Monday 31 December 2012

Reading Resolutions for 2013

Yes, yes, another end of the year post! Well, it's got to be done, and this is more for me, anyway. Let's take a look at what I wanted to have done by 2012 first though, eh?

2012 Resolutions:

1. Read 100 books. Sadly, I didn't manage to get to the full 100 this year, but I did read 97 so I'm still pretty chuffed with that!

2. Read Harry Potter. I'm going to count this one, actually. I got to the fourth book, so I did start the series, and really enjoy them!

3. Watch Lord of The Rings and read The Hobbit. Yes! This is the only one I think I actually fully achieved this year - and it's the only one I forgot I wanted to do! I literally just finished reading The Hobbit last night, actually. Really liked it, though I don't think I'll review it.

4. Read more comics/graphic novels. Nope. The first Scott Pilgrim book was the only one I got around to reading this year, but I will read some more this year, I think. 

5. Read a classic a month. Ha, epic fail on this one! Should of forseen that, really. I did read a few, but not that many, and I'm not that fussed really. I just feel obliged to.

Resolutions for 2013!

1. Read at least 95 books. Not aiming so high this year because of A levels and the uni panic I'll be having as I start my second year of college, but I would like to read at least 90.

2. Finish Harry Potter. And hopefully by the time that LeakyCon London comes around!

3. Comment more on other blogs. I am literally the worst at interacting with my fellow bloggers, and I always feel really bad about it. A subclause of this is to tweet to more people. I always want to talk to more people, because I used to but then I kind of stopped. I always feel like I'm just being an annoyance, though, and that people don't want to talk to me. It's stupid, but I'm 16 and subsequently paranoid about anything remotely based on social interaction.

4. Finish something I started writing. Not strictly relevant to my reading/blogging, but I have a terrible habit of never finishing any thing that I start writing. So, to finish something that I start, regardless of how long it ends up being.

5. Post at least 10 times a month. I know that it's quality over quantity, but I need to post some decent content and realistically I'd like to have both! Also, post a wider variety of things. I might try out some different memes or try and think of some discussion posts to have, or maybe have some guest posts over here for once (though I don't know who'd want to. I have no ideas about what they could post about either...) Also, go back to doing Letterbox Love! I've just been forgetting about it lately.

So, that's all for now, but I'll add more as I think of them.

I hope you have a great New Year's Eve everyone, and that 2013 is great, or at least interesting!

Thursday 27 December 2012

End of Year Book Survey 2012

I have never actually done one of these before, but I figured it couldn't hurt! Hosted by Jaime at The Perpetual Page Turner :)

1. Best book you read in 2012? (you can break it down by genre if you like)

I would very much like to break it up in to genre. So I already did my top 10 books of 2012 list, but whatever.

Best Contemps: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (the film of which was also amazing) and Adorkable by Sarra Manning (UK represent!)

Best Fantasy: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, FrostFire by Zoe Marriott and The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale.

Best Dystopian: Blood Red Road by Moira Young.

Best Historical: The Diviners by Libba Bray. (Which I think can also count for best paranormal/whatever too, right?

2. Books you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn't?

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Mass. This book had such good publicity, plus I loved the whole high fantasy Hunger Games thing that they were selling, and I still enjoyed it, but no where near as much as I was expecting to. Also, We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han. I just could not relate to any of the characters like I had with the first two.

3. Most surprising book (in a good way!)?

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. I'd always heard great things about Shannon Hale, but I really wasn't expecting to be charmed by this book in the way that I was. I cannot explain to you how much I loved it.

4. Book you recommended most to people in 2012?

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (this'll probably be coming up a lot). Oh, and the Divergent series by Veronica Roth! That's the book I've lent out to the most people. 

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

Can I say Harry Potter? I didn't discover it this year, because I've been watching the films since they came out, but it's the first time I've read them. If not, then the Gallagher Girls books by Ally Carter. I just love 'em.

6. Favourite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Sarra Manning, easily. Can't believe I've never read one of her books before. Ally Carter, as well, and Jennifer Donnelly.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or a new genre for you?

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I've always sort of liked fantasy, but high fantasy scared the crap out of me. I'm a lot more open to it now because of this book (like, bookwise. I love the Lord of the Rings films - did before I read this - but I wouldn't touch a tolkein book with a bargepole.) And out of my comfort zone? Definitely Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. It's a book about incest, I'm pretty sure it's out of most people's comfort zones. But it is so worth it.  Such a beautiful, tragic book.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book of 2012?

Insurgent by Veronica Roth. I'm surprised this didn't make it to my top 10, really. I think I kind of forgot about it... But regardless, I still couldn't put it down when I was reading it. Those books are so action packed and just great.

9. Book you read in 2012 that you are most likely to reread next year?

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and The Hobbit by J R R Tolkein.

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2012?

Probably Wither by Lauren DeStefano, or Shadows by Paula Weston. I just love the colours and the layout and typography.

11. Most memorable character  in 2012?

Jeane Smith from Adorkable. God, I loved her. Um, and probably Augustus and Hazel from TFiOS. They tend to stick in the brain.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley and Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Hm, and maybe not strictly beautifully written, but I think that Blood Red Road was beautifully crafted, and maybe beautifully written in a very unconventional way. I just really loved the dialect and felt like it needed a little more praise here.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in  2012?

I told you this would happen! TFiOS, definitely. I still can't look to that part of the book in a book shop or when I'm flicking through it at home without shedding a bit of a tear. Stupid, I know, but I can't help it. Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner a little bit, too. Not one that I was expecting to have the impact it did on me. It kind of snuck up and broke my heart without my noticing.

14. Book you can't believe you waited until 2012 to read?

Harry Potter! 

