Wednesday 30 October 2013

Book Review-Rebellion by Lou Morgan

Title: Rebellion
 Author: Lou Morgan
Series:   Blood and Feathers #2
Published:  July 2013 by Solaris
Length: 364 pages
Warnings:  gore
Source: publisher
Other info:  Book 1 is called Blood and Feathers

Summary : Driven out of hell and with nothing to lose, the Fallen wage open warfare against the angels on the streets. And they're winning.
As the balance tips towards the darkness, Alice - barely recovered from her own ordeal in hell and struggling to start over - once again finds herself in the eye of the storm. But with the chaos spreading and the Archangel Michael determined to destroy Lucifer whatever the cost, is the price simply too high? And what sacrifices will Alice and the angels have to make in order to pay it?

The Fallen will rise. Trust will be betrayed. And all hell breaks loose...
Review: After the end of Blood and Feathers, Alice knows the angels will want her again, but for now, she just wants to be able to get back to a normal life. she then gets ropes into working for an undertaker, who is also the Angel of Death. Then riots involving Descended and Fallen tip the balance in the ongoing fight for control, and Alice and the angels have a lot to lose.
I left Blood and Feathers thinking “this is so good!” I started the next book in the series literally ten minutes after finishing it, which is something I have never done before. The world and writing is addictive, which is why I couldn’t wait to start this.
All my favourite characters return. Alice, Mallory and Vin. Then there’s new favourite, Adriel, angel of Death, who, form his introduction, I envisioned as Undertaker from Black Butler and he lived up to coolness expectation.  Not sorry. Vin and Mallory are once again sarcastically funny at times with a lot of darkness at others. Marllory, I felt so sad for him when we were told what’s in his books. Zadkiel is awesome and we start falling in love with him and then that happens to him and Lou Morgan is evil.  Can we just talk about how great Mallory, Vin, Alice and Adriel are? The relationships are so real  it’s great spending time with the characters. My love of Lou’s portrayal of angels and demons is on par with that of my love for Supernatural’s, so that’s pretty big (extra points to Lou vs Supernatural for the lack of awful women treating!).
Plot is great. There’s more of the angels vs the fallen, with things getting worse and worse, and an angelic betrayal and things moving on quickly. at the end, I’m left wanting a lot more.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a great second book. I have made the decision to read ANYTHING Lou writes.

Monday 28 October 2013

Book Review-Blood and Feathers by Lou Morgan

Title: Blood and Feathers
 Author: Lou Morgan
Series:   Blood and Feathers
Published:  31 July 2012 by Solaris
Length: 384 pages
Warnings:  gore
Source: bought
Other info:  Book 2 is called Rebellion.
Summary : Alice isn't having the best of days. She was late for work, she missed her bus, and now she's getting rained on. What she doesn't know is that her day's about to get worse: the epic, grand-scale kind of worse that comes from the arrival of two angelswho claim everything about her life is a lie.
The war between the angels and the Fallen is escalating; the age-old balance is tipping, and innocent civilians are getting caught in the cross-fire. If the balance is to be restored, the angels must act - or risk the Fallen taking control. Forever.
That’s where Alice comes in. Hunted by the Fallen and guided by Mallory - a disgraced angel with a drinking problem and a whole load of secrets - Alice will learn the truth about her own history… and why the angels want to send her to hell.
What do the Fallen want from her? How does Mallory know so much about her past? What is it the angels are hiding - and can she trust either side?
Caught between the power plays of the angels and Lucifer himself, it isn't just hell's demons that Alice will have to defeat.
Review: Alice is not having a good day. And it all gets worse when her dad is killed in front ofher and two angels, Gwyn and Mallory, drag her into the war between Angels and the Fallen. The Angels fight contstantly to stop the Fallen getting too powerful, but the Fallen are slowly gaining the advantage. This is where Alice comes in. Due to her heritage, she will be very useful in the upcoming war. Therefore, she has to go to hell.
I’d seen Lou’s stuff around for ages, and seen how nice she is, but didn’t get round to this for ages.
I instantly fell in love with the characters, especially Mallory. At first, he seemed quite easy going, funny, and even adorable. By the end of Blood and Features, he’s done some very un-adorable things, but I still love his complete badassery. Alice is really cool, with unique powers and the fact that she doesn’t instantly pick everything up makes her lovelyly real. Also on the side of angels is Gwyn, bad cop to Mallort’s good, and Vin, who I loved (just cos of the Cantonese. I’m not sure if he’s meant to look asian, but he did in my head, so that’s all awesome). For the Fallen, there’s Xaphan and Rimmon, and a whole host of other fallen angels, who are creepy.
I love the way that Heaven and Hell have been presented-the way angels on Earth work, the relationship between the Archangels and the normal angels, the layout of hell, Charon (she’s a thing in ice!), that Lucifer can bodyhop his league, and so on.
The writing is sarcastic in some places, and funny in many places,  and in other places, very gory and graphic. The action scenes are described really really well.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to one hell of a read. Can’t find anything to fault. Will read book 2 asap.

