Glee Goodie Bag Giveaway!

Win a Glee goodie bag containing Glee: The Beginning: An Original Novel and Glee: Road to Sectionals on DVD. Giveaway is International.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

An Apology

Dear readers of this blog and publishers that have sent me books I have yet to read and review,

I'm sorry.

I started sixth form this September and lemme tell you, A-Levels aren't easy at all. There is so much work to do and so much pressure put upon us from the school. I've had to throw myself into school activities and extracurriculars because it's all about our university applications these days.

Anyway, I know I've been a really bad blogger so I do aim to rectify that soon. I'm not promising anything though because I've really got to up my game at school as well.

See you soon,

Iman

Sunday, 12 September 2010

In my Mailbox (dieci-seis)

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. It is hosted by The Story Siren. Go HERE to participate.

This covers the past two weeks, I think.

Bought

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
The Idiot by Dostoevsky

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

For review
Blood Ransom by Sophie McKenzie- Thanks to Simon & Schuster for this!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Glee: The Beginning: An Original Novel by Sophie Lowell

Description

Calling all Gleeks!
Get more of your favorite characters in this official Glee prequel!

All great performances deserve a warm-up! Enroll early at McKinley High--before New Directions was even a glimmer in Mr. Schuester's eye. When did Rachel first decide Finn was more than just a jock? When did Puck and Quinn start their secret romance? And how did the fledgling Glee Club function without a fearless leader? Hint: It wasn't exactly a perfect melody.

Break out the gold stars and refill the slushies: It's time to find out what happened to all your favorite characters before the show-mance began.

Review
Glee: The Beginning describes the lead-up to the pilot episode. It is a glance into the minds and lives of Rachel, Finn, Quinn, Puck, Artie, Tina, Mercedes and Kurt before Mr Schuester became director of the glee club. We really do get the know the characters better and their personalities mostly stay true to the television series.

However, there are a few continuity errors. I had always assumed that Rachel, Tina, Artie, Kurt, Mercedes hadn't been in the glee club prior to the pilot. I just thought they were complete strangers and eventually became friends. Conversely, in Glee: The Beginning, the four excluding Rachel are very friendly with each other- Artie even speaks of harbouring feelings for Tina, and Mercedes and Kurt are BFFs! Maybe I haven' t been watching the series close enough but I was so certain that they had never been members of the Glee club before. After all, they do have to audition to be members.

Regardless of those, I did enjoy the book very much. It really was like watching the TV programme- the characters were written that well! I could just imagine the Sue Sylvester of the prorgramme delivering the one-liners Lowell came up with for her in the novel. I would have liked to see a bit more of Sue but I hear there is a sequel so hopefully there should be more laugh-out-loud moments due to her wit, in that.

Lowell is obviously a huge Gleek since she can get into the characters' heads so easily! Rachel, Finn and Quinn were probably the most developed characters while Tina and Artie were a little nondescript. There were a lot of references to things we have come to know about the characters, showing how well Lowell knew each individual's personality. For example Rachel remained very positive and strong, Tina's desire to emulate Lady Gaga started, Artie started to crush on Tina and Emma Pillsbury was as mysophobic as ever.

To appreciate and enjoy this book you have to be a die-hard Gleek. Luckily, I am. So my opinion of Glee: The Beginning? It was awesome.

Rating: 4/5

Thanks to Headline for sending it!
Who else can't wait for Season Two to start?

If you would like the chance to win not only Glee: The Beginning: An Original Novel, but the first season on DVD as well, then go here.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Scarlett Dedd Trailer

Hi everyone. School's just started so I'm as busy as ever hence why I haven't posted in quite a while. Review of the Glee novel coming soon though- it was awesome!

For now, here's a trailer for Scarlett Dedd by Cathy Brett.

Enjoy!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

In My Mailbox (quince)

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. It is hosted by The Story Siren. Go HERE to participate.

Bought

Fire by Kristin Cashore
Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex

For review

Scarlett Dedd by Cathy Brett, along with an awesome poster! Thanks Headline!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Jealousy by Lili St. Crow

Before I review solely ‘Jealousy’, the third book in the Strange Angels series, I believe there is something very important to say about this series: it is excellent. It is action-packed and never boring with so many well-rounded characters. The prose is tight and concise, and once you start, you literally cannot stop reading. You are immersed in the world of Dru, Graves and Christophe- the Real World with variations of vampires, werewolves, fairies, zombies and a lot of other supernatural creatures.

One of my favourite aspects of the series is that Dru is like any other human being, who has a bladder, who has hair that frizzes and sometimes breaks out, and who needs to cough in the most inappropriate situations. Many books often skip the mundane things like showering and brushing teeth but these things are what make the characters seem human and not superhuman beings who never seem to get the urge to pee while they’re off doing romantic things/saving the world/learning how to be a witch/vampire/werewolf.

So read Strange Angels and the subsequent novels. It is unlike any other series I have ever read before.

Description

Dru Anderson might finally be safe. She’s at the largest Schola on the continent, and beginning to learn what it means to be svetocha–half vampire, half human, and all deadly. If she survives her training, she will be able to take her place in the Order, holding back the vampires and protecting the oblivious normal people.

