Monday 30 July 2012

The Goose Girl review

The Goose Girl
Shannon Hale
August 8th 2003

Anidora-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kilindree, spent the first years of her life listening to her aunt's incredible stories, and learning the language of the birds. Little knowing how valuable her aunt's strange knowledge would prove to be when she grew older.

From the Grimm's fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become a queen, Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must understand her own incredible talents before she can overcome those who wish her harm.

Shannon Hale has drawn on her incredible gift for storytelling to create a powerful and magical grown-up fairytale.

The Goose Girl was actually fantastic. I don't think I went into it expecting much, because seeing as it came out about 9 years ago, it's not one that I've seen hyped up a lot lately. It's kind of freeing, just reading a random book that you picked up without having any pressure to love it from other people who just hype stuff up all the time, you know? But I mostly picked it up because I'd never seen it in a book shop before, and I'd heard a lot of awesome things about Shannon Hale, and I just wanted to read something different, I guess. And I think I may have become a tiny bit of a Shannon Hale fan along the way. Seriously, though, I want to read all of her books, like, now. I only wish I was exaggerating.

The story was fairly slow to start, and it kind of kept that slow pace, but it actually felt pretty natural and I didn't find myself having a problem with it at all. In fact, I read it fairly quickly for me, because it gave me a lot more time to become acquainted with all of the characters, Ani in particular, and actually become wholly invested in their stories. Another weird thing for me with it is that I was mostly so into it because of Ani's character arc. In fantasy stories, it's not usually the character development that keeps me reading, but then again, the action was fairly slow to happen in this book (partially because of the character development, I think) that it's Ani becoming a better, stronger person that is really the main focus of the story.

As I kind of just said, I really, really liked Ani. I wasn't that keen on her at first, to be honest, because after the first chapter which kind of goes over her childhood, you see her as a sort of lost 15/16 year old who's the Crown Princess and has this whole identity and status to live up to, but doesn't quite match up to her own expectations about who she should be, and (to me) the book is, more than anything, about her having the freedom to be able to become who she wants to be. Which, when I say it, sounds like kind of a simple thing (apologies for all the fillers), but for Ani, it was probably the biggest issue she had to face. And Selia (Ani's Ex-Lady-in-Waiting/Crazy Lady) doing what she did to Ani was probably inadvertently the best thing that ever happened to her. If Ani had never been the Goose Girl and lived with the freedom of not having to live up to the constraints of her title, she would've just been the same to everyone else as Selia had been when she was taking her place. I think that makes sense?

I also really liked the whole idea of some people being born with a 'word on their tongues', so some people have different kinds of gifts like people-speaking, or animal-speaking. I thought that the way Hale handled the act of talking to animals was really interesting, too, mainly because it wasn't an instinctive thing. It wasn't like Dr Doolittle or anything where you just speak out loud and all the animals understand you and you understand them. It was about actually taking the time to understand how the animals communitcated, and understanding the meaning of all the sounds and body language, and I don't know, that just seemed really cool to me. I also really feel a need to at least mention Falada in this review (Falada is a horse.) I just wish that people never put horses in books, because bad things ALWAYS happen to them and I just can't handle it. I was not expecting to cry while reading this book, and then there was a horse that had a strong connection to the main character and I just knew that that was not going to end well. Honestly, how many books have you read with a horse as an important character that ends with the horse being well and happy at the end of it. I'll answer it for you, probably about, like, 2. Because for some reason horses have just become the default animal in fiction (0r dogs) that people like to do horrible things to in order to make the reader cry. Well, just stop, okay. I like horses. I would like people to stop making horses into tools for making people sad. LEAVE THE FICTIONAL HORSES ALONE, GUYS. WHAT DID THEY EVER DO TO YOU.

*Ahem*. It appears that I'm never going to be able to write a review of a book I really like without having some kind of Caps Lock-based emotional outburst. On a different note, can I just say how truly satisfying it is to read a book that has the actual words, THE END, at the end of it. So that you can actually finish a book and sit there and think, 'gee, that book sure had a great feeling of closure at the end of it!'. Because in this strange and dark time of series's, it is a rare thing to find a standalone. And look, I had to go all the way back to 2003 to find one! Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit, but you know what I'm getting it. It's awesome to just read a book sometimes that has an actual ending that isn't a cliffhanger. And I know that not all series's end with cliffhangers, because Harry Potter doesn't! Sorry, again, I just really hate cliffhangers, and I', just really glad that this book didn't have one. And I know that it's kind of part of a series, but they're companion novels so it doesn't count.

