Monday, 30 April 2012

Spring Fling Giveaway Hop

This giveaway hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Eve's Fan Garden.
Find the full list of blogs participating in this hop here.

What's the best way to enjoy a spring day? Whether the sun be shining or the rain be pouring, my answer is pretty much the same: find a good book and stick your nose in it! I love being able to sit outside with a good book, soaking up some sun (protected of course else I turn red and end up in pain!). And I'm going to share that joy (or the joy of sitting inside in the warmth while the heavens open) with one lucky winner!

The prize: 1 (ONE) winner will get to choose 1 (ONE) book of their choice from The Book Depository up to a value of 10 (TEN) US dollars.

The entries: There are five possible entries: follow the blog by GFC / Linky / Networked Blogs; follow the blog by email; follow me on Twitter; tweet a message; and comment on a review (added bonus: if you complete this entry then I will comment back on your blog as soon as time allows!).
Note: if I am to comment on your blog in return, there needs to be some sort of link to it. Not all people have a link to their blog in their blogger profile. If you're one of these people, feel free to leave a link in the comment!

The terms of entry: Due to laws and such and my lack of knowledge of them, entrants must be 16+ or have the express consent of their legal guardian.
                               Open to everyone so long as The Book Depository delivers to your country.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal: Reaper by L.S. Murphy

The info:
Reaper will be released on January 7th 2013.
It is an urban fantasy aimed at young adults.

The blurb:
There's no way sixteen year old Quincy Amarante will become the fifth grim reaper. None. Not over her shiny blue Mustang. Her Jimmy Choos. Or her dead body.
She’s supposed to enjoy her sophomore year, not learn about some freaky future Destiny says she has no choice but to fulfill.
It doesn’t take long for Quincy to realize the only way out of the game is to play along especially since Death can find her anyway, anywhere, anytime. And does.
Like when she’s reassuring her friends she wants nothing to do with former best friend Ben Moorland, who’s returned from god-knows-where, and fails. Miserably.

Instead of maintaining her coveted popularity status, Quincy’s goes down like the Titanic.

Maybe ... just maybe ... that’s okay.
It seems, perhaps, becoming a grim reaper isn’t just about the dead but more about a much needed shift in Quincy’s priorities—from who she thinks she wants to be to who she really is.

The link:

The Cover Wars: White Cat

Tara of Basically Books and I decided to get together to do a weekly meme where we would compare covers of the UK editions of books with those of the US editions.

The aim of this is to just have a bit of fun. We put ourselves in the position where we see both of these books side by side in the bookstore. Which would we choose? Why that one and not the other?

This week we will be comparing the covers of White Cat by Holly Black.

US Cover                                                UK Cover

Rea says: There’s no contest again here. The US cover is ok, I guess, but the UK one wins hands down. Do I even need to explain why? The crumpled paper look, the cartoon cat, the fun font. Seen side by side, I’d not even spare the US cover a second glance. UK for me.

Tara says: The US one has the main character holding a white cat and that’s pretty much all I can say about that cover. The UK cover has a cartoon cat, a brilliant choice of font for the title and also a bit of the cover looks like it’s crumpled up – but this is just an optical effect, it hasn’t really. With all of that together on the UK version I have to go with UK.


Week 15:     US: 2     UK: 8     Draw: 4
Do you want to join in too? Here’s how:
Step 1: Copy and paste the Cover Wars image.
Step 2: Copy and paste our intro or write your own but it must link back to both of our blogs.
Step 3: Copy and paste the US and UK cover images.
Step 4: Compare the two.
Step 5: Either use our score or keep your own score.
Step 6: Post it and share it!
Thanks and have fun!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan

I found the first book in this trilogy, Immortal Beloved, at my local bookstore at the start of last summer. It was one of those books where the cover was just so gorgeous that I snapped it up without ever looking at the back of the book! That turned out to be ok, though, as I adored Immortal Beloved and it ranks among my favourite reads of 2011.

So I knew I wanted this one, the sequel, as soon as possible and though I started with the good intention of waiting until the paperback version was released, I very quickly gave up on that idea because I needed more! There were two options for the pre-order: hardback or large paperback. I went for the paperback but then the publisher didn’t make that version available! Nooooo! Thankfully I was able to get the hardback at no extra cost.

As soon as it was delivered I had my nose in it and I didn’t pull it out again until I’d reached the last page.

