Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Top Ten Words/Topics That Instantly Make Me Buy/Pick Up A Book

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  The topic this week concerns the words/topics that would make me instantly buy a book.  I had a bit of trouble, as I'm more of a me likey pretty cover type person, and this list is more phrases than words, but I got there in the end. 
 
1. Rampaging Horde of Zombie Cows
 
2. Another Dimension
 
3. Psychopaths
 
4. Secret Organisations
 
5. Doomsday Machine
 
6. Absurd
 
7. Hell Train
 
8.  Haunted Houses
 
9. Malfunctioning Granny
 
10. Spontaneous Toy Combustion
 
 
What Was on Your List This Week?

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Another book to go on my TBR pile

After waiting 6 months on a library reserve that ended up being cancelled (grr), I bought Justin Cronin's The Twelve as an impulse buy this morning.  I haven't read many good reviews on this sequel to The Passage, so my expectations aren't very high, but I haven't been deterred as I would still like to know where Cronin takes his story.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

I Love Post

Another crime book from real readers.  Looking forward to something that's a bit more straight forward after the Russian crazy that is The Master and Margarita!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Sever

Time is running out for Rhine.

With less than three years left until the virus claims her life, Rhine is desperate for answers.  Having escaped torment at Vaughn's mansion, she finds respite in the dilapidated home of her husband's uncle, an eccentric inventor who hates Vaughn almost as much as Rhine does.

Rhine determination to be reunited with her twin brother, Rowan, increases as each day brings terrifying revelations to light about his involvement in an underground resistance.  She realizes she must find  him before he destroys the one thing they have left: hope.

Sever is the last book in The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano.  I read the conclusion of Rhine's tale in a day and, like the other two books that proceeded Sever, I was pleasantly surprised with the events that unfolded.

I enjoyed reading Sever and couldn't put it down.  Linden and Cecily feature more prominently, helping Rhine to finally find her twin brother, and the introduction of Vaughn's brother Reed and his house of assorted junk was great. DeStefano's tale has a good momentum, and a somewhat satisfying ending, yet this final book is not flawless. 

Rhine suddenly becomes unwilling to speak her mind, losing some of her back bone towards the end of the story.  She is constantly listing all the reasons why she should tell the truth and then changes her mind, remaining silent and pliable to those who want to use her.  Although, at least she had a spine to begin with, unlike the majority of YA heroines I have come across so far.  Instead much of the character growth is borne out of Rhine's sister wife, Cecily, who becomes less of the annoying red-headed child and proves that she can be a loving mother, devoted wife and a good friend.

For me, the major problem lies in that an important moment in Sever is completely underwritten. For an author who is normally more than adept at conjuring a detailed atmosphere from their words, DeStefano's description for this certain event was unusually vague.  I had to read the passage three times to try and understand what had just occurred.  While I don't expect to be spoon fed with exact and intricate detailing when reading, just a small sentence to explain how would have been much appreciated.

I wasn't expecting to fall in love with The Chemical Garden Trilogy, and I didn't.  However, instead, I found three books that were extremely easy to read and somewhat interesting.  Sometimes that's all I can ask for.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Top Ten Books I Thought I'd Like MORE/LESS Than I Did

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  This week the chosen topic is the ten books I thought I'd like more/less than I did.  It was really hard to whittle the list down to ten this week, as rarely do books meet my expectations.  I am either very surprised or completely disappointed, which probably mean my instincts based on blurbs are completely unreliable.  

5 Less

Charley Davidson Series - Darynda Jones
   I wanted to expand my paranormal reading beyond the tales of witches, vampires and werewolves.  The blurb for FGOTR sounded good, what with a female Grim Reaper who just also happens to be a PI.  Let the exciting hijinks ensue!  Yet, no.  After the finishing the first book, I remember this wave of disappointment rolling over me.  This whole series could have been so much more than it currently is.  I've read four of the Charley Davidson books now (the fourth one I was tricked into reading, tricked I tell you!) but I'm not going to be carrying on with the series. I just can't look past the awful writing, the annoyingly clich├ęd characters and, most of all, the terrible message that men can do what ever they want to you for no good reason.
 
Intrusion - Ken Macleod
  Intrusion had an interesting concept, but that was all it had.  All I remember is being very bored.
 
Across the Universe - Beth Revis
 I think I got more excited about the idea of Across the Universe.  I mean, SF YA? Let me at it!  I think the only reason I liked ATU less than I thought I would was because of Amy.  Get rid of her and you'd have no story, but get rid of her and you'd have 99% less whinging.     
 
