Wednesday 29 January 2014

Waiting on Wednesday-The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where we show off books that we want to read but have not been published yet.

Title: The Copper Promise
Author: Jen Williams
Release Date: 14 February 2014
Link to / Summary from Goodreads: There are some far-fetched rumours about the caverns beneath the Citadel…

Some say the mages left their most dangerous secrets hidden there; others, that great riches are hidden there; even that gods have been imprisoned in its darkest depths.

For Lord Frith, the caverns hold the key to his vengeance. Against all the odds, he has survived torture and lived to see his home and his family taken from him … and now someone is going to pay. For Wydrin of Crosshaven and her faithful companion, Sir Sebastian Caverson, a quest to the Citadel looks like just another job. There’s the promise of gold and adventure. Who knows, they might even have a decent tale or two once they’re done.
But sometimes there is truth in rumour.

Soon this reckless trio will be the last line of defence against a hungry, restless terror that wants to tear the world apart. And they’re not even getting paid

Why I want it: Pretty cover. Adventure. Cool author. Tagline. It just looks like a good book, to be honest.
What are YOU waiting on this week?

Sunday 26 January 2014

Mini-reviews: Need by Carrie Jones and Death and Co by D.J. McCune

Title:  Need
 Author: Carrie Jones
Series:  Need #1            
Review: Zara thinks she’s being stalked. She moves to Maine. She still thinks she’s being stalked. She is. The guy still comes after her, leaving gold dust in his wake. With new friends Nick, Issie, and Deryn, Zara learns about her history, the disappearing boys, and some other creatures, and why she is needed.
I read this because it’s one of those books I’ve seen around for ages and felt I needed to read one day. Then a friend of mine got on to me about it and so I  bumped it up my list.
You get to know Zara quite quickly. I quite liked that she recited the names of phobias-it makes her a little different. Tthe new friends were realistic, fun, supportive and good characters. Love interest Nick is nice, and our big reveal regarding him is unexpected. Betty, Zara’s grandmother, is cool from the start, and even more so by the end. 
The fantasy world building is good. The lore surrounding the creatures is developed nicely, and feeds in well to the mystery.
The writing isn’t that distinctive or especially interesting. The plot, I really didn’t like the way it turns out in the end.

Overall:  Strength  3 tea to a quick romance fantasy with an unsatisfactory conclusion.

Title: Death & Co
 Author: D. J. McCune
Series:  Death &Co #1

Published: May 2 2013
Source: publisher
Review: Adam Morton’s life is mapped out for him. As a son of a prominent family in the business, he is to become a Luman, guiding dead souls into the afterlife. But he doesn’t want that. He’s already going against Luman norm by staying on at school for GCSEs and trying to date Melissa. Then Adam learns of an ability he has that gives him the chance to save peoples’ lives.  This is what happens when he uses it.
The thing that drew me in was the title. The summary looks interesting too. The breaking free of family theme isn’t particularly original/captivating, but the setting certainly is.
I liked Adam. He’s a very real teenager, with the independence and freedom-wanting side of him really showing, and I liked that. My favourite character was Auntie Jo-she’s crazy in an awesome way. Close second is sister Chloe, and her insistence against the really heavy patriarchal society of the Lumen. I also liked the group of Lumen who come round to Adam’s house for a formal dinner and move the plot along. Melissa is very sweet.
 I liked the fact that things happen because Adam chooses to make them happen and not just because yeah happenings. It’s good, because it shows responsibility and allows us to explore Adam’s character a bit more through his choices as well as his actions. I liked the romance as well, because Adam deserves some of the normality he really really wants. One big drawback for me was the sending fake emails to the head. I didn’t find it funny, and generally didn't enjoy what took up quite a bit of the book. 
The world of the Lumen is really fleshed out. I’d like to go back to it in other books.
Overall:  Strength 3.5, just about more a 3, to a book with a mixture of reality and fantasy and choices.

Thursday 23 January 2014

Book Review- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Title: Persepolis
 Author: Marjane Satrapi
Series: Persepolis 1-4
Published:  2008 by Pantheon, first published in French in 2000
Length: 341 pages
Source: library
Summary :  Persepolis is the story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming--both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.
Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom--Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.

