Sunday 30 January 2011

Review: Angel by L.A Weatherly

Angel (Angel Trilogy, #1)Angel by L.A. Weatherly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

wow- what a clever and unique idea! Forget vampires, this is a story based upon the idea that angels are evil predators- they stalk you and appear to you and then drain you of life and energy, whilst leaving you with a feeling of blissful peace, the belief that you have seen an angel and are special- but a body drained of life. Victims of angels grow weaker over time, or become mentally incompetent, or start to develop cancer- all the while believing that their angel experience was real and magical and wonderful.

This novel also features a great cast of characters. There's Alex, who had been hunting angels since he was a child along with his father- and Willow, an ordinary girl from a small town who loves tinkering with cars and can see peoples' pasts, futures and dreams just by touching them.

Willow is a great character just because she is who she is and doesn't care if people don't like her for it. She knows her own mind, wears her own clothes, isn't bothered about fitting in with the 'popular' crowd, and just does her own thing. I loved the slow build of the relationship between these two. They start off hating each other- Alex mistrusts Willow because she is part angel, and represents everything that he has dedicated his life to destryoing, and Willow hates Alex's rudeness and attitude. They have to travel together to find one of Alex's old contacts who might be able to help them, and the adventure takes off from there.

The build up to the climax of the big battle is one of the most exciting I've read, and nearly made me cry, and the whole book is well paced and gripping but with the right mix of emotion and romance.

I just loved this. It was so much better than I expected and stood out from all the usual paranormal boy-meets-girl books out there.

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Angel by LA Weatherly

Saturday 29 January 2011

Reading challenges for 2011

I have been meaning to do this since the beginning of January- I have finally got around to joining some reading challenges for the year ahead. The challenges I've signed up for are posted on the side bar- but I'm not really sure yet how I'm going to keep track of what I've read for each challenge (I'm fairly new to this blogging thing!)
The challenges I'm participating in are:
The vampire challenge hosted by Parajunkee- to read 20 books with a vampire main character
I have a good idea of books that I expect I'll read for this challenge- I really want to read the Morganville Vampires series, and Rebecca Maizel's Infinite Days, and several others, so this is a realistic challenge for me. The annoying thing is that so far this year, I have read books FEATURING a vampire character (Paranormalcy, Mortal Coil) but these aren't allowed to count because the vampire is not the main character.

I've also set myself the Shifter challenge hosted by Parajunkee- to read 20 books featuring a shifter or werewolf as the main character.

I want to read Rachel Vincent's Shifter series, and possibly Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series, and I'm a fan of Kelley Armstrong's shifter books as well, so hopefully the 20 books can be achieved this year.

Another one that caught my eye is The Story Siren's debut author challenge- to try and read 12 YA books by a debut author.

There are a lot of books coming out this year by new authors that look really exciting and are getting great reviews, so I should be able to find 12 titles to read.

Also, the Dystopian Challenge hosted by BA Reading Challenges- to read 15 dystopian books in 2011

I really want to read books like Matched by Ally Condie, Delirium, and I've already read Across the Universe and Inside Out which can count for this challenge.
And finally- the E-book challenge hosted by The Ladybug Reads- to read 12 E-books this year

I think I can aim to try to read at least one book a month on the kindle, and complete this challenge.

Phew! So here I go- I'm only going to read books that I enjoy and that I would have read anyway, but I like these challenges so that I can feel like there is a goal, and it will make me feel like I've achieved something at the end of the year if I manage to do it!

Wednesday 26 January 2011

My Bookshelves

I'm always fascinated by other peoples bookshelves. Whenever I am in anybody else's house my eyes are drawn to the titles of the books on the shelves, and whenever authors pose for their photos sitting in front of their book shelves I am mesmerised staring for ages at the titles that they love and that have influenced them.

So I thought I'd show you mine!

