26 October 2011

Review: Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti

Title: Something Like Fate
Author: Susane Colasanti
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Published: 4th May 2010
Source: Own Copy

Warning Review Contains Spoilers!
Best friends Lani and Erin couldn't be more different. Lani's reserved and thoughtful; Erin's bubbly and outgoing. Lani likes to do her own thing; Erin prefers an entourage. There's no possible way they could be interested in the same guy. So when Erin starts dating Jason, Lani can't believe she feels such a deep connection with him, and it may be mutual. The more Lani fights it, the more certain she feels that it's her fate to be with Jason. But what do you do when the love of your life is the one person you can't have? - From Goodreads

I could have read this book easily in one sitting on holiday if my friend had not insisted we go for a walk and get a massage! Let me read my book woman (although the massage was spot on!). This book had an writing style I found offputting but I thought the characters were very realistic as teenagers right from the beginning (for some this may be good or it may be bad!).

I was torn with this book. There were some things I liked and there were some things that really annoyed me. Since I like lists, I will summarise these in list form starting with the good.

What I Liked
1. The Gay Best Friend - You have got to love a gay best friend and this one is particularly blunt and fantastic. 

2. The Parent's obsession with turning out the lights and not turning the heating up!! - This is how I grew up. My parents would refuse to turn the heating up ("Put on another pair of socks if your feet are cold" - My Dad) and you often got the light turned out on you (most often when we were in the bathroom!!!). So to me this was really familiar, realistic and to me amusing.

What I Didn't Like
1. The Writing - I am pretty sure when I was at primary school we were taught that it was bad form to start every other line of speech " Then I said 'blah, blah...'" we get know how dialogue works. (I was also told at primary that swallowing chewing gum would kill me - hmm...) To me it felt a little childish.

2. Lani needs to stand up to her bitch BFF - So I can be rather feisty at times, but I really think even a timid person would stand up to being treated like trash by a "friend"! Personally for me Erin would have been a goner as soon as she crossed me once.

3. The BFF - As should have been clear by the quotation marks above, I think Erin is no friend to Lani, especially not a best friend. I have a fairly close knit group of friends and in the past we have done some pretty crappy things to each other, however I think real friends are like family; things may seem awful when you are fighting, but you know you will make up eventually.

4. The coincidences!! - To me some of the coincidences are totally ridiculous! They both think of different water in terms of shapes and colours (is this not a disease?). Why only water? What about fruit juice or milk? NOT A COINCIDENCE, JUST WEIRD!!
Also they played together when they were babies? I live in the capital of Scotland, and if I stop 10 people on the streets of Edinburgh around my age, I will be connected somehow to at least half of them. If I narrow this down to speaking to people in the catchment area of my high school, or primary school, we will have gone to most of the same places, know the same people and probably have played with each other at some point. NOT A COINCIDENCE, JUST STATISTICS!!
I could go on, but I think I will leave it there!

Sorry for shouting, rant over, there was just so much about this book that rubbed me the wrong way. I think if it had been a longer book I may have given up. The things which annoyed me may be enjoyable for another reader, but for me I found them hard to overlook.

Rating: 1 / 5

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Title: Anna Dressed In Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Published: 30th August 2011
Publisher: Tor Teen
Series: Anna #1

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life. - From Goodreads

It has been about 12 hours since I finished reading this book and I am still thinking about it. This book was exactly what I needed to get me back into the habit of reading in my lunch hour and going to bed slightly early to give me more time to read before I turn off my light! It was the perfect balance of spooky, gruesome and fun which made it an amazing read and left me wanting more.

For some reason for the first couple of chapters I had difficulty picturing the main character as a boy. It may just be because I have read so many books recently with female leads and, let's face it, it is more common for the main character to be a female. Once I could wrap my head round Cas being a boy I thought he was a great character and possibly one of the better male leads I have read in a long time. He was smart but still sometimes had trouble piecing together problems, he is charming but without trying to get all of the girls for himself and he is brave but not stupid.

I love the way the other characters in this booked worked as well. Carmel, Will, Mike, Thomas, Cas's Mum and Anna are all well written characters who seemed to come to life in my mind, warts and all. They were all integral to the story, but did not overpower the story lines which is very focused on Cas and how he thinks through and rationalises his decisions.

There was only one thing that did not feel quite right to me. Without giving too much away, something important is taken during the story. Now if I know if someone took something like that from me then I would fight to get it back. I felt that the character had a relaxed attitude to getting it back. To me the actions did not feel to match the words which was a tiny bit frustrating.

So with that little annoyance out of the way I absolutely loved this book. It was just creepy enough and the writing was fluid with an exciting story that kept moving the whole time. Bring on the next book, I'm not sure I can wait until 2012!

