Friday, 29 June 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood review

Anna Dressed in Blood
Kendare Blake
July 5th 2012
Orchard Books

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. 

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

As soon as I saw the title for this book, I knew that I was going to love it. Seriously, completely love it. And maybe it's because I went into it with that mindset that I thought it was so good. I think that it's more just a combination of that and the books pure awesomeness, though, that actually made me love it so much.

Anna Dressed in Blood is probably the most violent, gory, creepy YA book I've ever read, but I loved every minute of it! I don't know if I've ever told you this, but I love creepy books. Or the few that I've read, anyway. Which is weird because if you put in front of a horror film I'll probably be hiding behind a sofa, hating every minute and then proceed never to sleep again. But horror books are a whole different ball park, and they're something I want to see way more of in YA. Like paranormal, but with the paranormals actually being creepy as, like they should be.

I think that Cas had a lot to do with me loving this book (or I should hope he did, seeing as he's the narrator), and I could really connect with his voice, which was something I wasn't really expecting to happen seeing as he's, y'know, a boy. But that being said, he wasn't aggressively male. He wasn't like some male teenage stereotype, and I think that it was his intense focus on his work as a ghost hunter that makes him very easy to read about regardless of your gender. And I kind of felt bad for him at first too, because he's never really stuck around in a place for long enough to get involved with the living as well of the dead. I loved seeing him actually making friends instead of just using people like he had previously. I also really liked all the stuff with the Athame (even though it ended up causing a teeny bit of trouble), and his connection to it, and I thought that it was really cool that he wasn't some buff, uber-masculine, I-can-kill-stuff-with-my-bare-hands douchebag, and that he could only really do the stuff he did because of the knive. And because he had no fear. I would not last a day at ghost hunting Cas-style.

And Anna! I really, really liked Anna, too. At first, I was a little worried about how their romance was going to play out because when we first meet her she RIPS A MAN IN HALF WITH HER BARE FREAKING HANDS. But as we learned more about her, you start to realise that there's way more to her story than first meets the eye, and by the middle of the book I felt really sorry for her. What happened to her was awful and I can't believe that anyone would do that. By the end of the book, I really, really loved her and respected her for what she did. And I think that for someone who's dead she's an incredibly complex character and I can't wait to read more about her.

I really liked the stuff about magic too, and it kind of reminded me a bit of Buffy magic, because it was all rituals and pentagons and chicken feet and what not. And Thomas and Morfran were brilliant, too. I want a cat called Morfran, now, because it's just such an excellent name (and on the subject of cats, I still hate what happened to the cat in this book. I won't tell you, but if you've read it then you'll know.) The relationship between Thomas and Carmel also made me really, really happy, because I want more nerdy boys to be successful in their romantic pursuits in books! And I also really liked Carmel as a character, too, which surprised me. But she was actually really nice and likeable, so that's all good too.

As I said before, this book is pretty darn creepy and gory. Anna pulled some seriously creepy stuff when her and Cas were first getting acquainted. I often found myself being caught between morbid fascination and all out disgust, and I know that if a film is ever made out of this book then I will not be able to watch it because I appreciate being able to sleep. Also, by the end, when the kind-of-but-not-really sub-plot about Cas's father's murder kicks into action and all that stuff happens, that's pretty damn creepy too. The bad guy in this book is just plain scary, and I loved it, and can we please have more scary book please. Just, I just love them.

Anna Dressed in Blood is a book that I highly recommend, despite the mixed reviews. But I think if you like being creeped out, or you like male perspectives, then you should so pick this book up. It rocks. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

We'll Always Have Summer review

We'll Always Have Summer
Jenny Han
May 3rd 2012
Razorbill UK

One girl.

Two brothers.

The biggest decision of her life . . .

Just when she thought she had all the answers . . .

Isabel has only ever loved two boys, Conrad and Jeremiah Fisher.

One broke her heart; the other made her happier than she ever thought she'd be. But each brother is keeping a secret, and this summer Isabel must choose between the Fisher boys, once and for all. Which brother will it be?

Hmm. I feel very conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I really enjoyed it, but on the other, it took me a while to get into it and I found myself disliking the characters more than I remember. For the first third of the book, I just kind of facepalmed a lot, and that prevented me from really getting into it. I also kind of feel that the ending was a teeny bit rushed, but I did also enjoy it once I overlooked the characters, well, stupidity. Overall, I think I sadly left feeling a tiny bit disappointed, especially as I'd loved the other books so much.

I did really love the fact that we got chapters from Conrad's point view. The man of mystery was finally revealed to us! But at the same time I also feel that that was unfair upon Jeremiah, because I did think that they purposely only showed Jere at his worst just to make Conrad look better. But I did find myself looking forward to Conrad's chapters than Belly's, because I think after all this time, and with him having been so absentee, it was just really interesting to finally see his actual opinion on things. How he really feels about Belly and Jere, and also how he views himself.

