Saturday 30 November 2013

Book Review- Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve

Title: Fearsome Dreamer
 Author:  Laure Eve
Series:   Fearsome Dreamer
Published:   October 2013 by Hot Key Books
Length: 384 pages
Source: Publisher
Summary : There is a world where gods you’ve never heard of have wound themselves into hearts, and choice has led its history down a different path. This is a world where France made a small, downtrodden island called England part of its vast and bloated empire. There are people here who can cross a thousand miles with their minds. There are rarer people still who can move between continents in the blink of an eye. These people are dangerous. And wanted. Desperately wanted.

Apprentice hedgewitch Vela Rue knows that she is destined for more. She knows being whisked off from a dull country life to a city full of mystery and intrigue is meant to be. She knows she has something her government wants, a talent so rare and precious and new that they will do anything to train her in it. But she doesn’t know that she is being lied to. She doesn’t know that the man teaching her about her talent is becoming obsessed by her, and considered by some to be the most dangerous man alive.
Review: Rue is an apprentice to a Hedgewitch in technophobic Angle Tar , which stands alone against World, the merge of other nations that is reliant on the virtual reality system Life. She dreams of other places, can feel herself physically there. Then she gets taken to the city by Frith, a man who hunts down Talented fro a living, and is tutuored by White, a very powerful Talented. And then there’s a boy with silver eyes who keeps appearing in her dreams, and Rue learns how powerful said dreams can be.
I love the world of this. Laure’s English/French heritage shows through in this, as Angle Tar is quite French with language, titles and the name  (somewhere near the end, I realised Angle Tar is a derivation of Angleterre) but there’s some things that are decidedly British. World is totally different, a wonderful vision of overreliance on technology. Both worlds are excellent.
I liked Rue. She’s clever, makes realistic mistakes, talks back, sometimes to the point of annoyance , and is a very intriguing character. White, I didn’t like because of his arrogance as a teacher, but he was nice in between his first appearance and his arrival at the Capital.  Wren I didn’t mind. Frith was awesome.
I think some things at the Castle and World can be explored further. I look forwards to it.
Laure has a very distinctive writing style that’s hard to describe. If I had to put it into words, I’d say gently descriptive. It fills in all the details really well.
For something described as brimming with unresolved sexual tension, I didn’t see it. I say that as someone who’s pretty good at seeing it. That doesn’t make the book bad, in my opinion. Just the marketing. Rue and White infuriate each other to start with, and dancing a dance of intent doesn’t change it that much.  
It’s a slow book,  a lot of build up, then the end happens when everything happens,
I love the dreams and the idea of being able to jump. It’s a new take on teleportation, and this scifiy-country fantasy mix works well.

Overall:  Strength 3.5,very slightly a 4, tea to a book with a great setting and mythos.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Project UKYA interview with Matt Whyman

Today, we have Matt Whyman, author of The Savages, talking to us about UKYA. Why? Because of Lucy's AMAZING Project UKYA which showcases all aspects of YA written in Britain. If you haven't already, you should totally go find the rest of the tour.

What is the most British thing about The Savages?
Everything from the opening sentence to the final full stop! The Savage family have strong roots in Russia, but Titus, Angelica and the kids are born and bred Brits with a sense of irony and sarcasm embedded in their genes. They’re terribly traditional, too, and value their meal times together. After all, the family that eats (people) together, sticks together.

What's the best thing about being part of the UKYA community?
I love the fact that every new novel is unique, rather than a carbon copy of a previous success. You only have to look at a bookshop table display to see this – no two jackets look alike, which makes it all the more enticing.

Who are some of your favourite people in the UKYA community?
I like everyone I’ve ever met to be honest. Right now, I’m a big fan of James Dawson and Julie Mayhew, and will always look forward to anything new by Marcus Sedgwick. Then there are the people behind the scenes in the publishing world – those who ensure the books get into your hands, and make the whole experience such fun. Emily Thomas and everyone at Hot Key, I’m looking at *you*

What does UKYA mean to you?
Books that rarely get reviewed by the national press but come out alive and kicking thanks to the publishers and bloggers committed to spreading the word.

Who should read UKYA?
Anyone. I’m not a great believer in setting boundaries when it comes to fiction, and certainly don’t write with an age-range in mind. My novels are about the experience of finding yourself and making your mark on life – often against all odds. This isn’t exclusive to teen readers. We’ve all been there.