Saturday 26 October 2013

Book Review-The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Title: The Pillars of the Earth
 Author: Ken Follett
Series:   The Pillars of the Earth #1
Published:   2002, 2007 by Pan in the UK.
Length: 1088 pages
Warnings: graphic violence, graphic rape, graphic sex
Source: library
Other info: There is a sequel, World Without End. There was a miniseries of this. Ken has written lots of books.
Summary :  The spellbinding epic set in twelfth-century England, The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the lives entwined in the building of the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known—and a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother

Review:  The 1000 page book, overall, tells of the building of a cathedral. Included in that we have romance across all generations, tensions among family, church corruption, and drama every step of the way.
I read this book because one of my friends gets excited by it. Really excited. As in fangirling to everyone without pause for breath excited. I had to see what this was all about, especially seeing as it concerns the medieval period, which I loved studying in year 7.
You’re instantly pulled n with a hanging. You soon meet Tom and family. His wife dies after childbirth, leaving starving Alfred and Martha and Tom to carry on looking for work, leaving the child at the roadside. He gets taken in by a monk who is brother to Philip, one who has been at the church for most of his life and despairs at badly run priories (like his). Meanwhile, Tom meets Ellen, her son Jack, and travels with them. Years later, the civil war over the throne of England leads to Aliena and her brother getting kicked out of their earldom by Wililam of Hamleigh, and they travel. All these characters meet at Kingsbridge, where a cathedral is being built.
It’s all set up quickly, and the world, the setting of Medieval England is put across so well via the language and atmosphere and tone, you really feel like you’re there.
All the characters are really well developed. My favourite is Aliena, despite the fact that she is thrown out of her home and she suffers rape and torment from William, she stands up for herself, becomes a successful woll merchant, and is generally awesome. I also really liked Philip, who is a sane churchman, amongst the corrupted ones, who does the best he can for families and his church. Also Ellen, who just did what she wanted, never mind the consequences. Overall, I liked all the characters apart from William, for whom asshole just doesn’t cover it. His treatment of women, well actually everybody, was downright awful. You are warned.
Despite its length, I got through Pillars of the Earth in a week. It’s such a compelling book that you just have to keep reading-the backstory, the lack of unbearable waffling and the pace meant I got on really well with this book.
There’s a lot of timeskips, which work plotwise, but are annoying because I’m not good at mentally aging people. One character starts age 30 and ends 50. Vision issues.

Overall: Strength 5 tea to an epic historical. Must read book 2 soon. (edit:: I did.)  

Thursday 24 October 2013

News! Sadness, and prettiness, and awesomeness,

Hi guys. Sorry for the little silence around here. That wasn't meant to happen, but things got in the way.

So news.
Despite my avoidence of the internet, I got spoiled for Allegiant. Damn. Good luck anyone still to read it.

Now seriousness. Apparently, Veronica Roth has been recieving death threats for it. NOT COOL, OK!! Strong reactions, fine, I get it, that wouldn't be the most well received series endings. But to go all out on an author for writing a plot twist you don't agree with is not acceptable.  I really hope none of my readers are any of these people joining in, but you never know. DON'T DO IT GUYS.

Nice news. Banished by Liz de Jager has a cover now! ISN'T IT JUST BEAUTIFUL???
I can't deal with people who can do art like this. Definitely got to get hold of this some time soon.

Big news! Megan invited me to the awards ceremony of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and Young Critics Competition. It was an amazing night, I met some great people, I'll be doing a writeup about it soon, and Rebecca Stead's Liar and Spy, which won, sounds awesome.  Megan, I could fangirl over her and how bloody awesome she is for ages. I'm not going to because my fingers hurt from all this typing, but hopefully you get the idea.  Just go check out her blog, yes?

Sherlock should be back on 19 January! (I don't trust them to give us happiness regarding Sherlock).

You know I said about that gender in YA project? Can you please go here? And spread the word? There's 30 questions, but you don't have to answer all of them, or you can go through and come back. This is something that is worth half a GCSE, and it's an interesting topic. 