15. Favourite passage/quote from a book you read in 2012?

This is a difficult one for me because I don't really remember quotes or highlight them or anything, so I just went on Goodreads and found some of the quotes from my favourite books that I thought sounded nice. I might actually pay more attention to passages I like next year...

“It goes on, this world, stupid and brutal. 
But I do not. 
I do not.” - Revloution, Jennifer Donnelly

"Mum says when wanting collides with getting, that's the moment of truth. I want to collide. I want to run right into Shadow and let the force spill our thoughts so we can pick each other up and pass each other back like piles of shiny stones.” - Graffiti Moon, Cath Crowley

“One can never have enough socks," said Dumbledore. "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.” - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J K Rowling

And basically every quote you've ever heard before from The Fault in Our Stars.

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2012?

Longest: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I think.

Shortest: The Importance of Being Earnest. Though it is a play, to be fair. Does that count?

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you dying and reeling to tell someone about it?

What's Up With Jody Barton by Hayley Long. Can't talk about it without spoiling you,but seriously, best kept secret in a book, like, ever.

18. Favourite relationship from a book you read in 2012, be it romantic, friendship, whatever?

Holmes and Watson from the Sherlock Holmes canon. I don't feel I need to explain this.
Hazel and Augustus from TFiOS. Also fairly obvious (and no, I am STILL not over it).
Taylor and her dad from Second Chance Summer, and finally, Aziraphale and Crowley from Good Omens. Think I got a good variety of the different types of relationships I like reading about in here...

19. Favourite book of 2012 from an author that you've read previously?

TFiOS by John Green and Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner.

20. Best book that you read that was based solely on a recommendation from somebody else?

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley. Iffath from Painting With Words kept on telling me to read this, and it was SO GOOD.

Looking Ahead

1. One book you didn't get to into 2012, but will make sure to read in 2013?

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I have heard only good things about it, and was going to try and it read it this month but I don't think I'm going to get around to it. Definitely my first priority for January!

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2013?

Um, probably Undone by Cat Clarke or Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.

3. One thing you hope to accomplish in your blogging/reading next year?

I hope to accomplish ALL THE THINGS next year. No, just kidding, don't get your hopes up! I hope to be able to get a better college/reading/blogging balance next year, and to actually be able to hit 100 books! I also want to post better and more frequent content and to actually interact with people and comment on their blogs.

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas! (Or A Very Happy Tuesday To You)!

Happy Christmas, you guys! And if you don't celebrate, then I hope you had a great Tuesday! I hope you all have/had a great day and got everything you wanted and had lots of lovely books and food. I am off to think about Doctor Who and read for a bit. This may last an indeterminate length of time, but I'll definitely post something again for the new year! (but if I don't, Happy New Year to everyone, too! I hope 2013 is going to be decent, if not a little more interesting and a little less apocalyptic than 2012!

(let's just pretend that there's a picture of some silly looking cats in Christmas hats or something here, okay?)

Saturday 22 December 2012

Shadows review

Paula Weston
3rd January 2013

Love. Nightmares. Angels. War. A fast-paced, compelling debut novel from a fresh new voice in YA.

It's been almost a year since Gaby Winters was in the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude. Her body has healed in the sunshine of Pandanus Beach, but her grief is raw and constant.

It doesn't help that every night in her dreams she kills demons and other hell-spawn. And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who's been appearing in Gaby's dreams, he claims a history with her brother that makes no sense.

Gaby is forced to accept that what she thought she knew about herself and her life is only a shadow of the truth - and that the truth is more likely to be found in the shadows of her nightmares.

Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And most importantly - who can she trust?

Shadows is one of the first Angel books I've read in a very long time and genuinely enjoyed (not that I didn't enjoy books such as Hush, Hush and Fallen at the time of reading, but retrospectively did not like at all). It's also the second Aussie YA book I've read and is slowly proving the point that Australian's write really good books. I think it's probably the closing thing I've read to a New Adult* book (and probably one of the few instances in which I will actually read NA - nothing personal against it, I'm just not into it as a genre [by which I mean I'm just not interested in reading about people having sex a lot, not that I don't think it's important to have young people know about sex or whatever, I just personally don't want to read it. I think it's boring.]). So yes. Shadows was really good.

It took me a little while to warm up to Gaby, but I could understand her reactions even when I didn't like them that much, if you know what I mean. I liked that she still wanted to be herself when all of the other Rephaim wanted her to be someone else, someone who she didn't even know she had the strength or power to be. I actually really liked the memory loss thing, too, and everything about Jude. I thought that it gave an interesting perspective to the story and struck a nice balance between the girl being the supernatural person as well as not really knowing anything about it (and yes, I know that there are a lot of Rephaim besides Gaby in the book, but still.)

I actually quite liked Rafa too, which surprised me. Usually I don't really care about super horny, super attractive, super douchey Bad Boys, but Rafe was alright. Actually, I liked most of the Rephaim, apart from maybe Daniel and his gang who for some reason thought it would be a great idea to torture Gaby to try and jog her memory. Yeah. It gets worse when you get some more background info about Daniel and Gaby, but I'm going to just spoil *everything* for you here (though let's face it, I'm pretty liberal with information. I'd make a terrible spy)

I think the main reason that I found the Rephaim so much more interesting than proper Angels is that, despite their immortality, they're still really human. They have human desires and needs and personalites, but they just have longer lives and powers and stuff. I guess that sounds a bit stupid, because most characters tend to have a bit of humanity about them otherwise they're not that likeable (as main characters, not as villians.) But what I mean is that it felt like there was a lot of depth to these people  and a lot of pain because they're half human and because they're striving so hard to prove themselves to some higher power that they're not like their fallen angel fathers.