How does UKYA compare and differ to YA from other countries?
I think we were first to kick against the concept that YA fiction should always aim to teach a moral lesson. If a character does something they don’t encourage at school, like sex or drugs, they shouldn’t always end up remorseful (or dead). It’s far better to just get inside their minds and aim to understand what makes them tick – even if their deeds are dreadful.

If you could only read UKYA book ever again, which would it be and why?

That’s a good question. I’d go back to the book that first made an impact on me, which is Lord of the Flies by William Golding – old school UKYA!

Anything else you'd like to say?
Sorry for talking.

Thank you, Lucy, for hosting this event and letting me take part! You should go read The Savages- I loved it. Matt can be found at his website, on twitter, and on youtube.  Lucy can be found on her blog and at Project UKYA.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Cover Reveal and Giveaway-The Other Me by Suzanne van Rooyen

Sorry for the lateness. Cover reveal time! 

Fifteen-year-old Treasa Prescott thinks she’s an alien. She doesn’t fit in with the preppy South African private school crowd and feels claustrophobic in her own skin. Treasa is worried she might spend life as a social pariah when she meets Gabriel du Preez. Gabriel plays the piano better than Beethoven, has a black belt in karate, and would look good wearing a garbage bag. Treasa thinks he’s perfect. It might even be love, as long as Gabriel doesn’t find out she’s a freak.

As Treasa spends time with Gabriel, she realizes she might not love him as much as she wants to be him, and that the reason she feels uncomfortable in her skin might have less to do with extra-terrestrial origins and more to do with being born in the wrong body.
But Gabriel is not the perfect boy Treasa imagines. He harbors dark secrets and self-destructive tendencies. Still, Treasa might be able to accept Gabriel’s baggage if he can accept who she longs to be.

The Other Me can be found on Goodreads. It will be published 19 December 2013 by Harmony Press.

Giveaway: International Rafflecopter for $15 Amazon giftcard

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Suzanne is an author and peanut-butter addict from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing you can find her teaching dance and music to middle-schoolers or playing in the snow with her shiba inu. She is rep'd by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.

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Sunday 24 November 2013

Sex and Violence-the Age Appropriateness of Media

This weekend, two films I'm interested in seeing come out.

One features two girls falling in love  and go through all related experience, including having sex. One features twenty four people, most often teenagers, fighting to the death. The British Board of Film Classification will not allow me, a 16 year old, to see one. Guess which.
These two films are Blue is the Warmest Colour and Catching Fire. Blue has been awarded an 18, meaning strictly no under 18s, certificate, Catching Fire has a 12A, meaning 12 and overs get in unaccompanied and 11 and unders get in with an adult. I think  if you stripped both stories to their bare bones  and took them out of the book/film context, you might say some romance is more suitable. Why the difference between the two?

First, let's look at  the BBFC's reasons for each certificate.
Blue- Contains strong sex and very strong language.
Catching Fire- Contains moderate violence and threat, and infrequent strong language.
Put like that, I do think that Blue deserves a higher rating than Catching Fire. But is it necessary to give it the highest rating that they can?
Both are adaptations of printed media, one a graphic novel and one part of a bestselling trilogy. Blue is aimed at an adult audience, Catching Fire at a teenage one. I don't know exactly how explicit Blue is in graphic novel form (according to Caroline, "you see them but they're illustrations"), but I remember as a 13ish year old being woah at certain descriptions of people getting beaten up in The Hunger Games (even more so at Mockingjay. I had nightmares at the deaths in the tunnels of the Capitol).

 I think the main reason for the difference is the way directors decide to do things. Director Abdellatif Kechiche has, apparently made the sex scene in Blue very explicit, and the way he did so has prompted complaints from many people, including Julie Maroh, the original author. Director Francis Lawrence, I'm not sure how they're treating it, but remember the 7 seconds of footage that was cut from The Hunger Games to get it taken down to a 12? Those seven seconds were the "sight of blood splashes and sight of blood on wounds and weapons.”
If both films had been placed on equal terms of explicitness, say with Blue's sex scene  being cut to before and after, or maybe with closeups on wounds and deaths, would there still be a different rating for them? I think yes.
This society has grown a lot more accepting of violence than sex in media. Both are more common in society than say 50 years ago, but you won't see anyone hiding the fact that they have the latest edition of Call of Duty.