I also really liked the fact that all of the characters were college-aged, because even though I'm not that old yet, I do like reading about American college life as much I like reading about American High School life. It's all just as foreign to me. I liked seeing Belly's freshman college experience and how it had differed from her expectations, and that the time of the story spent in college was really well balanced out with the time at Cousin's Beach, so it still had that summery feel to it.

Despite issues I had with the characters (I'll get to that in a minute), by the last 150 pages, I found myself being less distracted by my annoyance, and when I reached the end I was struggling to put it down, just like how I had with the first two. It just took me time to get into the story.

Belly really, really annoyed me in this book, and I didn't really know why because she didn't annoy me this much in the first two! She just came across as being really bratty and stupid, and I am all for flawed characters, but it grated on me because of how unreasonable she was being. I just kind of wanted to shake her by the shoulders and tell her to get her act together, because she was acting like she couldn't do what she was about to do any later than when they were going to do it! No, Belly! You're EIGHTEEN. YOU CAN WAIT. I would definitely have been her mother in that situation. But I think she got less bad as the book went along, and actually gave some thought to what she was going through with and realised why she was doing it. So.

It also annoyed me, because as I said earlier, it felt like we were being made to like Jeremiah less. And I know that people are sometimes different than they really are, and it's a perfectly realistic thing to do, but I liked Jeremiah even though I never wanted him and Belly to be together. I don't have to not like Jere to want Belly and Conrad to be together, y'know? And it felt like that's what was happening, even though I do think that's how Jere would act in that situation, because he's not mature, and I don't really think that he a Belly worked as a couple that well.

One last thing - why is it like she can only be with one of the brothers! I've said this about love triangles before, and maybe if it's not completely apparant to you who you wanted to be with, maybe you shouldn't be with either of them. I know that it's a nice romantic ideal to get to pick from two mega swoonsome brothers, but someone should've had the courage to walk away. Because someone was always going to be hurt, and none of them had to stick around with that. I kind of wish Jere or Conrad or Belly had just realised that none of them were really all that happy and nothing was really happening here and maybe it wasn't all worth it. I don't know. Now that I actually say that it sounds really negative. I guess I'm just not a romantic.

Despite being annoyed by it at first, I did get into We'll Always Have Summer by the end and ended up enjoying it, though I do feel that I didn't love it as much as the first two books in the series.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Avatar: The Legend of Korra And Why It's Not Just For Kids

I know that a lot of you follow me on Twitter, so you're probably all completely fed up with me always going on about this bloody TV show, and I also know that I've been posting a lot about TV shows lately, for which I apologise (but it's my blog so I'll post what I want here), but I NEED to tell everyone about how fantastic I think the show is. This is basically my equivalent of standing on top of a hill, screaming to unsuspecting commonfolk to watch a cartoon.

I don't really think that it'll get dismissed by 'grown-ups' and whatnot, for a few reasons. A) because it kind of is a 'grown-up' show. It has some really dark themes going through it, and it's very easy for people of a wide array of age-groups to connect with the story. B) The characters are older than in TLA, which means that we get all of the awesomeness with extra added teen angst and romantic tension! C) Avatar: The Last Airbender has an awesome fanbase that wouldn't mss this show for the world, and they're all probably a bit older than the target audience (and have no shame in it either, because it is seriously really, really good, and you should watch it too if you haven't already. Though I think some people think it's rubbish because of the film, and to those people I just want to say YOU'RE SO FREAKING WRONG YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW WRONG YOU ARE. Sorry. I feel a strong need to defend it.)

But if you're still on the fence about it, I'm going to tell you (yet again) why you should. Even though it's kind of just going to be the extended of that paragraph up there, actually... God, I probably should've thought about this more. Oh well!

1)Korra. She brash, hot-headed, and the complete oppsite of Aang. All she wants to do is get straight into the fight and duke it out. She can't stand all of the dancing around and being patient, waiting for the right time to strike. But her character development arc is brilliant, and I loved seeing all the different sides of her. She is so much more that some rebellious teenager, and the responsibility she has on her shoulders of being the Avatar terrifies her. I think her problems are things that most people can relate too, and I know that shound insane because people aren't the Avatar and whatever, but all of her problems of identity and belonging are themes that everyone can relate too. That, and she is amazingly kick-butt.

2) Amon and the Equalists. Right, so you thought Firelord Ozai was the worst villian in Avatar history? Wait until you meet Amon. He is scary, he has power, and he's actually fighting for a reasonable cause. He's also a very interesting person, and by then end of the series incredibly human, and, in my opinion, very naive. You never see his face or know his true identity until the last episode, and it IS a shocked. It is also builds up (what I hope) will be a very interesting dynamic in the next series (though I'm not going to spoil it for you, of course). Amon himself is a very interesting person, and I hate him and love hm equally because I genuinley think he's a very well developed villain, and the ending scene with him a Tarrlok on the boat was probably one of the most touching scenes in the series. It was that more than anything that nearly brought me to tears. But the Equalist cause is also really, really interesing, because while essentially they are terrorists, they also have a point. And while they were going about it the wrong way, in trying to oppress benders like the non-benders felt they had been oppressed, it is true that they all deserve equal rights and consideration, and I really hope that this will be the main theme of the whole series.