I'm really looking forward to finding out more about demons and finding out what happened to Gaby and Jude (though I don't think that we'll find out much more about that until book three...). Also, I want to see how the tension between Rafa and Gaby works out because at the minute it's been the whole insta-lust thing, which I don't mind when it's recognised by the characters for what it is, which it is in this book. It's just that we still don't know whether Rafa can be trusted or if he even likes Gaby or what, so I want to see that side of it get resolved more.

Shadows was actually a really great, intriguing book about angels that puts a new spin on things, and which I think can appeal to people who only read paranormal YA and those who tend to stay far, far away from it.

*This was probably a bad comment to make on the same day that that NYT article came out about New Adult, but I'm going to stick by it because on the whole I'm not particularly interested in NA as a genre. That, and what I've said earlier in this review, will basically be the only things you'll see me say about NA as I don't really have much of an opinion further than that. Besides, I'm not part of the target audience anyway. *whistles innocently* *stays out of the NA shit-storm a-brewing* 
**I don't think I expressed myself about NA that well. I don't think that it's all about sex or that, but all the NA titles I have seen/read about have been contemp  romances that I'm frankly not fussed about. I'm not against the genre, and I'm not bothered about how it fares in the future. I hope it's successful! But I'm just indifferent to it, because I don't really care how a book is labelled. I'm attracted to books because of interesting content regardless of genre, but I know that it can be very useful for people who are of that age group and want something just for them. And that's all I'm going to say, because this doesn't really have anything to do with the book, and I don't want to draw people away from the actual point of this post here.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Top Ten Books I Read in 2012

So, it's December. The last month of this fine year of 2012. It's been pretty eventful, I guess. I finished my GSCE's and started college. The Hobbit finally came out (more on that later, but short version is I loved it). Um, some other stuff probably happened, but I don't really pay attention to anything (though I probably should). December also means a crap load of top ten posts, so let's get started with that.

In no particular order, I present to you my top ten books of 2012 (that I read, not that essentially came out this year)!

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
So this book is probably on every top ten list for everything ever this year, but this is one of those rare books that genuinely deserves every acclaim it gets. I understand why John Green can sometimes be seen as being a bit overrated, and as much as I love his books, I agree that they're a bit samey. But regardless of that, TFiOS was a truly moving, sometimes funny and always brilliant book about two teens who fell in love that just happen to have cancer. One of the few cancer books I'll ever read, I think, and undoubtedly one of the best.

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
It's taken me a bloody long time, but I finally got around to reading this book. And now I finally understand all the fuss about it. One of the best contemps I've read, like, ever. And the film wasn't half bad either.

3. Adorkable by Sarra Manning
I should probably mention some of the fabulous UKYA that I read this year, too. Adorkable is the first book I've read by Sarra Manning but it won't be the last. I really adored Jeane as a character, and her voice is one that I won't be forgetting in a long time. Definitely warrants a reread. And getting to meet Sarra at the UKYA meet up this year and tell her how much I loved this book was probably one of my highlights of the year. 

4. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
I never knew how much I could appreciate high fantasy until I read this book. It took me a while to read, but for the whole time I was captivated. The writing was so lyrical and I really liked Seraphina as a heroine, as well as the mythology behind the dragons in the world that Hartman had created. I hope there'll be a second book, if not just for an excuse to reread this one.

5. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
I can't believe it took me until now to read a Shannon Hale book! Another sort of traditional fantasy that really blew me away. I am officially a high fantasy convert. And I seriously need to pick up the rest of the books in this series, as well as all the other books she's written!

6. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
I never reviewed this on the blog, but only because it was so different to what I usually read, and because I loved it so much I really didn't know quite how to put in into words. Weird, and absolutely hilarious. I named my tablet Crowley because of it. I really hope the tv series does it justice.

7. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Wow. Just wow. My favourite dystopia possibly ever (yes, even over THG.) I just loved it. I loved every inch of it. And I am so terrified to read the sequel because I just feel like there is no way possible it can top the first book for me. A really brilliant piece of fiction full stop. Don't let the dialect put you off.

8. The Diviners by Libba Bray
I have never read a 600 page book faster than I read this. I don't think it was possible for me to physically stop reading. I was gripped throughout. Full of 1920's flapper glamour as well as having a genuinely creepy mystery at the heart of the story. Bring on book 2!

9. FrostFire by Zoe Marriott
Another great UKYA book from this year. Zoe Marriott always writes great fantasy, but with each book she just gets better and better. Plus it's one of only three books (I cry a lot, okay?!) on this list that actually made me cry. I'M STILL NOT OVER IT, ZOE. STILL. NOT. OVER. IT.

10. Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
I still don't really have the words to describe this book, and I'm still really upset that I haven't managed to convince anyone else I know to read it. They really need to. I didn't think that it'd be my kind of book, either, but it blew me away. Such an interesting, emotional read, yet it still let me feeling hollow at the end. A really stunning book.

Honorable mentions: the first four Harry Potter books that I read this year, and the last four Vampire Academy books. Night School by C J Daugherty, Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson, The Look by Sophia Bennett, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg and Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma.

What really saddens me about all of these is that I read them all at the start/first 8 months of the year. I haven't read any really amazing books since September! Or maybe I've just become more apathetic? I don't know. It might just be because I haven't been reading as much. I haven't included any 2013 books that I read this year, though, so that might also be why.

What were some of your favourite books of the year?

Monday 10 December 2012

Soul Fire review

Soul Fire
Kate Harrison
July 10th 2012

Welcome to Soul Beach.

People are dying to get here . . .

Alice Forster talks to her dead sister, Meggie, in the virtual world of Soul Beach – an online paradise for the young, the beautiful and the dead – but paradise can be stifling and the Beach’s guests want to move on.