Review: Marjane Satrapi grew up in Terahn, Iran, during the Islamic Revolution. Later, she is sent to Austria, on her own, for her own safety, and the second half of the graphic novel tells us the story of her return to Iran after four years of a totally different life.
I don’t normally read autobiographies, but I’ve heard excellent things about this. I wasn’t disappointed.
A bit at the start is the Iranian war in graphic novel form, which is useful and really interesting because history lessons don't really teach anything outside of the Western  world so having it all put like this is really good for setting up the world Marji lives in, as well as generally expanding world history knowledge.
The thing about Persepolis is the way it presents it. I like history, but i'm bad at remembering it if it's just a list of dates and events and figures. The difference with Persepolis here is that it shows a different view on it. Marji is ten when her school gets gender segregation and the girls are forced to wear veils, and Marji's young age changes the way you see everything. It adds questions, thoughts, and makes you wonder and understand even more.
You get to know  Marji really well. You share all her ups and downs, all the hopes and aspirations and sadness and loss.  You see her childhood and her liberal family and  everything they go through. The second part, set during her time in Austria and her return to Tehran, shows her doing some things that may not be the best decision, but she learns from them. I also liked some of the other characters-Marji's grandmother especially.

Overall:  Strength 4.5, more a 5 tea to an informative and powerful graphic novel.

Monday 20 January 2014

Book Review- Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

Title: Monstrous Regiment
  Author: Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld #31
Published: 1 October 2004 by Corgi
Length: 496 pages
Source: library 
Other info: There are MANY books in the Discworld series.  The lovely Megan has reviewed Monstrous Regiment for  Death Books and Tea before. 
Summary :It began as a sudden strange fancy…
Polly Perks had to become a boy in a hurry. Cutting off her hair and wearing trousers was easy. Learning to fart and belch in public and walk like an ape took more time…
And now she’s enlisted in the army, and is searching for her lost brother.
But there’s a war on. There’s always a war on. And Polly and her fellow recruits are suddenly in the thick of it, without any training, and the enemy is hunting them.
All they have ontheir side is the most artful sergeant in the army and a vampire with a lust for coffee. Well… they have the Secret. And as they take the war to the heart of the enemy, they have to use all the resources of… the Monstrous Regiment.

Review: Polly Perk's brother is missing somewhere in the army. Polly wants to find him.  Cutting off her hair and and joining the army,  this is the story of Polly and her new comrades fighting a losing war, and  doing a lot more than is expected of normal soldiers.
This is my first Discworld novel, excluding Maruice and his Rodents, which I read ages ago and barely remember. I've been told you can read these in any order though, and seeing as I have a paper on gender and stereotypes in YA (this can count as YA, right?), I thought i'd start with this.
I really liked Polly. She's smart and resourceful, and funny. The regiment is filled with a lot of crazy characters, like a vampire who drinks a  lot of coffee and an Igor, bits of humans stitched together who conveniently handy with a needle on the battlefield. I liked the odd collection and  all the variety this meant.
I found bits of this hard to follow and understand, which may have been as it's my first Discworld and I didn't get parts of the mythology that readers of the series would, or may be because at times  I lost interest. This isn't helped by the lack of breaks in the text which make me think “why” and skim to get to a convenient stopping place quickly. 
I liked the huge parodying going on here. First there's the title, which comes from an old thing “””” which is essentially complaining about women in the army, ie our main character. Then there's the trial thing near the end which shows up ridiculousness of certain rules and how people ignore technical rules and cherry-pick ones they want for their own cause-thank you Clogston.
The ending shows how much Polly and co have changed things, and a tidy end to their storyline.  The whole end reveal was quite predictable considering the way the rest of it had gone though.

Overall:  Strength 3.5, just more a 4, to a fun fantasy adventure.

Sunday 19 January 2014

News...the I HAVE SHAKESPEARE edition

Hello everyone! I hope you're all having a good time. Mocks are nearly over now-I have more time to write and read!

So, after a trip to Islington's Oxfam, I got this
I have Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard and the Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare. I love charity shops. That all came to less than £10!!!
Yes, I know I have the Shakespeare on my kindle. But now I have it on my bookcase. So it's easier to read. And annotate. And force on to people.   This will be very useful in my "Read at least 3/4 of Shakespeare's Works by the time you finish Sixth Form" goal!

Also, thanks to Quercus and Angry Robot, I have read Red by Allison Cherry and Last God Standing by  Michael Boatman. Reviews coming soon...

News! Kim Curran has things coming out- not just Delete, but also Glaze! I love the whole concept of this, and look forwards to May. More info at Kim's blog.