I'm not going to be around for the next week or so, because I'll be going on an "educational" trip with my Latin class! Internet will be intermittent. A few reviews are scheduled. I'll be hanging round my emails every now and again, and maybe other places like goodreads and facebook, but majorly I won't be here. Have a great week everyone!

Awesomeness to leave you with.
More epic bookstore signs via a-geek-without-braces

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Book Review- Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

Title:  Ettiquette and Espionage
Author:   Gail Carriger
Series:  Finishing School #1
Published:  5 February 2013 by Atom
Length: 312 pages
Source: Bought
Other info:  Gail has written the amazing Parasol Protectorate series.
Summary : It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

Review:  Sophronia Temminnick is not ladylike at all. So her mother sends her to Finishing School.  Madamoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing School. It’s not your typical one. It’s a dirigible. And the lessons, well, there might be lessons  like household management and dancing, but there’s also things like how to kill things. Sophronia’s school year is going to be… interesting.
I loved the Parasol Protectorate series with all my heart. I could not wait for this.
Sophronia is very cool before the main events happen. I think that when she gets to Finishing School, she is overshadowed by all the other, much more varied characters such as the eccentric teachers and random supernaturals. I felt a real affinity for Sidheag, probably because I know her story and how she ends up. I loved Vieve with all of my heart, because from the first time she showed up, I knew who she was and I love her from the Parasol Protectorate series and…yeah *dissolves into fangirling at  the nine year old version of my joint favourite character*  I also really liked Soap, the guy who works to keep the ship afloat, along with some of the other guys.
It starts very quickly. It slows down a little at times, but the adventure increases steadily and is a lot of fun. Main plot comes to focus in the second half.
Carrriger’s sharp, witty and wordy writing style is carried through into this. I’m not sure if the wordy style fits so much for a younger audience, but I liked it. It’s less laugh out loud than Heartless and Timeless, but still  great comedy, with wonderful lines like “Preshea can’t wait until she gets to poison her first husband.”

Overall:  Strength 3.5 tea, more a 3, to a fun adventure, that’s missing a little of why I fell in love with this universe.

Monday 21 October 2013

Book Review- The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce

Title: The Weight of Souls
 Author: Bryony Pearce
Series:  The Weight of Souls #1
Published:  6 August 2013 by Strange Chemistry
Length: 350 pages
Warnings: N/A
Source: netgalley
Other info: Bryony wrote for me A Ghost By Any Other Name. She has also written Angel’s Fury.
Summary : Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her…
She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.
But then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death.
Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him?
And what happens if she starts to fall for him?
Review: Taylor Oh sees the dead. As  a result of the agreement that one of her ancestors made with Anubis, she and her family must, if they see a ghost of a murder victim who marks them,  they must transfer the mark to the murderer as soon as possible. Because the Darkness will come for whoever carries the mark, and no one knows what happens  to them then. Taylor has been doing this for five years now. It’s been okish up until now, but then Justin Hargreaves, Taylor’s source of torment, dies and comes back as a ghost. But he doesn’t know who is responsible for his death, and Bryony must discover some of the school’s dark secrets before the darkness comes for her.
I was a little interested in this when I heard about the concept. Then the cover came and the MC is Chinese, which makes me really happy. Then I got the guest post about how these ghosts are different, and I thought: yes, I’m reading this one.
It starts quickly, showing Taylor’s normal job. And the dynamics between her, her friend Hannah AND THE POPULAR GROUP OF Justin, Pete, James, Tamsin and Harley within the first few  chapters. Justin dies about a fifth of the way in, a good pace. The pacing works.
I really liked Taylor. She’s been dealing with the ghosts since she was ten, and as well as having to cope with them. She has to deal with  dissolving friendships and trying to get in with the crowd she hated to find the killers. Justin, likability levels vary as the novel progresses, but by the end, you’ve seen who he really is. I really liked Taylor’s dad, who’s determined to find a way to defeat the curse, and is really supportive of Taylor.
The writing is great especially in places of tension and once Taylor’s picked up on the actual lead. The scene with the wheel and the scene at the tube station are two standout scenes that kept me gripped. The unmasking scene is not what I expected and what follows is definitely unique.
The ending is  really clever, links well to the clues scattered throughout, and leaves room for a sequel. A sequel I can’t wait for.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a superbly written novel.

Sunday 20 October 2013

News! Hot Key blogger thing and others

Yesterday's Hot Key Books/Templar Books/Piccadilly Press was awesome. Great food, and I got the chance to meet some of my bloggy friends, Georgia and Megan.