The whole point of censorship in this country, day and age is to protect children from seeing certain things. But why do we stop the viewing of a sex scene in a society inundated with sex? It's used as a selling point for so many things, that you can't go anywhere without it. Music videos, perfume adverts, the freely available adult images on the internet. This society can't be as shocked, or at least shocked enough to force change, about casual sexuality being everywhere, but when it's shown in a loving relationship, it's adults only.

Now let's look at violence. It's prevalent in, sometimes even the basis of, many fictional products. A lot of film's climaxes are giant fight scenes. In the case of The Hunger Games, people are killing each other while people watch, cheer and bet on the winner.

Don't get me wrong, I am  against the idea of younger young people having to be exposed to explicit material without proper education surrounding it, but surely more mature teens can handle it?
Children and teenagers are good at self censoring. If they don't feel comfortable with seeing or reading things, then they won't. This goes for content of all types.
I don't see the point of age ratings because everyone will take everything differently. I also don't see why one day, when you see 17, you can’t do things and a day later you turn 18 and you can. You don't get a magical dose of maturity with each birthday. But I do see why we have them because we need to draw a line somewhere. I prefer content warnings and recommendations from trusted sources to decide what is suitable for me, and that's why I like the fact that books, while having general warnings like "not suitable for younger readers" but no set limits, instead of saying you can’t access something  until you’re a certain age.

The Hunger Games is a great series. I love the commentary on divides in society, on what's held up as entertainment, and the general actionfilledness of the films and books. And you’ll find young people, mainly young queer women, who would enjoy and provably benefit from seeing Blue is the Warmest Colour and the honest presentation of lesbianism, at least in the non-sexual bits. But they don't even have the chance to go and see it.
Because some people have decided that one long sex scene is more inappropriate than glorified violence. People have decided on the morals coming through to society and have decided what is suitable for the young people of today. These people have decided to not let the young people experiment and decide for themselves what is suitable for them, something which would  ultimately make them a more mature person. 

Monday 18 November 2013

Book Review- Skulk by Rosie Best

Title: Skulk
 Author: Rosie Best
Series:  Shapeshifters of London  #1
Published:  1 October 2013 by Strange Chemistry
Length: 387 pages
Summary : When Meg witnesses the dying moments of a shapeshifting fox and is given a beautiful and powerful stone, her life changes forever. She is plunged into the dark world of the Skulk, a group of shapeshifting foxes.
As she learns about the other groups of shapeshifters that lurk around London – the Rabble, the Horde, the Cluster and the Conspiracy – she becomes aware of a deadly threat against all the shapeshifters. They must put aside all their enmity and hostility and fight together to defeat it.

Review: Meg is coming back from graffiting a wall at her school when she sees a man die. Man fox. Fox man. He curried a stone and mumbled about the fog. Then died. Later, Meg leaves a party...and then turns into a fox. Found by another fox, who wants her to run from the fog, just run, she is thrown into a world of shapeshfters. There’s groups of them- Skulk are foxes, the Rabble are butterflies, the Hoard are rats, the Cluster are spiders and the Conspiracy are ravens. And then there’s a metashifter, who can shift into any of these shapes. And now someone wants the Metashift to control the elements. And they’re willing to kill for it.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this. I’m very glad I read it though. It starts off wuickly, with the first death happening at the 4% mark, so the set up for the rest of the thing happens quite early on.
Meg is an awesome protagonist. She’s size 16, something I have NEVER seen in YA) totally happy with it, a graffiti artist, takes things in her stride, and is generally great. Friendship and family is important to Meg, and I like having that come through.
Then there is TRHE MOST WONDERFULLY DIVERSE CAST EVER. It spans ages, ethnicities, social backgrounds, able bodiedness, sexualities, and genders. And none of that is the focus, it’s just who they are.
All the characters are well built up and totally varied. I’m not sure who may favourite character is- maybe James or Addie or Meg or Mo. I think maybe Addie, because of her explanation of why she likes being in her fox form is sad, but the best line in the whole book: I’m not homeless, I’m wild.
The plot moves quickly, and the book is addictive- you get through it really quickly. there isn’t a place where you want to put it down. Meg’s narration is funny, relatable, and descriptive.
The villain is well fleshed out, the end is satisfying, and hints at more to come.
If that doesn’t make you love this book, something else that’s great and new about this book-there’s evil pigeons.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea. Come for an addictive read, urban fantasy, shapeshifters and a lot more.

