Wednesday 31 July 2013

July Round-Up

This is going to be a short post because, if you didn't know already, July was kind of a dead month for me on the blog. I didn't read that much and I certainly didn't review that much... I just really need to read a 5 star, absolutely amazing book because it feels like it's been forever since that happened and I think it will get me out of my reviewing slump a bit. Hopefully I'll at least get around to doing more than 6 posts in August, though...

Books read:
Dead Jealous by Sharon Jones
Adorkable by Sarra Manning (reread)
The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
Hidden Among Us by Katy Moran
Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
Ocean of Secrets by Aimee Friedman

Book of the Month:

I don't really know for July... Like, I enjoyed everything that I read, but none of it stands out as being particularly outstanding from the rest. If I had to pick one (and I'm not counting Adorkable because it's a reread and one of my favourite books), it would probably be Antigoddess.

Books reviewed:

As I said, it was kind of a slow month for me. But I did actually do a discussion post for once, too! I really wish that I could come up with more ideas about what to do on the blog because I always feel like it gets a bit samey and maybe that's a bit why I'm lacking inspiration for reviewing, as well. But anyway, here's the link to that discussion post, too, should you wish to read it.

In other news, I finished my first year at Sixth Form! I also did literally nothing else. There's not been any telly on that I can talk about or anything. All I've done is watch films, rewatch Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra and start working my way through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

I hope July has been a more interesting month for you than it has for me! See you in August.

Friday 26 July 2013

Hidden Among Us review

Hidden Among Us
Katy Moran
March 7th 2013
Walker Books

When Lissy meets a mysterious and strangely beautiful boy on her way to Hopesay Edge, she is deeply unsettled by their encounter.

She discovers that the boy, Larkspur, is a member of the Hidden, an ancient group of elven people, whose secrets lie buried at Hopesay Reach. Before long, Lissy and her brother Rafe find themselves caught by a powerful magic and fighting to escape a bargain that can never be broken.

It's been a while since I've read a book about proper creepy fairies, so I wasn't too sure how I would feel about Hidden Among Us, especially seeing as I'd started it before but couldn't get into it. However, I'm really glad I did give it another go because I really enjoyed it despite it being pretty different from a lot of other books that I've read recently.

Hidden Among Us has a lot of different POVs, which I think was the original barrier for me the first time around, especially considering that Lissy's doesn't crop up until about 6 chapters, but it did actually work well. I'm not always too keen on a book with a lot of 1st person POVs because it can get pretty confusing, but it did give lots of different perspectives on the story (which I guess is kind of the point) and filled in a lot of the holes with things like the family drama that there would have been with just one or two perspectives. The only problem that I really had with that is that I felt like I didn't get to see as much as some of the characters that I wanted to, I guess, and even though it made the story as a whole really good, I didn't get that sense of connection with some of the characters that I wanted to have.

The plot was actually a lot more unique and exciting than I thought it would be. From the summary, I was kind of expecting a typical paranormal romance (which kind of always makes me uncomfortable when it's with fairies because they are so creepy and I can't understand why anyone would want to be in a long-term relationship with one, but that's just me) but it really wasn't. I mean (and I don't think this is a spoiler) there wasn't even any romance, which was kind of nice because sometimes you really to read a romancey book and sometimes you just really, really don't. Also, Lissy was only 14 so if she had fallen in some everlasting love for Larkspur that would've just been really creepy, also for other reasons which I won't say  because they are totally spoliery. But yeah, I don't really want to ruin anything for you because it is the sort of book that you really don't want to be spoiled because there's a lot of really interesting stuff going on that would only really have the same pzazz if you didn't know about it (also, can you believe that pzazz is actually a word?! I cannot.)

Yeah, as I said before, some of the characters I felt like I didn't really connect with, but most of them I really enjoyed reading about. I liked the intricacy of all of their relationships and the family issues that had come about as a result of the events of the book, because, you know me, I love a good, interesting family dynamic. Rafe, Lissy's brother, was probably the least likeable of the characters (at the beginning, anyway) but I did think that he was one of the most interesting to read about. His and Joe's (their cousin) storyline was really different to anything I've read about in a book primarily about fairies before and I was desperate to know what was going on with them. I also liked Lissie a lot, too, and I enjoyed her storyline as well. There were sort of 2 or 3 different plotlines going on, so it was great to see how they all converged to make this really interesting book. I'm still not sure about the ending, though. I mean, it was really good and kind of unexpected, but I'm not sure if I liked it.