Title: Darkness Falls
Author: Cate Tiernan
Series: Immortal Beloved #2
Target Audience: YA
Genre: Urban fantasy
Length: 398 pages

Story: You can run from your past, but it will always catch up.

Nastasya has lived for hundreds of years, but for some reason it never seems to get any easier. She's left behind her days of debauchery to find peace and forgiveness at River's Edge, a safe haven for wayward immortals. There she's uncovered her family's epic history, reclaimed her magickal powers, and met Reyn, whom she dubs "the Viking god. " Just as she settles into her new life, Nastasya learns that her old friends might be in town....

Reuniting with her gorgeous and dangerous ex-best-friend, Innocencio, Nas wonders if she'll ever be truly free of her dark legacy. Is Incy dangerous, power-hungry, and wicked? Or is he the only one who truly understands Nas's darkness? Either way, Nas is desperate to find out who she really is-even if the answer kills her.

Thoughts and impressions:Immortal Beloved was one of the books that I read while in France last summer. I left it with my mum for her to read but I wish I hadn’t now. She didn’t read it anyway and I would really have liked to have reread it before going into this one. This first book caught me up, took me on one hell of a rollercoaster ride and left me in awe. Everything about Nastasya had me intrigued, always wanting to know more, to understand things better.

As soon as Darkness Falls was delivered to my door, I had my nose in the book. It was one of my most awaited books of 2012… and it did not disappoint!

Things pick up shortly after they ended in Immortal Beloved. Nat is still confused about life, the universe and everything. She’s constantly having to re-evaluate things she thought she knew to fit with the world view she is acquiring staying at River’s. She’s also battling her attraction to Reyn – their past is intertwined in a way that should leave them enemies, not lovers. The reader realises that Reyn is the Viking warrior that this Icelandic princess needs, though! Their relationship does undergo a transformation in this book but there are still many promises for what is to come in the final novel in the trilogy. I absolutely adored the interaction between Reyn and Incy towards the end of the book and what such reactions reveal about Reyn as a character!

Speaking of Incy, he completely fascinated me in in the first book. Everything about him was an enigma that I simultaneously wanted to unravel and leave intact so I could wonder him from afar. He does cme into things in this book and as his enigma unravels a bit, more questions are posed. The final showdown reaches epic proportions. Is it morbid of me that I’m rather hoping that he’ll figure in the next book and that both he and Nat will have to confront the repercussions of his actions as well as the irrevocable damage they did to a hundred years of friendship? I want to see how they would react to the other’s presence when she has to face the man behind the monster and he has to stand before the friend he so badly wronged.

But more importantly, it is through Incy that we are introduced to the portents of what is still to come in the final novel. Incy had some seriously dark magics at his disposal and to think that he was merely the student means that we may only have touched the tip of this particular iceberg.

Once again, Nat has to battle her own worst enemy: herself. She runs and hides from things she doesn’t want to face, like her attraction to Reyn or Incy running the show for her, or she steps in and does more damage than good, like at the store. On top of that, things keep going wrong for her and she’s soon convinced that she is the bane of everyone’s existence as well as her own. This, interspersed with recollections from various periods of her past, makes her a very complicated character who struggles to grow. In fact, she regresses for a time before she’s able to take two steps forward from her one step back.

Everything is put in place for a wonderful, thrilling conclusion. If only I didn’t have to wait until January for its release!

Style: The book is written in a very colloquial, chatty style. I don’t always like this particular sort of style but it works really well here!

Final verdict: I loved it! I want to know what happens next. Is it January 2013 yet? 5 stars

Extra notes: A fair amount of bad language is present. Sex is not.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher from NetGalley.

I discovered this title through a fellow blogger a few weeks ago. We seem to have fairly similar tastes when it comes to urban fantasy so when she listed this book as one of the best books she’s read so far this year, I know that I absolutely had to get my hands on a copy! In this case I was very fortunate and got approved for the ARC on NetGalley.

Title: Royal Street
Author: Suzanne Johnson
Series:  Sentinels of New Orleans #1
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Target Audience: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Length: 352 pages

Story: As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ's boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters.

While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo.

Thoughts and impressions: I adored the opening scene of this book! DJ, our heroine, is on a mission to send Jean Lafitte – one of New Orleans’s historical undead – back to the beyond and she finds herself very disturbed that he’s adapted to the modern era by carrying around fruit-flavoured condoms on his person! I think it takes guts to open with a scene like that but Suzanne Johnson pulled it off flawlessly!

