Friday 30 March 2012

The 13th Horseman review

The 13th Horseman
Barry Hutchinson
March 1st 2012
HarperCollins Childrens' Books

In a darkly funny, action-packed adventure, fourteen year old Drake is surprised to discover the Horsemen of the Apocalypse hanging out in his garden shed. He’s even more surprised when they ask him to join them. The team is missing a Horseman, having gone through several Deaths, and they think Drake is the boy for the job.

The 13th Horseman was a book that I wasn't 100 percent sure about, mostly because it's a book for pre-teen boys, but I'm glad to say that the awesome premise completely won me over! I mean, who wouldn't want to read a book about a boy (I don't know how old is but I'm going to guess 13/14) who becomes the 4th horseman of the apocalypse?! Just me...?

I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get on with the characters in the book, but I was really wrong! I actually thought all of the characters were really great, and really funny. All of the conversations between Famine and Pestilence were pretty hilarious, as well as each of them on their own. The three original horsemen (War, Pestilence and Famine) were definitely my favourites, though Drake was good too (of course!). I just kind of love books that make me laugh, even though there was one particularly crude bit (boys toilets, anyone?) I didn't mide too much because it was just bizarre and hilarious and I don't even know. Even though War was technically my favourite, I'm going to say I'm Team Famine just because Barry said that nobody else was ;) 

Throughout the book, there was a perfect balance of humour and action. And I've already spoken about the humour, so I guess it's onto the action! I really liked the fact that even though the whole Four Horsemen, Apocalypse business is all old and Biblical that the main bad guy was all about the, as the horsemen would put it, Techno-Magic-Mumbo-Jumbo. It provided and interesting (and humourous) contrast as we had to watch these four fairly odd  people deal with something they knew nothing about. Honestly, just their horseman outfits had me cracking up! I have a serious love for the thing that Pestilence was wearing. Really. It was ridiculous. 

I really enjoyed seeing Drake dealing with the fact that he's Death, and his journey of not accepting it at all to actually becoming a hero because of it. A very ironic hero, mind, bearing the situation, but still a hero all the same! It was just nice to see him come into his own, and stop the bad guy (though I could tell who the bad guy was going to be after about halfway through, it was still a bit surprising), and save the girl (who I also really liked but forgot to mention earlier! Don't go misunderstanding me thinking that just because she needed saving that she was a damsel in distress! Because she wasn't.)

The 13th Horseman was a really fun, action-filled, hilarious book that I'm sure boys and girls alike will enjoy. That is, if they're a bit morbid and find this kind of thing appealing, like me. ;p This book will teach me not to underestimate middle grade books again!

Monday 26 March 2012

The Hunger Games review

The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
October 31st 2008

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. 

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love. 

*this post will most likely contain spoilers, so if you haven't read the books, what the hell man?! Get on that! They're AWESOME.

You're probably wondering what I'm doing, reviewing The Hunger Games NOW. That is, if you've been living under a rock... Which if you have, the film came out just 3 days ago and I reread the book in order to make sure I could nitpick all the tiny details! Not really, it was just so I could remember what actually happened. And boy, did I forget how much I loved this series! I forgot how tense they were, I forget about the tension and the action, and Katniss and Rue and HAYMITCH and I should stop now before I fangirl myself to death.

I think Katniss will forever be one of my favourite characters from a book ever. And not because she's even particularly likeable, because when it comes down to it, she's not. She's not funny or snarky or anything, but yet you can still feel bad for predicament. You still care about her. Also, she's incredibly realistic and practical, two traits which I admire in her. I don't think she's brave, she just does what she has to do to keep her and her family alive. She does what she has to to get by, and while she may not like doing those things (i.e the whole killing other teens in a televised event thing she had to do), she still does them, with minimal complaining.

