Friday, 31 August 2012

Is There Any Sense Left In The World (Of YA Fiction)

(Edit/Preface: Beware all ye, who click on the link with the idea that this might be an actual discussion. It is merely a cleverly, yet misleadingly, titled drabble about me being a boring teenager, than actual sense or YA fiction. Enter at your own risk.)

A: YES. But I am a teenager, and henceforth full of Inane Teenage Bullshit, and feel to make my opinion known an something that really isn't a matter of any importance because it is quite frankly not all that true. But I don't bother you with my Bullshit that often, so I feel like it's okay for me to make invalid points every now and again. I'm 16, for crying out loud! I'm basically a walking, breathing mass of hormones and contradictions to things that do not need contradicting.

Nevertheless. It is late, and I'm not nearly vocal enough (nor do I have any people who really want to listen to my Teenage Bullshit on things that aren't in anyway relevant to them) in Real Life. So I will do it here.

I have a question for you, dear Followers. Does stuff ever happen to sensible people? Because apparently stuff only ever happens to you if you're reckless and never stop to think about your decisions. The number of times that I read books where the characters just make the most idiotic decisions is ridiculous, and it frustrates me so much! I do understand that if they didn't, then there wouldn't be much of a story, but come on. Rational teenagers do exist, you know, and I feel that on behalf of all Rational Teenagers of the world, we're a marginally misrepresented population (though, ironically, this thought is probably rather irrational. Did I mention it was late?)

I'm going to confess something to you. I am a Sensible Best Friend. If I was a character in the book of my own life, I wouldn't even be the main one. I would just be that friend that's always around to give the main character the most logical advice which he/she would then completely ignore. I am that person, only less sassy. (I am working on the sass, just so you know. It's been a life's dream of mine to be sassy. Unfortunately, it hasn't been working out to well for me. I'm really rather bad at it.) All of my life that isn't being with my friends is so uneventful that I think I'm going to look back at my teenage years, and all I'm going to remember is sitting a chair writing ITB, reading books and trying to get a new high score on Temple Run. That isn't good, is it? You see, I need to read books about stuff happening to sensible teenagers, because otherwise I'll just keep on going on thinking nothing interesting will happen to me because it never happens to the people in fiction! Don't get me wrong, I'm very content with my lifestyle, and I'm a very happy (if not slightly bored) person. But next time, can we just not have a character with some sense throw it all away for the sake of The Moment. Can we just not do the whole I Used Think About My Actions But Now I'm Having So Much Fun And Facebook Philosophies and Wow I'm So Much More Fulfilled Now I'm A Teenage Rebel And Make All The Boring Sensibles In My Life Look Upon My Sudden New Choices With Disdain And Disappointment. I think I made those last ones up, but you get my drift, right?

Well, I'm not even sure what my Drift is at this point, but I'm capitalising the the first letter of lots of words so it must be important, right? It is really quite late. I hope you'll forgive me for this in the morning.

Where was I? Oh yeah, sensible people. I can't be the only teenager who doesn't want a sweeping epic romance all the time, can I? And I know what you're thinking, you KNEW it'd come down to the romance eventually. I always start it like it's about something else, but it always comes down to the same thing. But it makes people so stupid! I can't be the only teenager who doesn't want to see a person throw away their goals and dreams for a person. Who wants to read about a person who doesn't fall the romantic Shtick and calls them out on their BS. Who tells them straight up that it's not okay to decide stuff for them, and is just all round really sensible and likes themselves and doesn't take others shit, and maybe they have a romance or maybe they don't because they haven't really got the time/doesn't really want a serious commitment/isn't really all that into them anyway.

But I've never been in love before (this really is just all my other so-called 'Discussion posts'. You can probably just ignore it.) Does it really turn people into quivering idiots all the time? Because if it does then I do not want. My sensibleness is one of the things I admire about myself, and I'd be really disappointed if I gave it all up for some fleeting romance. Besides, if I end up changing that much for another person, I probably wouldn't want to be with them anyway. I like myself the way I am, and I don't want to change that for anyone but myself. And I definitely don't want to be the girl whose friends say that she's changed behind her back now that she's got a boyfriend. Another thing I pride myself on is my steadfast ability to not change (and no, I neither know nor care if that sentence made sense). So I don't think my problem is with the occasional silly heroine. I think it's just my inability in understanding why you'd want that, why that'd be the main thing you wanted from life. But really, you know me. I have this whole unjustified rage about codependency. I should probably get over it. Some People Want Codependent Relationships, Deal With It! 

I don't think this ended up really having anything to do with the title at all. All it really is is early morning Teenage epiphanies. Sorry to burden your Google Readers with this irrelevant nonsense. This is probably one of those that I wrote more to get my feelings out than to really make sense, isn't it? Oh, well, it's nice for me to document my thoughts about myself and my opinions somewhere. Though maybe I should stop doing it on the internet...

I'm stopping now. I think I need some sleep.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Under the Never Sky review

Under the Never Sky
Veronica Rossi
February 7th 2012
Atom Books



Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I didn't love it or anything, but I just thought that it'd be okay. I'm not usually too keen on dystopians, apart from the obvious, but I think the biggest draw for me was that it didn't feel dystopian. Apart from the first and last parts of the book, it was all set outside in the Death Shop, so it felt a lot more like a fantasy, and was way more up my street than other dystopias out there.