3) Beautiful animation. This probably seem slightly irrelevant, but if you're a big fan of cartoons/anime like myself, good animation is a really important part of the viewing experience. The action scenes in this series are done amazingly well, and I just love all the visuals. I love the whole 1920's feel they have to it, and all of the new technology, and seeing how those times would be in this world (I really, really, really want to see a third Avatar series set seventy years after this one, just to see how the Avatar would deal in the modern world. I think that would be AWESOME) Also, while we're on the note of the more technical stuff, the music is also awesome for this show. It sets the mood of each scene perfectly, and it's not obtrusive at all. It just all comes together so well on every different level. I love it so much.

4) The romance. I know this may seem a little shallow, and the plot is really the main thing I'm concerned about in the series, but the romance is a million times more prevalent than it was in TLA. And it can get kind of complicated because I think everyone's a little bit in love with everyone, but at the same time it adds a really great dynamic to the show. Though it has turned me off of Mako a bit, because he wasn't a very good boyfriend to Asami, and she really deserves someone who will give her the whole of their romantic attention. Which I why I want Bosami to be a thing. See, if you watched the show, you could make up random ship names with me! It's so much FUN.

5) The 'side' characters. I'm putting side in inverted commas because I don't like the idea that they're any less important than the main characters, because I love them all so much. Lin Beifong (Toph's daughter) is a BAD ASS and I want to be her when I grow up. I also want like a tiny little spin-off webseries about her and Tenzin when they were teenagers, please, because I think that would be amazing. Tenzin's children - Jinora, Ikki and Meelo, make up a lot of my enjoyment for the show, Meelo in particuar. He's hilarious and I love seeing Tenzin in stressed dad mode then super-cool-spiritual-mentor mode. They're just so funny! And Bolin. He's not really a side character, but I want to talk about him. He just makes the show! He's probably one of my favourites (or he would be if everyone else wasn't one of my favourites as well.) and I love how he helps keep the mood light enough for it to be a kids show, even in the really serious moments. I have a special place in my heart for all comic relief characters.

I could literally go on about this show forever, but I'll restrain myself for now, and hope I've convinced at least one person to aybe try the first episode or something. I promise you, you will not regret it, and you can come talk to me on the internet and we can die waiting for series 2 together! Yay! It'll be so FUN.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Graffiti Moon review

Graffiti Moon
Cath Crowley
July 5th 2012
Hodder Children's Books

"Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers."

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

Guys. Guys, guys guys. I have a lot of feelings about this book. Like, the kind of feelings that I'm going to find difficult to actually sum up in words. So I'm just going to keyboard smash my feelings out instead: JSHKkhgkGgKkghaj. And yes. I did just spend a while trying to get a decent keyboard smash.

Everything about this book just worked for me. It's one of the best contemps I've read, which is saying a lot because I love every contemp ever, and I love this one EVER MOAR. It just good in every way possible. The characters were interesting and I felt I learnt more about them in a night than I learn about other characters whose stories take months. The fact that it only took place over a night also worked in it's favour, I think. That the story was told in such an enclosed time space only made the characters seem more vibrant, and despite the fact that it's not an action kind of story with lots of stuff happening, there was never a moment where I thought that it was dragging.

I felt like I wanted to savour each chapter, but at the same time I couldn't stop reading, and I just wanted to speed through it to find out more about Ed and Lucy and Leo and Jazz, because we get a nice balance of backstory and the events that actually happened over the night. This worked really well for the characterisation, because I probably wouldn't have liked Ed half as much if I hadn't have known about Bert and his job at the paint shop. But it also didn't feel like backstory, because they were just all parts of the characters. They wouldn't have been the same people without those things ever being part of their lives (obviously, I guess) but I don't know. It just wouldn't have been right without it.

The writing was absolutely stunning too, and I dream of the day when I can write as well as her. If this is the standard of Aussie YA, then consider me converted. It just flowed so beautifully and yet was still distinct enough for each character perspective to be able to tell the difference. It felt like she had a real passion for art and self expression, and it came across so strongly that it made me want to like modern art (which is saying a lot because me and modern art have problems. Like, I don't get it, but it doesn't want to be got but I can't like stuff unless I get it and it's SO HARD TO GET. Y U SO DIFFICULT, MODERN ART. Sorry.) I think my favourite parts were Poet's, though, because as much as I loved Ed and Lucy's story, I loved reading the poems about Jazz  and how the night was going down on their side, too. It was a really interesting way of getting both their stories across in the middle, while keeping an interesting thrid perspective when all the characters were together and the beginning and end of the book.