The relationship between Katniss and Peeta is an interesting one, and it was interesting to see how those dynamics in the film (Jennifer Lawrence was PERFECT as Katniss, just so you know). I wasn't quite sure if the lack of chemistry was just that, or if it was intentional to reflect the fact that Katniss was putting it all on to get support, especially as Jennifer and Josh have such a good friendship. Either way, it's kind of true. Even in the books, even in the cave scene, it never really feels like Katniss loves Peeta, yet. She wants to keep him alive, yes, and she wants to look after him, but in the first book it doesn't really feel like a romance. It doesn't feel like she wants a relationship with him. I think she just wants a friend, and he understands her because he's, you know, in the same predicament as her. But it doesn't feel like romance yet, which is something I'd forgotten about too. (Though it's obvious it grows into something more, it feels like all the love is faked on Katniss's side).

My favourite character out of the whole series will always and forever be Haymitch. I don't really know what it is about him, maybe it's that fact that he's like the after image of the games. He's the one who's suffered the nightmares and drunk them away, because he's so broken and represents all of the victors and how having to do that would affect children of that age into their adult lives. And since he's seen so many kids die since he won, since he led so many children into death, that spark of hope he feels when he finally gets to mentor some kids who might actually win. I don't really know what I'm saying anymore, but I hope I got across the fact that I love Haymitch a lot. He's not just a drunken clown who falls off of stages, okay! ;)

I'd also kind of forgotten about the actual games, like, how bad they are. I just kept on realising throughout the book that all of these teens are going to die at each other's hands. And then I'd remember and be like 'shit, this is some dark stuff'. (Also, quick note about the whole HG vs BR thing... I watched Battle Royale yesterday and intend to read the book soonish because the film was awesome, but apart from the basic concept, I don't really see why everyone gets so caught up on HG being a rip-off of it. They're pretty different and deal with the idea is vastly different ways. It's like for some reason people think gratuitous violence automatically makes something better, when really they both focus on different things about how this sort of game would affect young people. And I like them both, but just stop saying HG is a rip-off, or a kiddie version of BR, because it isn't. Sorry, petty rant over.)

I saw the film on Friday and thought that as far as book to film adaptations go, it was pretty great. I thought they got the casting spot on for most of the characters (wasn't Cinna brilliant!) though they did make a lot of little changes which kind of annoyed me a little, but at the same time I realise that they're just things it'd be very difficult to add to a film that's already 2 and a half hours with the unnecessary bits cut out. All in all, in was very, very good and I was really impressed. I must see it again soon! Also, they got Rue's death SPOT ON and I cried. Oh, indeed, I cried.

The Hunger Games. Do I really need to write a cheesy summary sentence for this book? You know how it is. The Hunger Games: Awesome.

Thursday 22 March 2012

The Last Echo review

The Last Echo
Kimberly Derting
29th March 2012

In the end, all that’s left is an echo. 

Violet kept her morbid ability to sense dead bodies a secret from everyone except her family and her childhood-best-friend-turned-boyfriend, Jay Heaton. That is until forensic psychologist Sara Priest discovered Violet’s talent and invited her to use her gift to track down murderers. Now, as she works with an eclectic group of individuals—including mysterious and dangerously attractive Rafe—it’s Violet’s job to help those who have been murdered by bringing their killers to justice. 

When Violet discovers the body of a college girl killed by “the girlfriend collector” she is determined to solve the case. But now the serial killer is on the lookout for a new “relationship” and Violet may have caught his eye... 

I can't believe I had almost forgotten how much I loved these books. I'd forgotten a bit about what had happened in Desires of The Dead, plus I'd thought it suffered a little bit from Second Book Syndrome, but she really brought it back here! The killer was creepier, the stakes were higher, and the only thing I can say against it is that there wasn't really much Jay in it! But I guess it's difficult to write a lot of him in if all they do is kiss and stuff... Plus I really liked learning about the kids at the Centre and the ending! I knew that he was a dodgy character! (Nope, not telling you who he is, you'll just have to red it for yourself!)