I really liked that it was told from two perspectives. I know I'm in a minority here, but I really, really like books with more than one character telling the story. I do think it was weird that it was dual perspective third person, though, because it had their names at the top of their respective chapters, and with 3rd person you don't really need that. Only a minor niggle, though! I still really enjoyed getting to see the story from both of their points of view.

At the beginning, I wasn't too convinced by the idea of Aria and Perry's relationship. In the blurb, they make it out like it's all about this epic romance, but it takes a long time for that romance to kick in, and even then there's a lot more to the story. But my main qualm with their relationship in the beginning was that when they met, they didn't even have that I-Hate-You-But-SEXUAL-TENSION kind of thing going on, which was what I was expecting. I did think it felt a bit forced when they eventually started to have feelings for each other, because I did feel like it was more of a thing where they'd just been left alone together for a while so they must be in love and there's no way ANYONE could change that, but then again, that's basically every dramatic romance ever (that's not of the Forbidden variety, anyway) so I can't really complain. And I liked it by the end, anyway, even if the whole Rendering business set my teeth on edge.

I was actually surprised by how much I liked Aria. That sounds a bit bitchy, really, doesn't it? But I was expecting her to be a weak, helpless, Let The Big Man Save Me kind of girl, so I was really glad when I saw her, despite a lot of shit happening to her, being stronger because of it. I really liked seeing her adapt better to being stuck out in the Death Shop with Perry. I thought she was actually really strong and I really liked reading her chapters.

I did like Perry's chapters only a tiny bit more though, because I was definitely more interested in seeing how he lived on the outside, and their society with all the Tribes and the Marked and stuff. I just thought that that was more interesting than Aria's world. Though that being said, I did find the Domes interesting, too. I liked seeing how different the two kinds of people were, and how different they both were, and I think that what's happening to the people who do live in the domes is a really interesting development, and I'm looking forward to seeing how they make that work.

I also can't wait to see a bit more friction in Perry and Aria's relationship. I thought it was a bit soon in a trilogy to have the main couple being kind of together, so I'm hoping that there will be LOADS of problems for them ahead. I hope that Perry gets a new love interest, actually, because I think it'd be a more interesting love triangle had a new love interest. I also really hope we get to see lots more about Roar, because he's easily my favourite character, as well as seeing more about the Marked. I really want to see Aria harness her skills as an Aud, as well. Most of all, though, I want to find out more about Cinder. He was definitely the most interesting character in the book, and I really want to see more about how he got his powers from the Aether, as well as finding out what Aether actually is and how it came about in the first place.

This is definitely a trilogy I'll be sticking with, as I really liked it and enjoyed it way more than I ever thought I would. Although it took a while to get into, it really is worth it.

Monday, 27 August 2012

FrostFire review

Zoe Marriott
July 5th 2012
Walker Books

Frost is cursed - possessed by a wolf demon that brings death everywhere she goes. Desperate to find a cure, she flees her home, only to be captured by the Ruan Hill Guard. Trapped until she can prove she is not an enemy, Frost grows increasingly close to the Guard’s charismatic leader Luca and his second in command, the tortured Arian. Torn between two very different men, Frost fears that she may not be able to protect either of them ... from herself.

I've been really, really excited about this book ever since it was announced, especially after I read and loved Shadows on the Moon last year, even though I was little apprehensive about the fact that there's a big love triangle in it (you know how I feel about love triangles.) But I really didn't need to worry at all! I really loved this book, and I really need to read the rest of Zoe's books (though I think I'll have to spread them out so that I don't have to wait too long without her books before The Night Itself comes out, which I am ridiculously excited about.)

This book was really weird for me, because it was full of things that usually really irritate me in books (eg: Love Triangle - and yes, I will keep on talking about the love triangle. It will be a recurring thing in this review. Frost herself had certain traits at the beginning that usually set me on edge, ect) but I found them being some of my favourite aspects of the story. They were just all pulled off so well and were so integral to the story and character development that it didn't bother me at all. I think it also had a lot to do with the fact that I loved all the characters so much that I wanted her to be with both of them, because there was no way that this love triangle could end happily. Which is another thing I really liked (well, appreciated) about it. It wasn't afraid to end badly. One of the main things that really irritates me about love triangles is that they often feel really half hearted, like a bad attempt to ratchet up romantic tension in the place of an actual plot, and because it's so obvious who the girl will end up with, you're just not invested in it at all. And even though with this book, I could kind of tell who Frost would end up with, that didn't impact how much I cared about her relationship with the other boy either. They all felt like real people, and their feelings for each other all made vast and believable developments to their personalities.

I also felt like I'd have some issues connecting with Frost, because to herself, at least, she's a person who runs away from her problems and she doesn't really like herself all that much, but then I remembered how at the beginning of Shadows I'd thought I'd have a bit of an issue with Suzume, but then I ended up really liking her. It's all about the character development (I'm really starting to feel like a douche when I say stuff about character development. I always talk about it like I know stuff, which I generally don't.) By the end of the book, I really loved Frost because she's brave and determined and kind, if not sometimes a bit coarse about it, and she'd always been the person who Luca had thought she was, even if she couldn't see it. And that's the wondrous thing about her. That she realises she is the person she wanted to be, and that she did have the strength to fight the wolf and own her badassery, and that she wasn't a bad guy. She was a hero.