I really liked the characters, too (if you hadn't got that already), and I loved the fact that Ed and Lucy already had some kind of relationship a while before the book is set. It was way better than if they were strangers, because that would've been a bit weird (stranger danger, folks!). I felt like I could relate a lot to Lucy, even though I'm not a particulaly arty kid, and she just felt like a very real, palpable teenager, as did Ed. I loved the fact that Ed was kind of a problem kid when he was at school, but that he wasn't stupid or anything like people probably percieved him to be. He wasn't good at words when writing them down, but he expressed his feelings through art, and I felt like Lucy at times - that is this book hadn't have had Ed/Shadow in it at all, you still would've seen him as he was because his heart was painted all over the city walls.

Graffiti Moon is just an amazing book. Lyrical writing and solid, real characters that felt like real people combined beautifully to create something beyond good.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Seraphina review

Rachel Hartman
July 5th 2012
Random House Children's Books

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page. (From Goodreads)

I know I say this all the time, and it's basically cliche number one, but this book completely took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting much from it at all, especially because I got it at a time when I thought I didn't like high fantasy, and I started it and I still wasn't all that excited about it. But having finished it now, I can say this book is amazingly good. It's kind of a slow burner (or at least it was for me), but I found myself slowly getting more and more into it, and by the last 100 pages I couldn't put it down.

As I said, it took me a while to get into it. I think that's possibly because the proof was literally huge (like, Cassie Clare ppb sized) and that kind of scared me off. I think I have some kind of fear of big books, like I automatically assume I'm going to be bored by them. I need to get out of that mind set... But any way! Yeah, it did take me about 100 pages to realise that I was actually enjoying this book. Which sounds strange, but I'd only been reading about 20 pages at a time because I just thought that it'd be a bit of a struggle. Around the time that I hit the 150 page mark, though, I found myself not wanting to put the book down. I didn't even realise I'd become that invested by the story.

I really adored Seraphina, she just worked for me on so many levels. I don't usually connect as well with fantasy heroines, but I just felt really in tune with Seraphina, I guess? Despite the language and the setting, she just felt really normal. She was just stuck between two worlds, and in this case it was a little more severe than the normal. ie, with more dragons. I also think that she was just a really brave, admirable person, and even though she'd had to lie a lot in order to get along in normal society, she was still a very honest person. She didn't like lying to anyone, and unless she really had to lie to protect herself, she would be as honest as she could. I also just really liked her voice. I don't know... I think I just resonated more with her as a character than I usually do.

There were also a lot of interesting relationships in this book, and I loved the fact that (in my eyes, anyway) the main relationship of the story wasn't a romantic one, but the one between Seraphina and Orma. They had such an interesting relationship, and it was nice to see how Orma reacted to it, what with him being a dragon (in human form, mind), and it made me really sad at the end, because as much as I knew what was going to happen, it was still uspetting because they were so close and they didn't want to leave each and it's just so sad! I hope they'll see each other again.

I thought that the whole dynamic between Seraphina, Kiggs and Glisselda, too, because although Kiggs and Glisselda are engaged, you can tell that Phina and Kiggs are going to have some sort of romatic altercation, too, and Kiggs is just so nice, and Glisselda is so lovely to Phina, too, and doesn't even judge when she finds out about Phina being what she is. And the thing that I loved most of all is that regardless, they were all friends, and none of them were bitchy to each other and it was just awesome. Why are there not more friendships like Glisselda's and Phina's in books, huh? And another thought, why are there not more guys like Kiggs?! He's so concerned with being honest all the time, and he's such an open friendly person and so much more interesting and pleasant to read about than all those broody fellows who look miserable all the time and compare their girlfriends to drugs.

The dragons were also a really fascinating part of this book, as I haven't really read many books with dragons in them. Nope, not even Eragon. I really loved how they were portrayed here, though, as being these emotionall, scholarly types who aren't really concerned with feeling things, but have a desperate need to learn, and for pedantic specifics about everything. I much preferred this to having them be some kind of feral beasts, and the whole stuff about the treaty was interesting too. I loved seeing how such a recently imposed law had affected this world, and the humans feelings about dragons being among them, as well as how the dragons felt being among humans. It was just really good, and led the world to feeling so much more well developed.

The writing was really beautiful, too, and the book actually felt kind of alive, I guess? I don't know, it just felt like the writing was brimming with personality and it felt really lively, and I don't get that feeling often with books. It did literally feel like it was coming off the page (allow me the cliche, just this once). It was just kind of magical. (*cringes at self. Also, let's count how many times I say kind of in this review. My guess, too many...)

Seraphina completely took me by surprise and blew me away. I wasn't expecting anything nearly thing good when I started reading, and I'm so glad that I decided to pick it up. It is one decision I will not regret.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Letterbox Love #6

Letterbox Love is the UK's version of IMM, hosted by the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking :)

Only one book this week, but I'm really excited about it!

For review:
Dreamless by Josephine Angelini (the UK proof cover for this is awesome! I'm gonna need a recap on what happened in the first book, though...)

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Until I Die review

Until I Die 
Amy Plum
May 3rd 2012
Atom Books

Kate and Vincent have overcome the odds and at last they are together in Paris, the city of lights and love.