But a web of lies and betrayals is still closing around her, just when she thinks she can relax a little. Her mentor Christophe is missing, her almost-boyfriend is acting weird, and the bodyguards she’s been assigned seem to know much more than they should. And then there’s the vampire attacks, the strange nightly visits, and the looks everyone keeps giving her. As if she should know something.

Or as if she’s in danger.

Someone high up in the Order is a traitor. They want Dru dead–but first, they want to know what she remembers of the night her mother died. Dru doesn’t want to remember, but it looks like she might have to–especially since once Christophe returns, he’ll be on trial for his life. The only person who can save him is Dru.

The problem is, once she remembers everything, she may not want to…

-Goodreads.com

Review

Jealousy is the third novel in the series. The novels seem to improve as you progress through the series- well that was what happened with Betrayals, and Jealousy is no exception. There is more action, more intrigue, more, er, romantic liaisons. Plenty of new, interesting characters providing further entertainment- I particularly liked Benjamin and Leon, a couple of Dru’s new bodyguards, and the kinder members of the Order such as Hiro.

Characters we have met in previous books are also included in this novel- Dru, Graves and Christophe are a given, of course, but we are also able to internally say ‘Aww’ whenever Dibs appears, and enjoy Shanks’ snarky comments. Anna, the other svetocha has a very important role in this book, and becomes even more despicable than she was in that one encounter in Betrayals.

The love-triangle is further developed as well. I have to say, in Betrayals I hugely preferred Christophe over Graves. But Graves matures in Jealousy, and we are constantly reminded by his actions that he cares about Dru and really would do anything for her. Christophe is as hot and mysterious as ever but also shows a softer side in his novel. However, it is a teensy bit creepy that he used to be in love with her mother, which Dru thankfully acknowledges herself.

Dru is honestly one of my favourite YA protagonists. She is such a huge improvement over passive characters presented YA Supernatural novels, always going on and on about the hot, mysterious boy but not really caring about anything else. Dru cares a lot about the more important things at hand. She is determined, strong, brave, smart and very, very human.

Something I admired about the book was that while you did have all this drama, tense action scenes, overwhelming emotions, Lili St. Crow was able to interject humour into many scenes. For example, a particularly amusing scene is one that involves Dru and Graves shopping for clothes and Target to the horror of Benjamin, one of Dru's bodyguards. Another example is Dru belching loudly after a very horrific, very bloody battle. This just made the book more entertaining, more enjoyable to read and, well, how can you not love a protagonist who isn't afraid to burp in public?

Jealousy is, simply, an awesome addition to the Strange Angels series and the revelation at the end has made me extremely impatient to read Defiance.

Rating: 5/5

Thanks to Quercus books for sending the series for review.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Giveaway: Glee Goodie Bag!

Thanks to Headline Publishing, one of you can win a Glee goodie bag, containing:

Glee: The Beginning: An Original Novel by Sophia Lowell

Glee: Road to Sectionals is available on DVD now. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Gleebook posters

If you're a Gleek and would like to enter the giveaway, please leave a comment with your name and e-mail. The giveaway is international.

+1 for following and +2 for leaving a comment on one of my reviews!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

In my Mailbox (catorce)

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. It is hosted by The Story Siren. Go HERE to participate.

I spent this week volunteering with disabled children which was tiring but extremely rewarding. This is why I haven't been able to post- I've just been so exhausted!

Bought
The Glass Demon by Helen Grant
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan
The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

Description

From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, inspired, magical book-a love story that lasts more than a lifetime.

Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has "the memory", the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he's previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.

Interwoven through Sophia and Daniel's unfolding present day relationship are glimpses of their expansive history together. From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes torturous path of seeking each other time and time again. But just when young Sophia (now "Lucy" in the present) finally begins to awaken to the secret of their shared past, to understand the true reason for the strength of their attraction, the mysterious force that has always torn them apart reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.

Review

So I read some less than favourable reviews of My Name is Memory which is why I approached it with some trepidation. However, apart from the end which I disliked but was setting up the premise for the sequel, I found it to be a vastly enjoyable read. I found the glimpses into Daniel's past lives so fascinating- all his interactions with the various forms of Lucy, the enmity between him and his brother and most of all, all the information about life in those various historical periods he lived in. Some might have said it was irrevelant but I relished it.
The chapters with Lucy too, set in the present, were interesting although I didn't find her as captivating as Daniel.

The concept itself of keeping one's memories of past lives was extremely interesting. I personally loved reading about how Daniel used these memories in everyday life. One scene which stood out to me in particular was when he travelled to storage place he had discovered and filled in one of his past lives.

A lot of patience is needed to sustain interest in the book since after the initial scene, the characters do not meet until near the end of the book. This was, of course, slightly aggravating but surprisingly not so annoying that I just skipped to the that portion of the book. As aforementioned, I enjoyed reading about Daniel's past lives and about Lucy slowly remembering hers.