Luca and Arian were also both really, really great, and I loved seeing how all the things that had happened to them during the book had impacted them as people. Luca was definitely the most interesting, and I was really surprised by what happened to him. I knew that something bad would happen, but I really didn't expect the story to be taken in that direction, though I am so glad for it. I mean, it was a horrible thing to happen to him, and I felt really terrible and I just wanted to give him a hug after all the awful stuff he'd been through (though at that point I don't think he would've appreciated it. Or let me near him at all, really), but it also felt like a natural reaction for him to have. There's no way that he could've stayed the Golden Boy who brings hope to all the strays he picks up for the whole book. I'm still really pleased with how it ended though. Kind of. I cried.

I do have to admit, though, that as much as I adore both Frost and Luca, Arian was my favourite character. Not as a love interest, but just as a person. What can I say, I have a bit of a soft spot for the stand-offish boy who's secretly really actually quite nice and just pushes people away to save himself pain. I thought it was really sweet the way he slowly opened up the Frost, and there were moments between them that I just wanted to frame or pause or whatever because of how lovely they were. I won't lie, I think one of my favourite scenes in the whole book was when they were singing together around the campfire. Someone with artistic ability should draw that for me. I would genuinely hang it on my wall. I also have to say, though, that as far as the love triangle was concerned, after about 2/3s through the book, I really wanted them to be best friends as opposed to romantic partners. I will also say that I think how this book ended was really the only way it could've ended to allow what did happen to, well, happen. Though I kind of hate Zoe a little bit for it. BEWARE. SHE WILL BREAK YOUR HEART.

I'm actually really proud of this review. Usually when I love a book I'm completely incoherent and no one can really make that much sense of my rambles, but this actually makes me sound relatively intelligent! Yay! Honestly, though, this book is just really good, and I feel the need to push it into all of your hands. ALL OF YOU.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Letterbox Love #15

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

(... I will take a good picture one week, guys. I will.)

Falling Fast by Sophie McKenzie 
Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (The lovely Jim from YA Yeah Yeah gave me these at the UK YA meet up on Monday, because he had a whole load of books to get rid of, and these were some books that I'd been curious about, but not enough to want to actually buy them, so, thanks Jim!)
Team Human (bought this in Foyles. I was so psyched to finally get a chance to buy a copy of it! Review here)
FrostFire by Zoe Marriott (been meaning to get this since it came out because I loved Zoe's last book, and I talk to her a bit on Twitter. I knew Foyles would have signed copies, so I picked it up there.)
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager (Wanted to read this ever since I saw Carla's review of it! Yay for it being pubbed in the UK!)

Team Human review

Team Human
Justine Larbalestier & Sarah Rees Brennan
July 3rd 2012

Just because Mel lives in New Whitby, a city founded by vampires, doesn't mean she knows any of the blood-drinking undead personally. They stay in their part of town; she says in hers. Until the day a vampire shows up at her high school. Worse yet, her best friend, Cathy, seems to be falling in love with him. It's up to Mel to save Cathy from a mistake she might regret for all eternity

On top of trying to help Cathy (whether she wants it or not), Mel is investigating a mysterious disappearance for another friend and discovering the attractions of a certain vampire wannabe. Combine all this with a cranky vampire cop, a number of unlikely romantic entanglements, and the occasional zombie, and soon Mel is hip-deep in an adventure that is equal parts hilarious and touching.

Acclaimed authors Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan team up to create a witty and poignant story of cool vampires, warm friendships, and the changes that test the bonds of love.

I'd heard a lot of mixed things about this book, but I knew that ever since it was announced that I was going to HAVE to read it. Any book that parodies the paranormal romance trope whilst still retaining the warmth and emotion that you want in YA book is a definite win by my means. This is the first book I've read by both Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan, but I'm definitely feeling more inclined to pick up The Demon's Lexicon and I'm 100% going to get Unspoken as soon as it comes out.

Those of you who regularly read my blog, and have done so for a while, surely know about my general contempt for insta-love and sappy, clingy romances in general (sorry, I'm just not a romantic), and hearing that this was kind of a mickey take of the insta-love trope made me want to read it straight away. But it actually surprised me when I found myself becoming a lot more emotionally invested in it than I ever thought I would be. The book was funny throughout, don't get me wrong, and it kept me laughing the whole way through, but there were times near the end where I'd get those horribly little pinpricks behind my eyes and I'll admit I nearly cried. I know this isn't normal, it isn't even sad, but I don't know. I'm, like, hyperemotional when it comes to fiction.

I loved Mel so, SO much. It was really great getting to read a paranormal book that was told from the perspective of the best friend to the girl in love with the vampire, because it kind of felt like having my own mental commentary when reading books like Twilight or Hush, Hush, only as part of the actual book. Which sounds a bit stupid and obvious when I say it know, but it was a big draw for because I love people who think with their head. I love people who look at a couple who've been together for a month and make hugely life-changing decisions based on that relationship and just think WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?! But at the same time, I loved the emotional journey that Mel was going through, and her understanding of being a friend. Though I completely get her opinion on Vampires, especially the ones in this book who can't freaking laugh. What even? Why would anyone give up laughing?! It's awesome.