There was also a "take what you want" policy of books, so I got some pretty good things, I think. Fleeced and Tribute look especially good. The badges are really cute.  Exile came from Georgia, the rest came from the publishers. Thanks for a great day!  We also got given a bag with a Stephen King quote on it...

The Stephen King Readathon has ended! I finished off Under The Dome, and thought it slow in places, and Misery, which was great throughout. I'm about 3/4 through The Stand, which is really really long. I never got a chance to start Firestarter :(

I AM on a book obtaining ban, aren't I? (Yes, Nina,you are, I hear my mum shout) My to-read book stacks are nearly up to the (pencil) line on my wall, so yeah, I am. Because otherwise everything will fall over.

I say that as I download the complete plays of Shakespeare for 49p. Project Gutenberg, home of free ebooks, I love you, but your formatting of verse is awful. *but strokes the kindle with all of Edgar Allan Poe's stories newly downloaded anyway*

Project UKYA has a new video. Enjoy.

On Friday, the Latin students from my school will be going to Italy until next Wednesday. I have things scheduled, but until then... enjoy life! (while we're "studying" Roman things...or more likely, eating ice-cream and crepes)

Awesomeness of the week (slightly nsfw)  via s3xvoices

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Book Review-Shadows by Ilsa J Bick

Title: Shadows
 Author: Ilsa J Bick
Series:   Ashes #2
Published: 27  September 2012 by Quercus
Length: 518 pages
Source: publisher
Other info: Review of Ashes here
Summary : Alex has escaped from Rule - but what new horrors face her in the ravaged world outside?
Tom is safe - but what will he risk to find Alex?
Chris - how much does he really know about the terrible darkness of Rule? And what are his true feelings for Alex?
Ellie - where is she? 
Review: I remember Ashes. The electromagnetic pulse, Alex with the enhanced sense of smell, the zombies/Changed and the cliffhanger of 2012. Now out on her own, and surrounded by a pack of Changed. Also, the elders in Rule may be hiding secrets and Tom is looking for Alex. Fun times!
Yeah, when I started this, I knew I had a basic rememberance of the features of Ashes. So I went into Shadows ready for action. After a bit of Tom, and then the conclusion to the cliffhanger, we follow each of the others in turn, which would be ok..but I’d forgotten most things . lots of characters turn up that I don’t remember meeting in Ashes.
In terms of plot for this, it all seemed very scattered. Normally. I like multiple perspectives, but for this one, I was lost from about page 100 onwards. We flick between groups of characters a lot, with quite a lot of smaller cliffhangers, quite quickly, and I just didn’t keep up with it all. `                       
The zombies, changed, chuckies in this got a bit more development in this one, as did the characters in Rule.
In terms of action, it was amazing. The action scenes are written  so well, you feel like you’re there with all the gory details that mean you can see it all happening in your mind.
I like the fact that humans are evil comes up in this book. It’s a good contrast to the OTT zombies tearing people apart, but just as creepy.
The writing is once again third person, but following a character at each point. the focus changes along with the switches of plot also stopped me really following this throughout. As the action scenes are  so frequent, being randomly thrown from one  to another scene, it’s confusing and slows it down for me.

Overall:  Strength 2 tea to a book with a lot of action but is one of the hardest things to follow I’ve read for a long time.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Book Review-Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Title: Darkly Dreaming Dexter
 Author: Jeff Lindsay
Series:   Dexter #1
Published:   July 2005 by Orion (first published July 2004)
Length: 275 pages
Warnings:  graphic gore
Source: bought
Other info: This has been adapted into a fairly successful TV show. There are 7 books in the series, with alliterative names (that makes me happy, for some reason)!
Summary : Dexter Morgan isn't exactly the kind of man you'd bring home to your mum. At heart, he's the perfect gentleman: he has a shy girlfriend, and seems to lead a quiet, normal life bordering on the mundane. Despite the fact that he can't stand the sight of blood, he works as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police.But Dexter also has a secret hobby: he is an accomplished serial killer. So far, he's killed 36 people and has never been caught because he knows exactly how to hide the evidence. And while that may lead some people to assume he's not such a nice guy, he tempers his insatiable hunger for brutality by only killing the bad guys. However, Dexter's well-organised life is suddenly disrupted when a second, much more visible serial killer appears in Miami. Intrigued that the other killer favours a style similar to his own, Dexter soon realises that the mysterious new arrival is not simply invading his turf but offering him a direct invitation to 'come out and play'...