Daniel is such an intricately developed character. His love for Lucy is boundless so you cannot help but root for him. Brashare's writing, especially in first person from Daniel's point of view, is very, very good which brings him to life. Every strong emotion felt by him is felt by the reader.

However, the final few chapters were a bit of a disappointment. I won't give anything anyway but I didn't feel that the fast-paced action really suited the tone of the book. The ending itself was far too abrupt and left a lot of things hanging in the air. But as aforementioned, it was just setting things up for the sequel- in a very undesirable way.

Will I read the sequel? Yes, because Daniel and Lucy were such vivid characters and I want them to have a happy ending.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock

Description

A girl is transformed, through instruction in life at court, determination, and magic, from sullen, pudgy, graceless Ben into Crown Princess Benevolence, a fit ruler of the kingdom of Montagne as it faces war with neighboring Drachensbett. -Goodreads.com

Review

There are a lot of things about Princess Ben that make it stand out from your usual fantasy/fairy-tale-esque novel. For one thing, no single character is defined as 'good' or 'bad'. All the characters, including Ben, have weak and strong aspects to their personalities. Ben's aunt, who you presume to be an evil stepmother type character is discovered to have some loving characteristics. Our main protagonist herself has her faults as well being immature and stubborn.

Another thing: the book is written in an old-fashioned, first person style. Whilst some may find this aggravating, it was extremely appealing to me because the sentences were beautifully structured and it related to the medieval setting of the fantasy world. It also emphasised Ben's position in court, making her character more believable.

The third thing: the magical element. In a lot of books, the character who possesses magical abilities seems to have a strong grasp of them straightaway, performing such powerful spells that shock her mentors/family/etc. This is not the case in Princess Ben. Ben has to work hard to perform even the simplest of spells.

However, the book does have its faults. I didn't feel the romance was fully developed as it should have been. While Florian was an amusing character,
he didn't have much depth. He is initially extremely rude to Ben and this continues for most of the book until one scene where suddenly he becomes a sensitive romantic as he confesses some of his 'innermost secrets.' This change in personality is not believable. Then a few pages later, he is back to his usual self and threatening to send Ben-as-a-boy to prison for an extremely petty thing. Furthermore, I did love how the aunt was not, well, what we initally though of her, I didn't understand how Ben could so easily forgive someone who locked her up and denied her food.

A fun read with an extremely likeable character.

Rating: 4/5

In My Mailbox (trece)

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. It is hosted by The Story Siren. Go HERE to participate.

For review

Glee: The Beginning: An Original Novel (thanks to Headline for this!)
Strange Angels, Betrayals and Jealousy by Lili St. Crow (thanks to Quercus for these!)

Bought

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Description

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer -- they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

-Goodreads.

Review

Having read many reviews lavishing endless praise on Han's sophomore novel, I went into this with extremely high expectations. And were they fulfilled? In a way they were, but in other ways they weren't.

The prose was lovely, each single phrase was beautiful to read. Han is an extremely talented writer so I'm now very eager to read the second novel in the trilogy. Her writing really did leave an impact.

Characterisation was near perfect- most characters were very realistically written, especially the protagonist, Belly. Whilst she was maybe a bit dull, all her actions and emotions were realistic apart from perhaps some regarding a particular character.

Everything the characters said, their actions, made them seem like real people. After reading the book I was just lying there, thinking about Belly and Conrad and Jeremiah and what would happen next. I don't remember the last time I thought about a group of characters as if they existed out of novels.

The setting was perfect and made the novel a true summer read. I loved the use of flashbacks and being able to see former interactions between Belly and the brothers, why she was so enamoured with Conrad.

To be honest, I didn't really understand Belly's attraction for Conrad. He was such a jerk to her for most of the book and even in the flashbacks, the things he did weren't particularly amazing. I don't think we were given a big enough insight into his character. A few more scenes between Conrad and Belly would have really helped to understand why she liked him so much.

All in all, it was a very quick, easy read with some realistically formed characters and beautiful prose.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

In my Mailbox (doce)

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. It is hosted by The Story Siren. Go HERE to participate.

The last few weeks were amazing weeks for receiving books. My parents let me order quite a few off the Book Depository and it was so, so awesome to open the door to the postman and see all the packages waiting to be opened. Each book came with a cute bookmark as well so I will try to use them instead of folding down the corners of pages which is a terrible habit of mine.

Bought

Bright Lights, Big City by
Jay McInerney

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Master and Margarita by
Mikhail Bulgakov

Dead Souls by Gogol
The Agency: Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee
On Writing by Stephen King
Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock
One Day by David Nicholls
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchettta
Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
Paper Towns by John Green
The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest by Stieg Larsson
The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw
The Season by Sarah Maclean
Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

So what did everyone else get? :D.

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Once again, I must apologise for being so inactive. The last week has been so busy with returning textbooks, prom, friend's birthday, movie-making endeavours- and then I have work experience from Monday.

Anyway, on with the review :D.

Description

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron Fey, iron-bound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her. Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's alone in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

-Goodreads.com

Review

This was even better than The Iron King, if that's even possible. Action scenes abundant, descriptions of the Neverever were exquisitely written and Ash, Puck and the rest of the characters were as lovable as ever.