And the setting, too, really drew me in. Their house and Hopesay Edge had this really great, slightly creepy atmosphere, and combined with the fairy/Hidden world, it was a lot more chilling and creepy than I thought it would be. Not to say that it was a particularly creepy book, but there were some parts that left me a but creeped out, and Katy Moran really captured the atmosphere of an old, creepy house and the expanse of history and the Hidden's role in it really well. There's no way this book could have been set any where other than Britain, really, because I just think that fairies/Hidden/Elves/that type of thing are just really well suited to the landscape and history of Britain. But that may just be me.

Hidden Among Us was really interesting book that wasn't what I expected it to be at all, and I urge you to think about reading it if you like fairy books but you're looking for something completely different to your typical paranormal romance (not that there's anything wrong with that, either.)

Sunday 21 July 2013

Letterbox Love #37

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

Sorry for not posting anything for a week! I am such a slacker.

For review:
Antigoddess by Kendare Blake (Already read this and it is really good I'm telling you. Kendare Blake can write books. Thank you, Orchard Books!)
The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher (Reallly looking forward to reading this, but I'm going to hold off for a bit! It looks fab though. Thank you Chicken House)
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Mass (Again, looking forward to reading this because I just want Chaol and Celaena to get their shit together! Thanks Bloomsbury!)
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (Really intruiged by the sound of this book. Thanks Orchard, again!)
See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles
The Messengers by Edward Hogan (Don't really know that much about these two, but thank you Walker!)
Cruel Summer by James Dawson (I have been waiting a long time to read this book. Can't wait to dig my teeth into it! Thank you Indigo!)

Sunday 14 July 2013

The 5th Wave review

The 5th Wave
Rick Yancey
May 7th 2013
Puffin Books

The Passage meets The Hunger Games in a gripping new series from Carnegie-shortlisted Rick Yancey. After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave. On a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, until Cassie meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be her only hope for rescuing her brother and even saving herself. Now she must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. Cassie Sullivan gets up.

The 5th Wave took me a while to get into, and with the fact that there are a few different POVs in there took me a while to adjust to, but by the end I struggled to put it down and was swept up by Cassie's story, and just the whole alien apocalypse thing worked really well. But I didn't think that out of all the apocalypse books that I've read it was particularly special or amazing or new. I just really like apocalypse books.

Cassie was easily my favourite POV character in the 5th Wave, by far. Overall, there are four, but two of them only happen once (that's quite a confusing sentence, isn't it...) but Cassie's was, in my opinion, the most likable and the most relatable. She was super witty and sarcastic which was sort of different to most main characters you read about in post-apocalyptic situations because a lot of the time there isn't really that much time for humour between the whole Everyone-I-Know-Is-Dead thing and the Holy-Shit-Apocalypse thing. And I will admit I was a bit worried about it, that it would seem out of place and forced in there to make Cassie, I don't know, more likable or something, but it really wasn't like that at all. It felt really true to her character, and I hope that if there was ever an apocalypse and I somehow survived until the end, I would go through it with a sharp sense of humour, otherwise I'd probably go crazy. In fact, going crazy is probably kind of a given... I'm still not sure if I bought the romance, though. At times it felt a bit creepy and insta-lovey, but again, it is an apocalypse book, and in that context it sort of works.

I did enjoy Zombie's POV, too, but I wasn't as invested in him as a character as I was with Cassie, and sometimes I would find myself reading one of his sections and just wanting it to go back to Cassie, but most of the time I was fairly absorbed, and as his story got further along, it did get a lot more interesting, especially towards the end (really, though, if the climax of the book isn't really absorbing in a book about the alien apocalypse then you're definitely doing something wrong.) I'll try not to spoil anything, but it did reveal a lot about what the actual 5th Wave was and how it was going down and it contributed a lot to the confusion about what was happening, as Zombie thought it was one thing and Cassie thought it was completely the other thing.