Violet is such a great character! I love her. I don't really know what it is about her, though. She's not particularly butt kicking (those she does seem to deal with serial killers WAY more than the average teenager should), but she's not annoying or needy or irritating or anything. She's just nice. And I've had a lot of time to read about her, so, yeah.

Jay wasn't in this book a lot, but that didn't annoy me too much as Rafe was in it a lot, and it was great to finally find out what he could do! Though he could go a little too far on the broody side, he certainly had his reasons and I think beneath all that he's not such an ass. But this whole thing with Rafe just made me like Violet even more because she wasn't all 'but I want him, but I want this other guy, oh who should I choose'. It was kind of a love triangle, but not really a love triangle, because although this new romantic tension is good, I think that Jay and Violet are pretty much unbreakable. They've had their strains, but for me this series isn't about Will they Won't they, it's about Violet and her ability and stuff.

The killer's chapters, as always, were super creepy. It kind of scares me how easily Kimberly finds it to write these chapters! Well, I don't really know if she finds it easy at all, but you know what I mean. I kind of felt like in Desires, the killer wasn't as creepy as in the first book, and I was worried that that was going to be it and the rest weren't going to be that interesting either, but this guy is just insane. And honestly, it was quite sad. He was just trying to get someone to love him. In completely horrible kidnappy, murderous ways, but still. Just be wary about that lilac nail polish that Kimberly is giving away on her blog though. You probably won't feel as comfortable wearing it when you find out the significance of it in the book. Also, I get why the US  cover is purple now!

As I've already said, I felt like Desires didn't quite match up to the first book, which made me a bit concerned about how this one would turn out, but as soon as I read the first chapter I knew we would be back in the thick of the action and that it would all be excellent again. I mean, I liked Desires, but my expectations were a little too high for it, I think. And the last 50 pages or so of this book were SO INTENSE. Really. I could not put it down. And I finally get the title now as well! Poor Violet, though. It's really awful, what she's going to have to live with now. (Again, not telling you! Read it!)

The Last Echo was a book that went over my expectations of it, and serves as an excellent addition to an already amazing series. Honestly, if you haven't read these books yet, YOU MUST. You will not regret it.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where bloggers make lists about books and other suitably bookish things. This week we're doing our spring TBR lists! (Books that are coming out in Spring)

1. A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix. Really excited to read this, especially after reading Sabriel!

2. Struck by Jennifer Bosworth. This has a really interesting premise, and I've been kind of in the mood for dystoias again with the forthcoming THG film!

3. Unrest by Michelle Harrison. I haven't read her 13 Treasures series (though I have the first waiting to be read), but this book looks simply amazing and I love the cover and GHOSTS!

4. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I'll be honest, I don't really know what this is about, but it has a beautiful illustrated cover that makes me want it. Badly.

5. Above by Leah Bobet. Again, not too sure what this one is about, but it's SO PRETTY.

6. The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. I still haven't finished the Iron Fey books, but I liked the first too, and I think this book sounds awesome.

7.  For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfruend. I love this cover, and I love this title, and I love the fact that it's a retelling/reworking of Persuasion. In space! (I think?).

8. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers. I haven't read her other contemporary books (and I must) but guys! Zombies! I haven't read a zombie book in forever!

9. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson. I adored Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, so it's safe to say this is pretty high on my list of books to read as soon as they get into my greedy little hands ;)

10. Until I Die by Amy Plum. I really liked the first book, so my hopes are pretty high for this one!

Monday 19 March 2012

Slide review

Jill Hathaway
1st March 2012

Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered. 

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body. 

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane. 

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again. 

Slide was definitely an interesting read. It kind of reminded me a bit of The Body Finder books, and a little bit of Forgotten, and I really enjoyed the thriller-ish aspects of the book. I just wish that there'd been more tension about the deaths. At points it felt a little like it didn't quite know what it wanted to be, and though I liked the more emotional parts of it, I didn't really connect that much with the characters and I just felt like there was something a bit off about it? I don't know. That doesn't sound too good does it... 