If Alice can solve the mystery of her sister’s murder then Meggie will be free.

But passions are running high, the temperature’s rising and as Alice gets closer to finding the killer, the killer is getting closer to Alice . . .

I really enjoyed the first book of this series, Soul Beach, so I was looking forward to finally getting to read Soul Fire, and I was not disappointed. Soul Fire really ratcheted up the tension from the last book, as well as putting my least favourite aspect of Soul Beach (the romance) on the back burner to let Meggie's mystery take up most of Alice's energy.

One of my favourite aspects of the first book was just the concept of Soul Beach. We so often see people who can communicate with the dead or who have seen ghosts, but a social networking site? That's pretty original. What's also really great about it is that we're never really sure if it's real or how it works, and I hope we'll get a bit more enlightenment on that in the next book, but for now I'm happy with the intrigue. 

I also really like what the events of the last book led up to in this book with how the people on the beach view Alice, and the new aspect of the story where as well as helping Meggie and trying to find out who killed her, she also helps find out what happened to the other kids on the beach. I like having these other mysteries intertwined with the main plot, and seeing how Meggie's murder links in with everything else. I'm just a teensy bit frustrated that we haven't really got any closer to finding out who Meggie's killer was, and I do have my suspicions, but I'm still not sure. I've narrowed it down to either Lewis or Sahara (because after this book it pretty much narrows the choices down for you), because I think for it to have been Ade or somebody then it'd just be a bit anticlimatic. Of course, I'd still be a bit annoyed if it was Sahara because it just seems to obvious. She just comes across as being too unstable, though I'm still not sure of she could've pulled it off. And I went into this book loving Lewis like I did before, and for the first half of the book he was lovely, but after a bit something just started to seem off about him. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I can't decide if he's as trustworthy as Alice thinks he is. Though I can't think of a reason for him wanting to kill Meggie.  It has to be someone Alice knows, though, otherwise there'll be no shock! God, I just love mysteries.

Danny just annoyed me, as per usual. Ok, maybe I'm being a bit unfair on him, especially seeing as I laid into Nash so much last week as well, but he's just so BORING. All he does is lounge around on the beach kissing Alice and looking sad when she's not around. He's not a bad guy at all, I just cannot think of anything that I like or find remotely interesting about him. Which sounds a little harsh when I say it out loud, but hey. It's my blog and it's my opinion, you don't have to agree with me. I was kind of sad about not getting to see as much between Meggie and Alice in this book, too. Because of a new arrival on the beach, Meggie is pretty occupied for a lot of it, so most of the time when Alice was on the beach was either kissing with Danny (*Yawn*) or talking to Javier, and I hope in the last book we'll get to see more of Meggie and Alice together, because their relationship was one of my favourite parts of the first book.

I did really like the Spanish setting of this book, though. I thought that it really added a lot, particularly with all the tension about who in the group could've killed Meggie. The whole time that Alice is there, she knows that she's not 100% safe and that just added a great dynamic. I really, really cannot wait for the next book because I am desperate to see how this series is going to end. Hopefully shockingly.

Soul Fire is a great installment in a brilliant series that I highly recommend if you're looking for something tense, fast-paced, exciting and new to read over Christmas.

Sunday 2 December 2012

My Soul to Save review

My Soul to Save
Rachel Vincent
February 1st 2011

When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn't wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can't cry for someone who has no soul.

The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad's ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend's loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld--a consequence they can't possibly understand.

Kaylee can't let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk....

It's been well over a year since I read the first Soul Screamers book, so all I could really remember when starting My Soul to Save was that I really enjoyed but that I hated Nash. That still remains the truth, and having a lot more of Tod in this book just highlighted how much I didn't like Nash. Overall, I don't think I enjoyed this book quite as much as the first one, but I did still like it a lot and I am really, really looking forward to the rest of the series because everyone says that it's great.

Kaylee is one of the best leads in a paranormal YA series that I've read in a while. It's odd, because usually when I hate the boy, I don't like the girl much either, but in this case I just cannot hate her. She does what she wants/what she needs to do to help other people even when  Nash thinks that it's a bad idea. She will risk her own life to help others get their souls back against her better judgement. She has a life outside of her boyfriend. Yet she still has insecurities and is still learning about her bean sidhe heritage. I just like her a lot and she can do so much better than Nash (like Tod!)

My main issue with Nash is just that he's one of those people who on instinct I don't like. You know those people? The one's who you can just look at and know that you're really going to have a problem with them? Well, I didn't even know that could happen with characters until now. He's  just boring, and he always thinks he knows better than Kaylee despite repeatedly being proved wrong. He;'s really protective (which isn't always a bad thing, but come on, sometimes it's just annoying and unnecessary) and I really don't trust him. I feel like he's going to be one of those jackasses who'll cheat and then when their girlfriends finds out will tell them not to worry about it. I don't know. He just irritates me.

I did really enjoy getting to see more of Tod in this book, though, and as much as I want him to be with Kaylee, it was nice getting to see him have an almost-romantic involvement with someone else. I know it's going to end up being a love triangle (and this is one love triangle I don't think I'll mind), but it's good getting to see him genuinely liking someone else, even if it was in fairly unfortunate circumstances. I do hope we'll get to see more of the old sarcastic Tod in the next book, though, even if he is still coping with the events at the end of this one. And I hear that Kaylee and Nash start having relationship troubles which is totally an opening for Tod to start popping in and talking to Kaylee when Nash isn't around (I just really, really, really want Kaylee and Tod together.)

I thought that the plot was a bit less exciting than in My Soul to Take, but I think that's a lot to do with the fact that I liked the more Mystery aspect to it. I still enjoyed this one, though, just not as much. Getting to learn more about the Netherworld was interesting, though, and I liked getting to actually go there this time instead of Kaylee just peering in. I'm guessing it's going to be really key to the books later on, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of it.