The world building was fairly strong, though with some plot holes. The biggest one of these was that it’s mentioned that the wizards from Europe and America step in to help each other in dire situations – be this the American wizards travelling to Europe to fight in a war between wizards and other preternaturals (“pretes”), or the European wizards travelling to the US to deal with the preternatural aftermath of a hurricane in Florida a few years before. And yet, after Katrina hits and devastates the New Orleans area, only one other human preternatural – European or American – steps in to help this deputy with the task of getting things back under control.

Other than this most glaring problem, the world building could easily stand on its own two feet despite the fact that we didn’t meet many of the various preternatural races that exist here. There’s no rush of course; in fact, I believe that it was much better this way with lots still left to explore in future books. The series has a lot of potential to be one that hooks UF readers across the board. It certainly succeeded in hooking me!

In this first book, the pretes that are dealt with the most are what are called the historical undead. These are those people who lived and died in a certain area during their natural life and even after their deaths they remain in the collective memory of current society. So long as people remember their names, they are essentially immortal but if their names are forgotten then they will disappear. I have, of course, come across ideas like this before but I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve seen them used to this extent in a book. It was actually a very interesting idea as it allowed for use of such historical figures as Louis Armstrong, Marie Laveau and Jean Lafitte (though I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of Lafitte before – I’m not exactly “up” on New Orleans culture).

I actually really liked Lafitte’s character. He was the sort of baddy that you can really root for as the reader. For a while I even entertained the prospect of him as a potential romantic interest. He might be several centuries dead, in it for himself and a reprobate (he’s a pirate – what pirate isn’t a reprobate?) but he was quirky and fun. Hey, I’ve read books where the romantic interest was much worse than Jean Lafitte in Royal Street! He wasn’t the romantic interest, but he was still a fun character.

It was also interesting to view hurricane Katrina through the eyes of a local. I don’t think it really packed the emotional punch that the author was aiming for, but it was certainly a very different experience to the one I went through at the time. Still, I didn’t really feel complete despair at the loss of human life or the death of a beloved city. I was, however, able to build these emotions up for myself through what was not said in the narrative. The quotes from the newspapers were a good touch as well.

DJ was a good character, if slow at times. She so desperately wanted to reach that happy ending where she’d get her mentor back and no one gets hurt that she was willing to overlook some blindingly obvious evidence. This said, I have to admit that she did often allow herself to get distracted by her feelings towards her new partner, Alex, and his cousin, Jake. It meant that sometimes the plot would stagnate as she floundered in waters that she tried very hard to pretend didn’t even exist. She was frustrating at times, but in the long run I liked her and I suppose that’s what’s most important.

All in all, I found this book to be an interesting introduction to a new series that I want more of. Apparently the next book is going to be about undines (mermaids) – I can’t wait!

Style: I liked the dry sarcasm of the style that would rear its head from time to time. Just little things like when DJ mentions that luckily she got hit on the other shoulder to the one that was already bruised because she likes to have symmetrical bruises.

Final verdict: I really enjoyed this book! I had some minor issues with it but they were so minor that they didn’t affect my enjoyment of it in the least. I’d definitely recommend to fans of this style of urban fantasy. 5 stars

Extra notes: Bad language is present. Sex is not.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Follow Friday - 27/04/2012

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison can read. Each week participants are given a prompt. This week's is:  

Q: Have you had a character that disappointed you? One that you fell in love with and then “broke up” with later on in either the series or a stand-alone book? Tell us about him or her.

Dimitri Belikov.

He was the redeeming feature of the first 3 Vampire Academy books. Rose got on my t*ts (sorry - expression we use a lot here!), Lissa didn't appeal to me. Christian was cool but Dimitri was the character that shone. Even in the fourth book he made for an interesting, if sadistic, antagonist. But those last two books? Especially Last Sacrifice... He kept going on and on about honour but did he have any himself when it came down to it? Did he 'eck. Rose's actions didn't help, but I'd thought Dimitri was a stronger, better person than that.

I felt that the VA series was mediocre at best in general so it broke my heart to not like the one character I really did like... but I just couldn't bring myself to like what he became. Sad days.

How about you? Leave me a comment with a link to your post and I'll be sure to pop on over as time allows! 

Happy hopping and have a great weekend!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Get A Taste: Partials

Tara of Basically Books and I often read very different books but sometimes find interesting new books to potentially add to the ever-growing monsters that our TBR piles have morphed into. However, we know that we do not have 100% the same taste and we wanted another way of getting a look at these books...