I think, for me, the plot was definitely the main thing I liked about Slide. I really love teen thrillers (something I thought I'd never say, thrillers never seemed my thing,) and I love the tautness and the threat throughout the story, and while I didn't think this had as much of that as others I've read (I never really though Vee would be threated or killed or anything until the last 30 pages. But there wasn't really a point that I knew who the killer was and it did keep me guessing a lot. Which is always good. I guess it kind of reminded me a little of Clarity in that way too. 

I also liked the fact that it had a lot of contemporary stuff in it too, though at times it felt more like it was a book about suicide it's aftermath than a book about murder. The grief was all palpable though, and definitely added a more realistic dimension to it. I kind of felt like there was too much going on though, with all of the shit that Vee had going on. Like, I personally didn't feel that all of it was completely important, for a pretty short book and all, but that's just my opinion. It didn't detract from the story, it just cluttered it up a bit, I felt.

I really, really wanted Rollins to be in it more though! He was my favourite character by far and it irritated my that Vee was so blind to his affections. Also, he was a good friend and Vee could be a bit of a bitch to him at times. Oh well, I did like her hardiness and how she could be a bit standoffish at times. At least she had a personality! And she did make a lot of character development over the course of the book, which I liked. She felt like a better version of herself by the end, like, a more healed her. 

Also, her ability was pretty cool. It's the thing that drew me most to this book, definitely. The idea that someone could slip into another person's head whilst having a narcoleptic fit is definitely something a bit out of the norm, and I loved reading these scenes and seeing all the private conversations that people don't want other people to over hear, but that might just be because I'm nosy and I like to know people's business ;)

Slide was a different read with a great premise that sometimes for me felt a bit too cluttered, but that I overall enjoyed a lot and would definitely pick up a second book if one is coming.

Saturday 17 March 2012

In My Mailbox (68)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren :)

I promise, one day I will have a camera that can take decent pictures. One. Day.

A Million Suns by Beth Revis (SQUEE! Been looking forward to this since last January! Unfortunately I can't remember anything that happened, but still! Shame the UK cover isn't as nice though.. Oh Well! Thank you Penguin!)
The Seeing by Diana Hendry (This book looks really creepy and good. Thanks Random House!)
The Intern by Dillon Khan (Don't know too much about this but it's set in the music/TV industry! Sounds interesting. Thanks again Penguin!)
The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting (I don't know why they did the cover like this. I like it, but it doesn't go with the others! Oh well, I still think it's cool! Thank you Headline!)

BZRK by Micheal Grant (I have Gone, but I haven't gotten round to reading it yet. This book sounds cool too! Thank you Raimy!)
Rosebush by Michelle Jaffe (This sounds really bad, but I just want her name to be Michelle Jaffa Cake. That's what she's been in my head for the past year. Yup. Thank you Liz!

Thursday 15 March 2012

The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy review

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
Douglas Adams
January 1st 1979

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. 

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox--the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years. 

Well, this is a bit of a departure from the norm over here, isn't it! I don't think I've ever reviewed a book written before 2000 before! But I felt the sudden need to read the Guide because it's kind of a staple sci-fi book, and I, being a bit of a geek, felt I should finally get around to reading it after 6 years of just watching the TV series and the film a multitude of times. And trust me, I heartily enjoyed it.

It was definitely different from what I usually read, but I loved all the sarcasm and wit and I really must read some more adult books that are in this kind of vein. I am totally planning on reading the Jasper Fforde books as soon as I can find them, and I still have the rest of this trilogy of five to read!

I felt a bit of a disconnect with the characters, but I somehow don't think that was the most important aspect of the book. Regardless, I do love Arthur and Ford, and Zaphod Beeblebrox (who is insane and possibly the douchiest douche ever to amble around the universe, but you can't hate him. You just can't! Even though he ruined Arthur's chances with Trillian. Oh well. You can't get with them all, Arthur Dent! I think this section of bracketry should end now, before I ramble your eyes off or something.) I think my favourite character is Marvin though. He was in the film and tv show, and he is in the books. I don't care if he's ridiculously annoying to the other characters, a robot with manic depression is always going to win my favour. (That sounds awful actually.. But you know what I mean. Possibly.)