My Soul to Save was a really enjoyable second book, though I did feel it didn't quite match up to the first one. Very much looking forward to reading My Soul to Keep(?) soon, though!

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Uncommon Criminals review

Uncommon Criminals
Ally Carter
July 5th 2012
Orchard Books

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life: Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she's simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That's why Kat isn't surprised when she's asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners. There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn't been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long - and in Kat's world, history almost always repeats itself. But it's the third problem that makes Kat's crew the most nervous, and that is...the emerald is cursed. Kat might be in way over her head, but she's not going down without a fight. After all, she has her best friend -- the gorgeous Hale - and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless for this heist. This time, Kat's going to have to make up her own rules...

I think, a little tiny bit, that I might just like the Heist Society books more that the Gallagher Girls books. Of course, that will probably change as soon as I get around to reading the fourth GG book, but for now I stand by what I say. Uncommon Criminals was a great second book, and the fact that they feel standalone really helps to get rid of Second Book Syndrome, and it felt just as fresh and exciting as the first book (I can't really believe I actually just used the phrase 'fresh and exciting'.)

Katarina Bishop is one of my favourite characters in a series ever. Maybe it's the fact that the series is 3rd person or maybe it's just because she's an awesome badass thief and will no doubt end up being one of the best (and kindest) thieves in the business.  I think in this book we got to see both how self-sufficient and independent she can be as well as when she knows she's out of her depth and needs a little help. I really liked the way her attitude changed throughout the book, too. She's still strong and independent, but she also works really well in a team and she's realised that sometimes a heist is just too big to pull off on your own.

I also just really love Kat's crew. All of them. Apart from Nick, maybe, I'm still not entirely sure about him. But as long as it's not turned into a love triangle, I don't really mind him. Gabrielle is probably my favourite character in the whole book. I just love her because she's exactly the kind of character that readers are set up to hate when she's one of the most genuine characters. I just want to be her friend and I want her and Simon to get together and I love that she never once properly tried to go after Hale because I like her too much and I would be really sad if she ended up doing something horrible. And Hale. Hale, you guys. I could talk forever about how his relationship with Kat is so great, but I'll try not to. First of all, I've really enjoyed the progression of their relationship. It's been fairly slow going, but from the first chapter of the first book you could tell that they cared immensely about each other and that they were so going to get together, but that they're still friends first. I'm still not sure if they're actually going out yet or not? I think they might be? Anyway, there's a lot of stuff about that in here, but my favourite thing about it (yes, yes, a lot of favourite things going on here) is that it doesn't take a more important place than the heist in the plot. It's just an (almost) subplot. 

This is a sentence I never thought I'd be saying, but these books sometimes make me wish I'd been raised in a family of infamous art thieves. I mean, not literally because I just don't have the natural grace it takes  to do the stuff they do here, but you know what I mean. I don't actually want to steal things for a living, just for the record. But I do like the way they make the life look. It's obviously not meant to be a proper thing, because I'm pretty sure people don't do stuff like this in real life (or do we just not know about it, huh?), and the books make it look fun and exciting at first, but then you also see the pressure it takes on all those people in the life and even though you know it's kind of a bit silly, you just get so invested in the characters that it doesn't even matter because their feelings are real to you. But they're still really, really fun as well. Ally Carter does the same with the GG books as well, actually. Makes you think it's all fun and unrealistic at first and then makes you care about the characters and then makes horrible crazy things happen to them. I think I'm starting to see a pattern here...

Uncommon Criminals was a really great second book and I literally cannot wait for Perfect Scoundrels (can we talk about how much I love the titles of these books, too?! Because I do.) It shouldn't be too long to wait, now!

Friday 23 November 2012

Slut-Shaming in YA (Or Something That I Have an Opinion About That May Be Completely Unjustified)

(I tried to think of a funnier title, but I'm just not as on the ball as I used to be) *Puts on fancy discussion pants* So.  Slut-Shaming. I, generally, see slut-shaming as a bad thing. I think a lot of us do. So why is it that in teen books (and I’m sure many other kinds of books that I don’t read) seem to have characters that think they’re on some kind of moral pedestal and have the right to call anyone they think is prettier than them a slut?

I’m sure that it doesn’t happen that often, but I still think it appears more often than it ever should. I don’t mind if a character wants to bitch about other characters, but slut-shaming just really, really frustrates me, and whenever I do see it, it always seems to be coming from some Virginial-Better-Than-Thou type who thinks that they’re unattractive and want to project their insecurities on to girls that they think are prettier than them. And this just makes me so mad, because a) a pretty girl does not maketh a slut, and b) what’s so wrong with girls having sex anyway.

It’s this whole culture that we have that perceives sex as being an almost degrading thing for a girl to have. Like, so much negative sexual language is female-oriented (slut, whore, bitch ect) and I just want to know why. I understand that I guess it’s biological on some level, because women are the one’s who’re meant to have children and all that crap, and men are meant to spread their genes everywhere or some bullcrap, but come on guys. Seriously. It’s 2012, and a girl who has had sex should not be treated the way they sometimes are by other girls their age. And a girl being a virgin shouldn’t be a bad thing either! A girl/woman should be able to do whatever she wants to do with her body without being judged by the rest of us.