The Goose Girl is a really, really great fantasy that has some of the best character development I've ever come across, as well as one of the best characters, and I just really liked everything about it. If you like fantasy and you haven't read this one yet, I highly suggest you check it out, as well as if you like books with kind of a fairy-tale feel to them.

Sunday 29 July 2012

Letterbox Love #11

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

For review:
The Double-Edged Sword by Sarah Silverwood (I've been in a real fantasy mood lately, and I like the sound of this so it should be good!)
Soul Beach by Kate Harrison (The 2nd book in this series is nearly out, I think, and I've been wanting to start it for a while, so! Thank you Indigo/Orion for these!)

Blood Red Road by Moira Young (Since getting Rebel Heart out of the blue, I've decided that I definitely need to start these books, and when I saw the signed copy there, I just could not resist.)
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (Just finished this yesterday, actually. It was really, really great. Review should be up Monday!)

Thursday 26 July 2012

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets review

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
J.K. Rowling
July 2nd 1998

Harry, Ron and Hermione have returned to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry for their second year. (But Harry and Ron only just made it-they missed the Hogwarts Express and had to get there in a flying car...!) Soon the threesome are immersed in the daily round of Potions, Herbology, Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Quidditch.

But then horrible things start happening. Harry hears evil voices. Sinister messages appear on the wall. But nothing can prepare the three friends for what happens next...

A brilliant sequel to the award-winning Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Let's just get this out of the way: Chamber of Secrets is my least favourite of the films, and it'll probably be my least favourite out of the books, too. I still liked it, and I can't really pinpoint why I don't like it as much as the others, but I just don't, so. It still has all the charm and wit as the first book, though, and all the action. And also probably one of my favourite characters to ever grace paper with his magnificent presence - Gilderoy Lockheart. (More on why I love him later.)

I still like Harry a lot more that I do in the films. I'm guessing this is going to a be a theme of all of these reviews. I basically like everything more than I do in the films, because that's the way film adaptations of books work. But the films will always be really, really important to me, and I think that the films are really freaking good and if the books are better than the films then that just means that the books are AMAZING. But yeah, I like Book Harry more than Film Harry because I feel that you don't really get that much of Harry's personality in the films. Like, it feels like he's been toned down quite a lot because they don't really have the time to make every character exactly the same as they are in the book, or have every scene in the book be in the film because then each film would be about seven hours long, and I even don't have that good an attention span.

I've always felt like Hermione had a really hard time in this book. First Malfoy calls her a Mudblood, then she accidentally turns herself into some kind of freaky cat-human hybrid, and then she gets petrified! I mean honestly, can't the girl catch a break! But, as much as I missed Hermione's presence (and I actually did, because she's way less annoying in this book), I did feel that we could get a better insight into Harry, Ron and Hermione's friendship. At the beginning of the book, I still kind of felt like Hermione wasn't a main, main character like Ron or Harry. I felt like she wasn't as important. But seeing Harry and Ron's reaction to her getting petrified, and how it increases their determination to find out what the Chamber of Secrets is, I realised that they do actually care about her quite a lot, and that she is important to them both. Also, she basically solves the whole mystery for them weeks before they even get close to figuring it out for themselves, so that all they have to do is fight a fragment of Voldy controlling a giant, evil, mythical serpent. Easy enough, right? ;)

Gilderoy. Gilderoy, Gilderoy, Gilderoy. I fail to comprehend how anyone, ever, can even come close to being as much of an idiot as you. And I really want to hate you. I know that if you were a real person that I would hate you, like everyone that isn't an easily charmed, potentially pre-pubescent, lovestruck witch. Alas, I cannot find it within me to hate you. You're probably the funniest thing in this book, and I'm going to miss your arrogant idiocy, though I know that I'm probably the only one. I just don't understand how anyone could be such a pompous arse! And be so ignorant about it! Oh, I just love him.