I love the plot. It's a little insane, like, but it's nice to get a bit of a break from your regular, hum-drum plots where mice haven't invented a super computer that instructed them build Earth (an ever superer super computer) in the hopes that it would tell them the question of Life, the Universe, and Everything (the answer of which being 42), and where the mice aren't really mice at all, but from another dimension and only appear to be mice when they're in our dimension. Whoops, did I just let some of the plot slip? Yup, you caught that. Some. I'll be honest, for most of this book I was a bit comfused, but the dry humour kept me going and though it's all a bit insane, it doesn't really matter because it's brilliant.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is a book I definitely think you should read if you're into sci-fi and sarcasm, and just want a short book to keep you entertained. I can see why it's so popular though!

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Top Ten Historical Fiction Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where bloggers make lists about books and other suitably bookish things. This week we're doing our favourite 'X' genre books, so I chose to do Historicals!

1. The Agency series by Y S Lee. I adore this series! It's got one of my favourite heroines and it's about a women's detective agency in Victorian London! What's not to love?

2. Witch Child by Celia Rees. I have always loved this book. I just think that it's really, really good and informed me a lot about pilgrims and the whole kind of culture they had there. The sequel, Sorceress is just as good.

3. The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner. Set in the heart of the French Revolution, it's full of magic and romance and it's just really good.

4. Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey. I just have a thing about Victorians, okay? I love them. If your book is about Victorians, and is historically accurate, I will probably love it. Especially if it has ghosts in it.

5. Chime by Franny Billingsly. I'm not actually sure if this is a historical, but I think it must've been. Regardless, it read like it was, and it's such an incredible, beautiful, amazing book. 

6. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. Well, this whole series! It's even better than the TMI books in my opinion, even though I have issues with Tessa. But everything else about them is incredible!

7. Naked by Kevin Brooks. I think I can count this as a historical. It's set in the past, so it counts right? Anyway, a brilliant book about punk in the 70s with a really interesting twist involving the troubles that'd been happening in Northern Ireland at the time. Totally broke my heart by the end of it.

8. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. This book really surprised me. I mean, people said good things about it, but I wasn't sure that I'd like it, but it was really amazing! I loved the ending.

Those are all I have for now! I probably should've realised that I haven't actually read that many Historical books, but I'm working to change that! I love historical novels and I'm starting to make the effort to read more :)

Monday 12 March 2012

Wonder review

R. J. Palacio
March 1st 2012
Random House Children's' Books

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse. 

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances? 

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

This book, people! This. Book. It is really very, very good. And this is coming from someone who, as a rule, generally doesn't like MG and, well, these kinds of books. Turns out I was very wrong about my taste, as I so often am. Because I really just wanted to hug everyone in this book after I finished it. It kind of opened my eyes to how mean some kids can be, and how, just because someone looks different, it doesn't mean that they are. A 'don't judge a book by its cover' kind of thing. (Only not the books actual cover because I love the cover of this book. But people, in general. Don't judge people by how they look.)

I really liked the way the story was told. I think, in total, there was six different perspectives, which I know at first sounds a bit confusing, but they're all in different parts. They have a part of the book each which made it a lot easier to get to know each of the characters both through their own eyes and through others. I think it really helped to show how Auggie had affected everyone, and just to see the story through their eyes as well as Auggie's. I really don't think I'd have liked it as much as I did if it wasn't for this aspect.

Don't get me wrong, I liked Auggie and I thought he was pretty great. But I couldn't relate to him that much. And not because of his face or anything, but because he was a ten year old boy and I am, if you hadn't noticed all ready, not. But I do think he was really very normal and easy to like and if some of the other kids in the story (Julian!) had bothered to get to know him instead of disliking purely on an aesthetic basis then they really would've liked him. 