I think a good example of what I'm talking about is Taylor Swift (yeah, I know, she's not a YA character) but her song You Belong With Me (and possibly others, I don' listen to a lot of Taylor Swift though her music is very catchy) where she's like 'she wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts'? So what! Do you think wearing t-shirts makes you more or less worthy of a boy than a girl who wears short skirts? Maybe she wears t-shirts too, Taylor! Maybe she's cheer captain because she works really hard and is driven and that intimidates you! Maybe she's actually a really cool person and you just wouldn't know because you're so swept up in the idea that you deserve a boy more because you're more modest/because you wear sneakers instead of high heels or whatever? Really, let's face it, if he's such a great freaking guy, why hasn't he seen how great you are and dumped his horrid high heel wearing galfriend already? Huh? And don't tell me that part at the end of the video where she's in a white dress and the boy realises how great Taylor is all of a sudden isn't some kind of subconscious virgin thing (which isn't wrong! I'm not trying to say that at all) Grr. Sorry for ranting, that song just annoys me.

And I know you may be thinking, but Cicely, who are you to talk about sex? What do you know about ANY of this stuff you’re talking about? You would be correct. I don’t claim to know anything, I’m just observing as outsider. And again, it’s not even definitively used for girls who’ve had sex. It’s said about attractive girls, or girls who make an effort to look pretty and just because you don’t even try and still manage to have a love triangle, dearie, doesn’t give you a right to talk shit about other girls who want to look nice. There are better ways to deal with your insecurities than being mean about the girls who make you feel worse about them. There are better ways than always feeling inadequate compared to your best friends. This will not make you happy. This will not make you like yourself more. Heck, if you’re anything like me it’ll just make you feel worse. It’s how bullies are born, and maybe that girl that says mean things about you has the same insecurities you do. Maybe your best friend looks at you and feels like crap by comparison. Hating them because they make you feel more insecure will not make it better.

I hope I’m not sounding too preachy here. I’ve already discussed insecurity quite a bit here in Blogsville, and I am far from knowing any of the answers, but this whole culture of girls hating themselves and each other is just so negative. And I’m not saying don’t hate people, because it’s okay to not like people. I generally don’t like people as a rule (unless you’re my friend), but try not to be mean about them. I don’t even know who I’m addressing anymore. I keep on using ‘you’ like I’m talking to someone, but I don’t even know. Anyway, we live in a society where women are encouraged to not like each other, well maybe not that far, but we’re encouraged to focus on other women’s imperfections. We’re encouraged to only see our own imperfections. In Women’s Magazines, we see pictures of celebrities and we try to shame them, all to make us feel more ‘normal’, like even those whose job is it to be beautiful sometimes have off days. Which isn’t so terrible in itself, but sometimes they’re attacked for what they’ve done whether they cheated on someone or left the house without make-up or have cellulite or whatever, and it just makes me wonder, why? Why do we even care? Am I getting too off-topic here? I don’t even know anymore. This kind of ended up going a different way than I’d thought it would.

Again, I’m not trying to be preachy or make anyone feel bad, I just think our culture is so odd and unhealthy. I don’t think that people are bad for reading Women’s Magazines or for wanting to look pretty or for feeling insecure because that’s just normal, and I’m just an oddball for not really wanting those things. I just think that it’s really strange, how we’ve ended up being this way.

I have been reading a lot of Feminist blogs lately though. I mean, that could have a LOT to do with this.

*NB: I don't have anything against Taylor Swift, I was just using that one song as an example. To be honest, I don't know much about her so I'm mostly using it out of context.

**Virgin-shaming is JUST AS BAD. 

Sunday 18 November 2012

The Demon's Lexicon review

The Demon's Lexicon
Sarah Rees Brennan
June 2nd 2009
Simon & Schuster Children's

Nick and his brother Alan are on the run with their mother, who was once the lover of a powerful magician. When she left him, she stole an important charm - and he will stop at nothing to reclaim it. Now Alan has been marked with the sign of death by the magician's demon, and only Nick can save him. But to do so he must face those he has fled from all his life - the magicians - and kill them. So the hunted becomes the hunter...but in saving his brother, Nick discovers something that will unravel his whole past...

The Demon's Lexicon was... Weird. And I mean that in the best possible way. I've always been meaning to read one of Sarah Rees Brennan's books, and I kind of have (Team Human), but this is the first book I've read of hers that is, well, completely written by her. I'll be honest here, I mainly picked it up because Supernatural has had a great influence on my life of late and as soon as I saw the words 'brothers' and 'demons' in the same blurb as each other, I knew I had to read it. It was nothing like Supernatural, of course, but I really enjoyed it nevertheless. 

It took me a while to get into it, but I don't think that was the book's fault. I've just been in a bit of a slump lately (if you couldn't tell already with me posting what one review a week, sometimes not even that), but I'm getting better. I've realised that spending all my time between new tv eps pining for those new eps isn't going to make them air any faster, and I may as well spend my time reading in the mean time (though seriously, two weeks for the next episode of SPN? *cries*) Anyway, yeah, I did think it was a little slow at first, but once I became settled into the world I actually started to really like it. This has always been one of those books that I've picked up, read the first chapter of and put back down again without really knowing why, so I'm glad I finally got around to reading it.

This is a weird book for me to talk about the characters for, though, because my perception of them changed so much throughout the book that I realised about halfway through I was never going to know whether I trusted them or not, or if they were lying, until the end, and even then I wasn't sure. I will say this though; I loved Nick. I don't really know why... I mean, he was kind of an emotionally non-existent psychopath, but I still think that he was a really compelling character, and I think I'll miss his narration (it's 3rd person, but it's all from his POV) in the next two books, because I know that they're both from Mae and Sin's point of view. Also, I thought the thing about him at the end was really interesting. I genuinely had no clue that that was what the big reveal was going to be, and that made him just so much better to me. 

