Thursday, 30 January 2014

GoodRead - Unbreakable

I have to thank the lovely Emma from Book Angel Booktopia who sent me a copy of this to read. And she told me I could keep it. I beg you to go visit her site as she is SUPER LOVELY and I love her!

In the first book Kami's write solo, Kennedy Waters doesn't believe in ghosts. Until one tries to kill her. Then her world truly begins to unravel. When the identical twins of Jared and Lukas Lockhart save her and tell her that her mother might be part of the mysterious Legion, a secret society responsible to protecting the world from evil ghosts and demons. The same society that the previous five members died on the same night - including her mother.

But now the new members of Legion want Kennedy's help to save the world from the return of a dangerous evil. But is Kennedy really a member of the Legion? And if she's not, what will happen to them all?

As most of us know, Kami wrote the Beautiful Creatures series with Margaret Stolh and now both authors are writing their own series. Margaret is writting her series, Icons (review for that is here), and Kami is now writing her Legion series.

First of all, I have to state this: if you think this is going to be like Beautiful Creatures, stop. This isn't. You have to go to this with an open mind as, while Beautiful Creatures is about witches/Casters, this is about ghosts.

Now, with this book, I am in two minds over this. There are both pros and cons.

I love the pacing of the book. I loved how the book sped through and I was speeding through the pages. I love that there was always something to read and, at times, I was breathless at the pace. And this book was creepy. The ghosts were creepy! The well and the prison scenes are freaky and I just wanted to keep reading.

My main issue comes under description. There was very little description on characters and places. This is probably because of the speed of the book. Because of the speed, descriptions would slow down the pacing. But, when we had descriptions, it was VERY BRIEF or non-existence. When you met Lukas and Jared for the first time, you are met with the description that they are identical twins, dark hair, blue eyes, Jared has a scar and Lukas smiles. That's it. Unless I missed most of it.

I liked this book, but I didn't love it. While I am uncertain on if I will read the sequel, I do love the speed of the story and the creepy ghosts so maybe... Maybe I'll wait for book 2. Maybe... we shall wait and see...

Monday, 27 January 2014

SMILE - I Request Your Assistance

My thanks goes to the Person I'm With who discovered this randomly online! Thanks you, kitty (sorry, I had to put that pun in SOMEWHERE)! 

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Faber & Faber Blogger's Event

Yesterday, a bunch of bloggers and myself were kindly invited to Faber and Faber's Bloggers Event for their Children's and YA range for the next few months. And it's a good'un. I swear, there is a nice mix of EVERYTHING so they will be something you guys will LOVE!

So, everyone at Faber (especially Hannah for the PowerPoint mishap - we don't speak of that!), thank you for setting this up and giving us something to drool over, whether it be a picture book, "younger fiction" (or Middle Grade, if you're a US reader) or YA. To the authors - Jeff Norton and Natasha Farrant - who were there and read from their books, thank you for making us swoon or laugh madly (sorry about that dirty cackle. That was me!). To all you book bloggers I chatted to, SO GREAT TO SEE YOU!!!

So, my lovelies, who wants to see the pretties? Well, I shall do Picture Books and Younger Fiction first and YA at the end. So, here we go...

Picture Books & Younger Fiction
Faber has announced that, every year, they will be publishing four picture books within the year (so one per season). The titles of these for this year are Harry And Lil: The Tale of the Hog In The Fog by Julia Copus, Macavity: The Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot, Dinosaur Rhyme Time and Snow (sadly, with these last two, I didn't note down the authors). And I want to read ALL FOUR OF THESE! I know this is more a YA book blogger, but each of these sound wonderful for your little ones and will be instant classics!

Another younger book I think you guys will LOVE is - wait for it, the title is AWESOME BEYOND WORDS (I have my reasons!) - SQUISHY McFLUFF! This follows Asa who, one day, discovers an imaginary/invisible cat in the cabbage patch and they become instant best friends. I'm sorry, but an imaginary/invisible cat! I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE! This book will be perfect for kids who are learning to read by themselves and perfect for reading out loud.

Archie Green and the Magician's Secret by D.D. Everest has got a ton of buzz worldwide, with people saying this could rival Harry Potter. On his birthday, Archie Green receives a mysterious book. Because of this, Archie has to go to Oxford, meet a family he has never met before and enter the world of Book People - a community devoted to finding and preserving magical books. This book, by the sounds of it, will make libraries and librarians magical...

In August, a new series should be launched. The first book in the Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombies series by Jeff Norton should be released. Adam Meltzer is a zombie with a possible early onset of OCD. But this isn't a book of OCD. Oh no! This book is ACTUALLY FUNNY! Jeff was at the event and read the prologue and a bit of chapter one and everyone in the room was in fits of laughter. I can't wait to get my hands on these!