I think, though, my favourite characters to read were Jack and Olivia. And yeah, Jack may have been a ten year old boy too, but it was really lovely to see how he was such a nice kid to pretty much everyone. It was really nice reading about how he got to know Auggie and how he didn't really care that much about his face. After getting used to it, it was like there wasn't anything different about him at all. Jack had the right attitude about things. And Via was the most relatable for me, because if I had been brought up like that, then I think I would've been like her too. And I liked how she rarely let it get her down, because she loves her brother, and you could really see that they had a strong sibling relationship even though they fought a few times (which is perfectly normal and I probably wouldn't have bought their relationship otherwise.)

A lot of the other kids annoyed me at first, because they just kind of refused to see past Auggie's face and took it as an excuse to be mean to him. How do those kinds of people get by, seriously? And they're all the kinds of kids (I say all, there's about three...) who act like suck-ups in front of the teachers and act like they're all perfect when they're just mean, and sly, and cruel. And don't say it's because they're kids because they know what they were doing. It made me laugh though, in Jack's chapter, when the principal and Julian's and Jack's parents were emailing each other about Auggie having been accepted into the school after an incident involving Jack and Julian, and the principal ever so subtly burned Julian's mother. Not literally, but you get what I mean. 

I was kind of surprised when the book didn't make me cry as much as I thought it would. Everyone kept on telling me to have a box of tissues ready, but the parts where the other kids were being cruel to Auggie didn't make me sad, they made me angry. And that part at the end (kind of) in the woods made me love everyone who stuck up for him but it didn't make me cry though. There was one part though. And I won't say it because I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but I'll just say that it was not really to do with Auggie, and it made me cry. A lot. I think those of you who've read the book will know what I'm talking about. But I think a lot of the time, because the chapters were so short (which I liked. It felt right for the book) that even when there was a sad bit, it moved on quite fast so it gave you time to get over it.

Wonder is truly a wondrous book about a lovely, normal boy, and how he reaches acceptance in middle school, and I dare you not to be charmed by it and all of the great characters within.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Shooting Stars review

Quick note before the review, the winner of my giveaway was Rhiannon Hastings! I shall email you soon, and thank you all ever so much for entering!

Shooting Stars
Allison Rushby
February 28th 2012
Walker Childrens 

Meet Josephine Foster, or Zo Jo as she’s called in the biz. The best pint-sized photographer of them all, Jo doesn’t mind doing what it takes to get that perfect shot, until she’s sent on an undercover assignment to shoot Ned Hartnett—teen superstar and the only celebrity who’s ever been kind to her—at an exclusive rehabilitation retreat in Boston. The money will be enough to pay for Jo’s dream: real photography classes, and maybe even quitting her paparazzi gig for good. Everyone wants to know what Ned’s in for. But Jo certainly doesn’t know what she’s in for: falling in love with Ned was never supposed to be part of her assignment.

Shooting Stars was kind of a surprise for me. I thought I knew what I was going to get straight away, and while I did get that, I also got a way more interesting plot and a really, really great cast of characters. Even though I could tell I was going to like Jo straight away.

The book itself, I think, had a pretty cool premise and I knew I wanted to read it simply because I've never read a book about paparazzi before, especially paps who are sixteen, and I just thought it sounded good. And while the blurb sounds a little cringy and all that, it's not. I mean, well it is a little bit, but that's kind of inevitable. The romance was there, but I felt it wasn't the main part of the book (though a very important part of it) and I feel like the blurb will give people the wrong idea.

The book, for me, was more about Jo unwittingly coming to terms more with herself, and Ned sorting out his problems, and was less about them getting together and more about them getting to know themselves (that's probably one of the cheesiest things I've said). Though the romance was, of course, a lovely touch ;)

I've already said this, but I loved Jo! She was full of attitude and she was pretty practical, and I could relate to how she felt about trust and being faced with having to talk about your issues and feelings in front of people. Whether that's a good thing, I don't know, but I got her and her sarcasm and stubbornness and I thought she was really great. Plus she had a lot of snark going on, and I haven't had any snark in a while.