 Now, I am green with envy at the personal library of Lori from Escape Between the Pages (see here), and have to say that since I get 80-90% of the books I read from one of two local libraries, my own bookshelves are nothing like this. I also tend to donate a lot of the books that I've bought to the library that I work at after I've read them- since the teen section there is so bad. So this is what I have left...
This is the bookshelf that sits between the living room and the kitchen

Stupidly, for someone who works in a library, these are shelved in a pretty random order really. I try to keep series together, but otherwise it is pretty much in order of how long ago I bought a book, or which covers look prettier next to each other (colour-wise, or size, or just randomly). The books on top are ones that I have lined up to read next. The top picture was actually taken a week ago, when I had these titles to read
This had changed to all these titles today as a couple of others that I've been waiting for just came in the post.
I really need to not work that I can get through some of these that I'm bursting to read! (I've got even more in my locker at work, plus loads on my kindle still to read).

Right, moving on, this is what used to be my dining table, but has now been piled up with so many books and extra junk that I don't actually use it anymore. These are all books from either library sales, second-hand book shops or jumble sales. These are the kinds of books that I think I'd like... if I could ever get around to them. Truth is I doubt I ever will. I keep buying/borrowing new ones.

Upstairs I have another book shelf

On the top is old favourites, books I couldn't give up. This used to be my only bookshelf, until I was scared of its stability under all that weight, so I stopped adding to it. This means it's mostly books that I read 4+ years ago. You can't really tell from the photo but it's double stacked so there are more books behind those.

On the wooden bookshelf underneath is all the classics, plus old uni textbooks

I hope you enjoyed browsing through my bookshelves. I know it's not much but there they are.

Sunday 23 January 2011

'Entangled' by Cat Clarke

EntangledEntangled by Cat Clarke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5/5 stars- I liked this

I'll give you the blurb from the back of the book- it'll give a better summary of what this is about than I could-

17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with table, pens and paper - and no clue how she got there.

As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she's tried to forget. There's falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there's something missing. As hard as she's trying to remember, is there something she just can't see?

Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?

A story of dangerous secrets, intense friendships and electrifying attraction.

The whole story is just Grace's writings from her cell- it is her raw and confused thoughts and feelings about where she is and about her kidnapper, mixed in together with her memories. There are happy memories about her father before he died, and darker, more recent memories about her boyfriend and best friend and her way of coping with stress- cutting herself. There is nothing else to do in the cell except to write, and this is a therapeutic purging of emotion for Grace, a chance to untangle her complex thoughts and feelings of the events leading up to her kidnap on the night she decided to kill herself. Once Grace starts pouring out her story it is difficult to stop, and she feels that she needs to stay and sort through what happened. In doing so she comes to terms with many things, and comes to some important realisations.

It was a brave move on the authors part making Grace the kind of character that people would usually find hard to like or sympathise with. She is a teenager who drinks quite heavily and sleeps around. She is very selfish and manipulative and can sometimes be a bit of a bully. But despite all this you still do feel for her, and hope that there is a positive resolution for her. She has a naivety and vulnerability that felt real said in her own voice, and although the persona that she presents to the rest of the world is strong and snarky, underneath it she has very low self-esteem.

Overall this was a very good story, and one that keeps your attention throughout. It keeps you guessing and making your own connections and theories from the clues littered in the writing, right the way up to the reveal at the end.

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Wednesday 19 January 2011

'Paranormalcy' by Kiersten White

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was such a fun read- I absolutely loved it!  Evie is sassy, feisty, fun, kind, and quirky. Some of her comments had me snickering out loud a couple of times. Sometimes I was reminded of the tv series Buffy- witty comebacks served with an ass-kicking - never underestimate the pretty teenage blonde girl!

Evie works for the Paranormal Containment Agency, and her day consists of tagging paranormals with ankle trackers- vampires, werewolves, hags and the type using her pink, taser "tasey". In her spare time she hangs out with her mermaid best friend watching her favourite tv show, and trying to avoid her posessive faerie ex-boyfriend.

This story had laughs, excitement, action, paranormals, prophecies and a sweet love story. It was well paced, emotional, funny and romantic, with a very clever demon-hunting premise which I loved.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Monday 17 January 2011

Your input- libraries/ where do you get your books from?