A particular new favourite character of mine was Leannesidhe, over-dramatic and humorous. Regarding favourite returning characters, well luckily Grimalkin made a return appearance although I would have liked to read more of him and his witty comments. Ironhorse- well I won't give too much away (although I fear I already have) but my perception of him definitely changed.


There was plenty of beautiful imagery. I really loved the prose, the detailed- but not overly so- descriptions of their surroundings that made it so easy to picture the world of the Neverever. Sometimes whilst reading novels, I just skip over the lengthy descriptive paragraphs- but not this time.

All the references to the real world put a smile on my face for example a character mentioned Kurt Cobain at one point. They reminded us that Megan really was just a high-school student, albeit a half-fey one. The homecoming dance was just plain awesome and this brings me to...

Ash. Ah, Ash, the faerie prince who has captured my heart. Or rather, Megan's heart. Megan is one lucky lady, I can tell you that. There was heartbreak, but there was also happiness. Megan's reactions were all very realistic and understandable and when she felt sad, you, the reader, were upset for her.


Furthermore, the mythology surrounding the Iron Fey was expanded upon. Kagawa's imagination seems boundless. We were introduced to many new concepts and creatures. The traditional fairy lore was also expanded upon as well. I enjoyed all the references to Puck's pranking ways, reminding us of the Shakespearean character he is based on. It was also entertaining to encounter so many different types of Faery- redcaps, goblins, satyrs, the list is endless!


All in all, a thoroughly engaging, lovely novel which has made me extremely impatient to read the final one in the trilogy.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

In my Mailbox (once)

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. It is hosted by The Story Siren. Go HERE to participate.

Because of the aforementioned exams, I really haven't bought/received many books in the past couple of weeks. But I will will show you my meagre list anyway:

Won
Wags at the World Cup by Alison Kervin (Goodreads First Reads)

Bought
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves- I never ended up reading the copy I took out from the library so I bought it today. Hopefully I will get somewhere with it this time.

NetGalley- NetGalley is super awesome, folks! I've never really been that fond of reading eBooks in the past but the Adobe Reader program used to read the galleys is very easy to use and pretty to look at at too. I was able to obtain quite a few YA galleys off of NetGalley such as:

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa (!!!)
The Oracle of Dating by Allison van Diepen
Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton
Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas
Paper Daughter by Jeanette Ingold
It Started with a Dare by Lindsay Faith Rech

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Fortune by Megan Cole

Description

Fortune tells the story of three very different girls – Madison from New York, Simonetta from Rome and Sapphire from London – who all receive mysterious invitations to the 50th birthday of Brad Masters, billionaire record executive. But what could the girls possibly have in common? The truth shocks them all, and turns three strangers into something much closer and more dangerous – after all, family make for the deadliest enemies... -Goodreads.com

Review

Fortune is one of those Alloy Entertainment-esque novels with the naive, optimistic main character, the conniving villain and the two hot but opposite-in-every-aspect love interests. Except in Fortune, there's a twist in the form of Brad Masters, the father to three completely different characters.

The setting was perfect. Instead of the global city that tends to be the location for these sort of books- New York, L.A., London etc- most of of Fortune takes place in Capri so there are luscious descriptions aplenty. The small cast meant tha tthe focus, for me anyway, was easily characterisation.

And this is where, I'm afraid, the book let me down a bit. I thought that the characters were a bit stereotypical and two-dimensional. Madison, in particular, seemed to be full of malicious intent and nothing else. I kept hoping she'd do something, anything, with some sincerity that would make her seem real. This did not happen.

Simonetta, the Italian model, seemed pretty fleshed-out, especially compared to Madison. I liked how a regretful, kinder side of her was revealed to us near the end rather than the uncaring persona she had in Italy.

Sapphire, the main character, was pretty likeable. I think that was because of the backstabbing actions of everyone around her which made it incredibly difficult not to sympathise with her: pathos, anyone? Her naïveté could be a teensy bit aggravating at times though.

And now we come onto the elusive Brad Masters himself. He wasn't particularly a favourite character of mine. This is because of what we learn at the end- I won't give anything away, don't worry- and how judgemental he seemed. While I understand that this was his first time actually being there for his children which is why he didn't have much experience of parenting, he could have been a bit more genuine. To me, it didn't really seem like he wanted to know his daughters while picking his heir- he just wanted to see who the most capable and/or trustworthy daughter was.

Finally, the two love interests, both singer-songwriters but that is the only similarity they share. Cam is famous, hot, tanned and American while Raphael is beautiful and Italian with skin as pale as Edward Cullen's- the fact that this comparison to the fictional vampire is actually made in the book didn't win any points with me, I must say. However, they were both equal contenders for Sapphire's affections. I found myself not minding much who she ended up with although I had a pretty good idea who it would be.

All in all, an entertaining, very quick read with plenty of drama and romance, and many twists and turns to keep you engrossed. Maybe a bit predictable, but there were no boring moments.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Sorry for the hiatus...