As their romance deepens there’s one question they can’t ignore: How are they supposed to be together if Vincent can’t resist sacrificing himself to save others? Although Vincent promises that he’ll do whatever it takes to lead a normal life with Kate, will that mean letting innocent people die? When a new and surprising enemy reveals itself, Kate realizes that even more may be at stake—and that Vincent’s immortality is in jeopardy.

In Die for Me, Amy Plum created a captivating paranormal mythology with immortal revenants and a lush Paris setting. Until I Die is poised to thrill readers with more heart-pounding suspense, spellbinding romance, and a cliff-hanger ending that will leave them desperate for the third and final novel in the series.

After reading and enjoying Die For Me last year, I was fairly excited to read Until I Die. I'm not a huge fan of paranormal romance any more, and there are few series that have made me want to read past the second book, but Die For Me was one of them, and while Until I Die was not without it's flaws, it's still a really enjoyable read and I series I'm glad I've stuck with.

I had forgotten quite a lot of what had happened in Die For Me. I mean, it has been a year since I read it after all, and my memory isn't that good, but as soon as I started this (well, maybe that's a slight exaggeration.) After the first few chapters of Until I Die, it all came back to me, and I was back in the world of Revenants and Numa, and was pretty darn happy there. I'd forgotten how much I actually genuinely liked the characters (because lets face it, me and Paranormal characters don't usually get on that well) and I found myself enjoying it more than I thought I would. My one main criticism is that after the initial settling back down into the series, it felt a bit slow, and it wasn't until later on that the plot and some action really started to kick in. 

I really, really like the characters in this series, and I really, really like Kate. Which, again, is kind of a surprise because in a lot of books I relate more to the side characters, but Kate doesn't really feel all meek and helpless, and SWORDS! Sorry, as soon as you bring badass swordfighting into anything ever, I love it. And I'll be honest, it's one of my favourite things about the Revenants. That they don't use guns, or shooty things. They use swords and other pointy things! And crossbows! Crossbows were mentioned! I need there to be more crossbows in the next book please, Amy, so could you please make Kate a crossbow master? It would make me very, very happy. But yeah, I like Kate a lot, because she also has a personality and stuff. Which is always a good thing, I think.

I like Vincent, too, and he's a nice guy and stuff, which I like, but he is so overprotective! I understand that he loves Kate, and that he wants to make sure that she's safe and that she doesn't get killed, because I think that most sane people who love someone would rather it that the person they love didn't die, but come on dude! Let the girl breathe a little! You don't always need to send someone to guard her and chauffeur her to and from school and everything! *takes a deep breath* Okay, so he wasn't *that* bad, but he still annoyed me a little. I guess it's sometimes sweet, and it just goes to show that he really likes Kate a lot. And I do really like them together as a couple, so I shan't complain too much (she says after a paragraph of complaining.)

I can't believe that I forgot all about Georgia when I started reading Until I Die! She's become one of my favourite characters, and I would be very, very happy about the idea of her and Arthur as a couple. I wish Charlotte had been around in this book more, though. I really liked her and Kate's friendship in the first book, and I really hope that she'll play a more prominent part in the next one. Arthur and Violette (the two new characters) were both very interesting (you'll see what I mean when you read it) and I actually quite liked both of them, until certain events made me change my mind. And Ambrose I just love, and will always love, and I hope nobody destroys him in the next book because both him and Jules seem very much like the kind of character designated for being extremely loveable, and then the author does the evil thing and KILLS THEM. But I'll be honest, I didn't like Jules a whole lot in this book either. Well, I didn't like him as much as I did in the first one any way.

Until I Die is a good follow up to Die For Me, that keeps the series strong, despite a slow start. It's a series really worth checking out if you haven't already, and you're a paranormal fan!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Throne of Glass review

Throne of Glass
Sarah J. Mass
August 2nd 2012

Celaena Sardothien is a daredevil assassin with unrivalled fighting skills. After a year’s hard labour in the salt mines of the kingdom of Adarlan, Celaena is offered her freedom on one condition—she must fight as handsome Prince Dorian’s champion in a contest sponsored by the king, facing the deadliest thieves and assassins in the land in a series of set-piece battles in the country’s stunning glass palace. But there is more at stake than even her life—for Celaena is destined for a remarkable future...

I have been in a huge fantasy mood lately, because of a certain amazing TV show that I will not name for fear I'll get all sad about it having finished (Monday's suck now), so as soon as I got the email about Throne of Glass I leapt at the chance to read it. I always used to think I didn't like fantasy, but as with contemp, it turns out that I really do like it. A lot. Otherwise I wouldn't keep on reading it, now, would I! And Throne of Glass was all that I expected it to be: Bad-ass.