You know how I love Tom Pollock's The Skyscraper Throne? Jo Fletcher are organising a reread of everything in preparation for Our Lady of the Streets, which comes out in August. More details here.  Also, I don't think I ever fangirled properly over the covers. The City's Son and Our Lady of the Streets are set in this world, so they have white backgrounds, while The Glass Republic happens in London Under Glass, so it's black. Cover designers, don't ever stop.   Tom can be found on Death Books and Tea and on his website.

Chelsea Pitcher has a cover reveal for The Last Changeling. I really enjoyed The S Word (review here), and this looks completely different, but hopefully it'll be good. It comes in Autumn, from Flux. There's a US giveaway here, if anyone's interested.

Awesome of the week- Pulp Covers for Classics.  Here's my favourites-there's more at its website.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Waiting on Wednesday- Night Terrors by Tim Waggoner

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. 

It has been AGES since I've done one of these! I want to get back in the habit, and generally keep up with upcoming releases, so here's the first one in... ages!

Title:  Night Terrors
Author:  Tim Waggoner
Release Date: 29 April 2014
Link to / Summary from Goodreads: It's Men In Black meets The Sandman.
Meet the fine men and women of the NightWatch: a supernatural agency dedicated to hunting down rogue nightmares that escape from other realms when people dream about them, while ensuring that other dream-folk are allowed to live among the regular, human population… as long as they play by the rules.

Why I want it: Tim Waggoner's Nekropolis series is what got me in to horror/fantasy/spec-fic/weird stuff. I have waited FOREVER for new stuff  from him. The fact that this is going to exist makes me very very happy, and I hope for the same  exceedingly high standard of world and story from the Shadow Watch as I got from Nekropolis.

What are YOU waiting on this week?

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Book Review-Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

Title: Fall of Giants 
 Author: Ken Follett
Series:  The Century Trilogy #1
Published:  3 June 2011 by Macmillan
Length:850 pages
Warnings: : Graphic war and otherwise realistic violence, past attempted rape,
Source: Library
Other info: Ken Follett has written many many things.
Summary : This is an epic of love, hatred, war and revolution. This is a huge novel that follows five families through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for votes for women. It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V. The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family, is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of an ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and to two orphaned Russian brothers, whose plans to emigrate to America fall foul of war, conscription and revolution. In a plot of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, "Fall Of Gaints" moves seamlessly from Washington to St Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty.

Review: 1911- Billy Williams, age 13, starts his job as a coal miner. His sister, Ethel, works for the Fitzwilliams, the owners of the mine-the earl, and his sister, Maud. Maud falls in love with German embassy worker, Walter von Ulrich. Meanwhile, brothers Lev and Grigori Peshkov dream of  a better life in America, where young Gus Dewar is trying to get through in politics. But with war on the horizon, will any of their plans really work out?
Having loved the Pillars of the Earth series, I was open to reading more Ken Follett. Then I got told to read Fall of Giants, so I did (eventurally).
Follett's talent for writing awesome, and also real, women, shines through in Ethel and Maud, and nearer the end, Rosie. They're all talented, and Ethel's work  for the womens' rights movement is amazing. Fitz is such a disappointing character. He's really nice to start with and then turns into a giant ass and I know it's good (if backwards) character development but still having to flal out of love with a character is not bad. The characters I felt most for were Grigori and Lev, probably more Grigori because he gets a really bad deal out of all of it really.  
It's told over a much tighter time period to the other Folletts i've read, which I quite liked because it meant we could get closer to the characters and not have to fill in the gaps quite as much.
I like the fact that as well as the First World War and women's suffrage movement, we get the Russian Revolution in detail. In history lessons, most of it's Western based, or at least involves them, and it's nice to learn something completely different.  The facts are weaved in seamlessly, made part of the story, and there's a nice author's note at the end about his authenticity of facts.
The atmosphere is built really well, especially the more negative ones built around places like starving Germany, starving Russia and the battlefields. Some of them, the Somme scene especially was very emotional  indeed.
What didnt I like about this? Some of the characteers I disliked. Also, it's quite predictable, especially Grigori and Lev's stories, and some of the mionr characters felt a bit stereotypical, like the Vylovs.

Overall:  Strength 4.5, just more a 4 tea to a detailed, emotional historical epic.