The actual story in CoS is probably the weakest, in my opinion. I know that it's necessary and stuff, and it sets up Voldemort as the main villain of the whole series instead of just sticking around for one book, as well as giving a tiny bit of Voldy backstory, but I just don't think it's as good as the others. It makes up for it because it's funnier than the first, I guess, but still, if I'd have read PS and waited, like, 2 years for this book, I would've been a teeny bit disappointed. But the the 3rd book would've come out and it would've all been awesome again, so. I think it's mostly to do with Dobby, really. Sorry, guys, I know everyone loves him, but I just don't like him. He annoys me to no end, and he caused me a lot of pain when I went to go see the film in the cinema when I was eight and decided it'd be fun to go home and bang my head against the bannister pretending to be Dobby. Spoiler: It was NOT fun. That was one bitch of a headache, let me tell you. And I think I cried. So I kind of have a personal vendetta against Dobby. I never wanted him to die, though.

Oh, and just one quick comment about Percy Weasley. Yes, you are a prefect. No, NOBODY ACTUALLY CARES. GO AWAY PERCY. NO ONE LIKES YOU.

*Breathes* Sorry. Had to get that out there. So yeah, Chamber of Secrets. Good, but not as good as the rest. I think I'll be taking a quick break from Potter before I start Prisoner of Azkaban, but it'll probably only be a week or two. Enjoying the following normalcy in this gap while you can. I'm fairly certain Harry Potter will be the end of me.

Monday 23 July 2012

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone review

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
J.K. Rowling
I don't actually know what month it was published, 1997

Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed for ever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard! (really, now? I NEVER would have guessed that Harry went to a school for witches and wizards because he was a Wizard! Seriously. Pretty freaking self-explanatory.)

*apologizes in advance*

Reviewing Harry Potter? What sort of monster must I be if I think I can criticise Queen Rowling's work! Alas, I've (shamefully) never read all seven of the Harry Potter books. Which I think makes me a very different kind of monster. Seeing as I've been meaning to read them basically my whole life, I decided I should probably get a move on and actually read them. A pretty good decision, if I must say so myself. Though I cannot wait until I move on to the later ones, where Harry and the gang develop personalities and the plots become more interesting and it's less black and white about things like good and evil. I did enjoy the Philosopher's Stone, despite it's distinct middle-gradiness anyway, because it's still Harry Potter, and I like J K's writing style, and it's Harry Freaking Potter and I'm 88% sure that there is a special place in hell for people who don't like Harry Potter. (Just because I hadn't read the books before now, doesn't mean that I'm any less of a Harry Potter fan, and if anyone tells me otherwise, then I will be very annoyed. VERY VERY ANNOYED. Just saying.)

Oh, yeah, should probably add: these reviews will probably be kind of like my Vampire Academy reviews, which were more nonsensical rant then anything. So just stick with me. Sense may be made at some point, possibly.

I really regret not having read this book when I was younger, because I would've had more appreciation for it then than I do now.  And I don't mean that in a bad way, and that I don't think it's a good book (because I do), and that I didn't enjoy it (because I did). I am a big fan of there being shades of grey (STOP) in morality in books and stories, and I feel like that is something that this book lacked. I know that that's because it is for a younger audience than myself, and that lines start to get blurred more in the other books, and I really should stop complaining about it, but it does annoy me. I have a real soft spot for Snape (because I know what happens to him and I personally think his death is one of the worst), and it just annoys me that he is a bad guy because he doesn't like Harry. It annoys me that Harry doesn't even think there might actually be a deeper reason for this, and that James Potter might not have always been the saint that Harry thinks he is. Snape is so much more than a sarcastic, mean Potions master, and I know we learn that later on, BUT STILL. I guess what I'm trying to say is that a lot of the side characters felt more like caricatures of people rather than actual three dimensional people. 

I also found the beginning quite slow, but that was mostly due to the fact that the first 50 pages is just the Dursley's not liking Harry. And can I just say that, if they hate Harry so freaking much, why are they so keen on keeping him around? I get they hate Magical Folk and that they're the Muggliest Muggles of all Muggleton, but seriously, if I had been looking after a kid that was a constant reminder of why my parents loved my sister more than me (speaking from Petunia's perspective), I would get rid of him at the first chance I could. If someone offered to take him away to a magical boarding school where I wouldn't have to see him for the whole year, I'd walk him to Hogwarts personally. Y U MAKE HARRY'S LIFE HELL, DURSLEY'S?!

*Ahem* That being said, these books are so charming. They're written (plural because I'm also talking about CoS - review Wednesday) in such a quaint British way that it kind of reminded me of reading a Diana Wynne Jones book. Also, they're a lot funnier than the films, too, and I really cannot wait for them to hit puberty and for hormones to be thrown into the mix as well. The films always felt a lot heavier in tone, and I enjoyed having the tone be lighter every now and again.