Initially, for about the first 10 odd pages, I guess, I thought that Calaena was really going to annoy me (I think she's going to annoy me most now though - worst thing about fantasy; annoying, hard to spell names...) because I guess she kind of came across as arrogant, but after a while you learn that a) there's a lot more to here beneath the bravado and b) you kind of like her self assurance! It's kind of weird reading about characters who know that they're attractive and aren't afraid to say about it, (which is pretty bad, and I guess it's also really bad that that's the main reason I didn't like her at first, but that's for another time) but I wasn't going to complain because she is really pretty and there's no shame in her knowing and flaunting that, and also because she's a freaking assassin. Like, the most famous assassin in her whole country. And she really is badass, in every single way. But not only that! Behold, she has a heart and human feelings too! And her loyalty, and how much she cared about her friends was one of my favourite things about her.

The love triangle was also fairly well done, and it didn't have me wanting to throw the book at the wall like most love triangles do, which is a bloody high compliment coming from me. For a while I was genuinely torn about who I wanted her to be with, though about half way through I realised who I was backing and that it wasn't exactly going in his favour, but the ending was leading up to a series SO WE SHALL SEE (because I am determined that she should not be with Dorian! I like him and all, it'd just be so complicated. Chaol all the way!) Another thing I really liked about it, though, was that even though they obviously liked her because she's pretty, they got to know her too, and it was actually a pretty slow building romance for all of them.

While the beginning and ending were jam packed with action, I did feel that the middle dragged a little and I found myself wanting to read more about the training sessions and the Tests, but it was all necessary to the plot because, well, it kind of was the plot! And after it really got into shape, I started to enjoy the whole discovering-what's-going-on-with-these-creepy-dead-bodies thing. And I know that they needed a break from the action to develop relationships, but still I think I would've preferred just the teeniest bit more. Saying that, I really enjoyed the more magical aspect of it, even though the Wyrdmarks weren't technically magical or anything, that was still really cool, and it added the perfect amount of darkness to the story.

The world building was really great in this book, and I really hope that in the next book we get see more of Adarlan and Erilea, and that it focuses more on the King and whatever he's up to, because what ever he is it's obviously bad. What is it with all these corrupt kings, eh? Why can't they just do stuff for the good of their people instead of because they have some sort of power complex! Oh well, wouldn't be a plot without them. But yeah, even though you hardly ever get to actually see places beyond the castles walls, you get a really good sense of the world it's set in, and the state of things and what's going on. Also, I sense lots of THINGS will happen in the next book! World buildy, evil king, people's rebellion kind of things. And I am excited because I love it when stories get put on to a bigger scale and they work! So I hope it'll work, and that it will go to the scale I'm predicting, otherwise I think I'll be a bit disappointed.

Throne of Glass is a must read for YA fantasy fans as it'll give you a whole new world to fall in love with, with awesome characters, and non-irritating love triangle, and a tiny bit of dark magic because what would any fantasy be without it! ;)

Thursday, 7 June 2012

What's Up With Jody Barton review

What's Up With Jody Barton
Hayley Long
May 31st 2012
Macmillan Children's Books

Me and my sister are twins. She's Jolene and I'm Jody. We've both got brown hair, we're both left-handed and we both have these weirdly long little toes which make us look like long-toed mutants. But apart from that, I'd say we're fairly different. Well, actually, we're a lot different . . . It's hard enough being one half of the world's least identical twins, without both of you falling for the same guy. Jolene's turned flirting into a fine art, but Jody? Not so much. And as if a twinny love triangle wasn't messy enough . . . there's something nobody knows about Jody Barton. Something BIG. Told with the trademark warmth and laugh-out-loud humour of the much-loved LOTTIE BIGGS books, this is a book that will make you think, with a gobsmacking twist you won't believe.

What's Up With Jody Barton is completely not the book I expected it to be. The blurb on the back of the copy I have (not the one posted here) gave me a really wrong impression about the book, but that's not to say that it detracted from my enjoyment of it at all, because it was a really great story that isn't as much about love as one might have thought.

I kind of guessed the twist about 50 pages in, and I kind of kicked myself that I hadn't realised it earlier. Once you know what it is, you'll see how obvious it is, and that Jody hadn't been the person you'd thought they were at all. God, this is really hard to talk about without accidentally spoiling anything... It is a really, really good twist though, and it turns the story into what you least thought it would be.

Jody and Jolene were really fun to read about, and they really are the world's least identical twins! I actually really liked both of them, though I spent a lot of the book wanting to kick some sense into them too. There was a bit near-ish the end where I really wanted to smack Jolene, but at the same time I could see where she'd been coming from, and her hurt was totally justifiable. I also really liked the whole theme of self discovery and being comfortable with who you are regardless, and that it's something that Jody finally took to heart by the end.

So yeah, as I've said, it's really not a love story, so keep that in mind when you read it. Because the love interest is kind of a major dick, and you will 100 percent want to cause him minor physical harm by the end of it. In fact, even by the middle of it! He may be pretty, but he's a nasty piece of work, and I'm sorry if I broke all your illusions of him when you're reading it, but I had to vent because I just really, really didn't like him, and Jody and Jolene will do a million times better than him.

I also thought it was really interesting that there was a tiny bit of cyber bullying involved too, and that Jody really couldn't face going into school after everything that had happened. It still kind of amazes me that people in this day and age could still be that cruel and ignorant, especially my generation, but it's true, and some people are just small minded and cold. But if they're going to treat Jody like that then they weren't real friends any way, and I much preferred Chatty Chong in the first place because there is absolutely nothing wrong with drawing isosceles triangles for fun.