Fated - Benedict Jacka 
 I get it, my hopes were too high for this British version of the Dresden Files.  Fated was okay, just a little bland with a touch of an identity crises.  With my expectations now in check, maybe the next book in the series, Cursed, will surprise me?
 
Breathers - S.G Browne
I read this about 2 years ago now, and I can't remember much about it.  I just remember that the blurb made it sound more interesting than it actually was... 

 
And now onto the good stuff!

5 More

Katya's World - Jonathan L. Howard
I don't know why, but I had completely ignored Katya's World on its release.  It wasn't until I saw a review on i09 stating that it was a romanceless YA, that I stopped reading said review and quickly ordered myself a copy.  In Katya's World I found a great action tale with a non-self centred teen that just happened to be set on another planet that's pretty much all water.  I don't know why I didn't expect this to be great, as all of the other titles that I have read from Strange Chemistry have been fantastic.  I'm hoping the day never comes where one of their titles ends up on my 'less' list.
 
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
 I'm not going to lie: reading Anna Karenina was hard work.  However, deciding to finally read this Russian masterpiece was one of the best reading related decisions I have made in a long time.  I was surprised that I made it past the first few chapters, and then even more surprised when I started to become invested in the story.
 
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
 I knew this one was going to be good, I just didn't know it was going to be that good!  If you haven't read Ready Player One, drop everything immediately.  Now, go out to the bookstore/library, get a copy and start reading it as soon as you find a place to sit down.  Or if you can read while walking, don't waste time!  What are you doing still reading this sentence?!  Go!
 
Hell Train - Christopher Fowler
 There were doubts about this one, but in the end how could I not possible fall in love a book called Hell Train?!
 
A Million Suns - Beth Revis
So Across the Universe was a disappointment but I had already ordered a copy of A Million Suns.  I went into reading the sequel not expecting much and ended up realising that this was a much better book.  In fact, I got the book I wish that Across the Universe would have been.
 

 Who was on your list this week?

Friday, 19 April 2013

Stop Dead

I had not read any of the Geraldine Steel series prior to Stop Dead, this is the fifth instalment, and nor at any point during reading did I feel that I was at a disadvantage for not having done so.

Having recently transferred to London, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is investigating the murder of a wealthy businessman, Patrick Henshaw.  His body was found in a car, brutally mutilated.  At first it is thought to have been a crime of passion conducted by either his wife or her lover.  It is not until Henshaw's business partner is found dead, murdered in the same horrible way, that Steel realises that there's possibly more to these murders than what it originally seemed.
 
In the beginning, I was reminded of Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles series, as Russell was mixing her murder case with details about her detective's home life.  However, unlike one of Gerritsen's impeccably paced novels, the narrative of Stop Dead was bogged down by multiple (and sometimes needless) P.O.Vs and the details of Steel's life outside of work.  At no point did I feel that rush to find out who was committing these grizzly murders. 

In fact, all those red herring's that are so heavily promoted in the blurb were needless; halfway through the book it becomes rather obvious as to who the real culprit is. 

Another flaw of Stop Dead is that I felt characterization was completely off.  Many of the suspects are typical two dimensional stereotypical characters you'd find in any generic crime novel.  Then there's Steel's Sergeant, Sam, who reads like a stroppy teenager who only cares about her stomach and chips.  How on earth, in real life, would this girl be able to work in a homicide investigations department?  

One redeeming feature, for me, were the scenes where the bodies were discovered, often in odd places.  However, while Leigh Russell's latest offering would probably be a good disposable beach read, Stop Dead doesn't inspire me to read any of Russell's other books.


This was an ARC review for Real Readers, Stop Dead is published by No Exit Press on the 30th May.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Bad Monkeys

Jane Charlotte: A woman with a serious attitude problem, a drug habit and a licence to kill.

She has been arrested for murder, and during questioning tells police that she is a member of a secret organisation devoted to fighting evil.  Her division, 'The Department for The Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons' - or 'Bad Monkeys' for short - is an execution squad that rids the world of especially evil people.  However, the man Jane has been arrested for killing was not on the official target list.

This strange confession earns Jane a trip to the jail's psychiatric wing, where a doctor interviews her at length about her supposed career as an assassin.  Her tale grows increasingly bizarre, with references to hidden messages in crosswords, dollar bills that can see and scary, axe-wielding clowns.  The doctor does his best to sort truth from lies, but whenever it seems he's getting to the bottom of things, there's another twist to unravel.

Not until the full, extraordinary story is told will we learn whether Jane is lying, crazy...or playing a different game altogether.

I first saw Bad Monkeys on a display in Norwich Waterstones that also included quirky books such as Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.  The version they currently stock has an awesome cover, but as I borrowed my copy from the library I had to settle for one that was a little different. 