I think I like book Harry more than film Harry already, because with the books you also get more time to get to know Harry and the gang, and for them to actually show that they have personalities beyond having a painful scar. Not saying the films don't show the characters well, you just don't get the same sense of character as you do in the books. Which is kind of a no-brainer, I guess. I still think that Harry is kind of bland at this point, but I also suppose that's because he's an eleven year old, and snark does not come naturally to those who have not yet hit puberty.  Though a miserable life time of living in a cupboard under the stars has given Harry a good start. The young one has promise, yet. Ron, as always, was adorable and I want one, and I love his and Harry's friendship. I feel like J K really portrays the relationships between all of the boys really well, actually, and I love all the scenes from the books and the films which are just them hanging out in their dorm talking about stuff (though I know most of these come later on, as well). I must admit, I kind of wanted to slap Hermione for the first half the book, but that Mountain Troll attack really did the girl a world of good, because I love Hermione and all, but she was such a swot. She is freaking clever, though, and the girl earned being top of her class because she does not stop studying, and I seriously respect her dedication and focus to her studies.

I promise to start trying to make sense of my feelings for these books at some point (don't worry, I won't read all seven in a row. You will get breaks between my mental Harry Potter induced breakdowns. But don't be surprised if I read Deathly Hallows and my review is just the digitalisation pf pure and utter heartbreak. If the film can make me cry for an hour straight, the book will actually break my tearducts. BE PREPARED.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Letterbox Love #10

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

For review:
The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater (SQUEEE! So excited to read this!)
Ocean of Secrets by Aimee Friedman (Sea Change in the US. Thanks to Scholastic for both of these!)
Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel (Sequel to This Dark Endevour. Looking forward to reading this! I love the titles. Thank you Random House!)

Sorry that I didn't do one of these last week, I didn't have enough time, so this is last week/this week combined :)

Friday 20 July 2012

Night School review

Night School
C.J Daugherty
January 5th 2012
Atom Books

Sometimes school is murder.

Allie Sheridan's world is falling apart. She hates her school. Her brother has run away from home. And she's just been arrested.


This time her parents have finally had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to a boarding school for problem teenagers. 

But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Its rules are strangely archaic. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there's the secretive Night School, whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch.

When Allie is attacked one night the incident sets off a chain of events leading to the violent death of a girl at the summer ball. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, Allie must learn who she can trust. And what's really going on at Cimmeria Academy.

When I first saw this book, I knew that I wanted to read it. But I was also under a pretty wrong impression of it because the cover looks really paranormal. And do not get me wrong, I love the cover (I think it's the font. I just love the typography...) and I think it does sum up the book well, but I was fully prepared for it to be all supernatural and stuff. Instead I got an exciting mystery which had me thrown, and I really loved it! Also, boarding school. Major bonus.

At first, I was a little bit worried that Allie would grate on me, because as much as I love bad-ass rebellious heroines, they sometimes really get on my nerves. I was worried that she was going to be the kind of heroines who tromps about thinking that she has all these problems when really she has a pretty good life and not that much to be pissed off about, but she was really well fleshed out. I liked seeing her when she first started at Cimmeria, and having her make friends and be sort of happy for a while, because she had a pretty hard time of it before. But I'm also really intrigued about her family and why they're keeping all these secrets from her, and even though the ending was pretty well resolved, there's still so much that I NEED to know.

There is a love triangle, but I also thought that that was done really well, and I wasn't even that bothered by it which is really odd. Maybe it's just because I don't really like Sylvain. You can't trick me with your French accent and your CPR and your charm, Sylvain. I still don't trust you. Don't ask me why, I just had a bad feeling about him ever since I first saw his name on the page. Sorry, Sylvain fans. I really like Carter, though. Which, again, is pretty weird for me because I'm usually not all for the dark, broody fellow, but he ended up being really nice, and I always knew I'd like him better than Skeevy Sylvain (yes, I just made that up. Yes, I am sticking with it). Besides, Carter actually turned out to be pretty funny as well, and he was so much more than just the dark, broody boy. I also liked his honesty, because something that really, really annoys me about DBBs is that a lot of the time they lie to their love interest because they're trying to 'protect' them. I liked that Carter,  (and Skeevy Sylvain) actually told Allie what they could of the truth, so that she could decide what to do with the information herself. I know that's kind of random, but I just thought I'd mention it.