Also, I really love books about friendships. I feel like there aren't enough, or that I just don't read enough and I really need to find some more, because big, sad romantic reunions and whatnot don't get to me on an emotional level nearly as much as conciliations between friends and families. I have no idea why, they just do. But I loved that even though there were a few romantic subplots (Cathy and Francis, Mel and Kit), it was mostly about Cathy and Mel's friendship. And there was a mystery too! Oh, how I love mysteries. I really loved all the parts when Mel and Kit were out finding clues and trying to help Mel's other friend, Anna (Dad ran away with a vampire, it's kind of a long story. Read the book!)

I really liked the setting of New Whitby as well. I liked the whole Vampires and Humans living together thing. It reminded me a bit of Morganville, actually. I really liked that it felt like they put a lot effort into creating their own kind of Vampire culture, and that the vampires were kind of like a stereotype of vampires, but they also seemed remarkable like people. Only without the laughing. And I can completely understand Mel's dislike of Francis, but I actually liked a lot of the other Vamps, especially Camille (Kit's adopted Vamp mother) and I felt that Kit's and Camille's relationship was really well done.

I liked that there was the potential of a romance between Kit, and that there was a bit of kissing, but I also liked that neither of them were under the impression that it was forever, and that they'd never be able to love again or any of that dramatic stuff. I also liked that any major life decisions that either of them made wasn't because of the other person (entirely), and I feel like Kit made completely the right decision for him, as a person. That being said, I also liked how Cathy and Francis's relationship, despite it's desperate romanticism (gag), didn't actually feel that unhealthy compared to your typical insta-love. I really liked how Cathy still put her friends first, and even though I do think it was crazy that she did such a big thing after only a month of going out, I think it an inevitable choice for her anyway. It was just that she was given the opportunity and a reason for doing so. And that as much as I hate Francis, he wasn't trying to push her into it, and he wasn't that bad of a guy, I guess. Just annoying.

Team Human was a really enjoyable read, that had more depth that I'd ever expected it to. I didn't LOVE love it, but I did like it a whole lot, and I seriously need to read more from both of these authors.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Diviners review

The Diviners
Libba Bray
September 18th
 Atom Books

It's 1920s New York City. It's flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It's after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it's the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O'Neill, it's escape. She's never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she's shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she's always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn't about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren't crimes of passion. They're gruesome. They're planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can't solve them alone.

Evie wasn't just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer - if he doesn't catch her first.

Seeing as this book comes out in a month, I should probably be withholding this review for a while, but I just loved this book so much my love for it is pretty much spilling out from me. I know that some people won't like this book, or might find it slow or difficult to get into, but I feel like this book was basically written for me or something. I mean, I love the 1920's, I love books about crazy horrible murders, and I love books with a kind of supernatural vibe! And even though the length initially put me off, I knew from the moment I started I would be finished with it soon.

I really liked all of the characters (of which there were quite a few) and seeing how each of their stories intertwined, and I was really glad that the main romantic subplots took a while to take before and become one of the focuses of the book. Regardless, though, I was so sucked into the plot that I almost didn't want a romance because that would get in the way of finding out what was going to happen next! Seriously, I was completely gripped. I really just didn't want to put it down. Which, for a 600 page book, is quite an achievement!

I liked Evie a lot, and I'm not sure whether it was because her storyline was the one most entwined with the main plot, or just because I really liked her character and her personal development, but I found myself as I got further through the book that I was only really interested in the Evie parts. Not to say that I didn't enjoy the other characters and their side-plots, because that simply isn't true! And I'm definitely really excited to get to learn more about Sam, Jericho, Theta, Memphis and Will in the next book. Almost as excited as I am as finally finding out what the 'Storm' is and how it's going to relate to the Diviners! I also cannot wait for all of the characters stories to properly intertwine, because in this book some of the main characters only met each other once or twice, and I just want them all to meet each other and, like, sit in a trust circle and talk about their powers and be psychic best friends or something.

I must talk about Naughty John. As much as I love creepy books, I don't read nearly enough of them, which is why I was so pleasantly surprised by the kind of Supernatural Murder-Mystery plot in this book. I'd been told by other people who'd read it that it was creepy, but I hadn't really believed them. Well, they were right. This book is CREEPY. The fact that it's written in 3rd person and changes it's focus character quite a lot (think Cassie Clare) means that every now and again we get a chapter where one of the murders happens, and these were some of my favourites in the book. Especially because we never really find out what happened to the bodies until Evie sees them, or Memphis sees them in the next chapter. And for the first few murder chapters, I was a bit like What the Hell is Happening, Who Are These People, Why Are They Dying, but as we learn more about Naughty John and why he does these things, I found myself really looking forward to these chapters. That sounds kind of sick, I know, but they were really good! And as the book goes on, the stakes just get higher and higher as the people getting killed start to be people that we know in the book, and it's just so good! I won't tell you about why Naughty John is killing all these people, but I will tell you that it's a really interesting and disturbed reason.