And now, YA! And we have some good ones, with one I am VERY excited to read!

Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman sounds like a meet of Blood Red Road and The Village. And sadly, I have NO IDEA what I wrote about this in my notepad expect that it will be a trilogy, so I shall move on...

If you're a fan of Butter by Erin Lange, her second book is coming out next month which is Dead Ends. This is a coming of age story between two teens who slowly become friends. So, this might be perfect for you John Green fans! And we had news about the Erin Lange and I'm not sure if I am allow to say it or not so will stay quiet... For now...

And now, the book I am the most excited over. Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke. I heard about this a while ago on YouTube and, since then, I have been very excited to read this, so the fact that Faber is going to publish this in the UK makes me very happy. Nothing much happens in Violet's life... until the mysterious River comes along. When he stays in the seaside town, strange and creepy things begin to happen. Slowly, Violet begins to ask herself a scary thought: is River actually the Devil? That's right, The Devil!

I could go on with all the exciting books, but I am going to stop here. What do you think about these picks? Any that tickle your fancy?

Saturday, 25 January 2014

GoodRead - Unhinged

After Emma from Book Angel Booktopia introduced to the first book in this series, Splintered (review here, by the way!), I have been very much excited for this, the second book in the series. I got so excited over this book, I applied for this on NetGalley and Tina from the UK publisher, Abrams and Chronicle, sent me a proof. Thank you Tina and NetGalley (though Tina more as I read the proof version rather than the eProof).

A year after Splintered and Alyssa is torn between the two worlds she belongs to: the human world and Wonderland. She's trying to balance them and trying to keep secrets from her father and her boyfriend. But when her untrustworthy guide of Wonderland and childhood friend, Morpheus, suddenly appears in the real world, both worlds are colliding and Alyssa has to figure out what to do now...

I tried to read this over the Christmas and the New Year weeks - and failed to get halfway through. So, one day, I blitz through the book and went through a mix of "Ooooh!" and "what's gonna happen now?" and "Are you kidding me?!"

I really enjoy AG Howard's writing. It's one of the main reasons I wanted to read Unhinged. Her writing just sucked me in and I actually enjoyed taking my time to read the first part of the book. And I enjoyed the story of Alyssa trying to come to terms with the events of last year and her seeing her two worlds crashing into each other.

And AG manages to keep Unhinged as dark and punky as did Splintered. That's always a bonus. Don't you hate it when you read a sequel to a book you enjoyed reading and it just doesn't feel like the same author wrote it? Or that it doesn't feel like the right sequel? (I doubt this is making sense, but some of you might understand what I mean, I hope)

While I did enjoy reading this twisted tale, I have two tiny faults.

My first is Morpheus. In Splintered, I found Morpheus a character I most enjoyed reading as I never trusted him. And while in Unhinged, I still didn't trust Morpheus but there were little things that made me go "Are you not seeing this, Alyssa? How are you not seeing this?!". I wonder if it's because I read The Moth In The Mirror (which is one interesting novella as it hints a scene that becomes very useful and important at the end of the book) or if I had become so aware that Morpheus is a character to watch that everything he does, I was always analyzing it for double meaning...

My second fault is... well, I have to admit this but this is a me issue. It's nothing to do with the book, but this is an issue I always have when I read books, watch films and things if this happens. But here it is. When I got to the end, I suddenly thought "This is a set-up for book 3". Some readers will be ok with that. Some won't. I found it annoying, but the more I think about it, the more I thought "Ok, maybe this was the only way to go..."

Barring that, I did like the book (maybe not as much as Splintered) and I am a little curious on how AG Howard is going to write Ensnared after ending Unhinged the way she did...

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

GoodRead - These Broken Stars

As you are probably aware, I am doing a bit of an audiobook blitz, thanks to the lovely ladies at Mystical Lit Lounge who, this month, is book clubbing Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnson (my review's here and the Mysterical Lit Lounge's here!) and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. Now, the ladies will have their podcast review up at the end of the month but here is mine. And the reason why will be shown in a second...

On the spaceliner, the Icarus, there is Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsent. Lilac LaRoux is the daughter of one of the most powerful men in the universe while Tarver Merendsen is a nobody, a war hero. They shouldn't meet, but there do. And then the Icarus falls suddenly out of hyperspace and plummets into an unknown planet. Lilac and Tarver are the only survivors and if either of them want to survive, they need to rely on it each...

I think I'll stop there because if I go any further, I might enter spoiler-area and I try not to write about spoilers in my reviews.