Plus I really liked the use of drawings and different text sizes to express emphasis and give a better idea about what Jody was feeling and anything with pictures of Jim Morrison's face in it is a guaranteed win. Who doesn't love The Doors?! Apart from Jolene, of course... ;) But I know that this is something used in her Lottie Biggs books, too, and I really want to read those now as well.

What's Up With Jody Barton is a really great, funny book about knowing who you are and not being ashamed of it, plus it has a killer twist! 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Game of Thrones Season Two or Holy Freaking Crap That Show Is Good

Guys. Guys. I need to talk about this freaking TV show (again), okay? Because season 2 just ended and it's literally one of the best things I've ever seen ever. But just warning you, if you haven't seen season two yet, do not read this because I'll probably spoil stuff.

Warnings over and done with, it's time to fangirl! Right, so I know I say this about possibly every TV show I watch ever, but this is honestly one of the best things on TV, and even though I know that I technically shouldn't be watching it, this season actually hasn't been that icky, for which I'm thankful. It's like, for about 4 episodes in the middle of the season there was practically no nudity/gross violence and I started to wonder if I was watching the wrong show! At the same time I didn't really care because it has one of the cleverest plots ever and I needed to spend all of my time concentrating on it or I'd be really bloody confused.

I love how well written this show is, and how well the characters are played and just everything about it. I love that there is no good and bad, and it is all just shades of grey because when it comes to big wars and stuff there isn't really a good and bad, and especially when it comes to fantasy (in my limited experience) there always seems to be the whole good against evil thing. I don't like the Lannister's, or the Greyjoy's, but I don't think that they're evil, y'know? Everyone is doing what they're doing in this show either because they think that it's the right thing, or because it's what they want to do. There is no greater good, and I think that that's really interesting.

And the characters! Rarely does a show make me either love or hate characters like this show does. I've spoken about them before, but I have even more feelings for them now that the season has ended. Like Arya. I loved her before, and I love her even more now. I don't think that there'll ever be a time when she's not one of my favourite fictional people ever, and the whole stuff that happened between her and Tywin (who I think has a bit of a soft spot for her now) and Jaqen (who I seriously need to know more about because WTF was that stuff he did with his face?! That's freaking weird). I love how feisty she is, and I want to be her a little bit. Not in a weird way or anything, I just thing she's awesome. Plus I hope that Gendry stays in it for a bit longer. I like him too! And Tyrion! I genuinely was nearly in tears in the last episode, during that scene between him and Shae. Of course she loves you, you stupid fool! And his whole stunt in Blackwater? One of the best motivation speeches ever. I don't understand how anyone could ever not like Tyrion. He could do the worst thing ever and I'd still find it impossible to hate him.

Also, Cersai freaking Lannister. Okay, I seriously don't like her at all, but she is one of the most fascinating, complex characters in the show (and that's saying something), and her scenes in Blackwater were some of the best I've seen her been in the show. She's a really amazing actor, and she plays Cersai amazingly well. The bit at the end of that episode where she was telling her son the story about the Lion and about to poison him? Yeah. That. And Brienne of Tarth! I actually really like her, and I want to read the books so that I can see more about her, because I wasn't that bothered about her at first, and then she had to start dragging Jamie over to King's Landing and she doesn't take shit from anyone! She's a bad ass, and I'm looking forward to see where their plot is going to go in season 3.

I could spend years talking about the characters alone, but I'm going to stop there. Possibly. I might have to hate on Joffery first. Joffery is the worse person ever and I hate him and why hasn't someone just punched the cockiness out of him yet?! There might have been a brief period where I actually thought he wasn't that bad, but nope, he's just a spineless, arrogant kid and I feel really bad for Loras's sister for wanting to get married to that shit. They're both going to end up dying. but at least Sansa's (kind of) free! I actually like Sansa now, because she kept on very discreetly sticking up for herself, and she's got some sense about her now.

The last two episodes kind of blew my mind a little. The Battle of Blackwater Bay was so intense, and I was so gripped I don't think I could look away. Even that time when that guy got the top of his skull sliced off. I was kind of sad though because I think Davos is dead, and I liked him! But it really showed the true sides of all the characters involved. That Joffery, under all of his bravado, can't face up to war and wanted to hide when given the opportunity,  that Tyrion took charge and ran an attact, that Cersai does actually care for her children so much and would do anything to protect them, that Sansa's not as cowardly as she looks (though she still probably should've gone off with the hound for her own sake. I don't trust Littlefinger.)

And Valar Morghulis! It tied up a lot of loose ends, but it left loads more, and that very last bit with Sam? What the actual hell?! I NEED to know what is happening there. Also, I think Dany is going to stop annoying me know, because she has her dragons back now and she is fierce. Nothing is going to get in her way! Though it probably will. I still want her to get with Jorah though. It won't ever happen, but it really should. 