Ned was also really lovely (you know my feelings on nice guys, and Ned was most certainly a nice guy) and I thought the whole story line about him was way more interesting that I thought it was going to be. If you've read the book then you'll know exactly what I'm talking about, and if you haven't, well, I'm not going to be the one to spoil it for you!

While Shooting Stars wasn't some great amazing book, and while it's not my favourite YA romance, it's still an adorable, funny and sweet read and worth checking out :)

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Covers

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where bloggers make lists about books and other suitably bookish things. This week we're doing covers that we love!

I think this cover is simply beautiful, with the black and white, and the rose, and I just love it.

I don't usually like contemporary covers, but maybe it's just the renaissance art that gets me with this ;)

LOVE this! For a zombie book it looks really interesting, plus I think the composition is a little odd because she's a bit off-centre but I love it for that.

The Night Circus
While both the US and UK covers for this are incredible, I think this one is my favourite.

This was only revealed a few days ago, but I adore it. I simply cannot wait to read this book!

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
How much do I love thee, cover, let me count the ways... Or rather not because it would make this post WAY too long!

Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Really simple, but totally brilliant.

The Fault in Our Stars
I know a lot of people don't really like this cover, but I just really like minimalist covers, I guess...

 Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)
I don't think that there will ever be a point that this won't be one of my favourite covers.

Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)
Just the composition, and the colours, and the bird in the cage and the circles and lines and GAH IT'S SO PRETTY.

So, if I've counted right, those are my top ten covers at the minute! I've realised I don't really like people on the covers of my books... ;)


Monday 5 March 2012

Wither review

Lauren DeStefano
March 22nd 2011
Harper Voyager (UK)

What if you knew exactly when you would die? 

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out. 

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home. 

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

Wow. Wither was such a great book. Really. My expectations of it had been pretty high in the first place, but something had been keeping me from reading it until now, and I don't know why I put it off for so long because it was really amazing. 

The writing of the book was so beautiful. I haven't read a book this well written in what feels like ages. It was kind of slow, but in that sort of good way that makes you want to savour it, and the pace suited it all perfectly because it isn't an action book. It's a book that takes place over a fairly long period of time (especially considering the whole everyone dies at 20/25 thing) and it's not really about what happens, but about the people and the relationships they form with each other. And I kind of loved it and hated it for that because I got to know all the characters so well and then bad things happened and why can't characters just be 2-d so that I can either love them or hate them! (Not really, make characters as 3-d as possible please. As much as I say otherwise, I love all the angst I get from characters with personalities.)

Rhine, I thought, was really interesting. She was a really strong heroine, but in that different way. She wasn't an action heroine or anything, she wasn't your regular Katniss Everdeen or anything, but she was really emotionally and mentally strong. The thing that happened to her was truly awful, and I liked the fact that she was such a realist. She was just really down to earth and I think she reacted how most people would, making her really relatable as well. And she also stuck to her guns. She may have come to like Linden and everything, but she could see that she wasn't happy, and she wasn't going to be happy, so she acted on that.

I think that out of all the Brides though, I liked Jenna the most. I don't know why, but I think she was the most realistic about it all out of all three of them. Also, despite her dryness and general misery at her predicament, she was nice, and she did what she could to help Rhine. I think the relationship between the three of them (Rhine, Jenna and Cecily) was the most interesting to read about out of all of them, and I was more interesting in their interactions than I was with the romance. I felt really bad for Cecily, especially towards the end, mainly because she was just so clueless about everything, but ignorance is bliss, I guess.