Now, before I go any further, I must say something. I am not a great lover of YA space books. I got around 50 pages into Across the Universe by Beth Revis and just couldn't "click" with the story. 172 Hours of the Moon by Johan Harstad I liked but I didn't love. The same with A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix. And while I did request this on NetGalley (and got rejected - my first EVER NetGalley rejection [which I am oddly pleased about!]), I did have my doubts on whether I was going to like this. I mean, from the synopsis, it's sounds like Titance in Space (I have seen reviews using Jack & Rose GIFS) or the Doctor Who episode, Voyage of the Damned.

So, my reactions... I ADORE THIS AUDIOBOOK!

I actually got a little obsessed with this, if I must be honest with you. The action happens super quickly (within the first 5 chapters!) and then the tension is kept throughout the story. There was always something happening - whether that be something action-packed, character-development or something quite creepy. It never felt dull and, because of this, I was always thinking about it and trying to find time to listen to more. I would listen while driving to my other half, while in the shower, late at night when I should have been sleeping, early in the morning while I was getting ready for work. I couldn't leave this story alone!

And because I was always rushing to get back to it, I got emotionally involved in this book. Which is SUPER rare for me. A book that can do that to me is like stardust (pun intended!). There was one chapter where something happened where I literally starting shouting at my iPhone. I am being serious about this fact and then, from that point onwards, my emotional state in my brain was like this (the clip is taken from this YouTube video from polandbananasBOOKS on her Clockwork Princess booktalk)

Sorry about the audio. Not used Vine before on my blog so... yeah... MOVING ON!!!

I adore the audiobook production. It was FAULTLESS!!! The voice who did the "Interviewer" as I called him (Sarge Anton) made me hate him, even though we knew NOTHING about this character, and the voices who did Lilac and Tarver - Cynthia Holloway and Johnathan McClain - were perfect and made the characters more fleshed out and made this two-hander of a story more gripping than it actually was.

And the story - hats off to both Amie and Meagan. Just hats off to you both.

My only fault (if you need me to nitpick) is the last chapter - it felt a bit wet - but it had to be that way, seeing as the other books in the trilogy are companion novels where Liliac and Tarver aren't our main characters (a bit like the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy by Stephanie Perkins). But it gave me the ending I wanted and needed so I can live with that!

I need the sequel. I need This Shattered World. I need this series to have a UK publisher (Why doesn't this series have a UK publisher?! WHY?!).

Monday, 20 January 2014

SMILE - A Note About Wednesday

My thanks goes to here and to the Welcome To Nightvale podcast. Hopefully, by the time you read this, I should have listened to all the episodes... hopefully. Unless the Glow Cloud comes back then am hiding under my bed.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

GoodRead - Frozen

As you guys might be aware, I was on the Mystical Lit Lounge podcast, chatting about the World Premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (my episode is here if you fancy a listen or you're curious on what I sound like). So, because I love this podcast and both Kim and Shannon, I wanted to do one of the podcast's Book of the Month. And this month, the podcast was doing two books I really want to read: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. So, bought both audiobooks and I have finished Frozen, hence this review.

So, hopefully, the lovely ladies at MLL will have a spoiler-filled episode on this out by the time this review pops online (if so, the link will go here!). If not, oh well... Here's my (hopefully) spoiler-free review.

In a futurist world covered in ice, there is New Vegas. Its neon lights still shining bright. The gambling still 24/7. Nat is a young blackjack dealer in one of the casinos, but she is Marked and in hiding. For if you're Marked, you are treated with fear. Nat can hear a voice inside her head, ordering her to travel to the Blue. A place where the skies are blue, the water is drinkable and the sun shines. But the Blue doesn't exist... right?

But when she's finds a map that could take her there, she enlisted the help of Wes, a "runner" and a former Marine. Can he get her safety there? And what would the pair face as they cross the ice and the dangerous black waters?

Now, I'm in two minds over this. I like the audiobook and I like the idea of the story. But I have problems. Quite a few problems that can really be summed up into three points.

But let's start with the positives. I enjoyed listening to the story, and I think the main reasons for this was he two readers of the audiobooks: Phoebe Stroll and Dan Bittner. I liked how they read the characters of Wes and Nat. Even though one or two characters's voices grated on me a little bit, I enjoyed how they told the story.

And (all English teachers around the world would be furious that I started a sentence with that word) I liked the general idea of Frozen. I like the idea of there being a second ice age and the idea that there is a utopia somewhere on the planet. Plus, the story between Nat and Wes that slowly turned from client and hired help to friends to possible lovers was nice and slow. Not instant love. HURRAY!!!

But I have faults. Three real faults.