The plot was really exciting, and it did keep me on edge, but personally I didn't really find it scary at all which was kind of a disappointment because I like scary books, and the whole idea of aliens who are intelligent enough to better all our technology and systematically murder the entire human race generally is a frightening concept, so I don't know why this time around it wasn't that bad. But that being said, if it was a film I probably would've cacked my pants. It was really fast-paced and absorbing, though, and I struggled to put it down whenever I picked it up. Because of the different points of view, and each POV character having a different idea about what was going on, there was a lot of ambiguity and just as soon as I'd made up my mind about what was actually going on, something would happen and I'd start to doubt it again, so it wasn't predictable at all. Also, because of the whole situation, you never really know who to trust as a character, even the POV characters. Any of them could be anything and you never know who's side they're on. I can't really see how it's ever going to end well, though. Like, the only possible way I can see this series ending is with everyone dying, so I'll be looking forward to seeing if there will actually be any human survivors at the end of this apocalypse or if it's just going to be grim and bloody.

The 5th Wave was a high octane alien apocalypse adventure, with an exciting story and interesting characters and the occasional scary moment, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what the hell is actually going to happen next.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Teenage Girls Are So, Like, The Worst

Did you fall into the trap of my hilariously misleading title? I hope so. Because, just to start this off on the right foot, I don't actually think that teenage girls are the worst. I am a teenage girl, so you'd hope I wouldn't think that, anyway. But, being a teenage girl, I am well aware of how teenage girls are perceived and how, technically, I think I belong to what is considered the least valuable demographic (in terms of content), which, really, pisses me off.

First of all, I just don't get it. Stuff for children is good because children are the future and all that, and we need to get them off right and I love stuff for kids, and stuff for adults is good because it's for adults and it's serious and gritty or whatever - though stuff for adult men is obviously better than stuff for adult women. Obviously. *rolls eyes*. Anyhoo, that's a different argument. Even stuff for teenage boys is considered marginally better. (That has  been purposefully marketed towards these demographics.) But it's like as soon as teenage girls get their hands on something it is turned to shit in the eyes of everyone else. You're allowed to take the piss out of stuff when it's for the teenage girls. It's gotten to the point  that I get embarrassed when I like 'teenage girl stuff' even though I am a freaking teenage girl! It's like if you ever want to get taken seriously as a person  you can't like things that are for or about teenagers.

I'm not saying that everything that teenage girls like is actually awesome and that the whole world is wrong (because hell if I know what I am actually saying. I didn't plan this far ahead.) But everyone's opinions are different and should be respected, even if in your opinion they're wrong or stupid, and this goes for teenage girls, too. Though, sometimes the teenage girls can be super rude and completely disrespectful of other's opinions if it's to do with the thing that they're obsessed with. I'm terrified of saying I don't think that Cassie Clare is that great anymore out loud in case I get killed in my sleep or something. But that's the other thing! I don't get why things for teenage girls are so disrespected when I'm almost 100% certain that no one would want to find themselves on the wrong side of horde of teenage fangirls, whether they be for Justin Bieber or Twilight or the Janoskians or One Direction or The Hunger Games or whatever. Teenage fangirls are legion and they can be shit scary.

Anyway, I went a bit off the point there, but what I'm trying to say is that attitude seriously affects Young Adult and the way that it is perceived. Already, young adult has been pretty low on the ranks of respectability as far as 'literature' is concerned, though there are books like The Fault in Our Stars, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Book Thief and such that have been successful in more 'literary' circles that may indicate a slow change in attitude. Overall, though, you still see this sort of really annoying, patronizing attitude permeate the social consciousness about young adult and young adults themselves (literally no idea what that means, but it sounds really smart) that is just really worrying. Even when we are given brilliant and important characters like Katniss and Hermione and Tris and Hazel Grace and Rose Hathaway that have or will soon be making their way on to the big screen and reaching out to an even larger audience, I can guarantee you that you will read reviews of these films and there will be a significant number of people who say that it's crap. And that is they're opinion, and that's okay, but what sort of message does it give out that even when teenage girls are given characters that they can relate to in a way that they are not able to with a lot of films and books, and even then in the eyes of 'important' people they mean nothing. It sucks. Despite that, I am overjoyed at the sheer number of young adult books getting turned into movies, because even if the book is always better, it's still a really great thing that these strong and brave and interesting and flawed teenage girls will get an even better chance of being able to reach the audience that needs them most. Maybe, if they keep on proving time and time again to be a success with a large and varied demographic, commercially, we MAY EVEN GET A BLACK WIDOW MOVIE. PLEASE. IT WOULD BE SO GOOD.