Night School is also jam-packed full of twists, and I was really doubtful about who I could trust after all the stuff with Jo happened. And I really hope that Jo and Allie can sort themselves out because I really liked her! I was especially wary of Rachel when she came into the story as well, because even though I really, really liked her (and still do), I was starting to sense a pattern about the most likeable characters also being the least-trustworthy. I really didn't have any idea about what was going to happen for the first 200-250 pages of the book, but I didn't feel that the pace dragged much at all. I felt really absorbed in Allie's story even when there wasn't that much going on in terms of the whole mystery thing.

I also really enjoyed the descriptions of the school and learning more about it, because apart from the obvious, I haven't really read that many books set in boarding schools. I actually liked it only really having one setting, because it meant that each place where things happened had a lot more significance, and you could have a lot more familiarity with the setting. I don't know. I just like the idea of boarding schools. I couldn't actually live in one though. I'd hate it. Especially at Cimmeria, where there is no laptops. I would die. Literally.

Night School was a really great book, and I'm so glad I finally had the motivation to pick it up and read it. Though now I'm kind of annoyed that I didn't wait until the second book came out so that I could read it straight away and find out more about Allie and all of her family secrets.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Devilish review

Maureen Johnson
June 7th 2012 (UK)
HarperCollins Children's Books

Wickedly funny high school satire - what would you give to be popular? Ally and Jane may not be that popular but they're good friends...that is until they each get allocated a freshman, a 'little' to show the ropes to at school. Cracks begin to show as Ally changes into a whole different person, literally overnight. She's dressed better, making new friends, and ditching Jane more and more. But Ally's transformation has its price. And it's up to Jane to save her former BF from a ponytail-wearing, cupcake-nibbling devil in disguise!

I knew from the get-go that I wasn't going to fall head-over-heels in love with it, despite how much I love Maureen Johnson, but regardless of that Devilish is still a really quick, extremely fun book that I thoroughly enjoyed. Although I didn't read it as quickly as I wanted to because I don't know if you've noticed, but I've kind of become crap at blogging lately due to new obsessions with Veronica Mars and Teen Wolf. But I've only got like, 15 eps of VM left to watch now, so I should be back to my usual partial absentee status, instead of just, y'know, full blown neglect.

90% of what made this book for me was Jane. I know that most people say this, but Maureen Johnson is just really good at voice (from the 2 books of hers that I've actually read...). Jane is just a really entertaining character! She's funny and snarky, stupidly clever, really loyal, and just a lot of fun to read about. Even at the most serious parts of the book, she comes up with some smartass remark that you just can't help but laugh at.

I also really liked the fact that it was Allison and Jane's friendship that was really on the line here. I said all this in my Second Chance Summer review, but I really like reading about families and friendships, and seeing Allison's loyalty to Jane and vice versa was just really sweet. I love how it all worked out in the end, and that they would literally give up their souls for each other. I also loved that Allison, despite the whole making-a-contract-with-a-freaking-demon thing, which I think we can pass off as a minor lack of judgement, eventually did become a stronger character and a better friend for all of it.

The premise of the book just really intrigued me, too, because I've never really read a book where demons and stuff are taken kind of lightly, and I enjoyed that because you know me and funny books. I really like them. And this isn't just like a purely funny book. Like, some of the demon stuff gets pretty freaking serious, and it's more about friendship then anything, but it is also pretty funny. Which, I guess is mostly down to Jane, but still.

Despite it's short length, though, I did find that it dragged in places and felt quite slow every now and again. There were times when I would pick it up and just not find myself all that interested in it, which I guess was partially down to me watching (read: obsessing over) Teen Wolf (again, I don't even know why I love it so much, it's not even that good a TV show though season 2 is getting a lot better, and saying I don't know why I love it is a complete lie it's Stiles and Derek. Just don't even ask. Blame Tumblr.) So yeah, even though I really liked Jane sometimes I just wasn't that bothered about what happened.

Devilish is a quick, funny, sweet read that I did really like despite sometimes feeling like it was a bit slow. A must read if you're a big Maureen Johnson fan, or just feel in the mood for something, well, Devilish! (Yeah, I know, one day I will actually stop making awful title related puns in these end paragraphs. Today is not that day.)

Thursday 12 July 2012

Second Chance Summer review

Second Chance Summer
Morgan Matson
June 7th 2012
Simon & Schuster UK

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

I think Morgan Matson is slowly becoming one of my favourite authors. I'm pretty much going to buy any book that she writes. She's pretty much up there with all my other favourite contemp authors likes John Green, Sarah Dessen and Stephanie Perkins. I still think I liked Amy & Roger a teeny bit better, but Second Chance Summer was still really freaking great.