The first is age. By that, I mean both of the main characters and the target readership. Both Nat and Wes are sixteen. Yet, this feels unbelievable. As I stated before, Nat is a blackjack dealer so it kinda fits. If you don't think too much about the gambling laws at the present moment (which, by the looks of it, don't exist in this new icy world). But Wes is the problem. Wes is an ex-Marine sergeant, a mercenary and a "runner". Yet, we are told that Wes is sixteen years old. It doesn't feel plausible, and because of this, you begin to wonder if the authors change the characters's age by a few years to fit the YA age group. The reason I feel this is because, at times, I honestly felt that the characters should have been eighteen, nineteen, maybe even twenty and the story could have been more interesting but this would be classed as New Adult or fantasy.

My second problem is world building. I am using this as a very broad umbrella so please bear with me. The world building in this story was, to me, either vague or non-existent. If you want me to believe in this world, you have to give me something to believe in. For example, the world is in the grip of a second ice age but, to my knowledge, the authors didn't tell us what caused this ice age. Was it global warming? Was it a meteor, crashing into earth? Did the sun die? This was never explain so I always doubted it. Then we were introduced to fantastical creatures - sylphs, draus, drakons (aka dragons to you and I), thrillers (aka zombies), wailers and the Blue being a utopia that might have been Atlantis - and it's too much. We get confused and ask questions that don't get answered. You can't create a good world building by throwing magical creatures at the readers. It doesn't work.

My third and final point is predictability. Apart from one hour, maybe two hours at a push, I knew where the story was going. I could guess (and usually got right) what was going to happen in each chapter and saw how each chapter was going to end. And (that word again) because it was so predictable, I saw things and went "Oh, how convenient. Maybe... a little too convenient". Like I said, there was a nearly two hours of the story where I didn't know where it was going and there was one point I went "NO! Don't you dare do a Jace/Clary in City of Bones on me!" but, most of the time, I saw where it was going.

There is potential in this series. I'm hope that this potential could be hit upon in the second book. But the question is: will I go back to this series? Truthfully, I'm not certain. Maybe I will, just for the narrators. But the story... I'm not certain that I will rush out and buy it. Maybe I'll wait other reviewers reactions....

Thursday, 9 January 2014

GoodRead - Ruby Red

WELCOME TO MY FIRST REVIEW OF 2014 (even though I am writing this two days before Christmas so, technically, it's not my first review of 2014 just yet)!

But let's stay the year with a good read, shall we? So here is the first book in a trilogy, Ruby Redby Kerstin Gier.

In an alternative London, people can time travel. Well, only 12 people can and this is because of a rare gene. Everyone in Gwen's family is positive that Gwen's cousin, Charlotte, has the gene and has been trained her whole life to become a time traveller. Learning all about history, how to fence, how to survive. But when it's Gwen that is thrown through time, not Charlotte, Gwen's life is turned upside down and enters a world of time travel and secret societies. But secrets are everywhere. Why did her Mum tell her to "trust no one"? What is the Guardians's real purpose to complete the Circle? What really happened the mysterious Lucy and Paul?

Now, this book is huge in it home country of Germany. They turned this into a movie (I'll put the English-dubbed version at the bottom of the post) and they are, to my knowledge, making the sequel, Sapphire Blue. And the book is appearing on a lot of US book vloggers channels recently (hence how I became aware of this - thank you Christine from Xtinemay [here's her spoiler-filled video on this very book! Click at your peril!]).

I really enjoyed this. It was fun, addictive and it never felt dull. I kept turning the pages with this and it reminded me a lot of the lighter Doctor Who episodes. And as someone who would like to read more time-travelling books (I blame Doctor Who and the Hourglass series by Myra McEntrice) and this is a translation, this ticked all the boxes. And we have a female time traveller - that is something that is rarely seen in books that tackle his subject!

There are one or two things that bothered me. This is the first book in the trilogy so, of course, everything has to be set up and we only get the sense that what we are seeing is just the time of the iceberg. So, if you want the complete story, it would probably be for the best to have the sequels, Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green on standby. I have a tiny issue with Gideon, the male lead/love interest as it felt like he was into Charlotte but events happen (and this book takes over a very short time frame - barely 5 days, if I remember right) which made me go "Ok. What is wrong with you?" and there was only two times that a word was used and it felt jarring to read (not sure if it was because of the translation or because I was so into the book, reading the word made my brain go "Gwen would NEVER say that!").

But I need to know what happens next. I need to buy the rest of the series (yes, am going to get both Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green) sometime in 2014. But I am in a book buying ban at the moment so... has to play the waiting game for now...

Monday, 6 January 2014

SMILE - The First


Oh, I see. We're all feeling like that. Ok... will this gif help? 

(No idea to where I got these gifs from, but thank you whoever you are!)