’s a lot of secondary characters that I felt generally indifferent on. They’re a colourful lot, and all a bit different.
I’m not a part of the drag/trans* community, but I’m fairly sure that the “she-man” reference is not right, and it annoyed me. Especially from a book worked on by David Levithan, who is meant to be a big name in the LGBT literature group, I wonder how  it got through.
I know it’s not a huge part of the story, but I really want that klezmer rock group to exist! There’s a klezmer piece in one of the exam syllabuses and I love it. Anyone who fuses it with rock must be awesome. //music fangirl over.
Despite all this, I did enjoy this. It was a break from all the darker, heavier stuff I normally read, and is good as a cheerup read.

Overall:  Strength 3.5, more a 3,  tea to a cute romance that got really annoying in places.