Hi everyone! Sorry my blog has been so inactive for the past few weeks, I've been so busy with exams- twenty-four in total, yay! But now I just have one more to go which means that I'll be posting very regularly on this from now on. Expect lots of reviews in the upcoming weeks!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Interview with Julie Kagawa
















Julie Kagawa is the author The Iron Fey series, which, as you might know from reading my review of The Iron King, I absolutely love. It is my favourite series in the YA Faery genre because it is just so amazing- the characters, especially Ash of course, the world of the Neverever, the plot, the action, all are fantastic and I would recommend the series to everyone.

Why did you decide to write about faeries?
I've always been fascinated with faeries; they're scary and mysterious and completely mystifying. I like all the different fey creatures you can encounter, too. With vampires and werewolves you have only the one creature, but with faeries you have goblins and kelpies and sidhe and ogres and dryads and nixies...the list goes on and on.

Who do you prefer, Ash or Puck? (I'm Team-Ash myself).
I have to say that I like Ash, too. I'm a sucker for dark, brooding boys who can wield sharp pointy objects. (Don't tell Team Puck, though)

I'm hopefully getting a puppy in August. As a former dogtrainer, do you have any advice for first-time dog owners?
Get a crate. Best advice for those getting a puppy. Buy a good puppy crate, and learn how to use it. Also, puppy classes are a must.

Can you share a particularly amusing/unusual experience from when you were a dogtrainer?
When I adopted a cat, I wanted to show the class that anything could be trained with patience and kindness. So I trained my cat to Sit, Lie Down, Spin, Roll Over, Sit Up, and Jump Through a Hoop, and then had him perform in front of a class full of barking dogs. I think everyone learned that lesson. :)

What were the gory stories you wrote in school about? (An excerpt from one of them would be awesome :D)

I don't have an excerpt, it was SO long ago, lol! But the stories usually involved people being stalked and torn apart by vicious creatures (I remember werewolves were a popular choice) in extremely graphic ways.

I read in an interview that you're toying with an angel/demon idea. Could you tell us a little more about that?
Sadly, that idea has gone on the back burner, as I've been contracted for a new series, and its not about angels/demons. But, fear not, this new series will be just as exciting, I think. Think: vampires.

Thanks so much for the interview, Julie!

You can read Winter's Passage, an Iron Fey novella, here.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Description

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption. -Goodreads.com

Review

So I've had this for quite a while now. It was included, a very long time ago, in an IMM post. A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to revise but bored out of my mind, and I saw it lying there on my book trolley (where I keep most of the books I plan to read but never really get round to- the ones I'm currently reading are stacked on a pillow on my bed) so I thought I'd just try it out, see if it really is as good as it's supposed to be.

And guess what? It is.

The first few pages intrigued me. The next few pages bored me- there was all this financial stuff and I'm not really someone who's that interested in economics or business or whatever. I tried though to keep reading, and slowly I was sucked into the world of one Blomkvist and Milennium Magazine. I think it's a huge testament to Larsson's writing skills that the book was able to capture the interest of someone who has never even touched crime-fiction before.

And the next week I was at a bookstore, there I was, actually taking some crime novels off the shelves and flicking through them. I didn't buy any, but that's just because I'm the sort of person who needs to reads the reviews of a few books, know who the 'masters' of a genre are, before I completely plunge into a genre I have never dared to read in the past.

It was disturbing yes, and perhaps there were a few too many sex scenes. But it was still engrossing, and the characterisation was near-perfect (I say near, because I don't believe anything can ever be perfect). All the characters, especially of course, the girl with the dragon tattoo herself, were so well-rounded and realistic. It was possible to see through the eyes of nearly all the main characters- everyone had their rough edges, their secret desires that didn't make them perfect- and even the 'villain' wasn't really a villain, but just a victim himself. The hero, too, was not a hero: he wasn't the best of fathers, which he had himself acknowledged, and a bit of a playboy as well. The heroine, well, she was one of the most complex characters I've ever encountered in an a novel.

Of course, there was social commentary as well, but this was so deftly woven into the plot that not at one single point in the novel did it feel as if Larsson was preaching. No, he was entertaining, and the exact, to-the-point descriptions and the fast pace made it impossible for my attention to waver.

To everyone who has approached crime fiction with trepidation in the past, pick this up from the library or a bookstore or wherever. Read it. You won't regret it and maybe, like me, you'll be inclined to read more crime fiction.

Warning: not for the faint-hearted.

Rating: 4.5/5

In my Mailbox (diez)

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. It is hosted by The Story Siren. Go HERE to participate.

This is a total side-note, but I never have to do Spanish again! (Writing 'diez' reminded me of that- I think I'll be changing that to figures from now on).

This takes into account what I received last week as well.

For review




My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares (thanks to Hodder & Stoughton, and it was so beautifull packaged as well!)


&

Fortune by Megan Cole (thanks to HarperCollins for this!)



Saturday, 29 May 2010

A Few Book Trailers...

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares (The trailer is beautiful and very well-made, and the book itself looks awesome)



Insatiable by Meg Cabot (Such a hilarious trailer, I love Meg!)