Cover snobbery over with, I really enjoyed reading Bad Monkeys.  And by that, I mean I loved reading this book!  Matt Ruff's tale of good and evil is completely insane and only gets barmier as the story progresses.  Fast paced and frantic, Ruff has you by the scruff of the neck from the beginning, dragging you along with Jane's tales of how she came to be involved with a mysterious organisation that uses toy guns to exterminate evil people. 

Ruff is clear from the beginning that Jane is an unreliable narrator, someone who is potential holding back important details, which is my favourite type of storyteller.  She's kind of a more drug addled Miriam Black.  The white room chapters, where Jane is being interrogated and which serve as interludes between Jane's recollections, are reminders that not all is as it seems.  Or is it? 

My only criticism is that the ending does spiral out of control.  In fact it reminded me of a scene from a Doctor Who episode entitled Lets Kill Hitler, in which the Doctor and River keep out witting each other in Hitler's office.   Where Ruff's introductory chapters of Jane as a deviant school girl had purpose and a sense that these type of events could actually happen, the last few chapters are a touch extreme and test the limits of believability.

Nonetheless I would recommend Bad Monkeys to anyone and everyone.  I'm definitely going to buy myself a copy sometime soon.  It is just a shame that it is a standalone novel, as for once I wouldn't mind returning to Ruff's deranged world and finding out more about the Bad Monkeys and the Scary Clowns.



P.S Here's the cover for the version the stock in Waterstones Norwich (from goodreads):

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Prodigy

Missing
June Iparis
Agent, Los Angeles City Patrol,
15, Female, 5 FT 4 IN. 
350,000 Republic notes reward.
 
If seen, report immediately to your local official.
 
That's what the republic wants their people to think.  That I'm missing.  What they don't say is they want me dead.  I helped Day, the country's most notorious criminal, escape his execution, aided the rebel patriots in a staged uprising and turned my back on the republic.
 
But I won't turn my back on Day...

I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't as obsessed with Marie Lu's first dystopian novel Legend as other bloggers seemed to be.  While I thought there was plenty of good stuff in there, I was totally anti a June and Day romance.  Why couldn't they just admire each others abilities and similarities and then build up to the smoocholas in either the second or third book in the trilogy? 

However, the coupling that I hated in the first book become a strength in Prodigy.  Lu provided of a sense of who these characters are, and consistently showed me why I should be rooting for a Day/June relationship.  Prodigy has so much to love (including the fact that Lu isn't afraid to kill off her characters, as I like it when peril actually means peril) and I couldn't put the book down; a complete contrast to my experience of when I was reading Legend. 

With Prodigy, Lu successfully expanded her damaged world, that has been ravaged by the effects of global warming, beyond the Republic.  I don't want to be too spoilery, but the contrast between the Republic and the Colonies is rather interesting. I hope that the dichotomy between the two is explored further in the next book. 

My one criticism is that I guessed some of the plot twists early on.  This explains why, when Day and June finally figured that there were shenanigans taking place, I was all Dennis Duffy from 30 Rock, actually shouting, "FINALLY DUMMIES!" 

So how does the Legend series progress?  And how does Lu even begin to wrap up her trilogy in a satisfying way?  We'll have to wait until next year when Champion is released.  Is it wrong that I am hoping for a they all die at the end scenario?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Top Ten Tuesday REWIND

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  This week I get a free pick of past topics to cover, so I went with the Top Ten Books I Feel As Though Everyone Has Read Them But Me.  There's a lot of series on this list.
 
1. 50 Shades of Grey
 
I have no intention of reading it either and I'm fine being the only person on the planet who hasn't read it.
 
2. The Lord of The Rings Trilogy
 
I come from a family who really like The Lord of The Rings.  Me?  I tried to get through The Hobbit when I had to read it for a uni module and all I felt was hungry.  And bored.
 
3. Any of the Discworld Novels
I bought a lot of these for my BF, and a lot of my friends are Pratchett fans but the series has never really appealed to me.
 
4. Outlander Series
I think I had read about this series in a Waterstone's Quarterly magazine article yonks ago.  Exploring other pages it seems a lot of bloggers love it.  I'm thinking of maybe giving the first book a go in the summer but I'm not completely sure as of yet.
 
5. Game of Thrones
See a trend forming this week?  I just don't think I'm into/have no want to start epic fantasy books.
 
6. Any of Cassandra Clare's books
Mum bought some of the Mortal Instruments books a couple of years ago, and they've been laying around the house ever since. I'm going to be honest: I judged those books by their covers and I was not interested.  I sort of wish I had gotten past my book cover snobbery and given them a read as plenty of bloggers recommend the series.  Plus now there's going to be a film, my mum's copies have mysteriously disappeared...to my sister's room from where they will never return.
 
7. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
This is everywhere at the moment.  I keep meaning to order a copy from the library, but I keep seeing other books that I want more.
 
8. Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
This year, I swear!
 
9. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird is my mum's favourite book, and I'm always wary about reading books that I've heard is fantastic all my life without knowing first-hand (see Lord of The Rings).
 
10. Good Omens - Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
I am reading this by the end of the year.  I repeat: I am reading this by the end of the year...
 
 
What past TTT topic did you pick this week?

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Out of This World: Science Fiction But Not As You Know It

 All the way back in 2011, I went to an exhibit tucked away in the corner of the British Library.  Funnily enough I managed to go on opening day with my Best Friend.  We'd already organised to go to the Doctor Who Experience, which was also in London at that point, and we thought that if we had time, why not keep with the Sci-Fi theme of the day?   

 
The exhibit itself was one of the best I have seen in a long time.  The curators had amassed a stunning collection, including a TARDIS and a handwritten manuscript for Never Let Me Go. OOTW explored all aspects of the genre and included pieces that I had never even thought of as science fiction.  The exhibit was so good, I went back a second time on my birthday. 
 
 
On my first visit I couldn't justify the expense of buying myself the accompanying book.  However, armed with some birthday cash, I treated myself.  Even though I want to read every last line in this book, it is extremely hard to do so because it is filled with so many stunning pictures.  Due to my laziness, it has taken me this long to share some of the pretty...
 







 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Code Name Verity

 
I have two weeks.  You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That's what you do to enemy agents.  It's what we do to enemy agents.  But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out.  Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine - and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need.  All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort.  And I'm going to.  But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie.  She is the pilot who flew me into France - an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.

I am always on the look out for different types of YA fiction.  Having seen Elizabeth Wein's WWII set Code Name Verity being reviewed positively on quite a few other blogs, I decided to get a copy out from the library.

Code Name Verity is interesting without being too teachy, even if now, after reading, I can't remember all the details about the various planes used in WWII.  However, it's hard to talk about this book in depth without giving away major plot developments.  So, as usual, I will try to be as vague as possible. 

All of the twists and turns that are expected from a novel about war time espionage are there, feeding my love of an unreliable narrator.  The epistolary style can take some getting used to, especially when it doesn't seem like some of the narrative should be included in the girl's accounts.  The latter half of the novel changes to a first person narrative with a few letters added in, providing a secondary look on what has already been divulged.

Yet, more than this, Code Name Verity is about the strength of friendship.  There's no big romance to be found here, only the 'Allied Invasion of Two'.  The relationship between the two leads is portrayed excellently.  I was continually shown why these two girls were best friends and I believed in them.  I also liked that Wein  gave her 'villain' Hauptsturmfuhrer a family, emphasising that normal people did horrible things in the war because they had to.

The ending is heart-breaking, but then Wein's tale could not have ended in any other way.  Also, if you normally skip the author's acknowledgements at the end, then make an exception for those as the end of Code Name Verity.  I found them to be extremely informative, and answered a few of my questions.   For example, why are some of the locations in her tale non-existent/misnamed?

I thought this was a great book.  No romance, kick-ass heroines and a cover that ties into the novel: what more could I ask for?  Admittedly I did get a little unenthused about reading somewhere in the middle, but if you're fed up of YA dystopia's and fancy something a bit different, then why not give Code Name Verity a try?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Cool Covers of the Past: Planet of the Apes

I read Planet of the Apes last summer.  Again, this was more the cool cover than anything else that led me to pick up a copy from my library.  I haven't seen the original film and the only tedious link I have to Planet of the Apes is the Dr. Zaius song from The Simpsons..."Can I play the piano? ... Well I couldn't before!" 

It's been too long for me to recall my thoughts from reading and form a proper review.  However, I'd still like to share the awesome cover that I first spotted at the British Library's gift shop.  I mean, who doesn't like a book that comes with it's own set of 3D glasses?


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  The topic for this week is my ten favourite books before I became a blogger.  I loved finding all my old favourites that are scattered throughout my house.  I just can't believe how worn my copy of The Handmaid's Tale is!  It was a brand new book when I bought it nearly 10 years ago!

1. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
2.  Rules of Attraction - Brett Easton Ellis
3. The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of The Apocalypse - Robert Rankin
4. The Toyminator - Robert Rankin
5. Northern Lights - Phillip Pullman
6. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
7.  The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
8. Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood
9. No Humans Involved - Kelley Armstrong
10. Dead to the World - Charlaine Harris


Who was on your list this week?  Have your tastes in reading changed since you became a blogger?