She did that thing that I love in books, where there's the perfect balance of family and burgeoning romance and friendships. I love it when all different kind of relationships are explored and show that romantic love is not the only kind of love or the most important kind of love, because  I don't like it when every fictional teen hates their parents. Besides, seeing the Edward's family actually becoming more like a family was probably one of my favourite parts about this book. And, when the inevitable did happen, seeing them all support each other instead of having to turn to the love interest for comfort was really lovely. I just like families in books, okay?!

I really liked Taylor, too, and I completely got her thing about running away from difficult emotional situations because I do the same thing. Which is really bad, I know, but I can't help it! But it was really great seeing her develop as a person, and having her actually confront her problems and face them regardless of whether she'd be rejected or forgiven or whatever. And I really liked her relationship with her father, too. Even though it made the ending that much worse... (yup, I totally cried, just like I knew I would.)

I pretty much liked every character in this book, I guess! I thought Henry was lovely and adorable, and I hope they stayed together after the summer because otherwise that'd be pretty depressing. But at the same time, they're not real people, so it wouldn't really matter... I also thought that Warren was hilarious, and I'd love to have a brother like him if only because it'd mean there'd be someone more socially awkward in my family than me. But the whole thing with him and Wendy just made me laugh a lot. Elliot and Lucy were brilliant, as well, and I was glad that Taylor and Lucy becoming friends again was an important part of the book, and that Taylor wasn't forgiven immediately for what she did to her and Henry.

There was also a few flashbacks in the book that were all spread out pretty far apart that showed what actually did happen five years ago. I really liked reading those parts, too, even though I usually find flashbacks to be kind of draggy. They just fit really well a didn't feel like they affected the pace of the book at all,, as well as giving us kind of a break from all of the more serious stuff happening in the book (ie the whole cancer thing), even though that all came to a head at the end of the book anyway.

I really love her writing, as well. It's not like it's anything amazing and lyrical and beautiful and stuff, but it really felt like summer when reading it, even though it was pouring with rain outside for most of the time. There was a perfect balance between light, funny, proper summer-y parts, and more serious, sad parts, because even at the good parts when Taylor is with her father, there's always that shadow lingering, that this is his last summer, and that they might be the last good memories you'll ever have with him. Which is why I think it was really important that there was all the parts with Lucy and Elliot while Taylor was working with them at the snack shack, and the romance with Henry. It was all about the balance, so it didn't feel too depressing. And it really was, in every way possible, about Taylor having a second chance, to get to know her dad before she couldn't ask him things about his life any more, to fix things with her first ever boyfriend and her ex-best friend, and to become closer with her family.

I really, really loved Second Chance Summer, and if you even like contemp books a little tiny bit, then I think you should read this because it's just really good and lovely and funny and a little bit sad, and it's kind of the perfect balance of most of the things I love in a book.

Sunday 8 July 2012

Letterbox Love #9

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

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (been wanting this book forever! Just started it today, and I really like it so far.)
Devilish my Maureen Johnson (signed! I went to the Queen of Teen after party at Waterstone's in Guildford yesterday, and it was awesome. And I actually spoke to Maureen like a normal person (kind of..) I also got to wear a crown.  It was awesome.)
Night School by C J Daughterty (Also signed, she was at the QoT after party as well, so I finally bought a copy of Night School so that she could sign it and stuff. She was really lovely)

For review:
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (so this wasn't for review, by me and my mother met up with Bella (Cheezyfeet Books) and Rhys (Thirst for Fiction) on the way to Guildford, and Rhys was doing work experience with Egmont, and so he gave me a copy of this and I am never one to turn down a free book... So thanks!)
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone (This book was a lovely surprise! I love the sound of it, though if it's the Time Traveller's Wife for teens than I'm gonna have to read it with some tissues on hand... Thank you Random House!
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr 
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Insurgent by Veronica Roth (signed! SQUEEEEE)
This (mask included) is all the awesome things that all the people who were in Dauntless for the Insurgent UK think won! You would not believe how excited I was when I opened that parcel. I freaking love you Rosi/Harpercollins! And of course all of the lovely people in Team Dauntless that put together the blog tour, and organised all of our reviews so well.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Last Sacrifice review

Last Sacrifice
Richelle Mead
December 7th 2010

Murder. Love. Jealousy. And the ultimate sacrifice.

Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir Princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardian to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose—for a crime she didn’t even commit. She’s in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She’ll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir.

But the clock on Rose’s life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back... and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your life is about saving others, who will save you?

*Spoliers. Though if you've come here not expecting any by now then you're an idiot. No offense*

Can I just quickly say, before we get onto things, that I still don't know who this girl on the cover is meant to be. This is why I prefer the new UK covers, even if I don't really understand some of the objects on them (I get the Rose, the snowflake, the lips and the heart, but why the candles and the key?! Oh well...) But the cover model for these books just confuses me. Like, is it meant to be Rose? Who read Rose's character description and chose this person? And it's the same with all the others! NONE of them look like Rose! It just baffles me. I had to have one last cover rant, seeing as this will be my last review of a Vampire Academy book. For old times sake. Even though I've only ranted about the covers once before. Oh well. Let's not get lost in the particulars.

Last Sacrifice, while not being my favourite of the books (I think, I'm not sure which one is my fave, I'll be honest with you. They're all pretty close) was really bloody good. It still gave me some of the same grievances I had about Spirit Bound, mind, the first of which being that I find it really hard to type the words spirit and sacrifice, making it fairly difficult to actually write a review not full of spelling errors. But with things to do with the actual story, I basically just mean the stuff that happened with Adrian.

I really, really like Adrian, and I kind of hate Rose a teeny tiny little bit for doing that to him. I know that Dimitri is basically a sexy Russian god (though not like, literally a god), but c'mon Rose! I love you and Dimka together, I always knew that you would be, but couldn't you at least wait until you'd broken up with Adrian first?! That's just mean. I really hope that Adrian finds someone in Bloodlines, and that he doesn't get worse. I wish he'd never fallen in love with Rose in the first place so that he could've saved himself from a bit of heartbreak. But he'll move on. Hopefully. Tell me he gets a new love interest!

That being said, though, I still love Rose. I mean, she makes mistakes all the time, but that's no reason to hate her. She's only young, and she's so freaking badass that I think she can be forgiven. I think I'll really miss Rose, now that I've finished the series, and I'll have to find some other reckless, bad ass girls to read about. What can I say, they're one of my favourite kinds of heroine. Maybe I'll just have a Buffy marathon, and then write another massive blogpost about how much I love Buffy. That seems like a good idea...

I also actually liked Sydney a lot in this book, too. When we first met in her Blood Promise, I wasn't really all that keen on her, I guess. It's not that I didn't like her, it's just that she seemed a bit boring? But we got to know her quite a bit better in this book, and I liked her Alchemist practicality. As much as I love people like Rose, I also like characters that don't just through themselves into any old crazy situation, and have plans and are prepared and stuff. Also, she can be pretty sarcastic when she wants to be, which also helped to win me over.

I did kind of find some of the Lissa bits a bit dragging, though, even though I know that they're important to the story. I would find myself about to start a whole chapter of Rose looking through Lissa's eyes getting the lo-down about what was going on in court, and I'd just get bored. It wasn't really until they got further in their mission to find Tatiana's real killer that I got a bit more interested by them. And OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE IT WAS HER! What the hell, Richelle Mead! You can't just make us like a character for 5 books and then make her a murderer. That's just mean.

Look at me, writing a relatively normal review for the last Vampire Academy book! I'm proud of myself. Maybe it's just because I feel emotionally broken after rewatching all of the Harry Potter films, and just not having to capacity fangirl as much as I usually do. Anyway, that'd irrelevant. Thank you, Vampire Academy, for being wonderful, kickass, sexy, dramatic, thrilling and more than a little heartbreaking. I can't wait to get stuck into Bloodlines, but it'll never, ever be a replacement for you, and I'm 100 percent certain that I won't be able to go long without needing a reread.

Crap, now I feel all sentimental again. What the heck is wrong with me today?!

Monday 2 July 2012

Spirit Bound review

Spirit Bound
Richelle Mead
May 18th 2010

Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong...

After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s—and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he’s out there, somewhere.

She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true—Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. Only this time, he won’t rest until Rose joins him... forever.