I still have no idea how I feel about Alan, so sorry Alan fans! I just don't know if we can trust him. That being said, though I was really wary of him for a lot of the book, I think he proved himself in the end and his reasons were good enough. But he could always be up to something and we'd never know! I don't trust anyone who is explicitly described as being an excellent liar and is generally adorable and charming. They MUST be hiding something. That's another reason why I like Nick; he's a terrible liar! I liked Mae a lot as well, actually, which surprised me. I don't know why, but I kept on feeling like I should be finding her annoying, but I just couldn't (by this, I don't mean that I think SRB intended her to be annoying, I just think that she's the kind of person that I would usually find annoying but in this instance, did not.). I'm looking forward to reading the next book and getting to see more of her, even if it means we don't get as much of Nick.

The world and Magicians and the Demons were all interesting, and can I just say how glad I was to read an urban fantasy type thing set in modern day England? I don't think I've read very many that are, and there should be more! Britain has scary things too, you know. We're pretty famous for them. Just throwing that out there. I really liked the ideas about how Magicians needed to use demons to get more power and the demon marks and the Magicians Circle's, and the Goblin Market! I really hope that there's more about that in the next two (which I figure there is because Sin is one of the POV characters and she, like, works there). God, you can really tell it's been two weeks since I last wrote a review. 

The Demon's Lexicon was a book that after a bit of a slow start really picked up and I think it's going to end up being one of my favourite series, but I don't want to get ahead of myself. (Though let's face it, it's Sarah Rees Brennan. Of course it's going to be one of my favourites.)

*Sidenote: Apologies for any bad grammar/sentences that kind of go on too long. I've been on Tumblr a lot lately. A LOT. It does bad things to your writing ability. Terrible things. 

Monday 12 November 2012

I Blame You, Supernatural

What's that? Cicely talking about a TV show once again? One would thing that this blog would be mostly about books given the title, but what can I say. I'm full of surprises.

I've been in a bit of a reading slump lately. It's not that I'm not reading, I'm just not reading as much as I want to be. I'd like to say it was because I've been in a funny mood, or that I've just not had the time, but I'd be lying to myself and everyone around me. I know exactly why I've not been reading as much lately, and it's all the fault of two brothers, a '67 Chevy Impala and a shit ton of ghosts, demons, vampires, angels ect. 

Even after I'd seen how this show had ruined the lives of my peers on Tumblr (seriously, if any of you follow me on there, I am SO SORRY.) I somehow thought that I would be immune to its charms. I'd watched the first few episodes before and I'd never really gotten into it, but a couple of weeks ago, I decided to give it one last shot.

What a mistake this was. I've probably said this before, but I started college, a place in which I actually have to do work on occasion and regardless not the best time to be getting into a tv show that had just started its eighth season. I really couldn't have picked a worse time to start watching it, but what's past is past, along with the three weeks of my life I wasted obsessively trying to catch up with this show (and yes, it took me exactly three weeks, thank you very much. Still not sure whether to be proud or ashamed. *shrugs nonchalantly*)

The reason why I'd never given this show much of a chance before was because I thought it'd be mostly Two Hot Bros Hunting Demons And Being Too Manly To Accept The Fact That They Have Emotions, and it kind of was, and you watch it thinking well, this is pretty good and funny and scary and stuff I guess I'll carry on watching it, but then. Then out of nowhere it's like HA I BET WE TRICKED YOU INTO THINKING THIS SHOW WOULD BE FUN WELL YOU WERE WRONG IT'S ALL PAIN AND TEARS AND DEATH AND WE WILL KILL EVERYONE YOU LOVE AND YOU WILL NEVER ESCAPE *WICKED LAUGHTER* (well, this is how it went for me. I'm not really sure about how normal folk with non-obsessive personalities feel about the show.)

And that's just before the Angels come into it. Seasons 4 and 5 have been my personal favourites so far (exact order: 5, 4, 2, 1, 7, 3 all pretty close together and then 6 all the way in that corner over there because apart from about 4 episodes it sucked) mostly because of the introduction of the angel Castiel. Cas is the best. There is no way that you can make it past season 5 of this show and not have Cas be in your top 3 characters. Even when he screws up, you can't help but love him because everything he does, he does because he thinks it's for the best. Even when he's walking down a dark path, you know he's done it because he's misguided and thinks that it'll help when it might just ruin everything. There's just something great about him, and I think that 79% of that is down to Misha Collins being fabulous, but the rest of it is just because he's well written and likeable and extra terrestrial the butt of jokes he doesn't get and simultaneously being one of the funniest and most serious characters and I know this sentence is too long but I don't care I just love Cas.

For the purposes of anyone reading this who do watch the show (if anyone reads this at all (though seriously if you watch the show TALK TO ME PLEASE)) I'm a Dean girl. Since the first ep. It's something about the eyes, they're just so pretty and expressive and I just feel so bad for him because he's not a bad guy and yeah he makes mistakes sometimes but I don't understand why he hates himself so much it makes me so sad. He takes on the guilt for everything and feels like he has this crazy responsibility for his brother, and he tries so hard to help people and do the best for them even if he knows it's stupid. I've never seen a character so prepared and willing to sacrifice himself over and over again, and he just needs therapy so badly it's really not good.

Of course, I like Sam a lot too, and I think he's a really interesting character and he definitely gets the more interesting plots, but I just can't connect to him the same way that I do with Dean. Again, I think it's the eyes. He's had a really interesting emotional journey during the course of the show, though, and he's changed a lot. It's so depressing when I see pictures of them in season one when they were such babies and they used to smile. Man, those were the days.

On the subject of smiling, the show is really good at funny as well. My personal favourites being The Monster at The End of This Book, Changing Channels, The Real Ghostbusters and The French Mistake. Sometimes it goes so meta that you start to wonder whether it should be working as well it does, but Ben Edlund is just a genius when it comes to doing crazy, hilarious episodes. Changing Channels, which is basically just the show mocking a load of other shows (Grey's Anatomy, CSI, Knight Rider ect) still remains one of my favourite episodes ever purely because of how surreal and hilarious it was, as well as how interesting it's contribution was to the plot arc of the season. We got a huge reveal about one of the side characters which I wasn't expecting, and a lot more backstory about why Sam and Dean had been chosen as the vessels.