And! (yes, there is more. Trust me, I have no better of an idea where this is going than you do, dear reader.) romance. That dear thing that most of us love so much - the sexual tension, the will-they, won't-they, the emotional connection that brings us even further into the story, the brave foray into the unbidden and slightly scary sexuality of a (usually) straight, hormonal teenage girl! Okay, you probably know that I am not always the biggest fan of romance in YA, but I like it when it works, and more often then not, it works. But it is also one of the things about YA that I think makes it seem even more cheap and 'commercial' in the eyes of critical media, like with straight-up Adult romance and New Adult and all that jazz. I'm not going to get into the whole romance thing because that would take too long and quite frankly I have not got the knowledge about genres outside of YA to warrant my blogging about it, but I do think that in a way it's an important thing to have, too. Being a teenager is all about finding yourself and figuring out what the actual fuck life is and what you want to do with it and Who Am I? Why Do I Exist? Do I Have A Purpose? and so on and so forth. It's also about finding yourself, you know, sexually. (Yeah, I put that in a smaller font because I'm uncomfortable talking about sex. You wanna fight about it?) It helps a lot for uncomfortable teenagers such as myself to be able to explore sexuality through the medium of books, and films, by relating to the awkward encounters and longing for the crazily, hyper unrealistic, romanticized eternal love bullcrap. That's also why I talk so much about stuff like this, and the representation of romance and what have you. It's important to know about relationships and sex and crushes and all of that. (But, on another, separate, point, it's also important to remember that it is fiction.)

So, I could probably elaborate a lot more on what I've said here, but I think I've said enough for now, even if originally that was not how I was expecting to end this post. Really, though, with me, it always comes back to the relationship stuff... I think I made some valid points, but as always, feel free to prove me wrong or argue or whatever. Usually I'm sort of talking out of my ass a bit, so I won't be offended or get mad or anything.


(Also, I know than none of this is like, new, or even that relevant to anything that's happening in YA right now, but sometimes I just have a burning need to DISCUSS.)

Monday 8 July 2013

The Taming of The Tights review

The Taming of the Tights
Louise Rennison
July 4th 2013
HarperCollins Children's Books

Gadzooks! It’s another term at Dother Hall for Tallulah and her mates. But can they keep their minds on the arts with all those boys about…

After the thing-that-will-never-be-mentioned last term, Tallulah is keen to put all thoughts of Cain behind her. But that seems like that the last thing he wants.

Their performing arts college may have been saved by Honey’s mystery benefactor, but for how long is anyone’s guess. So will Tallulah finally get to wear those golden slippers of applause or will Dr Lightowler swoop down on her glory days?

And with Seth and Flossie forever snogging, Vaisey and Jack loved-up and Phil and Jo fondly biffing each other can Tallulah resist the call of her wild boy?

Don your craziest tights and Irish dance your way to some surprising and hilariously unexpected answers…

The Tallulah Casey books are probably one of my only guilty pleasures in life. I genuinely adore them in a way that I really didn't think that I would, and I look forward to reading each book in the series because they are just so much fun in a way that the other books that I read just aren't. I may have to reread the Georgia Nicolson books in the wait for Tallulah's next misadventure.

Tallulah... Oh Lullah, you and your crazy legs and your crazy rapping and your general, well craziness. You do make me laugh more than I probably should. You are the heart of this peculiarly hilarious books and I don't know what I'd do without you to make me smile. I think that Tallulah is kind of immature for a fourteen year old, I'll be honest. And I don't mean that in that she's really childish or anything, but that she comes across as being more like a 12 year old? It doesn't really bother me, though, because her incapability at being able to handle normal situations (or not so normal situations, as is really the case in these books) is what makes her so funny to read about! And that she's actually just really funny and comedy is so her calling. And I think she is maturing in a weird way as the series goes on.