Do you ever feel like getting a bit of a taster for a book you’ve been thinking of reading but aren’t fully sold on yet? Do you feel like sharing a taster for your current read with the world? Well, here’s your chance.

Each week the random number generator will pick a number between 1 and 100 for books with pages or 1 and 25% for ebooks. We figured that these numbers would keep us out of spoiler territory. Open your book to the specified place and pick a paragraph. Share it with the world!

The numbers for this week are:
Page 36 for books
15% for ebooks

My book:

Click image to go to GoodReads page

The dust settled, and the air was still. Kira opened her medkit and pulled out her stethoscope - one of the digital models with sound amplification. She thumbed the switch, silently praying that the battery hadn't degraded, and pressed the scope to the rubble.
Pom, pom, pom, pom...
"It's his heartbeat," Kira called out. "He's right under the fallen chimney."

I've actually already finished this book and I really enjoyed it! I'm most definitely looking forward to the sequel. It was kinda cliché, I have to admit, and it had its fair share of problems, but it worked well for me!

Do you want to join in too? Here’s how:
Step 1: Copy and paste the Get A Taste image.
Step 2: Copy and paste our intro or write your own but it must link back to both of our blogs.
Step 3: Find the designated page for the week.
Step 4: Type out a paragraph or so from your book.
Step 5: Post it and share it!
We would appreciate it if you'd leave a comment letting us know where we can find your post. We'll be sure to pop on by and leave a comment!
Thanks and have fun!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I bought this book a long time ago – well, it can only have been four years ago at most but it feels like I made the purchase a long time ago. A friend recommended Gaiman to me, this book in particular. I listened to them in so much as I bought the book but whenever I sat in front of my bookcase looking for my next read it just never caught my eye until now.

Well, as they say, better late than never!

Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: HarperCollins
Target Audience: Children’s / YA / Adult???
Pages: 307
Chapters: 8
PoV: 3rd person
Tense : Past tense

Story: After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own. 

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family . . . 

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

(from Goodreads)

Thoughts and impressions: My first thought upon starting this book was that the style was very singular. The opening scene is of a man wiping blood from the knife he’s just used to kill three people but the language used almost makes it sound as though the story is aimed at a younger readership.

The style continues in this same manner but the events described are sometimes quite complex. The reader is only given part of the information and left to draw their own conclusions. I’m not sure that some of what’s going on wouldn’t just go over the heads of much younger readers. That said, the content is not particularly scary – I’ve read scarier books aimed at ten-year-olds – as you might imagine from the title, the synopsis, the knowledge that a man wants to kill the main character and the fact that it all takes place in a graveyard. I found it difficult to place the target audience with this one. Whenever I see the book in the shops, it’s always in the adult section but I think the story would appeal to younger readers too.

Each chapter follows a certain even in Bod’s life and each time these events take place two years apart. For the most part, the stories aren’t particularly interconnected but they show Bod’s evolution from a toddler to a young man. In each the reader is invited to explore an area of a reality that exists alongside ours – whether this be a trip along a plane where the “ghouls” live or an encounter with a millennia-old power.

I enjoyed each and every one of the short stories from Bod’s life, though at 80+ pages the 7th was a bit of a push (I like to read chapter by chapter and not stop in the middle of one if at all possible). My favourite story was when Bod meets the ghost of a young woman who was burnt as a witch and buried on unconsecrated ground. She, Liza, has no headstones and this makes her sad so a young Bod decides to go out into the big wide world and buy one for her. I found this really sweet, especially as he’s only eight at the time.

Of course, the recurring theme across the novel is Bod’s existence in the graveyard living with the dead in a world apart from the living. Sometimes this is hard for him as he fights the urge to socialise with others like him – especially as he gets older. His struggles were always worthy of a child at whatever age he is in the chapter, though his speech did seem a bit formal. This could be put down to his having effectively been brought up by people who died anything between a hundred and just under two thousand years ago.

At one point, I thought it might turn out that “the man Jack” was some form of Jack the Ripper, what with his blade and all that. I’ve read a few novels over the past few months that incorporated Jack the Ripper in some way and I have to say that I’m glad that this book did not go down that same road. The idea of the Jacks of all trades really intrigued me; it was certainly something very different though I would have liked to have learnt more about them.