That, and the meta world they created inside the show with the introduction of Chuck the prophet who'd written a series of books about Sam and Dean's lives from season 1 to season 3 is one of the things that made s4&5 so special to me. They really got to explore fandom in those episodes, and the fans and the books in the show were obviously meant to react the crazy fans they had in real life, but I think that they handled it really well, and even though they mocked us, they did it in a loving and respectful way, not without mocking themselves too. I firmly believe that you don't truly love something unless you can take the piss out of it (well, that's the case for me anything), and the show certainly mocks itself plenty.

I really love all of the other hunters, too, especially Bobby (don't even talk to me about Bobby. I'll probably start crying again.) It's really important both for us as viewers and for Sam and Dean to remember that the world doesn't revolve around them, and that sometimes they just need to get their heads out of their asses and look around them and see how what they're doing is affecting those around them. That's why Garth is one of my favourite characters. I know he's not been that well liked, and he's used as a bit of a gimmick, but I think in the most recent episode he really proved himself to be more than that. He's just so cool about everything and doesn't hold grudges with people and is just trying to do something useful. 

My favourite thing about the show, though (and yes, this will come to and end soon, I promise) is the importance of family. There have been love interests now and again, but the real foundation of the story is the relationship between the Winchester's. Even when they were hunting a Siren, for Dean it didn't turn into a sexy woman, it turned into a younger brother figure who was into the same music and cars as him, and I'm still not sure if that's just creepy or whatever, but it says a lot about Dean when it comes to actually loving a person. Though I promise you, I'm not into Wincest. It may not seem like it, but I have boundaries.

I was hoping that this was going to be a little less fangirly, and a lot shorter than it actually turned out to be, but oh well. I just have a lot of feelings. Though if you do start watching Supernatural, let me just warn you, you're favourite character WILL DIE. MULTIPLE TIMES. That, I can guarantee. I'm pretty sure I cried several times each season. Oh dear, I'm going back into fangirl mood. I should probably get back to books quickly before my brain explodes.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

What's Left of Me review

What's Left of Me
Kat Zhang
27th September 2012
HarperCollins Childrens' Books

How I Live Now meets His Dark Materials in this stunningly written and intensely moving debut.

Imagine that you have two minds, sharing one body. You and your other self are closer than twins, better than friends. You have known each other forever.

Then imagine that people like you are hated and feared. That the government want to hunt you down and tear out your second soul, separating you from the person you love most in the world.

Now meet Eva and Addie.

They don’t have to imagine.

I was very, very pleasantly surprised by this book.  I generally don't get into dystopia as I do with other genres, and it's not really one of my favourites. Apart from The Hunger Games and Divergent I don't really get the whole dystopia trend, and when I've read (or tried to read) dystopia's that aren't action based, I've generally found that I just don't really like them, but I actually loved What's Left of Me. 

Mostly, I think I could get on with at as a dystopian because it's doesn't feel dystopian. It feels like it's set in the present day, just in a world where people are born with two souls in them instead of one. There wasn't any fancy new technology mentioned or a new world or future I had to adapt myself too, and I really enjoyed that. I think sometimes that having super computers and weapons and what have you can just come across really cheesy, but even the more dystopic aspects of this book felt very realistic and like the course of action people would've taken had it been real.

It's kind of difficult to talk about the characters in this book, because it's kind of like there are twice as many because most of the main characters are actually two people, two different personalities, so there's a lot to talk about. I liked Eva, I thought it was really interesting that the whole book was told from her perspective because she isn't the dominant soul, and all she really does is watch things, but I liked seeing her become more dominant and recover some of the control she'd lost. I would've liked to have seen things a little bit from Addie's perspective, too, because even though they're in the same body and we get the gist of what Addie's thinking and feeling, I still think that she's an entirely different personality to her and I'd like to see what she really thinks about Eva taking more control.

I have a lot of the same feelings about Ryan and Devon, though, really. I liked Ryan a lot and I'm interested to see where the whole thing with him and Eva will go, but I also want to see how Devon feels about it. Is he okay with it? Does he like Eva too, or does he like Addie, or does he like no one and wish Ryan would just stop crushing on people already? You know, if this wasn't a serious story, there'd be a lot of comedic potential. It would take misunderstandings/confusing twins trope to a whole new level. What I do really want to see, though, is a love interest for Addie. Well, I kind of do and I kind of don't. I think'd it'd be really cool to have a YA book that has essentially two main characters and not have to have a love interest for both of them, but at the same time, it'd be interesting to see how it all played out. I just hope that by the end of the trilogy, Eva and Addie are both still alive. But there are always sacrifices in these kinds of books. Don't get too attached to anyone, because authors know who your favourite character is and they will kill them in the last book. ALWAYS.

I feel like Mr Conivent as a bad guy was creepy, but at the same time I want some shades of grey, you know? I didn't feel like we got the reason why America in particular was so against the hybrids, and if you're so desperate to get rid of the hybrids, there's gotta be something personal there, right? But I have been spending a lot of time on Tumblr lately and they overanalyse EVERYTHING over there, so I could be looking into and wanting too much that just ins't really reasonable or necessary. But I do really, really want to know more about the history and have some proper motivation and reasons behind the whole anti-hybrid thing they've got going on here.

What's Left of Me was a brilliant debut, full of original ideas and interesting characters, and I can't wait to read the second book when in comes out and finally have more about the world revealed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...