Monday 11 November 2013

Guest Post Dreamcast of WitchHunt by Emma Mills

Hi Nina, Thanks for hosting me today on my WitchHunt Tour. It’s always great fun to do a ‘Dream Cast’ post. My only problem is that being in my thirties a lot of the Hollywood stars that come to mind are often too old to play the characters in my books! But it’s still great to imagine having my series made into Hollywood films with an unlimited budget at my disposal! So I’ve had a good hunt through Google and come up with the following cast listing for my WitchBlood series:

Jess is quite tricky because I considered Jennifer Lawrence as I think she is a great role model for girls and I love her refusal to starve for Hollywood… but I think Jess needs to be English. She is an English girl and I rather think Imogen Poots might just have the right amount of vulnerable independence about her!

Daniel only came to me whilst watching Glee. One quick Googling later and my mind was made. Don’t you think Dean Geyer would make a perfect Daniel? His hair would need to be a bit darker!
I have always imagined Luke looking like Zac Effron. He is a bit too old now, but he has the right look.

Brittany is a tough one because she has half Latin blood and dark hair, but is only fifteen. The actress that comes to mind is Selena Gomez, but again at 20yrs old she is probably too old to pull Brittany off.
Eva is easy. There is nobody better to play smart, sexy, confident vampire, Eva than Mila Kunis.

So if Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t playing Jess, I’d have her for Saffy’s older sister, the ass-kicking witch, Susannah and Emma Roberts would make a good all American, spoilt Saffy:
I could go on and find the rest of the cast, but I think I’ve used up enough blog space!
‘WitchHunt’ is the fourth and final book in the ‘WitchBlood’ series and sees the hot and cold relationship between Jess and Daniel resolved, along with the mystery of her book of shadows. The WitchBlood series is a British YA Paranormal series following the protagonist Jess, as she is turned into a vampire. When she finds out she has witch DNA she fast becomes a hot commodity... one to be fought over and hunted down.

‘I know it’s selfish, but I don’t want you to go,’ Daniel said, a couple of minutes later.
I looked at him and smiled.
‘I’ll be fine, I will.’
‘You’d better be. I don’t know what I’d do without you. Those months I stupidly spent apart from you… they were torment for me,’ he said.
‘They were torment for me too.’

As the Christmas season is ripped apart by the news that Jess’ old friend Alex has been turned into a vicious killer, festivities are dropped, Jess returns to England and the hunt begins. But Alex isn’t the only one being hunted, for Mary has found a way to extinguish the entire bloodline of Malden witches, and it is Jess’s book of shadows that’s the key. As things hot up, Jess finds she must leave Daniel and the safety of Manchester in a final hunt for her nemesis, Mary. In a fight-off that only one of them can survive, loved ones will fall… daemons will rise… but who will survive?

Emma Mill's Website
WitchBlood on Facebook
WitchBlood on Amazon

Saturday 9 November 2013

Things changing!

I've had an awful reading slump for the last two weeks or so.

Thanks to Liz  , I have chosen the 42nd thing on my to read shelf, which is Ken Follett's Fall of Giants and I'll be reading that soon. I'll also try Shadowplay pretty soon.

Things changing! Yes. I'm still going to be here and around the interwebs and such. But I'm going to be introducing two new things...

Firstly, a semi-regular feature called Time for Tea-tre! I go to the theatre sometimes and I went recently and have something I'd love to share my joy for and I was thinking of doing a review for any theatre/drama/musical I go to. Thanks to Georgia for the name, kind of :)

Also, I'll be doing audio reviews. To sit and spiel into a microphone for ten minutes is a lot easier than writing a review and typing it and such, and I'm quite time strapped at the moment, so I can still blog but it'll be easier for me.

UKYA book blogger secret santa signups now open, if anyone else wants to join in :)

50th Anniversary now has a new trailer! It looks's hoping Moffat's sexism/bigotry doesn't ruin it.
Awesome of the week via capitol-refugee

Thursday 7 November 2013

Excerpts from The Dollhouse Asylum by Mary Gray

Sorry for the lack of aroundness everywhere! I might be on a little more at the weekend. Might. November's being really busy, even if I don't coun
t Nanowrimo. But I'll try, and I do have a few really great guest posts. First one-extracts from The Dollhouse Asylum by Mary Gray.