Sunday, 16 May 2010

In my Mailbox (nueve)

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. It is hosted by The Story Siren. Go HERE to participate.

I was finally able to buy some books today, it was a very happy time.

Bought:

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (I absolutely LOVED the first book, hugely recommended to those who have never considered reading crime as was my case before I read it)

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

We are All Made of Glue by Marina Lewycka

Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to read the books until exams end, but I'm just glad I have some new books.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

Description

Before Carrie Bradshaw hit the big time in the City, she was a regular girl growing up in the suburbs of Connecticut. How did she turn into one of the most-read social observers of our generation?

The Carrie Diaries opens up in Carrie's senior year of high school. She and her best friends -- Walt, Lali, Maggie, and the Mouse -- are inseparable, amid the sea of Jens, Jocks and Jets. And then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture. Sebastian is a bad boy-older, intriguing, and unpredictable. Carrie falls into the relationship that she was always supposed to have in high school-until a friend's betrayal makes her question everything. With her high school days coming to a close, Carrie will realize it's finally time to go after everything she ever wanted.


Rabid fans of Sex and the City will love seeing Carrie Bradshaw evolve from a regular girl into a sharp, insightful writer. They'll learn about her family background -- how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. We'll see what brings Carrie to her beloved New York City, where the next Carrie Diaries book will take place.


-Goodreads.com

Review

Having watched just half an episode of the TV progamme and the first five minutes of the movie, I started the Carrie Diaries not knowing at all what to expect, and not expecting to like it as much as I did. A fun, quick, easy read, the Carrie Diaries spans Carrie's entire final year of school and introduces us to her high-school friends, her family, and of course, her love interests. It's absorbing and entertaining, maybe a little cliched, but that can be ignored when the protagonist is so likeable and most characters are realistic.

The difficulties her group of friends were experiencing- the betrayal of her best friend, the secret one friend was hiding, how they were slowly drifting part- were all realistic. Favourite characters of mine were Mouse and Walt, infinitely more likeable than the backstabbing best friend, Lali. If we were supposed to feel sympathetic towards her at the end, then Bushnell failed because I sure as hell didn't.

The romantic interests were less interesting to read about. Sebastian, the rebellious rich boy, was cliched and slightly two-dimensional, although there were some rare moments where he seemed to have a real, fleshed out personality. George, the kind, sensible Brown student, was the love interest I ended up rooting for (of course, I doubt Bushnell would have wanted it any other way) although initially, I did think him a little bland and like Sebastian, he was not as well drawn out as he should have been.

Family dynamics were believable and intriguing. Carrie's runaway younger sister was particularly well-developed. The other sister did not appear enough for a full portrait to be formed. Carrie's father was another realistic character and easy to feel sympathetic towards as he was a single father raising three teenage daughters. Contrary to several other YA novels (cough, Twilight, cough), he was very much present in the novel but not to the extent that the father-daughter interaction became boring to read.

The protagonist herself was a likeable, easy to relate to character. I especially loved her quirky and romantic side which made me more interested in the story. I think Bushnell did a fine job in making her personality shine through the narrative. Her (nearly) ceaseless passion will encourage all readers of the Carrie Diaries to follow her example, and although the 'never give up' moral is worn out, Carrie's immense likeability makes it inspiring.

Overall, the Carrie Diaries is a fun, absorbing, coming of age tale which anyone is sure to enjoy reading.

Rating: 4/5



Sunday, 25 April 2010

Scarred by Julia Hoban

Description

Seven months ago on a rainy March night, Willow's parents drank too much wine at dinner and asked her to drive them home. But they never made it - Willow lost control of the car, and both of her parents were killed. Now seventeen, Willow is living with her older brother, who can barely speak to her. She has left behind her old home, friends, and school. But Willow has found a way to survive, to numb the new reality of her life: She is secretly cutting herself. And then she meets Guy, a boy as sensitive and complicated as she is. When Guy discovers Willow's secret, he pulls her out of the solitary world she's created for herself, and into a difficult, intense, and potentially life-changing relationship.

-Amazon.co.uk

Review

I loved this book. I thought the characterisation was amazing- Willow was a very realistic character, understandably sensitive and fragile with a severe addiction to cutting. At first I was wary about reading the book, because I thought it would be a clichéd emo-tale about an orphan who started cutting because she was depressed. However, the reason Willow gave for cutting was explained so fully, and so genuinely, that I could see where she was coming from. I didn’t agree, yes, but I could comprehend what made her do those terrible things to herself: to erase the emotional pain, the overwhelming grief, she focused on physical pain instead. As I’m sure many of you know, emotional pain can be extremely distressing and harmful. By cutting, Willow was anaesthetising these emotions, letting the physical pain flood herself instead.

Guy was an extremely likeable character. I loved all scenes between him and Willow, his unusual (for a guy) fondness for anthropology and classics, his exceptional kindness, and his determination. They really did fit together perfectly, two halves of a circle, to use a cliché. Their similarities made them a realistic teenage couple, with that added element of maturity and understanding.