Review: Dexter Morgan is a serial killer serial killer. He’s also a forensic scientist for the Miami Police Departent and has a normal life outside of that. So one day, there’s a nother serial killer going round Miami, and this one is different. Instead of being one that Dexter can just take out quietly, this one wants to play.
I watched a couple of episodes of Dexter before another show took over my life, but I enjoyed what I saw, and will go back to it, because it’s intriguing, and I like reading source material of films/books that have been adapted, so I read this.
The most complex character is Dexter, a sociopath carrying a Dark Passenger. In order to sate the Dark Passenger and also to keep to his morals, Dexter follows the advice of his adoptive father, Harry, and only kills those who deserve it. I’d like to see more of him. Serial killers really should not be this likable.
Deb was my second favourite character. I like the fact that she’s really driven, and fights against the men’s misogynistic views of her, even when being put on the group of undercover police posing as hookers.
The mystery goes in lots of different directions, which I enjoy. At the end, when the reveal happens, it’s just a big… wait? Where do you come from? However, this does give  us some good backstory, and also gives Dexter an extra side to explore later.

Overall:  Strength 3 to what I hope is the start of a bloody good series.

Monday 14 October 2013

Book Review-The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock

Title: The Glass Republic
 Author:  Tom Pollock
Series:   Skyscraper Throne #2
Published: August 2013 by Jo Fletcher 
Length: 464 pages
Source: publishing
Other info: The City's Son, book one, is awesome. Book three should come some day. 
Summary :  Pen’s life is all about secrets: the secret of the city’s spirits, deities and monsters her best friend Beth discovered, living just beyond the notice of modern Londoners; the secret of how she got the intricate scars that disfigure her so cruelly – and the most closely guarded secret of all: Parva, her mirror-sister, forged from her reflections in a school bathroom mirror. Pen’s reflected twin is the only girl who really understands her.

Then Parva is abducted and Pen makes a terrible bargain for the means to track her down. In London-Under-Glass looks are currency, and Pen’s scars make her a rare and valuable commodity. But some in the reflected city will do anything to keep Pen from the secret of what happened to the sister who shared her face.

Review: After the events of The City's Son, Pen has been left with scars over  face, and with Parva, her  sister of a kind-a double in London Under-Glass, the reflection of the city  found in the mirrors. Pen's been trying to get back to normalcy, but one day, Parva isn't in the mirror. What is in the mirror is blood. After making a deal with the Chemical Synod, Pen travels through London Under-Glass, passing as
her mirror sister, a countess and the Face of the Looking Glass Lottery,  and gets pulled into the world where people are stripped of their faces, where people go missing, and a group called the Faceless are on the streets.
I finished The City's Son and knew I had to read this as soon as I could. Because reasons.
Pen is an awesome character. I liked her in The City's Son, and I'm really glad we get a whole book for her.  She could choose to carry on with her life of relative normalcy, but instead goes back. She then pays a huge price for passage to London Under-Glass, adapts quickly, and is clever and quick in certain situations. Espel, the girl who Pen saves and puts on staff, is a whole load of surprises, especially around the 200 page mark. The  romance is nice.  There's repeat appearances from Beth and the Chemical Synod and some other familiar faces from The City's Son. It kept things going and set up for book 3, but I like that the main focus is Pen in London Under-Glass.
I know Tom has received a few very ignorant comments from people. Pen is Muslim,  and it's a sad thing that there isn't more Muslim main characters  in literature in general  (or any religion that isn't Christian/fantasy religion-says a lot about diversity). 
I really like the comments on beauty in society. In this world, Pen is attacked violently for not telling how she got her scars (people from her school burn her headscarf), and she acknowledges that she isn't the most desirable due to them. In London Under-Glass, asymmetry (in a world where the standard is being only one half of you is actually you, the other half is a symmetrical copy) is desirable, valuable, and Pen is loved for them. Also,  props to the US team who showed Pen's scars on the cover.  Ok, that last paragraph wasn't particularly on topic about how The Glass Republic comments on beauty in society. But it did, subtly. Just read it.
Once again, it is wonderfully unique. London Under-Glass has a different flavour to our fantasy filled London. There's a bit of possible squick with the people without faces and with the excitations, but it's morbidly fascinating to imagine.
Guys. Guys. Guys. The ending. And the title for book 3. I CANNOT WAIT PLEASE TIME TRAVEL BE INVENTED BOOK THREE NEEDS TO COME NOW.
On a final note, I want a sewermander. Dragon that manipulates gas. Made of fire. Oscar is awesome.

Overall:  Strength 4.5, very slightly more a 4, to a great continuation to a unique series.

Guest Post-Tom Pollock on Cities

 Today, we have Tom Pollock talking about his inspiration for the London and the use of cities of The City's Son.