*Do I even have to warn you anymore...? There WILL be spoilers for this book and all previous books in the VA series in this 'review'*

I always struggle to write reviews for these books, because I don't really know how to. They make me lose my ability to be a normal, coherent person, and I just don't know how to talk about them critically. I feel like each of my reviews for these books have just been a descent further and further into madness, and my review for Last Sacrifice (which should be coming to you VERY SOON INDEED) will just be scribbles and word vomit and tears. So. That should be fun.

Spirit Bound, as with all the rest of these books, was REALLY GOOD. Like, seriously. So much stuff happens in it. And I just couldn't read it fast enough. Like a lot of people said, the first 100 pages or so dragged a bit, but as soon as we got fully into the flow of the story, I struggled to put it down. There were also a lot of things that made me want to bang my head against a wall, but that's no detriment to the series. Sometimes the characters are just so blind!

Like this whole thing Rose had/has with Adrian. Everyone knows that Rose is going to end up with Dimitri, even before that THING in the middle of the book happened that made it a realistic possibility. Everyone in the world ever can see that Rose and Adrian are never going to work out because it's obvious that she still lurves Dimitri and that as long as he is still on the planet, regardless of whether he has a soul or not, or has become a totally creepy undead stalker. Even if he properly died, she'd still be hung up on him and take ages to move on. So while it's nice that they think they have this thing (and they do have a thing. It's obvious Adrian loves Rose, and that Rose loves Adrian, but Rose loves Adrian in a different way, so heartbreak is on the cards for our favourite sarcastic alcoholic vampire.)It really makes me sad, though, because I love Adrian, and I want him to be happy so freaking badly, but I hate the fact that he can't see that that'll never happen with Rose.

And didn't Dimitri go through a massive transformation in this book?! Literally! He went from being a crazy, creepy, stalkery, Strigoi bastard (I love you, Dimka, but OMFG YOUR STRIGOI SELF WAS SUCH A DICK) to being the old Dimitri again. Only (SHOCK HORROR) he's saying that he can no longer love anything other than his coveted cowboy duster (So I might have added that last part, but it *so* implied). Dimitri, I don't know what you're trying to pull, but you're not fooling anyone. Or so you would think apart from the fact that he fools ever single character in the book. How is it not obvious to them that he still does?! He's just trying to be the big man and protect everyone, and I know he's kind of recovering from being turned back from being a soulless bloodsucking monster, but come on. I can see through your lies, Dimitri.

And I am so freaking glad that Christian and Lissa finally got their shit back together, and the stopped being so pissy with each other. I knew it wouldn't last long. There was just no way they could stay away from each other that long. They're just too cute together. I just hope that it stays this way and that there isn't anything in Last Sacrifice that'll mean they'll have to break up. Because they can't, y'know. They just can't do that. They've been together since book one, and there's no way that after they've been together all this time that they'll end up not being together, right?! I won't let them.

And the ending of this book! After everything that happens, who thought it was a good idea to end it there, huh?! That wasn't an ending! I am just so glad that I had a copy of Last Sacrifice to read straight after I'd finished with this. If I'd have had to wait however long between the two of them coming out, it would've been torture. I don't know how you did it, Vampire Academy veterans. You have my respect, because I wouldn't have have the patience.

So, this probably isn't as long as my reviews usually are, and I don't really think I should even be calling it that. It isn't a review, it's just me, shouting. But I couldn't think of a clever title, so a review I shall call it! But anyway, I was kind of in a rush, because I have to finish the last book. Immediately. You should probably just ignore this post. It's probably in your best interest. Sorry to have inflicted this upon you poor, unsuspecting folks. But I can assure you, it'll get worse before it gets better. I would just avoid my Last Sacrifice review, if I was you. I just need to vent my feelings. I'm not making sense. I still don't know how I'm able to ramble on the internet. God, sorry, I'm actually stopping now.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Letterbox Love #7 and #8

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

Sorry for the crap picture. It's worse than usual... Never let me become a photographer.

For review:
Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid (Thank you Puffin!)
Angel Dust by Sarah Mussi (Thank you Hot Key Books! Looking forward to this. Never read an angel book set in south London before!)
Torn by David Massey (This came in an awesome brown paper package and I didn't want to open it because of how cute it was! Thank you Chicken House!)
Rebel Heart by Moira Young (I feel really bad about having this because I haven't read Blood Red Road, though it was a lovely surprise from Scholastic and I'll need to buy a copy of BRR now!)

Also from Scholastic, I got this awesome black envelop with this signed Raven Boys sampler in, as well as a cool keyring which I've already put on my keys. Thank you Scholastic!

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