Thursday 9 January 2014

Book Review- Doll Bones by Holly Black

Title: Doll Bones
  Author Holly Black
Series:  N/A
Published:  9 May 2013 by Random House
Length: 244 pages
Source: publisher 
Summary : Twelve-year-old Zach is too old to play with toys. Or at least, that's what his father thinks.
But even though he stops hanging out with Poppy and Alice, stops playing with his action figures, it's no good. There's one toy that still wants to play with him. A doll that's made from the bones of a dead girl. The only way to end the game is to lay the doll to rest forever. It's time for a journey to Spring Grove cemetery. It's time to grow up.

Review: Zach is twelve years old- far too old to be playing with toys, as his father tells him. Reluctantly, he tries to stop playing with the toys,  and with Poppy and Alice. But when Alice has a dream, telling her that the Queen, a doll made from bone china using the bones of a dead girl, wants burying in her hometown, and says she's going to do it regardless, Zach joins her and Poppy for one final game.
I hadn't heard of this book before I got sent it for review, but the cover and premise made it sound good.
I like the games they play before the plot picks up. These children are really imaginative, creating a full fantasy land. There's a lot of character development from all three characters. Zach especicailly- he grows up a lot more on the journey than he would have if he had simply allowed his father to forbid him from the toys and games, which I suppose is the moral of the story. 
The adventure is really good. It's a little unbelievable to me that that a 12 year old would be allowed on buses and across counties without parental supervision, but hey, we also have the spirit of a girl demanding to be laid to rest, so suspension of belief allows me to buy into all of it. There's a bit of history and mystery, and the plot comes to a nice end.
I think compared to the blurb, the horror of the novel is downplayed to make Doll Bones a coming of age story-there's a lot about how old you have to be to do things, and also about family and  keeping the imagination going.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a creepy coming of age story.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Book Review-Dead Harvest by Chris F Holm

Title: Dead Harvest
  Author: Chris F Holm
Series:  The Collector #1
Published:  28 February 2012  by Angry Robot
Length: 384 pages
Source: library
Other info:There's currently 2 more in the series-The Wrong Goodbye and The Big Reap 
Summary : Meet Sam Thornton. He collects souls.
Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before.

Review: Sam Thornton collects souls and sends them on to Hell, as payment for something htat happened years ago. One day, he's sent to collect the soul of Kate Macneil, a young woman who  was caught in the middle of  brutally murdering her family. But when he gets there and finds her in a coma, the brightness of her soul tells him she's innocent. He can't send her to Hell-that would start a war. Instead, he refuses the job and helps her escape, leaving them on the run from humans, angels and demons.
I've wanted to read this since before I started blogging -I had a period of needing to read EVERY Angry Robot book ever published because they seemed awesome (i'd just gotten into spec fic properly) and  although I probably won't do it with all the other books I need to read, I can try.
The introduction of Sam is of him hopping bodies-he possesses them, and leaves them when the job's done. I liked this idea, and it helps move the plot on in places too.
Throughout, we get little pieces woven in to how Sam got where he is, both in job situation and look on life, and I liked that this brought us closer to the character, who we already see quite a bit of  in that he refuses orders despite risks. Kate is a really nice character, and you want them to succeed (ie get out of this alive). The non human characters  especially had varied and unique motives, and uncertainties to those made the ride mor9e interesting.
The getting Kate out happens very quickly, within the first three chapters, and it keeps going from there. The plot moves on quickly, and isn't slowed down by the flashbacks or the writing style. Action happens frequently, and there isn't anywhere you think “meh. Bored”.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a fast paced fantasy with a main character you always want to know more about. Definitely reading on. 

Links: Amazon | Goodreads | Author website | 

Saturday 4 January 2014

Book Review- Soulless manga vols 2 and 3 by Gail Carriger and Rem

Title: Soulless (manga) vols 2 and 3
 Author: Gail Carriger, illustrated by Rem
Series:  The Parasol Protectorate manga 2 and 3
Other info: Gail Carriger has written many other things. My review of Changeless, ie volume 2, is here. My review of Blameless, ie volume 3, is here.