When you think about it, cities and language have a lot in common. They’re both vast, sprawling artefacts, put together over centuries by the conscious and unconscious collaboration and conflict of thousands of people. They’re both always evolving - carrying the markers of the culture that created them, its climate and its commerce, its aspirations and its fears. They are humanity’s most ancient technologies.
If cities are like languages, then urban fantasy cities are half-encrypted texts, promising revealed secrets with every corner turned.  The world of the The Skyscraper Throne  is one where decoding the street lamps reveals the glass skinned, tungsten-veined dancers who light them, and where when your train stops on the track for no apparent reason it’s because the Railwraith – the train’s mad spirit -- has slipped the chains of its engine and is stampeding around causing havoc. Epic fantasies, very often are stories of the distant and the renowned – an easy to underestimate underdog treks across a vast world for a showdown that will be immortalized in song. Urban fantasy is opposite of that. The soul of urban fantasy is the secret and the local. These are stories that know where you live.
Cities are crammed with invitations to make things up. They contain such a concentration of people that sooner or later the collisions between their lives will strike sparks that leads to stories. They’re so complex that no one person can fully understand even a tenth of the detail about how they work. In turn, they contain so many mundane mysteries that we can speculate to explain: where did that cul-de-sac originally lead to? What lives on top of those towers, out of sight, looking down on us? And how did Red Serpent Street get its name? Urban fantasy speaks to our inner conspiracy-nut.  The core of it is a simple, and very appealing idea:
It was all around you this whole time, and you had no idea. Look a little closer and you’ll see.
Let me slip from simile to metaphor. Cities are built languages. The older and thornier and messier and more complicated they are the more stories are inscribed in the curves and winds of their streets. And so we come at last to London.

London’s been a major port, immigration hub and capital for two thousand years. It was never built to a plan, no one architect ever forced it into the image of her mind. It’s a squabble, a fight a raucous, laughing conversation, a challenge, a prayer and a dirty joke, all in a tongue you walk and live in rather than speak.  It’s one of the greatest treasure houses of this kind of story you could ever imagine.

Sorry it took so long to bring this to you! The City's Son and its sequel The Glass Republic are both excellent urban fantasy books, made even better if you have an undying love for London. 
Find Tom at his website, twitter and  blog 

Saturday 12 October 2013

News! With Fairy Tale Mugshots!

News time!

  • Stephen King readathon starts tomorrow! Thank you Amber, Tatum, Sadaf and anonymous for joining me. Anyone else?
  • Divergent, Insurgent and Allegient have new covers! Designed by Nik Keevil, I like them-the use of elements, and the use of the faction symbols. I just wish they hadn't randomly changed them mid series! I don't collect book series very often, but random changes annoy me a lot.

  • Thank you Sam Eades for the copy of Rags and Bones, the anthology edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt. I hadn't heard of it, but it looks really good-some great authors are in on it!  Goodreads link here
  • There's a really good book on sexuality and gender in nature, and you can read it online. You should.
  • I'm doing a year long project research thing that I get to choose the topic on and I'm going to be doing "Does YA challenge or reinforce gender stereotypes?" I'll be asking for input at some point, so keep an eye out.
  • Daisy Chain Book Reviews has a really good post about "is book blogging going out of fashion?" Worth a read. 
  • Are you going to the Hot Key Books thing next week? If so, are there any books you'd like? (I'm catching up on review writing so books will appear there over the next week or so-keep checking back!)
  • I finished Rainbow Reads! That was a giant thing that so many people contributed to so thank you very much everyone! Regular scheduling and frantic catchup of review posting to happen over the next few weeks!
  • I will be doing Nanowrimo! I'm deathbooksandteanina. Add me. Good luck!
Awesomeness of the week
Fairytale mugshots by Teelamb.
Red Riding Hood: Link  Goldilocks: Link Snow White: Link Alice: Link