In all, this is a fairly short book. I read it in an afternoon. Dave McKean’s illustrations really serve to set it apart from the norm and I’m sure that they will make the book appeal all the more to certain readers. I have to admit that once or twice I couldn’t work out just what was being illustrated, though!

Style: The style was fairly simple, which was what led me to speculate about just what age of reader this book is aimed at. It’s one that a ten-year-old could likely tackle on their own, but it also hides more advanced hidden ideas.

Final verdict: As mentioned, this was my first Gaiman read. While I enjoyed it, I’m not chomping at the bit to go and read more by him. At times I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue reading or take a short break from the book. I might have enjoyed it more had I taken my time with it but instead I pushed through it all. This meant that I did occasionally feel worn down by the book. I’d advise other readers to not do as I did and to go at the pace their minds dictate. Maybe the book will earn a full 5 stars from these people but it gets a still good 4 stars from me.

Extra notes: I don’t think there was any bad language. No sex.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

About a month and a half after I read and adored Across the Universe by Beth Revis, I discovered the synopsis for this other book that sounded fairly similar. I was caught between excitement at something that would be in the same vein and trepidation that after having enjoyed Across the Universe so much, Glow could never live up to my expectations. Then I won a giveaway where Glow was one of the five titles I could choose as my prize. There was never any doubt for me. It was always going to be Glow. As soon as it got here, I looked at the simple yet stunning cover and fell in love with it but had to force myself to ignore it during exam week. It kept looking at me, though, and I knew that as soon as exams were over, I would not be able to resist it anymore!

Title: Glow
Series: Sky Chasers #1
Author: Amy Kathleen Ryan
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Target Audience: YA
Pages: 307
Chapters: Unknown – titled rather than numbered

Story: What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue? 

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them... 

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth. 

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.

(from Goodreads)

Thoughts and impressions: This is another book where I went into it all expecting a teen romance, as the synopsis leads you to believe the story will focus heavily on the romance aspect, but got something very different. This story isn’t about the fight for love; it’s about the fight for survival, the fight to make your own choices and not have another’s choices forced upon you.

Things quickly get around to the action and within one chapter the crew of the New Horizon have set their attack in motion and Kieran finds out that they were never able to conceive children aboard that ship. The girls are separated from the boys and the story gets underway.

We’re soon made aware that the crew of New Horizon are all religious while the people on the Empyrean are mostly atheist. Because of this I thought that the story would tackle the dangers of religious zealotry, and it does but it also takes a good, hard look at the darker side of human nature. Nothing is black and white here: there is no obvious good side confronted by the bad guys.  At some point in her life, Anne Mather, the captain of the New Horizon, became corrupted by her own religious convictions, but at the same time the captain of the Empyrean and his inner circle also because corrupted by their belief in their own importance – the belief that they can take what they want, when they want, which is reflected in the older girls’ stories.

I’m glad that the author looked at both of the sides here and didn’t just point the finger of blame at the manipulation of people through religion to attain your own goals. Although it has to be said that Anne Mather made for a very scary villain due to her manipulative abilities in the name of religion, which we also see in another main character that is currently still a hero. I wonder how the author will tackle this in the sequel.

The story has two parts to it: Kieran’s story and Waverley’s story. On the Empyrean, Kieran is trying to keep the ship running after most of the adults were killed in the initial attack or chased after their kidnapped girls and those remaining were forced to submit themselves to overexposure to radiation in an attempt to save the engines. Both Kieran and Seth, the named potential romantic interests, feature in these chapters. If I’m honest, I didn’t like either of them. I felt that Kieran was lost in his own opinion of himself and his importance whereas Seth was prone to violence and physical bullying to get his own way. I sincerely hope that either one or both of them will undergo significant character growth in the sequel that will allow me to grow to like them.

The other half of the story follows Waverley and the girls on the New Horizon. I found this to be by far the superior of the two plot lines. Everything that Waverley and the girls are submitted to just doesn’t bear thinking. I can’t even begin to imagine how I would react in the same situation. The web of lies and deceit aboard the New Horizon makes for an infinitely more interesting setting and the danger there felt real in a way that was never quite present in the boys’ chapters. I liked Waverley: I liked her spirit, her determination and the way she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.

The setting was good and the descriptions of the ships made for a complete and interesting image in my mind. Really they were like glorified prisons. Then again, I suppose any ship is: there’s only so far you can go on a ship – from one end to the other – before you’re forced to go back the way you came. Can you imagine living like that? That has got to be a form of hell.