Gruff fingers yank a blindfold off my face, light splashes into my eyes, and I blink. Gray walls swim about my head, and the ceiling soars much too high above me. I don’t know this place. I was walking to my bathroom when someone grabbed me from behind and forced a sour-smelling cloth over my face and—someone grapples with my hair, and I flinch. Who—who is touching me?
I try turning in the flimsy chair, but someone’s grabbing my shoulders, forcing me not to move. Spasms of fear shoot up and down my arms and legs. I try swinging my fists to make them loosen their grip, but my captor’s fingers only tighten.
Raising my arm to jab my captor in the gut, I pause. Someone’s laughing. How do I know that sound? It’s beautiful and low, a laugh I could recognize anywhere. Glancing around the sun-filled room, I find the source almost immediately. It’s Teo, my Teo, standing across from me on the hardwood floor, beaming at me. His ebony eyes shine forth like two onyx stones, and even his olive-toned skin makes me breathe a bit shallower. Choking back a strangled laugh—no one’s here to hurt me—I reach out for the love of my life, too tongue-tied to say anything.
His lips spread into a thin smile, reminding me of his mouth melting into my own. Fire raged beneath my skin with that kiss and it felt like I was lifted up into the air and floating. It’s been six days since our kiss and we still haven’t been able to talk about it. I tried repeatedly to go into his classroom, but it was like our school had purposely decided to schedule a more than average number of parent-teacher meetings.
Locking his eyes on mine, Teo asks, “Manicure?”
I glance down at my fingernails, trying to see why he would think I needed a manicure, when my shoulders are released and pale, icy fingers grip my hand. Chills run through me.
A flat, tenor voice says, “Yes.” And I’m startled to see my fingernails are actually painted. Clear and shiny.

The fingers drop my hand, and my captor walks around to face me. White uniform, white skin, white hair. He’s albino. Who is he?
“Makeup is good.” Teo taps lightly on a handheld computer screen. “Hair is so-so.” He continues to scan the device, and I don’t like how he’s picking me apart like he’s Photoshopping me. Where are the other students? Or maybe it’s more than I could ever hope: it’s really just the two—three—of us, and he is finally unveiling his feelings. I never expected to fall in love with a teacher, but when I started at Khabela, the Austin math and science school, Teo was the only one who welcomed me. It took me a moment to understand why a math teacher would care that I read Tristan and Isolde, but soon we were knee-deep in conversation about all our favorite classic stories.
I wish he’d tell me why he brought me here. Maybe he let my mom know, explained what we were actually doing.
But I fail for words, the gray walls seeming to snatch at the fear inside me. My palms break out in a sweat and it’s calculus all over again, where Teo asked me to stand in front of my class to share the index card I had made to memorize last year’s trig functions. While I hate speaking in front of groups, I did it anyway, my heart slamming against the insides of my chest the entire time. When I’d finished, Teo congratulated me, making the fear worth it.
Tapping his computer screen, Teo trains his gaze on me again, softening a little. “I cannot tell you how much seeing you here pleases me.”
My heart flip-flops and it’s hard to say anything. He’s happy to see me. It’s all I can do to keep myself from smiling stupidly.
He takes one step toward me and I long to fill the gap. And when he speaks, his voice rings out in a baritone melody. “I hope you enjoy our little neighborhood, Miss Laurent. The women are on one side of the street, the men on the other. They each have their own houses. Seven again.” His lips perk up into one of those smiles that I love, and I’m reminded of his reverence for the number seven, how he arranges our desks in three rows of seven.
Glancing at the wooden door ahead, I open my mouth to ask if he’ll show me this street, when he says, “That is right. You should desire to go through that door. Of course, the choice is yours.” He gestures behind me. “The back door is always an option.”
I turn to find the back door, only to see plastic shadows, slick and dark—body bags—hanging on a rod by the door. Another one of Teo’s jokes, maybe. A metaphorical exercise. Life without love is not living. See, Miss Laurent, you might as well be dead. But Teo would never hurt me. When we kissed, he held me like a porcelain doll, treasured me.
“Front door, then?” Teo asks when I manage to turn back to him, his tone light, almost happy. He wants to show me this neighborhood that revolves around the number seven. I’m not sure what to make of it, but I want him to show me.
Teo and the albino grab me by the arms and force me up, but there’s no reason to be touchy-feely. Wherever he goes is where I want to be. Teo is brilliant and kind. He would never shatter me.

Content belongs to Mary Gray. Thanks for letting me be a part of the tour! These excerpts make it seem a lot different to what I was expecting, but I'm still looking forwards to reading The Dollhouse Asylum some day :)