I loved learning about all of the main characters powers, and getting to see some of their backstory that we wouldn't have gotten if the whole book had been written from Evie's point of view. And I actually really liked Evie's power! I was so glad that she wasn't given the Most Special-ist Power In All The Universe, because that is something that kind of annoys me, and I was really glad that she put her power to such good use. At the beginning of the book, I was worried I wouldn't like Evie all that much because she could seem a bit selfish and I felt quite disconnected from her, but she turned out to be a really brave and determined girl, even if she did make some foolish decisions. She always (or usually) tried to do what was right, despite how she maybe wanted to be perceived, and she still was a bit selfish, but I was really glad to see her friendships so important to her.

If you couldn't already tell by the kind of ruched, nonsensical, rambly review, and the repeated use of exclamation marks at fairly inappropriate places, I completely loved this book. And I want to make everyone read it, even if they don't love it (though they so SHOULD.) I really need to read more of Libba Bray's books now, don't I? Because I have no idea how long I'm going to have to wait for the mysterious Second Book. 

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Letterbox Love #14

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

For review:
The Diviners by Libba Bray ( I am halfway through it and I love everything about it. Thank you Atom!)
The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable (I think that this is aimed towards younger readers, but I'm still excited to read it! It came in this awesome silver enverlope and it was wrapped in purple tissue paper with gems in it and the papers got purple edging, and I just can't not read it! Thank you Chicken House!)
Endlessly by Kiersten White (AKG;LAKJDGLAK. That is all. Thank you HarperCollins!)
Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts (I freaking loved Dark Inside, so I cannot wait to read this. Does anyone know how many books there's going to be in this series? Thank you Macmillan!)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Abandon review

Meg Cabot
September 1st 2011
Macmillan Children's Books

Last year, Pierce died - just for a moment. And when she was in the space between life and death, she met John: tall dark and terrifying, it’s his job to usher souls from one realm to the next.

There’s a fierce attraction between them, but Pierce knows that if she allows herself to fall for John she will be doomed to a life of shadows and loneliness in the underworld. But now things are getting dangerous for her, and her only hope is to do exactly what John says . . .

I have really mixed feelings about this book. I was pretty excited about finally getting around to reading it, because Meg Cabot + Mythology = win, right? I did enjoy it, but I also felt kind of let down by it, because I felt like it lacked a lot of the things that I loved in the few Meg Cabot books that I have read.  

I really liked the whole concept of the book, because despite the fact that there are quite a few books out there based on the Hades/Persephone myth, this is the first that I've read. I really love Greek Mythology, so I'm always excited to read a book based on it. I liked how even though you know what myth it's based on, it still feels like a while new story, partially because it's set ow and is all modern and stuff, and partially because it kind of is a whole new story. You're not really sure who John is and how he got there, or why Pierce is so special (there MUST be more of reason than the ones given in this book.)

I think, though, that Pierce was the main reason why I found it so hard to really like this book, though. Just from the first chapter, I found myself being really frustrated with her. She got better as I read on, but it really annoyed me how she'd always allude to something that happened and then not explain until, like, 4 chapters later. And she really lacked the snark that I love so much in the Mediator series. Instead of seeming clever and witty and what I'd thought she'd be, she seemed kind of dense. She felt to me more like a bland, paranormal heroine than what I was expecting, and that was a bit of a disappointment to me. But lots of other people did like her, so it might just be me being picky. And she wasn't a bad character! She was really nice and she cared about the other people in the book a lot, and I guess she did die a little bit which should get a bit of sympathy from me, right? 

John was a bit of a problem for me, as well, unfortunately. Especially at the end of the book. (spoilerific rant) He freaking kidnaps Pierce and takes her to the Underworld, without her permission, I may add, before she could even tell her parents (because now that she's in the Underworld, she's disappeared from the surface and therefore, missing. And then he proceeds to tell her that It's All For The Best and that It's Totally Okay For Me To Kidnap You Because I LOVE You and This Is The Only Way I Have To Protect You. Really dude? NOT OKAY. You do not get to kidnap people against their will! And then try and make it out like THEY'RE the one making a big fuss out of it! And she wouldn't even be getting attacked by Furies if it wasn't for you, you silly. (spoilerific rant OVER.) Okay. Glad I got that all off of my chest. I did find him quite intriguing, though, and I want to learn more about his background, like how he got to being where he is today and why, and also I want to learn more about the actual Underworld, which I'm hoping is something that will happen in book two, given its name.

I really liked the Underworld, actually, and my favourite parts of the book were probably those that were set there. Apart from that whole thing that I just ranted about. But I thought tat it was the most interesting part of the book, definitely, and I'm hoping that we get more about the whole idea that there's loads of different Underworlds. I think it'd be really interesting. I also like the whole thing with the diamond, and I want to learn more about that as well.

 I did think, though, that the book was just a set up for the rest of the series. A lot of it was all backstory, and I think that it may have been more interesting if instead of all these things being recounted, that they were told without the whole retrospective aspect. I think that then I could've felt more involved with the book, instead of feeling like a spectator to Pierce's memories for the first 100 or so pages. I also think that it would've added a much greater sense of threat, because for this whole book it felt like there wasn't a threat at all, until the last 50 pages. There's no indication that any one is out to get Pierce apart from when John talks to her in cemetery at the beginning, and even then, because it's all flahsback you just forget about it! 