Style: The author tends to use a lot of subordinate clauses introduced by the prepositions “which” or “who”. Generally speaking, I’m not keen on the over use of these in literature as they make it sound clunky.

Here’s an example: “They entered a new room, which was full of people.” (This is not a direct quote though there is something similar to it early in the book.)

Maybe it’s just me, but I’d much rather have a second sentence about people milling around in this new room than the subordinate clause.

Except for this minor thing, the style is engaging and I really enjoyed it.

Final verdict: This book receives a big thumbs-up from me! I can’t wait to see where the story will go in the sequel. 5 stars

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Cover Wars: The Book Thief

Tara of Basically Books and I decided to get together to do a weekly meme where we would compare covers of the UK editions of books with those of the US editions.

The aim of this is to just have a bit of fun. We put ourselves in the position where we see both of these books side by side in the bookstore. Which would we choose? Why that one and not the other?

This week we will be comparing the covers of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

US Cover                                                UK Cover

Rea says: This is another case where I have a clear favourite. I do like the imagery of the US cover with the dominoes that are all about to set off a chain reaction. But it just doesn’t hold a candle to the UK cover art. That image of Liesel dancing with Death is one my favourite cover images ever. It is so very poignant and expresses so much in so very little. UK all the way.

Tara says: This is so easy for me. The US one is good, but boring and doesn’t really capture my attention. The UK one is amazing, I love the fact the cover is all crumpled up and old fashioned to go with the fact this story is set during World War 2. UK has won for me. 


Week 14:     US: 2     UK: 7     Draw: 4

Do you want to join in too? Here’s how:
Step 1: Copy and paste the Cover Wars image.
Step 2: Copy and paste our intro or write your own but it must link back to both of our blogs.
Step 3: Copy and paste the US and UK cover images.
Step 4: Compare the two.
Step 5: Either use our score or keep your own score.
Step 6: Post it and share it!
Thanks and have fun!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Wraith's Forest by L.J. Leger

Beauty and the Beast retelling… is there any wonder that I requested a copy of this book for review? Considering my addiction to all things B&B, I think not. Time kind of got away from me with this book and I missed the deadline review date, but I guess better late than never, right?

Title: Wraith’s Forest
Author: Judith Leger
Publisher: Pinewood Press
Target Audience: 15+
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 44 pages

Story: Fairy tales and haunted woods lead us through L.J. Leger's Beauty and the Beast story of one girl with the weight of a village on her shoulders and the attention of a very unlikely soul.

Jenna is chosen for the coveted task of gathering the magical fruit to preserve the peaceful balance of the secret valley where she and many others live. During the harvest, one fruit is damaged and the task of healing the bruise falls on Jenna’s shoulders. She must enter the Wraith’s Forest, retrieve a magical blade from the specter who lives there so the valley will remain a utopia. But once she makes contact with the Wraith, her fear slowly disappears and her curiosity is aroused with more questions of why the Wraith is in the Forest and the true purpose for the harvest. If you love Beauty and Beast type fairy tales, Wraith’s Forest is the book to read. 

Thoughts and impressions: The problem with novellas is that often enough it’s hard for the reader to form a substantial opinion of the characters. I found that to be the case here. I had my opinion of Jenna but that was because the story followed her and so she was in every scene. I actually liked her and how she came across as a very rounded, normal person: doing her duty because she knows this is what is expected of her and not because this is what she wants to do. I find that’s the case with most people. If my mother was heavily pregnant and needed my help around the house, I suspect I’d feel frustrated and put out at having to walk to a tree and collect its fruit for three days straight, even being aware that it was for the greater good of the valley as a whole.

Jenna, however, was the only one I really had an opinion of. Nole, the wizard, was obviously going to be playing the role of the bad guy but he wasn’t fleshed out enough for me to really understand why he was playing this role (something about a woman and jealousy of his rival, but it was passed over too quickly that it didn’t stick). The Wraith, playing the role of the Beast, in his broken castle that is a mere shadow of its former glory, trapped in a spell he never wanted to be part of – yes, he inspired empathy in me as he did in Jenna and he was actually a very good basis for a Beast character. Perhaps the most important thing was that the growing attraction between Jenna and the Wraith just wasn’t really there for me. I mean, first off, they were only together for a day or two and secondly while their interactions were poignant, I didn’t feel they contained the seeds of future love.

