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!
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