Some other characters were fleshed out as well: David, Willow’s brother in just his twenties, put under the burden of supporting his wife, his baby and now his seventeen-year-old sister, while also having to cope with the grief of losing his parents; each person in the small group of friends introduced to Willow, although having relatively small parts, had a distinct personality, examples being Lottie, Chloe and Andy. There wasn't enough of Adrian to form a clear portrait in my mind. Furthermore, Cathy, David’s wife, seemed sweet and kind but her appearances were brief so she was just a sketch of a character. However, less Cathy-time meant more scenes between Willow and Guy so I’m not really complaining.

The prose was fluid- I especially liked the use of third-person present tense. It was very effective, because Willow’s emotions were heightened by the use of present tense, and third-person meant that the prose was more poetic and there was more showing than telling, which suited the plot. The reasons as to why Willow cut were revealed bit by bit, rather than in huge chunks which would have spoiled the narrative and made the book less intriguing. Stark imagery was used which heightened the sensation of cutting, and the bleakness surrounding it.

Ah yes, one complaint: over-use of the word 'convulsively.' However, that is a very small, very inane criticism and I probably just noticed it because I read the book in one sitting.

I wouldn't describe Scarred as a book about cutting. I would describe this as a book about a determined boy and a fragile girl, and how love, friendship and family can provide the strength to get through even the most difficult of hardships, in this case, Willow being unable to forgive herself for something that was never her fault. Overall, a beautifully written story with well-developed characters.

Rating: 5/5

In my Mailbox (Ocho)

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. It is hosted by The Story Siren. Go HERE to participate.

I forgot to do this last week, so the books I received then will also be included in this post.

For review

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure and Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman (thanks to Earthshaker Books for these!)

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell (thanks to HarperCollins for this- so excited to read it!)

Bought

Scarred by Julia Hoban



Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Description

Meghan Chase has never fit in at her small-town high school, and now, on the eve of her 16th birthday, she discovers why. When her half brother is kidnapped, Meghan is drawn into a fantastical world she never imagined--the world of Faery, where anything you see may try to eat you, and Meghan is the daughter of the summer faery king. Now she will journey into the depths of Faery to face an unknown enemy . . . and beg the help of a winter prince who might as soon kill her as let her touch his icy heart. The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series. -Goodreads.com

Review


I loved this book so much. I thought I'd read enough YA novels about faeries to last me a lifetime (well, really, I'd just read like two but they weren't that captivating which put me off books about faeries) then I read some of the reviews it's received so I decided to get it- best decision ever.

It does have typical elements to a faerie book: a Seelie/Summer court, an Unseelie/Winter court, a love triangle, a protagonist who discovers near the beginning of the book that she is part faerie, but there is so much more to the Iron King that doesn't make it cliched. For example: the Iron King himself. It was such an awesome, creative twist on faerie mythology and also sort of a warning that too much technology isn't always good. I also loved the idea the faeries lives were essentially based on humans' beliefs in them- I'm not sure whether it's a new idea or not, but it was genius! The characters actually acknowledged Shakespeare etc which made it a lot more believable.

I loved the world of Neverever that Kagawa created. I could visualise Meghan's surroundings at all times so the descriptions were perfect: beautiful to read, but not overwhelming at all. I really enjoyed reading about Meghan's experience at the Summer Court so I can't wait for the Iron Daughter when we will hopefully be able to read about the Winter Court. Furthermore, the world was an abode of an ample amount of all types of faeries: goblins, elves, satyrs, trolls, etc, which made the world and the story more enjoyable.

The characters were extremely likeable and well-crafted especially Puck, Meghan's best friend who turns out to be (as you can guess from the name) the prankster from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Grimalkin, the cat, very reminiscent of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, who acts as Meghan's guide, and of course, the swoon-worthy Winter Prince who shares a lot of chemistry with Meghan- what's particularly interesting about him, and what makes him different from similar characters in YA fiction, is that he wants to kill her, regardless of his feelings for her (or so it seems). Meghan is also a likeable character because of her determination to rescue her brother, although at the beginning I thought she was accepting everything a bit too quickly (although when the evidence is staring at you in the face, I guess it's hard not to accept it).

I would recommend this book to all lovers of faery books, those who have been hesitant to read books about faeries in the past, and anyone who appreciates a good book. It is that amazing.

Rating: 5/5

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Awards!

Thanks to Books Are A Garden for the awards!

For the Honest Scrap Award, I'm supposed to write ten things about myself. So...(these aren't going to be very interesting by the way)

1. I'm currently writing a YA fantasy novel and I think I might actually finish it by September!
2. I am a picky eater. I always leave/pick out vegetables, regardless of whether they're actually tasty or not.
3. I'm getting a dog once my exams end! Hopefully a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, like Lady in Lady and the Tramp. I can't wait!
4. I hate bananas which is ironic because my username for many websites is YellowBanana. This is because...
5. Yellow is my favourite colour. Always has been, ever since I was four.
6. I possess around three hundred books. I know it isn't that much compared to some people, but I'm still proud of my collection and when I'm older, I want to have a library in my house.
7. Recently, I started to write poetry. It is extremely embarrassing to read.
8. I love travelling. Probably the most fascinating place I have visited is China.
9. My favourite dessert is cheesecake.
10. Right now, my favourite TV programmme is Scrubs- Dr Cox is one of the funniest characters on TV.