At the length it was, the story was good and Jenna in particular made for a good character, the idea of a spell for balance in the valley was interesting and well-used. I actually feel that the author had all the necessary ingredients there to have made this novella longer, to have built up more – especially the interactions between Jenna and the Wraith – and to have had an absolute stunner on her hands. As it was, things did feel rather rushed. As a rule of thumb, romances in novellas are rushed simply because there isn’t the length of book to have them slow-burning, but this one just didn’t have the basis for me to readily accept Jenna’s actions at the end (though I could accept the Wraith’s as she was the one who freed him).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the idea behind the story was one that had me completely sold and my interest piqued, but the length of the story didn’t allow for the evolution necessary to really tickle my fancy.

Style: I went through phases with the style of the book. I read it in two goes: once waiting for the pharmacy to open and then I finished it on my way to work (because I was caught up in the story and wanted to finish it as soon as possible but then I suffered the headache I get from reading in that particular bus so that may have tampered with my view of the style). Up until the point where Jenna goes to the Wraith’s castle, I was enjoying the style. Once she got there, though, I noticed that the sentences tended to be very short, which lent a rather choppy feel to the style, and sometimes bordered on telling too much rather than showing. From time to time there would be two or three sentences in a row that would follow the formula: “she *action verb* *object* (full stop).” I’m not really a fan of such short sentences that start with personal pronouns, but I readily admit that this is personal taste.

Final verdict: If I’m honest, I think that the length of this story did let it down in certain areas. If the author ever decides to expand on this novella and make a full-fledged novel out of it, I think it could easily be one of my favourite YA Beauty and the Beast retellings! 3 stars

Extra notes: No bad language, no sex.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Follow Friday - 20/04/12

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison can read. Each week participants are given a prompt. This week's is:  

Q: Fight! Fight! If you could have two fictional characters battle it out (preferably from books), who would they be and who do you think would win?

I don't really tend to think about things like this so I have absolutely no idea! The first thing that pops to mind is Mary from The Forest of Hands and Teeth versus a zombie from any zombie book so she can get what she deserves and die! Obviously the zombie would win cuz as Mary proved multiple times throughout the book, she's absolutely useless when it comes to saving her own skin.

In a slightly less anger-inspired one, Wickham from Pride and Prejudice versus Julien Sorrel from The Red and the Black. I'm sure there'd be a lot of noise and no actual fighting, but hey!

How about you? Leave a comment with a link to your blog and I'll be sure to pop over and leave a comment in return when I get home this evening!

Happy hopping and have a great weekend!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Get A Taste: Clarity

Tara of Basically Books and I often read very different books but sometimes find interesting new books to potentially add to the ever-growing monsters that our TBR piles have morphed into. However, we know that we do not have 100% the same taste and we wanted another way of getting a look at these books...

Do you ever feel like getting a bit of a taster for a book you’ve been thinking of reading but aren’t fully sold on yet? Do you feel like sharing a taster for your current read with the world? Well, here’s your chance.

Each week the random number generator will pick a number between 1 and 100 for books with pages or 1 and 25% for ebooks. We figured that these numbers would keep us out of spoiler territory. Open your book to the specified place and pick a paragraph. Share it with the world!

The numbers for this week are:
Page 54 for books
21% for ebooks.

My book:

Click image to go to GoodReads page

If there was anything Cecile Clayworth hated, it was a scene, and she avoided them at all costs. Any time Stephen got into trouble, Cecile dealt with it by pretending that it had never happened.
She took off her oversized Hollywood sunglasses and peered at the small crowd that had formed in response to Stephen's outburst. Her eyes said "move on." And they did.

Honestly, I'm not actually reading this book right now. Due to time constraints, I had to prepare the post a few days beforehand and Clarity just happened to be the closest book at hand at that time. I suppose I'd better get on and read it now!!

Do you want to join in too? Here’s how:
Step 1: Copy and paste the Get A Taste image.
Step 2: Copy and paste our intro or write your own but it must link back to both of our blogs.
Step 3: Find the designated page for the week.
Step 4: Type out a paragraph or so from your book.
Step 5: Post it and share it!
We would appreciate it if you'd leave a comment letting us know where we can find your post. We'll be sure to pop on by and leave a comment!
Thanks and have fun!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Love on the Range by Jessica Nelson

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher from NetGalley

As soon as I saw this book on NetGalley I felt inexplicably drawn to it. There was just something about it that called my name! I resisted it for a while but in the end the impulse to read it won out.