Despite my issues with this book, I did still enjoy it and I'm curious enough about the world which Meg Cabot has built to want to read the rest of the series.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Soul Beach review

Soul Beach
Kate Harrison
July 5th 2011

When Alice Forster receives an email from her dead sister she assumes it must be a sick practical joke. Then an invitation arrives to the virtual world of Soul Beach, an idyllic online paradise of sun, sea and sand where Alice can finally talk to her sister again - and discover a new world of friendships, secrets and maybe even love . . . . But why is Soul Beach only inhabited by the young, the beautiful and the dead? Who really murdered Megan Forster? And could Alice be next? The first book in an intriguing and compelling trilogy centred around the mystery of Megan Forster's death.

Soul Beach was kind of a strange book. Good, but a bit strange. It felt like a bit of a combination between The Mediator series and The Body Finder series, but set in England and with Social Networking instead of Psychic Powers. I was a bit iffy about the premise, because I wasn't sure if it'd work or if I'd like it that much, but I felt like it was pulled off really well, and I'm really looking forward to the next book.

You won't hear me say this often, but I'm so glad this book is part of a series! If was a standalone (and as the first book in a series, I must applaud it for not ending in a Rage Inducing Cliffhanger), then I would've been seriously pissed at the lack of explanation for Soul Beach and everything about it. I really, really hope it will all be elaborated on in the next two books, because I need to know what Soul Beach really is, how it came about, how it works, why certain people get to go there when others don't... You know, not much.

I also wasn't sure when I first saw what this book was about that the author would be able to pull it off all that well, because it's a bit weird, isn't it? But it actually became something I was really fascinated by, and it's a really interesting world that the author as created. I really liked the fact that it was Almost Paranormal, as well. I'm still not sure about the circumstances that Soul Beach exists in, but I liked that they were never called ghosts. The whole Social Network interaction thing made it all seem a lot less supernatural, and I found myself getting confused between the Real World and the Beach a lot like Alice did. Though if Limbo is just an endless summery beach, I'm not that sure I want to go there. I'm not a huge fan of sand. Or water. Or the sun. Or anything really.

I thought Alice was quite an interesting character, too, because when we first meet her she's still grieving her sister's death. Well, she's grieving her sister's death for the whole book, really, thought it gets less bad when she starts talking to her again. I found her attachment to the Beach and her obsession with it to be really believable, and I liked seeing how it got worse and worse as the book progressed. The only thing that really annoyed about her was that after Danny came into the picture as a romantic interest (Danny is one of the Soul Beach peeps. He's a bit dead.) it felt like she started caring less about Meggie. I felt like she was starting to forget that they were all dead.

I also felt like the romantic tension between Alice and Danny could've been developed more, but as there was a lot of other stuff going on, I'll let it slide this time. Besides, the romance wasn't that important to the story anyway. Some of the tension I did like, though (SEGUE) was all of the suspense, because as well as all of the Beach stuff, Alice is still trying to find out who killed Meggie. There are quite a few segments which are told from the POV of the killer, and while they're all less than a page, they're still pretty creepy. I'm still trying to figure out who the killer is, because it's clear that Alice is in danger, and we never found out in this book! I have a list of suspects, though, and I will be SO CHUFFED if I guessed it right. Honestly, you'll never hear me shut up about it.

Soul Beach was way better than I expected, and I found myself really intrigued by the world and what was going on in it. I must get my hands on a copy of Soul Fire soon!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Letterbox Love #13

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

For review:
Abandon by Meg Cabot (Kinda curious about this one, but not sure if I'll love it)
Fated by Alyson Noel (Ditto for this one, but a bit more hesitant because I really didn't like Evermore)
The Debutantes by Cora Harrison (Really like the sound of this! Love the 1920's)
Forgiven by Jana Oliver (So I probably shouldn't have asked for this seeing as I haven't read the second one yet... But I really like this series so I'll get around to it soon! Thanks to Macmillan for all of these!)

Sorry for not posting a great deal this week. It's just that Good Omens took me ages to read and I loved it so much and it's so different from what I usually read that I didn't know how to review it so I just... Didn't. But I should have a review up tomorrow sometime :)

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Blood Red Road review

Blood Red Road
Moira Young
June 2nd 2011

In a lawless future land, where life is cheap and survival is hard, Saba has been brought up in isolated Silverlake. She never sees the dangers of the destructive society outside. When her twin brother is snatched by mysterious black-robed riders, she sets outon an epic quest to rescue him. The story's searing pace, its spare style, the excitement of its fabulously damaged world, its unforgettably vivid characters, its violent action and glorious lovestory make this a truly sensational YA debut novel.

I had seen a lot of brilliant things about this book, but for some reason I was still a bit worried that I wouldn't like it. I'm not a huge fan of Dystopia on the whole, and I thought that the dialect would annoy me, but I literally couldn't put this book down. I was hooked for the whole thing and I am just immensely glad that I have Rebel Heart lying around so that I can read it straight away.

I think a lot of the reason why I got on with it so well is that it didn't feel like a dystopian. It wasn't all high-tech and fancy Caste systems and overbearing evil governments. It felt a lot more like reading a Western, or an adventure story, because at it's heart, I guess that's what it is. The book isn't all about how dystoian it is, if you know what I mean. In fact, we're not really given much explanation as to how the world came to be that way, because Saba wouldn't have known. She hasn't been educated about anything, really, and from what we see of her world, not really that many people have been, and I guess that knowing things really isn't anywhere near as important as knowing how to survive, which, in Saba's world, seems to be hard enough.