Volume 2

 12 November 2012 by Yen Press
224 pages
gift from friend
Review: Alexia is now Lady Woolsey, and would probably find settling in to this new life a bit easier if a regiment of werewolves  weren’t camped out on her front lawn. After her husband leaves and she deals with the soldiers, she's left with an angry Queen Victoria and a problem with the supernatural that leaves them unable to be...supernatural. Her travels take her to Scotland, she meets the rest of his pack, and will learn more about the world of the unnatural as she goes.
Changeless was never my favourite Parasol Protectorate novel. That's not saying it's bad, it's just not my favourite. This adaptation has made me enjoy it more, probably because it plays up the comedy a little bit more.
The art is once again excellent, the style nicely suiting the steampunk Victorian world. The fighty action scenes are done very well, and I loved the illustrator's view of Lefoux.
Plot is just as good as the novel, and is quite true to it too.
I actually can't think of anything to say in addition to what I said for Changeless-review here.
Overall: Strength 3.5, more a 4, tea to a good addition to Alexia's world.
Links: Amazon | Goodreads |

Volume 3
 19 November 2013 by Yen Press
208 pages
gift from Kerrie @ Read and Repeat via the UKYABB Secret Santa
Pregnant and now exiled ,Alexia Woolsey is now seeking an explanation for her child, in the hopes that she can prove her husband wrong of the accusations of cheating. Heading for France and Italy, and meeting strange scientists and crazy Templar Knights,  this last adaptation of the Parasol Protecorate novels ties up the series really well.
The whole Where's Akeldama? Plot takes a lot of a backseat in this adaptation, which is understandable considering there’s a lot to squeeze in. however, I think it was overlooked  (only one mention, I think, in the midst of a conversation that quickly moves on) until its climax at the Thames, and I think if I didn't know the novel, i'd wonder what on earth was happening and why this was important.
The art. Yes. Fight scenes very good. Colour inserts- excellent. There's two sections of them, instead of the normal one, which is quite nice. These art cards are sepia toned duos of characters. And one of them plays up Alexia/Lefoux, which I quite liked (I ship those two quite hard). Actually, the whole book played it up a little more than the novels.
As this is the end of the series, I feel I should sum up my thoughts about the whole manga adaptation. I like the fact that each volume is each novel, because it keeps the pace up. However, I think at times, it might have gone a little too fast and a couple of things might not have their importance noted enough for first time readers. The art works wonderfully with this series, the world, and the aesthetics  related to it. I like the fact that Rem used cleverness to get around the awkwardness of the many nude scenes the werewolves get. The attention to detail, and the faithfullness to story makes this one of my favourite adaptations of a book to date.
Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a fantastic ending to a generally amazing series.

Friday 3 January 2014

My Plans for 2014

Happy new year, everyone! I hope 2014 brings you much joy, from books, to writing, to personal life, to all the little things that make days good.

Anyway, here's a list of thing's I'd like to do over the coming year. I'm not going to call them resolutions, because that implies that I'm going to give up on them within three months. They're just things that I'd like to do, and will try to do, but not get upset if I can't do them.

  • Buy less books. I know-shocking. But as well as a need to save up for things, I also have a rather large to-read pile, not to mention I don't know how many on my kindle. I think I have enough books to get me through most, if not all, the year, and that's not counting the books I will inevitably cave in to in charity shops and get.
  • Write more-and finish what I start. I got a bit more into a routine with writing last year, and I'd really like to keep it up. Also, finishing what I start is something I am awful at, because when I lose interest in something, it gets forgotten, so it'd be good to actually finish something for once.
  • Write the reviews quicker after reading-and publish them on time. I'm getting better at writing the reviews on time. Publishing them though is a different matter...see below.
  • Handwrite things less. I love handwriting-mainly because I can do it in school, when I don't have my laptop and need to get something down, whether a story or a book review. But I end up with a whole load of words needing typing, which most of the time, I don't feel like doing. I have a draft of a 20,000 word thing entirely hand-done. At one point I had 26 reviews waiting to be changed into 1s and 0s that show as letters on a screen. Typing that was not fun (though I did get a lot of TV watched at the same time).
  • Comment more! Blog community more! I failed this last year completely. Hopefully this will not happen again.
  • Keep expanding reading tastes. Ah, I remember a few years ago when quite a lot of what I read was fantasy and horror. Since then, I've started reading a lot more things that I never thought I'd be in to, but are actually really really good. I'd like to read a few more classics this year, especially genre classics, and also a bit more foreign literature if I can.
  • Meet more bloggers. It's nice getting to know you online, but it's much more fun when I have faces to put to names, and knowing you more as person than someone behind a screen.
  • Keep blogging. This is my GCSE year, so I'll probably be quieter around April/May/June (at least theoretically...). I've also had a lot more other things going on in my life, and I've started enjoying lots more things, joining in a bit more with the local community, and all sorts of other things that eat up time-24 hours in the day just isn't enough!
Have a good year, everyone!