I work in a library and these have been a depressing few months. The local council are making cuts all over the place and library services are being hit hard. They are cutting the mobile library service that visits rural areas, playgroups and nursing homes. We were told that we would have to sign a new contract which gives us a massive pay cut or lose our jobs. Managerial staff has been halved. Staff that are leaving or retiring are not being replaced which puts a lot more workload onto us. The book budget has been slashed again. Our issue figures and joining figures are dropping. Morale where I work is pretty low at the moment. Since I know that there are people who read as voraciously as me, I wanted to ask "where do you get the majority of the books that you read from?"
Please answer my question in the poll on the sidebar at the bottom right hand side of the page. (Where do you get the majority of the books you read from?)
Any comments on the poll or the message that's above it please comment here. Or if you just want to air your views on the current situation in libraries in general please comment here as well.
Just because I find it interesting to hear what people think!
Many thanks,
*update 25/3/11*
This discussion has now ended and the poll is closed. Thankyou to everybody who voted- the result- most people buy books online.

Sunday 16 January 2011

'Across The Universe' by Beth Revis

Across the UniverseAcross the Universe by Beth Revis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow- even if you're not a fan of traditional sci-fi fiction I'm sure that there's something in this book for everyone. This is a really good book, (plus it has a reversible cover with a full map of the ship inside which I thought was pretty cool!). The scary thing is that you can actually believe it really happening. Normally, I would not be attracted to space books, seeing them more as 'bloke's books', and I would be put off by all the gadgetry, politics and science talk. However, this is not the case with 'Across the Universe' which is easily followable, and all the futuristic gadgets like wireless communicators and gravity tubes are very believable and not confusing at all. The story is told from alternating points of view, switching between Amy and Elder's perspective, and this works really well, keeping the story going and keeping you interested.

I might be imagining it but I thought I picked up a couple of hat-tips/subtle references to other sci- fi greats. Amy is accidentally awoken from cryo cell number 42- a reference to 'A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'? The answer to the ultimate question, of life the universe and everything? 42! And when the room that Amy is given is decribed as having a pattern of ivy leaves painted around the doorway, it immediately reminded me of the TV show Firefly (which I adore!). But when later we are also told that the room's former occupant was named Kayleigh and she loved tinkering with mechanical things, I was sure it was a nod to Firefly. There are possibly more references to Star Trek and others that I have missed.

Amy and her parents along with a hundred others are cryogenically frozen to travel on a spaceship bound for another planet. They are due to be awoken in 300 years on a new planet and a fresh start. Amy has to say goodbye to her boyfriend, her friends, her whole life, knowing that everyone else will be long dead when she next wakes up. You instantly feel for Amy knowing that this is such a difficult choice that she has to make.

There is a population recruited on board the spaceship, who are there to be caretakers in a way, there to keep the ship running, grow crops and keep a population of animals alive. Generations live and die on board the ship. The next voice we hear is Elder's. Elder has always lived within the walls of the ship, never seeing sky or breathing fresh air, and raised on recycled water, genetically modified food, and a censored education given to him by Eldest, the ships leader/tyrant. Elder has been told a version of their history- of plagues and rebellions, and re-organisations in the ruling of the citizens.

When Amy is mysteriously unfrozen (despite the majority of the population now being completely unaware of the existence of the frozen people), it turns into a story of secrets, lies, mystery and conspiracy. Elder is fascinated by Amy and wants to protect her, and this interaction between two people who are so different- have different ideas, different upbringings and experiences is what changes both their worlds, and provides the interest in the story. It's Amy's independent thinking and new opinions which drive home to Elder what life on the ship is really like. He suddenly sees life through her eyes, how wrong the oppressed subdued population on board ship really is.

There is an "oh" moment near the end of the story where all the secrets are revealed and everything suddenly makes sense. You realise why things are the way the are. The tyrant leader is not so evil after all, (or you can at least understand why he has done the things he has) and there had been a purpose behind all the odd things that had been happening. In a world where humanity is contained in such a small scale over such a long period of time, hard decicions have had to be made for the people's ultimate benefit, and the consequences of this really make you question what it is to be human, and what is the greater good. I don't want to reveal too much, but do want to say that this was really good, and I'm sure there is something for everyone in this story. A sci-fi dystopian thriller full of twists and turns with a bit of romance thrown in. I'm sure fans who usually read paranormal/ romance types will also like this. It is something a bit different from the vampire/angels/faeries/werewolves books flooding the shelves at the moment.