I actually really liked Saba, as well. I know that she got on some people's nerves a bit, but I felt that the book being written in dialect really solidified her character. I really admired her strength and her determination, and I really loved seeing her relationship with her little sister grow as a result of Lugh being kidnapped. And yes, she could be coarse and ungrateful, but this is a girl who has grown up basically isolated from other people bar her family. She doesn't really know how to socialise and interact, especially while under the immense pressure of trying to find her twin brother - the only person she's ever been truly close with her whole life. Of course she's going to be unlikeable at times! But then, I also just really love characters who aren't the kind of wishy-washy type that are there mostly so that the reader can imagine themselves as being the MC. I like characters with a real sense of personality, and Saba had that in shedloads.

I also really liked the fact that the story didn't begin with a Mysterious Boy, and that the romance was only introduced a lot later in the book. You don't even know that there is a love interest until, like, 200 pages in, and that didn't even bother me at all. I was just really glad that the main plot was all about Saba going to save her brother so that they could all live together again. I did like Jack, though, after a while. It did take me a bit to warm up to him, though. I don't like charming people, you see. First rule of YA is that if a person really charming, they're usually up to no good. Okay, so maybe it's not the *first* rule of YA, but if go and find every charming person in a book, 8/10 times they're probably the bad guy. 

And I know I've said a bot about this already, but I just really loved the kind of Wasteland-ish setting. You really got a sense of the world, and the people struggle to live and survive in it. I especially loved the whole cagefighting thing - or, well, I thought it was interesting, anyway. And the stuff about the King, and all the drugs! It was just a really interesting, well thought out, fresh take on Dystopia in YA that I haven't seen yet. I think that this is definitely one of the best books to have come out of the Dystopia trend (though to be fair, I haven't really read that many.)

Blood Red Road was just a book that really took me by surprise, and I absolutely loved it. I really need to read Rebel Heart soon (even though the book didn't even end on a cliffhanger! I KNOW. How could I possibly want to read the next book in series that didn't end with me wanting to tear my hair out?! *sarcasm*)

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Letterbox Love #12

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

One day I'll take a not rubbish picture of the books I have accumulated over the past week. Today is not that day.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (I know what you're thinking: 'But don't you ALREADY have a copy of that?. Yes, I do. But the cover is flipping gorgeous and it was buy 1 get 1 half price, so.)
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (Been meaning to get this one for ages!)
Geekhood by Andy Robb (After all the awesome things that Laura from SisterSpooky has said about this, how could I not want to read it?!)
Farenheir 451 by Ray Bradbury (This is currently the Nerdfighter Book Club book, and also because of Bradbury's recent, well, death, I thought it'd be good for me to finally read one of his books.)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon (This is just one of those books that is really big and that everyone's read that I haven't)

Friday, 3 August 2012

Torn Blog Tour: Before The Edit

Hello, and welcome to the next stop on the Torn blog tour! Please welcome the lovely David Massey, and his great guest post about Torn before the edits. It's pretty interesting, and even though I'm still yet to read Torn (I'll get round to it soon, I promise!), it's made me really interested in reading it. So, enjoy!

I think some people reading TORN for the first time will wonder why I have decided to use Scandanavian names for two of the main characters, Elinor and Heidi. The answer is simple. The initial inspiration for the book came from the Norse legend of Valkyries – goddesses who would visit the battlefield and take fallen warriors to fight for the gods in Valhalla. I wanted to have a novel based in Afghanistan which felt very real but which also had a central character – a medic who found herself being transformed into a Valkyrie – just like her colleague, Heidi had on a previous tour of duty. Elinor would discover she was a Valkyrie just like Heidi and the girl – able to be shot but without suffering any damage.
Here’s a scene from an early draft where Heidi proves to Elinor that she can’t be injured as she is a Valkyrie:
‘Stop playing with my head Heidi – that’s not even possible,’ I counter angrily, wondering if there is somewhere else I could bunk down. Maybe it is time to talk to McQueen.
          ‘I don’t mean in the physical sense,’ she is on her feet now, pacing. I hardly notice her hand slip to one of her leg pockets as she rounds on me. ‘Look, I’m sorry,’ she says through clenched teeth, ‘but this is the only way you’re ever going to believe what I have to tell you...’
          Before I can register what she is doing, Heidi’s arm whips around and a cold, steel blade slices through my ribs so fast I barely register any pain. The shock of the impact shudders through my chest and all I can do is to watch in slow motion as the blade withdraws from my side with the zing of metal on bone and blood spurts from the wound like a fountain. In the same sweeping motion, Heidi throws the blade behind her as if it burns her hand and she stands there, just watching me. Her face is pale, ghostly.
          I grasp at the wound in disbelief. My heart thuds in my ears and I think the darkness is going to claim me. I open my mouth to shout for help before I faint but Heidi grabs my head and clamps her hand over my face.
Heidi shakes her head.
          ‘Why the hell did you do that?’ I gasp weakly into her palm, dropping to my knees and gripping the wound. Lancing pain whips through me like electricity as I fall.
          She just whispers, her breath hot in my ear, ‘because we’re sisters...’ and her eyes lower to my side.
          We stay like that for a moment - frozen in a weird embrace. I am too shocked to do anything. Warm blood oozes between my fingers like treacle. The wound burns beneath my fingers.
‘Take your hand away,’ she orders quietly, retreating to her bed once more.
I gasp, ‘but I need pressure... get help – please...’
She just laughs and says more forcefully, ‘take it away.
When she sees that I am not moving she retrieves her knife, strides over to me and slashes my bloody tunic away from the wound to expose my side. Then she hacks the sticky material off in two sweeping blows and pulls my hands away from it.
There is not a mark on my side. Not even a scratch. But my blood is everywhere. It is still dripping from my palms, drying to a brittle crust on the ends of my fingers.
I remember the Afghan girl and Heidi’s leg injury and stagger to my feet examining my torso like it is the first time I have ever seen it. Then I can’t help but remember all those grazed knees at school, the cuts and bruises in training. ‘I don’t understand.’ My panicked breathing begins to steady, ‘how can this happen..? This has never happened before,’
Heidi is not fazed. She grunts dismissively ‘ever been on the front line before?’
I do not reply.
‘I didn’t think so.’
‘So your leg...’ I pace to the wall and back squeezing my side and examining it closely, half expecting the flesh to just fall away.
‘...same thing.’
‘You’re a Valkyrie. The Afghan girl is a Valkyrie.’
After meeting with Barry (the Publisher at Chicken House) and Imogen (my editor) we decided that this was a step too far and plumped for keeping just the mysterious Afghan girl – Aroush – as the supernatural element. So now all that remain are hints – like Heidi’s torn trousers even though she is not injured (on page 122) and the goat. That’s right – the goat. In the Valkyrie legend, Freya sometimes appears as a goat. Oh yes – there are a few others, but you’ll have to spot those yourself.