Title: Love on the Range
Author: Jessica Nelson
Series: Love Inspired Historical
Publisher: Harlequin
Target Audience: Adult
Genre: Historical romance
Length: 288 pages

Story: Any other socialite would view being packed off to a remote Oregon ranch as a punishment. But Gracelyn Riley knows that this is her opportunity to become a real reporter. If she can make her name through an interview with the elusive hero known as Striker, then she’ll never have to depend on anyone ever again.

Rancher Trevor Cruz can’t believe his secret identity is being endangered by an overly chatty city girl. But if there’s one thing he knows, it’s that Gracie’s pretty little snooping nose is bound to get her in trouble. So he’ll use her determination to find “Striker” to keep an eye on her…and stick close by her side.

Thoughts and impressions: I find myself very polarised about this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed the gist of the story, the characters and the narrative voice. On the other hand, I often found myself incredibly insulted by the religious messages that it was pushing. I’m going to start with these.

Gracie, the heroine, is a devout Christian who sees God’s hand in everything. That’s fine, especially considering that this is set in the early 1900’s. But as soon as she discovers that the three male characters on the ranch do not share her beliefs she is shocked and tries to sway their opinion with some God babble. This clearly shows that Gracie has no respect for their beliefs – or lack thereof as the case may be. Even more frustratingly, the story goes down the path of “atheists don’t really not believe in God – they do believe in Him, they just hate Him”. That’s Gracie’s epiphany about Trevor, the hero. This stance annoys me to no end. If you don’t believe in God then you can’t hate Him because you don’t believe He exists. I’d really like to read a story where the religious and irreligious learn to see eye to eye without either giving up on their core beliefs, but I have yet to find one where both characters don’t end up Christian.

There’s a question at the end of the book:
7. Uncle Lou doesn’t talk about God or seem interested in Him. Do you know people like that? What makes someone uninterested in God? Is there a sensitive way to share faith with a person like Lou?
Yes I do – in fact, I know more people who aren’t interested in God than who are. I’m uninterested in Him because I’ve read enough of the Bible to know that I do not believe it to be divinely inspired. There are sensitive ways to share faith with people like Lou, like me, but this author does not manage to get anywhere close. Instead, she – through Gracie - is condescending and does not even try to look at things from the atheist’s point of view. She just pities them for not having her God in their life, not being able to turn to Him in their times of need. This annoyed me so much. I find it incredibly insulting. This is such a shame because when the story actually focused on the plot – Gracie’s desire to meet her hero, Striker, and Trevor’s determination to keep his alter ego from her all while exploring their budding attraction – I really enjoyed it all. But God always came back when you least expected Him. It got to the point where I was seriously tempted to skip whole portions of the story because of this. Instead I just allowed myself to get irritated.

The story itself was fairly transparent. As soon as Mendez, Striker’s enemy, and his means of crime are mentioned, it’s obvious how things will pan out at the climax. Most of the story focuses on Gracie discovering life in the Oregon desert – very different to the busy socialite existence that she was leading in Boston.

I enjoyed her evolution from shallow, annoying Gracie to a much more rounded, better grounded Gracie. The location was also perfect and very vividly drawn. Setting it all against the backdrop of the deadly Spanish flu allowed the author to keep the small number of characters very isolated, which worked in the story's favour. Even how Gracie was trapped in an existence she didn’t want by her over-bearing but well-meaning and old-fashioned parents lent an interesting side to the story as they prevented Gracie from really finding her own two feet. She would practically become another character around them: very quiet, demure and submitting to their wishes, however unwillingly.

Trevor was my favourite character. I liked how he had to battle the horrors of his past in order to be able to get to the point where he could accept the happiness offered to him in his present.

In all, I ended up with two conflicting feelings about the book. I suspect that it will really appeal to Christian readers, but as an atheist, I ended up feeling insulted by its religious message and its treatment of the topic. I wish the author had kept religion out of it all: then it could have been a lovely romance that I would display with some pride on my shelves! It’s a shame that the religious message ruined it for me.

Style: Not as polished as it maybe could have been, but once the author really finds her feet she’ll have a good style.

Final verdict: I swayed between being engrossed by it and frustrated by it. At times I was caught up in a five star read, other times I was reading a very grating 1 star story. I’ll meet in the story with 3 stars.

Extra notes: I don’t think there was any bad language. No sex.