I know I've said this about a million times already, but these books really are just really funny. But only if you have a really silly, slightly odd sense of humour. But there's just loads of stupid stuff in Tallulah's life that wouldn't usually make me laugh in any other context than this. Like the Tree Sisters - Lullah's best friends Vaisey, Jo and Flossie - who are all possible even more nutty than Lullah and Ruby and her dog Matilda who just potters about being useless and sounds like exactly the kind of dog that I would want.

The only other thing about The Taming of The Tights that I didn't like was the fact that I really love Lullah and Cain together! It goes against all my morals as a person who reads Young Adult, but Charlie (Lullah's other love interest) is really boring in my opinion in comparison to Cain. And, by all logic, I should hate Cain, or the Dark Black Crow of Heckmondwhite as he has become know as he is, for all intents and purposes, an utter, creepy arsehole. But I guess I'm a bit like Lullah herself in that I'm kind of drawn to him against all my good sense. I really hope that there's lots of him the next book, too.

This is fairly short, but I can never really think of much to say about the Tallulah Riley books that I haven't already said before. They are super funny and stupid and sweet and strange and I love them.

Saturday 6 July 2013

Dead Jealous review

Dead Jealous
Sharon Jones
July 4th 2013
Orchard Books

People think of Mother Nature as a gentle lady. They forget that she's also Death...Sixteen-year-old Poppy Sinclair believes in quantum particles, not tarot cards, in Dawkins, not druids. Last summer, in a boating accident in the Lake District, Poppy had a brush with death. But the girl she finds face down in Scariswater hasn't been so lucky. As she fights to discover the truth behind what she believes is murder, Poppy is forced to concede that people and things are not always what they seem and, slipping ever deeper into a web of lies, jealousy and heart-stopping danger, she comes to realise - too late - that the one thing that can save her has been right there, all the time.

Dead Jealous was a really great murder mystery that ended up being a lot more than I'd thought it would be. It wasn't perfect, and there were parts of it which I felt didn't work as well as the rest of it, but it was a lot of fun to read and I like Poppy Sinclair a lot, and it'll be fun to hopefully get to read more books about her in the future (though I want a book where she solves a crime with her poodle Dawkins).

One of my favourite things about Dead Jealous was the intertwining of the sort of supernatural and the real world. The majority of the book takes place at a Pagan festival as Poppy's mum and her step-dad are Pagans even though Poppy doesn't believe in that stuff anymore herself. Despite this, though, the murder kind of leads to a lot of weird, not quite explainable stuff happening to Poppy. The only downside to this is that it wasn't really explained so even after having finished the book, I'm not sure about whether the supernatural stuff actually happened or not. I guess that that's kind of the point, though, so.

I also actually liked the love triangle of sorts. In this context, in worked, as Poppy is in love with her best friend Michael, yet also has a bit of a fling with burger van vendor Tariq. I kind of liked the fact that she did that because really she was trying to get over Michael and move on because he had a girlfriend and Poppy wanted to try and preserve their friendship. But I liked that Michael wasn't really sure about what he wanted, either, and it was sort of complicated and not a really straight forward situation.

Personally, my main problem with Dead Jealous was the ending, as it all was just wrapped up so absolutely neatly that I was a bit suspicious. The build-up and the climax were awesome, don't get me wrong. It was really tense and a bit scary and I didn't clock on to who the killer actually was until, like, literally just before it was revealed and it was not at all who I expected it to be. It was all action and excitement and things went wrong, but then the ending just fell a bit flat for after that. I kind of hoped that there would just be, well, more, I guess.

I did really like Poppy a lot, though. She was tough and curious and a bit snarky like all good teen detectives should be, but she's also in a lot of emotional turmoil because of the situation with Michael and Tariq and also because a girl she met one night at a Pagan festival wound up dead - murdered, no less - the next morning whose situation had been similar to Poppy and Michael's. Also, she nearly died a year before the book is set and she's dealing with her parents divorce and her mother's remarriage. So. That's a lot of stuff for her to be dealing with, let alone the whole testing of her resolute, scientific beliefs. I am really excited about getting to read more books about her.

Dead Jealous was a fun sort of mystery/paranormal book that I really enjoyed (really, I'm loving all of these British teen detective books. I would like MORE.) and I would recommend it to anyone who liked books like the Body Finder series or Unspoken and are looking for something to fill the void.
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