Blogs I'd like to pass this award onto: (This was extremely hard because there are so many amazing blogs out there!)

Smitten With Books
The Bookette
Maria the Bookworm
The Book Cellar
Books Out of the Bookshelves
The Book Bug: Books for Teens and Tweens
Book Journal
The Compulsive Reader
i swim for oceans
I was a teenage book geek

In my Mailbox (siete)

In My Mailbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. It is hosted by The Story Siren. Go HERE to participate.

This week, I bought:

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles and The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

I've read both of them and they were both so amazing. Review for the Iron King should be up soon- tomorrow, hopefully (although I really should be revising). And then Perfect Chemistry in some time when I can't be bothered to work again.

The Iron King was like the perfect book; fairies, a strong heroine, hot guys (<3 Ash, an awesome, imaginative concept about the existence of fairies and a witty, feline sidekick!

Perfect Chemistry was also a great book. I loved the main characters, their chemistry, their problems, the supporting cast- namely Alex's friends- and I can't wait for the sequel to come out. I'm so lending this to all my friends, it's like the perfect YA romance.

Waiting on Wednesday (8)

The Glass Demon by Helen Grant (May 2010)

The first death: Seventeen-year-old Lin Fox finds a body in an orchard. As she backs away in horror, she steps on broken glass. The second death: Then blood appears on her doorstep – blood, and broken glass. The third death: Something terrible is found in the cemetery. Shards of broken glass lie by a grave. Who will be next? As the attacks become more sinister, Lin doesn’t know who to trust. She’s getting closer to the truth behind these chilling discoveries, but with each move the danger deepens. Because someone wants Lin gone – and won’t give up until he’s got rid of her and her family. Forever.

The cover is so pretty! And the synopsis is really intriguing as well; gotta love a murder mystery.


Sunday, 28 March 2010

Lex Trent Versus the Gods by Alex Bell

Thanks to Headline for this.

Description


Law student Lex Trent’s world is inhabited by fearsome magicians, ageing crones and a menagerie of Gods and Goddesses. And while Lex is seemingly dedicated to his legal studies he’s always enjoyed a challenge – which is why he leads a double life as the notorious cat burglar ‘The Shadowman’ who has been (luckily) evading capture for years.

But Lex’s luck is about to run out because the Goddess of Fortune has selected him to be her player in the highly dangerous Games. Losing is not an option for Lex (particularly as it so often involves dying) but can he really win each of the perilous rounds? Given that the reward for doing so is money, fame and glory – all things that Lex is quite keen on – he’s going to do whatever it takes to make sure he will... and he’s certainly got good experience of cheating.


Review

This was a really fun book to read. I haven't read this sort of fantasy in ages (think Terry Pratchett, Eoin Colfer) so it was nice returning to the genre.
At first, it was quite hard to get into. I think maybe this was because Lex isn't really the most virtuous of characters- in fact it's extremely hard to sympathise with him because he's so arrogant and selfish. Right from the beginning we're to understand that Lex is an anti-hero, unlike his twin brother Lucius who appears later on in the book, and whom Lex despises. However, Lex does grow on you, despite his character, and you do end up rooting for him.

The other characters were well-rounded and enjoyable to read about. I particularly liked Schmidt, the lawyer who gets caught up in Lex's adventures in the funniest way possible, and Lucius, who is Lex's complete opposite.

The best aspect of the books, in my opinion, were the mythology and the magic of the world. I loved how there were so many gods who worshippers could actually meet- sort of similar to the gods in Greek mythology, but actually accesible. I also loved how there were so many mythological creatures like minotaurs, Medusa, enchanters, crones, even fairy godmothers! Combining these things with everyday aspects of our lives such as the law firm Lex was working at just made the book more interesting.

The book is extremely fast-paced so I never became bored while I was reading it. There are innumerable twists and turns, especially once the Games start. There is plenty of humour, and even some darker aspects dealing with death, such as the soulless wake and Lex's grandfather. However, these are touched on very briefly, and just increase the substance of the book, making it an even better read.

In all honesty, I'm surprised I liked it so much. I think it's because of all the mythology though- I am a sucker for mythology- and because of Lex's unusual personality (for a hero anyway), and the rest of the well-rounded cast.

I would definitely recommend it to readers of comic fantasy, and even to those who have been unwilling in the past to read fantasy, because the constant action in this book makes it extremely easy to read.

Rating: 4.5/5

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

I think I should rename it Waiting on Sunday, because I never have time on Wednesdays to blog. Luckily though, Easter holidays start next week although I'll be revising for most of them :(.

Forgive my Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

-Goodreads.com


This looks really interesting because it's about mermaids! I can't really recall seeing any previous YA books previous about mermaids. Also, the cover's really pretty. The romance aspect seems a little predictable (the gorgeous jock and the 'obnoxious, biker boy neighbour'- I think it's a bit obvious who she'll end up with) but fun anyway.