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The pretty cover :-)  I had to get this edition because the UK paperback edition didn't have the stars in between the two faces- it was just plain white. I'm a sucker for the pretty covers!

The inside of the book jacket, showing Eldest's map of the ship, and explaining what the technology means.

Across the Universe, Beth Revis - 9781595143976

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Entice by Carrie Jones (book trailer)

'Entice' by Carrie Jones

Entice (Need, #3)Entice by Carrie Jones

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

**Possible spoilers***

I know a lot of people are going to hate me for this review but I didn't love this book to be honest. I had to get Entice to find out how the story which started in Need and Captivate ends, and if they manage to get Nick back, but wasn't all that enthused about it. It was okay, but felt a bit clunky and disjointed, full of pointless description (does it matter if the girl sitting across from her has 'major visible panty line'?) and it jumps about in time and place as well. Astley's explanation of how his first queen died jumps in perspective between Zara's point of view and Astley's (p. 176), which I found really annoying and distracting. But it was little things like this plus the disjointed dialogue that really spoiled it a lot for me.

Zara winds me up as well, with her constant squee, and bouncing, and flinging her arms around people and "yeah, like so totally". I know she's only 16 but still... and she's described as a hero and a great leader...really?

Their 'quest' to rescue Nick from Valhalla just involves countless leads and dead ends followed by being attacked by pixies, and when they do eventually find the right way to send Zara in, it's only 40 pages of Zara just striding in, asking nicely for Nick back and walking back out with him again. Okay, I tell a lie, Zara has to duel against another Pixie king first, but even that is short and pointless. In a sword fight with an experienced fighter, Zara ducks and jumps and waggles a sword about and wins?! I never imagined a daring quest into a magical mythical realm for warriors would be so... well, dull.

The only real positives about this book for me were any part where Astley was in it being all cute, and the fact that it was very short.

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Sunday 9 January 2011

'Firelight' by Sophie Jordan

Firelight (Firelight, #1)Firelight by Sophie Jordan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really liked 'Firelight', and it was one of those books which made me want to constantly keep reading it to find out what was going to happen next. I loved the world of the story as well- set in modern America, and the concept of Draki- ancient mythical creatures descended from dragons living together in prides, and hiding out from the hunters who want to kill them. Their greatest secret is that they can transform between human form and Draki at will.

Jacinda, the main character is feisty and determined, and independent, and instantly likeable. She is raised in the pride where duty is everything, and ordered to bond with Cassian, the son of the current alpha, when she develops the power of breathing fire, which is rare in modern Draki. Her mother takes Jacinda and her sister away in the middle of the night, to save her from this fate, and they move far away into a town in the desert (where it is difficult for Jacinda to manifest into Draki), and enroll into a normal high school. This is where Jacinda meets Will- who just happens to be a Draki hunter.

This is where the book falls down a bit with me. Jacinda and Will are just instantly drawn to each other, and Jacinda feels herself madly in love with Will after nothing more than "a feeling", and one conversation in which he says to her that he is dangerous and she should stay away from him- hardly much for a blossoming romance. Will is the same. He is described as someone who never dates, but one look at Jacinda is enough for him to be declaring his undying passion as well. Now I love my romance stories but I do feel I need a bit more to go on than just instant attraction and a really good kiss.

My other gripe is the ending. Even if the book is part of a series (which most YA novels seem to be at the moment) I just feel that it should still be a story in it's own right, with a beginning, a middle and a resolution. And not just stop in the middle of the action with everything left hanging.

All this being said, I did still really enjoy 'Firelight' and would recommend it as a good story. It was sweet, and sometimes thrilling, it kept me interested all the way through, and I am definitely going to get the sequel when it comes out.

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