Book Review-Transparent by Natalie Whipple

Title: Transparent
 Author: Natalie Whipple
Series:  N/A
Published:  16 May 2013 by Hot Key Books
Length: 352 pages
Source: publisher
Summary : High school is hard when you're invisible.
Fiona McClean hates her family, has had to move to a new school and seems to be completely invisible to the boy she likes. So far so normal, right? But Fiona really is invisible. She doesn't even know what colour her own hair is.
Born into a world where Cold War anti-radiation pills have caused genetic mutations, Fiona is forced to work for her mind-controlling mobster father as the world's most effective thief. When her father announces she must become a murdering assassin, Fiona and her telekinetic mother make a break for freedom. Running to a small Arizonian town, Fiona finds that playing at 'normal life' with a mother on the edge, a brother she can't trust, and a boy who drives her crazy is as impossible as escaping her father.
Review:Fiona has never seen herself. This is because in this world, people are born with differing abilities and Fiona’s is that she is invisible. Her father, a crime lord, orders her to use this for his own means, having her spy on people and steal things and such. One day, they decide they have had enough. Fiona  and her mother move to a small town, and for the first time ever, she goes to school. But then she gets sent to a tutor, a boy called Seth, whose mutation allows him to do something no-one else can. Hiding from her father on someone else’s turf, Fiona discovers how useful it is to be invisible.
 I first saw this on someone’s Waiting on Wednesday with the US cover which made it seem very urban, very contemporary and such. I then went to the Hot Key Books thing and the UK cover makes it seem so different, almost childish. In the end, I’d have covered it with a slight mixture of the two.
The idea of an invisible girl is very intriguing. It’s definitely original and I was excited to see what way it would be taken. It starts off quite quickly, and you easily get to understand the way Fiona’s life had worked for ages.
Fiona does what she can, after being used so much. She does make quick judgements about people, which can be quite wrong. My favourite character was Bea, the friend, who’s really really nice. The  broken family dynamic is clear, with Fiona and her mum sticking together and Fiona and her brother using random one time emails to communicate, while her other brother and her father are out to get them.
The world building is infodumped, explaining how the mutations came about fairly early on, and we get to know Fiona’s situation quite quickly too. I think it would be quite nice to have some more info about how the Radiasure pills did what they did.
The romance switches randomly. Seth’s a good match for Fiona and this is made clearer when he reveals his mutation.
The best  thing about the book is the opening, when you’re looking forwards to the world building and the learning about everything.

Overall: Strength 3 to a book that’s a little childish and annoying in places, totally different to what was promised, and a bit disappointing.

Friday 11 October 2013

Rainbow Reads-WRAPUP

FINALLY RAINBOW READS EVENT IS AT AN END. This event was meant to take three weeks, possibly four maximum. But thanks to so many people providing such great content, so much great content (I got 9300 words of response!!) and my lack of organisation and time for bloggy things in among other things, this was a success!
I leave you with further reading suggested by other people, other internetty things that may take your interest, and a giant list of links of everyone who made this possible.

·         A Melody in Harmony by Ashley Chunell   Goodreads Amazon
·         Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan  Goodreads   Amazon  My review
·         The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan  Goodreads  Amazon
·         Hollow Pike by James Dawson   Goodreads  Amazon  My review
·         Cruel Summer by James Dawson   Goodreads   Amazon   My review
·         Almost everything by David Leviathan   Goodreads  Amazon
·         The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky  Goodreads Amazon
·         Ash  by Malinda Lo   Goodreads Amazon My review
·         The Mortal Instruments verse by Cassandra Clare  Goodreads  Amazon
·         Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg.   Goodreads  Amazon
·         Love in Revolution by B.R. Collins  Goodreads   Amazon
·         Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan  Goodreads   Amazon   My review
·         CODA by Emma Trevayne  Goodreads  Amazon
·         Pretty Things by Sarra Manning Goodreads  Amazon
·         Adapation by Malinda Lo  Goodreads  Amazon
·         I Am J by Cris Beam Goodreads  Amazon  My review
·         Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson  Goodreads  Amazon
·         Pantomime by Laura Lam  Goodreads   Amazon  My review
·         Annabel by Kathleen Winter   Goodreads  Amazon  
·         A + E 4ever by Ilike Merey   Goodreads  Amazon  
·         Railsea by China Mieville  Goodreads  Amazon  

·          Zoe Marriott
·         Suzanne van Rooyen
·          Ria
·          LH
·         Alfie
·          Rie
·          Ashley Chunnell
·          Sean Cummings
·         Charlie Morris
·         Illjolras
·          Harriet Flight
·          M from We Sat Down
·         Katy
·         Laura Lam
·         James Dawson
·         Daniel Kaine
·         Leo of Jet Black Ink
·         Cassandra Rose Clarke
·         Shira Glassman  
·         Chelsea Pitcher

Other Things!
Malinda Lo’s Pride Month. She does all these infographics with numbers which I think are amazing because I don’t have the patience to sit and sort through all of that.
Caroline’s LGBT teen novel week, the thing that made me do this because I thought it had been some time since a blog celebration of queer fiction...then three happen at once :) Been quiet for a few months, but some excellent posts from various people.
Diversity in YA covers all sorts of diversity, and I really love this website.

Once again, huge thanks to everyone who made Rainbow Reads. 