I going to put a lid on it now, because this turned out being a lot longer than I intended it to be. I kind of have a massive GoT sized hole in my life now, though, so charitable TV recommendations would be very welcome. Especially because I'll have about two months to kill this summer!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Adorkable review

Sarra Manning
May 24th 2012
Atom Books

Jeane Smith is seventeen and has turned her self-styled dorkiness into an art form, a lifestyle choice and a profitable website and consultancy business. She writes a style column for a Japanese teen magazine and came number seven in The Guardian's 30 People Under 30 Who Are Changing The World. And yet, in spite of the accolades, hundreds of Internet friendships and a cool boyfriend, she feels inexplicably lonely, a situation made infinitely worse when Michael Lee, the most mass-market, popular and predictably all-rounded boy at school tells Jeane of his suspicion that Jeane's boyfriend is secretly seeing his girlfriend. Michael and Jeane have NOTHING in common - she is cool and individual; he is the golden boy in an Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirt. So why can't she stop talking to him?

I am seriously in love with this book. It's been a while since I've read a book with a character whose voice is as distinct as Jeane's, and it kind of wasn't like a lot of contemps that I've read in the way that the romance happened in a weird way. Plus the dual narration between Jeane and Michael worked really well in favour of the story and I can't decide whose chapters I liked more.

Jeane was really interesting to read about, and I really did love her despite the fact that there were a lot of times where she needed a slap or for someone to shake her or something. I think that it was incredible all the things she'd done with her life and the whole Adorkable thing, and I liked how her relationship with Michael developed. She could be really disagreeable at times, and she could be a bit of a bitch because of how much she thought it was important to stand out from the crowd and to push people from 'the crowd' away, but there also were a lot of times where I could relate a lot and I thought that it was really great that we got to see her more vulnerable side too, and she made a really great emotional journey throughout the book. If you think you don't like her for the first half of the book, you will by the end, I guarantee.

Michael was also really, really cool, and I can't believe I didn't realise it was a dual perspective book! I liked getting to see the whole weird thing from his point of view, too. He was a lot more than Jeane first made him out to be, and I actually liked him a lot. I don't think I could've handled a whole book written from  Jeane's perspective so it was nice to have something a bit more neutral, I guess? But he had a good voice too, and I liked getting to see what he thought of Jeane, which at first wasn't always good things. Plus I just really, really loved the way the romance developed and whatever they might've thought, they so work as a couple. 

I also really liked the way it dealt with the internet aspect of the book. I love that more books are including social media and seeing tweets between characters always makes me happy. Obviously, because of the whole Jeane being the head of a burgeoning media-dork-empire, there was a lot about Twitter and blogging in here, and the idea that people on the internet aren't always middle aged men, and that it is OK to find people on the internet who are like who because they probably aren't actually homicidal maniacs. I liked how it showed that the internet is a good place for making friends with people who are like you, who you can't find IRL, because that's exactly what happened to me. But I also liked how it showed that having read friends and family are just as important and you shouldn't shun the people closest to you because you already have friends on the internet. I liked how it showed you can have both, because I need both otherwise I'd have no sanity left! Or maybe I WOULD be actually sane! I can't think which is worse. (I'm not insane, just so you know.)

Also, and I just want to talk about this because I have to, the sex scene in this book is possible the most British thing I've ever read in my life. It's not exactly tasteful, fade-to-black, but I really admired the fact that yes teens have sex, and yes they know about sex, and we shouldn't always shy away from talking about sex with them. Also, ot was just kind of awkward and typically British feeling and I know I've already said that, but I felt to say it again. It's my blog and I do what I want ;p I enjoy books that are open about the fact that sex happens, but that don't, like, romanticise it all either. Not that that's a bad thing either, but sometimes reading about awkward sex is good too, and it seems to be something that British authors are really good at doing. Writing about, I mean! (Just an observation of British books I've read that involve sex and other books I've read that involve sex. Maybe it's a cultural thing. I think I'm done talking about sex now, I can practically feel myself blushing.) (Not that I have any right to talk about this kind of stuff either because I really don't know much about sex, because I'm still kind of in that Ewww-Gross-Sex stage of my life. I'm practically a ten year old.)

So, after the awkwardess paragraph ever, Adorkable is one of the best British contemps I've read, and I just really adored it! Or adorked it, though that doesn't sound quite as good. It is well and truly adorkable!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Letterbox Love #5

Letterbox Love is the UK's version of IMM, hosted by the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking :)

Adorkable by Sarah Manning (started it yesterday, and I love it so far!)
What's Up With Jody Barton by Hayley Long (I heard really great things about this and it sounds like exactly what I'm in the mood for.)
Until I Die by Amy Plum (I liked the first one, so I'm looking forward to this)

The Masque of The Red Death by Bethany Griffin (This book sounds so many levels of awesome. Thank you Indigo!)
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (Still haven't read the first one, but as soon as I'm done with Vampire Academy, I will start reading these. Thank you Penguin!)

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