And the love interests! I'll be honest with you, I really thought that the relationship between Gabriel and Rhine could've been developed a lot more, but I did see where it was coming from so I guess it was okay, and I think it was good to have a lot of the focus on Linden so that we could realise that he's actually really lovely and I felt so bad for him being stuck in the house! He was just as trapped as everyone else, only he doesn't know it, and I don't think he ever will.

But Vaughn. Ewwww. I hated him. Genuinely, completely and utterly hated him. He's one of the slimiest, cruelest, most horrible characters, he really is. The fact that he thinks what he's doing is good, and that all of the horrible things he's done can be justified. And that Cecily never even picked up on his overall dodginess. And his fake smiles at dinner, and just thinking of him makes me get the heebie-jeebies. Okay, I'm hoping the nonsensicalness of that paragraph just helps in getting me feelings across instead of making me look like and insane, illiterate cretin or something.

One thing I couldn't over look while reading it, though, was it's similarities to the The Handmaid's Tale. It has to have been influenced by it somehow, because it really did feel like reading a YA version of it with, like, more teenagers and less pro-creation. But that isn't really a bad thing because The Handmaid's Tale is a book I really liked, and I enjoyed the similarities. Anyway, they felt less similar as the book went on and became it's own.

Yeah, sorry about this beast of a review, I just had a lot to say! Wither is a really great book, written beautifully and with excellent characterisation. It'll twist you up and make you feel bad for characters you never thought you'd feel sorry for, and it's just a really good, different dystopian from all of the action-packed ones there are floating about. I'm so glad I have a copy of Fever lying around so I can get to it soon! 

Saturday 3 March 2012

In My Mailbox (67)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren (though I've now taken the liberty of doing it fortnightly) 

Sorry about the blurry picture! My laptop camera is really awful...

For review:
Struck by Jennifer Bosworth (This looks awesome! I love the idea behind it. Thanks to Random House!)
Fever by Lauren DeStefano ( I literally just finished Wither today, so I should be getting around to this soon! Thank you HarperCollins!)
Advent by James Treadwell (This looks like a great fantasy! Thank you Hodder!)
The Flappers: Vixen by Jillian Larkin (Yay the 1920's! Love the sound of this. Again, thank you Random House!)
Torn by Amanda Hocking (I haven't gotten around to switched yet, but I really must! Thank you Macmillan)

Department 19 by Will Hill (This was only £1 because of World Book Day, as well as The Name of The Star! Bargain!)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (with the film coming out at some point, I felt the need to read it soon.)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (I love the sound of this and The cover is so pretty!)
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arther Conan Doyle (need I explain again? ;P)
Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale (Not pictured. I went to her 2nd launch party yesterday and it was lovely, and she signed my book, so yay!)

I think I'm going to go on a book buying ban soon. I think I have more unread books than read books... ;) Also, check out my books for trade just in case you want any :)

Books For Trade!

Hello! First things first, sorry for not posting all week bar Monday! I've just been a really slow reader lately, so sorry about that. Now, the actual post!

I appear to have culminated a few books that I know I'm not going to get around to reading and I would like to clear them all out, and where better to do that than here! Some of these are duplicate proofs that I've got and whatnot, so they're not all finished copies, but still! Also, I know it says books for trade, but I'm not really bothered. Just tell me if you want any of them and I'll send it out as soon as I can, I don't really want anything back for it. You're doing me a favour just if you want any of them!

Frogspell by C. J. Busby (MG)
Wish Me Dead by Helen Grant (Proof)
Quarry by Ally Kennen
Footloose (the novelisation of the film)
Shadows: A Dark Touch Novel by Amy Meredith
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Out For Blood by Alyxandra Harvey
Bleeding Hearts by Alyxandra Harvey
Duty Calls: Dunkirk by James Holland (Proof)
The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner (Proof)
Fracture by Megan Miranda (Proof)
This is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees (Proof)
This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel (Proof)

I think that's about it for now. So yeah, just say if you want any of them in the comments or email me or tweet me :) Oh, and I think this is just going to be for UK people because I really can't afford postage at the minute. Sorry!
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