Thursday 10 October 2013

Q&A-Queer Representation Over Time

Final discussion post! We're going to have a look at LGBTQIA representation in literature over time. With contributions from Zoe Marriott, Suzanne van Rooyen, Ria, LH, Alfie, Rie, Ashley Chunnell, Sean Cummings, Caitlin from The Cait Files, Megan aka The Book Addicted Girl, Charlie Morris, Illjolras, Harriet Flight, M from We Sat Down.

How do you LGBTQIA representation has changed in teen fiction over the years?

Suzanne: Tough question. I think it's moving away from LGBTQIA being a problem, a phase and something to fix towards sexual identity simply being a part of who the person is and something to celebrate. As legislation changes, I hope that teen LGBTQIA fiction evolves as well to show that teens do have a free and fair future to look forward to where they can marry whomever they choose and have the same rights and privileges as straight individuals.

Harriet: Undoubtedly. We learn that there are Absolute Truths and Evolving Truths. The representation of LGBTQIA is bound to change when the times change. In 19th century England, you will not see any books with LGBTQIA people in them, because of their beliefs about the subject. However, now that it's 2013, more appearances of LGBTQIA people have conjured. This is because what we believe to be right or wrong changes when the times change, when we get older, when we start to understand.
Any representation is and evolving truth, because it evolves with our understanding."

Charlie: I think there is slowly getting more of it, which is great, and they've become more sympathetic.

Charlie M: A lot more genre fiction is emerging outside of the contemporary Bildungsroman, so authors like David Levithan, Malinda Lo and James Dawson are getting more of a mass audience for their inclusive fiction.

Megan: It's more accepting now - more varied and less stereotypical.  Or so I think...

Caitlin: I'd like to think it's gotten bigger? But I read quite a few LGBT books when I was a teen myself (Boy Meets Boy, The Bermudez Triangle, Pretty Things) and I read them less so now. I couldn't tell you if that's because there are less of them, because I just read less of them somehow or what.

M: More prevalent and subsidiary characters moving into mainstream lit (e.g. David Levithan).

Alfie: It's improved to shift the balance slightly away from pure straight fiction, however there is still a lot to be written to realign the balance between sexualities in the fiction world and the real world.

LH: To generalise massively, I think it's maybe got more overt?

Ria: It exists now, for one thing. Problem is that the vast majority of LGBTQIA fiction focuses around a character coming to grips with their sexuality or gender identity as the main driving force in the plot, and while that in itself isn't a bad thing (teens need to know that they're not alone in what they go through and that there are people and characters who do experience that same struggle), it's a lot more rare to find a character who's out, okay with it, and who has been okay with it for a long time. This gives the impression that LGBTQIA folk pretty much live for that identity, and that identity completely defines them. It's a step up from what it used to be, but there's still some work to be done.

Is there any specific way you’d like to see LGBTQIA represented in the future?

Suzanne: Absolutely! I'd like to see them represented authentically - if the guy's a jerk, he's a jerk even if he's gay. Being LGBTQIA should feel as natural as hair colour and should not be forced into the story for the sake of it. Authors also need to step out of their hetero-normative moulds - two guys in a relationship are two guys, there is no husband role or wife role that one or the other fulfils.

I'd like to see more bisexual male heroes and more trans characters take leading, butt-kicking roles in genre fiction. I'd love to read a teen Supernatural type story where the Winchester roles are filled by an LGBTQIA sibling pair or romantic couple."

Harriet: For a more diverse range, yes. Let's mix up the relationships!

Illjolras: I'd like there to be more diversity, not just gay white cispeople.

Charlie : I'd love to see more LGBTQIA characters get their happy endings. Enough almosts, enough tragedy. Give me a sunset moment please. If heterosexual people are allowed to pin their hopes and dreams own something not entirely 'realistic' why can't I?

Megan: "Yes, I think so.  I think that there should be more paranormals where the lead character is a lesbian.  Don't ask why, I just really think there should be...
Also, less stereotypes - more varying characters.  More characters covering all the letters.  And overall just more LGBTQIA people in YA lit."

Caitlin: Yes yes yes. I quite like them to just be in there casually, like, that's just part of who they are? I'd like to see more main characters who are LGBTQIA

Leit: Yes and they shouldn't be treated just as “the gay best friend".

M: Just as an ordinary character.

Sean: Yes and as ass kicking evil slamming heroes with supernatural powers.

Alfie: Realistically.  'Nuff said.

Ria: Yes, absolutely. As to how I want them to be presented, well, I want them to be presented as real people, with all the strengths and weaknesses and good and bad moments that everyone has.