Thank you for that, David! Please don't forget to check out his author page, and to buy the (what I'm certain is) wonderful Torn! Also don't forget to check out the next stop on the tour, over at So Many Books, So Little Time.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban review

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
J.K. Rowling
July 8th 1999

For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort. 

Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter's defeat of You-Know-Who was Black's downfall as well; and the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, "He's at Hogwarts . . . he's at Hogwarts." 

Harry Potter isn't safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.

In great contrast to Chamber of Secrets, PoA is my favourite of the Harry Potter films, and I liked the book even better. It surprised me how much they'd actually changed the book from the film, actually, and they missed a lot of stuff out and added quite a bit in, but I also feel that if they'd kept the film and the book exactly the same, it wouldn't have worked as well, because the books aren't that cinematic. Everything they did add was to make the film dynamic in ways that the book is not, but I enjoyed how much more depth you get in the book, and I'm really starting to feel Harry Potter properly creepy under my skin now.  I'm really, really loving them.

It's getting harder and harder to review these books now, because reading and posting these reviews within such close proximity to each other, I'm starting to feel more and more like I'm just saying the same things about everything. That being said, I am starting to feel a change in the series now. They're starting to feel less like children's books and more like young adult, and I'm really glad for that, because I can relate a lot more to the characters now. 

I'm also starting to sense a slight change in the characters, too, as they start making their way further towards young adulthood. I think it'll be really interesting to see how they face growing up and becoming the people they're going to be in the midst of all this Voldemort business. I think I'm going to like Half-Blood Prince a lot primarily because of all the crazy relationship business that starts happening. And don't say that Harry and Hermione were meant to be together. Whatever JK intended, it's been obvious from the second book that Hermione and Ron have more romantic tension than Harry and Hermione. With those two, I just don't get it.

I feel kind of sad that they left out of all the Hermione stuff in the film, though, as much as I loved it. I liked getting to see more of Hermione and how taking all of those lessons was actually starting to put so much more pressure on her than she'd expected. I actually really like Hermione now, because she;s starting to see more like an actual person than a snotty school machine. I liked seeing her openly break the school rules once or twice in this book, too, and her scenes with Trelawny were some of my favourite, because it's good to see a little snark every now and again. I know that if I took Divination, I'd be on the table that kept on making rude offhand comments about how silly Divination is.

I also love the Marauders so much, and getting to hear all of their story in full, properly hearing about Lupin's being a werewolf, which I don't think we got in the film. I've always loved Lupin and Sirius, anyway, so I was really looking forward to the finale when you actually get to see them, together again, knowing that they're both innocent - something which Lupin didn't know for twelve years. I just want there to be a book about James and Lupin and Sirius please that would be awesome.

And the time-turned stuff! You know I love a bit of timey-wimey-ness, and this book was not lacking. I think that that's a major part of why I love this book/film so much in comparison to the rest of the series, as well as the fact that it isn't about Voldemort. I love all the Voldy stuff, don't get me wrong! I think that he's an excellent villain, but it would be a bit much if every book ended in a Harry-Voldy stand-off. I liked that this is more about Harry and his family, and him finding out more about his father, and that he has a Godfather and he's not actually a crazy psychopathic murderer.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is, and will probably always be my favourite Harry Potter book. I don't know why I love it so much, but I just really, really do. And I'm so freaking excited about reading the rest of the books. I'm such a fool for putting it off for so long.
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