25 October 2011

Cover Reveal: Girl of Nightmares

I have just finished reading Anna Dressed in Blood and stumbled across the cover for the next in the series and I had to share this with you.

Kendare posted the following on her website about the cover -

There's no official release date yet, but I wasn't waiting! I love just about everything about this, and I hope you do too! It's from the same team as the first cover. Once again, their talent has boggled me. I'm boggled for the day. I was going to do an actual journal entry now, but you know, eff it. I'm too boggled. My brain is just reds and ghosts and bare feet.
I am soooooo excited!

21 October 2011

Review: Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty

Title: Charmed Thirds
Author: Megan McCafferty
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Published: 24th April 2007
Series: Jessica Darling #3
Source: Own Copy

Jessica Darling continues to grow, groove, lust, and hook up. In this witty follow-up to Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings, Jessie studies and romps through three years at New York's Columbia University. When not soaking up Ivy League ambiance, this exuberant undergraduate is busy salvaging her long-distance relationship with her high school boyfriend Marcus Flutie, now a candidate for nirvana at an unaccredited Buddhist college in California. As usual, Jessie's perceptions are somewhat less ethereal but probably more interesting to readers. A stylish teen funfest. - From Goodreads

Jessica Darling, you are such a complicated girl. Just when I think we are similar and I probably would have done the same thing in your position you turn around and do something completely different. I love you, but sometimes you make me want to never speak to or hear from you again.

I admit I am being a tad over dramatic with that, however I see that it is the mark of a good character that I feel so totally that she could be a real person. No matter if I like her or loathe her at any specific point in the book I can't help but think of her as a real person.

I think that this was my least favorite of the Jessica Darling books so far purely because it covers 3 years in the book and I would have preferred to skip most of it and look at a more targeted period in her life. What about Marcus, I hear you ask? Well let me just say that we see Marcus at the beginning of the 3 years but we have to bear in mind that he is at school across the country, and that kind of strain is hard on a relationship. There were some "romantic" (not really romantic at all) situations that Jessica got herself into that made me laugh as you can relate to all of them and may well have been in the same situations yourself.

I will read the final books in the series, but for me they have started to lose a little of the magic which made me devour the first two books in only a couple of days. Lets hope that the next books can recapture it and that it has not been lost along with Jessica Darling's youth.

19 October 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (13) - Hallowed

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we can show the books we are eagerly awaiting released.

Title: Hallowed
Author: Cynthia Hand
Release Date: 17th January 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishing
Series: Unearthly #2

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

Described by Richelle Mead as “utterly captivating,” Unearthly received outstanding reviews, garnered accolades from New York Times bestselling authors, and was named an Indie Next Pick. In this heart-wrenching sequel, Cynthia Hand expertly captures the all-consuming joy of first love—and the agony of loss. This beautifully woven tale will appeal to fans of Lauren Kate, Becca Fitzpatrick, and Aprilynne Pike. - From Goodreads

OMG after finishing unearthly last week I can't wait to see how the series plays out.

What are you waiting for this week?

18 October 2011

Review: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead (VA3)

Title: Shadow Kiss
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Published: 13th November 2008
Series: Vampire Academy #3
Source: Own Copy

Warning: Description and Review Contain Some Spoilers!!
Is Rose's fate to kill the person she loves most? It's springtime at St. Vladimir's Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since Mason's death, Rose hasn't been feeling quite right. She has dark flashbacks in the middle of practice, can't concentrate in class, and has terrifying dreams about Lissa. But Rose has an even bigger secret .... She's in love with Dimitri. And this time, it's way more than a crush. Then Strigoi target the academy in the deadliest attack in Moroi history, and Dimitri is taken. Rose must protect Lissa at all costs, but keeping her best friend safe could mean losing Dimitri forever... - From Goodread

If I could marry a series of books it would be this one!! I love them so much!! OK, so I will roll back on the loving and the exclamation marks but Richelle Mead is able to keep all of her story lines away from the obvious, but without seeming too crazy or off-the-wall. If that was not enough we have the smoking hot Dimitri, who makes you want to crawl into the book just to touch him... hmmm... Dimitri... OK, sorry I'm back!

We left off at the end of book 2 with the death of Mason after they had spent a good portion of the book in a ski lodge. This death has an impact on everyone involved, but for Rose Mason's death triggers something in her which means she can now see Mason and other ghosts. Now, I can't remember if this was covered, but why was she not seeing ghosts the last time she left protected grounds? Like when her and Lissa ran away, or when they were stuck in the Strigoi house at the end of the last book. I have the feeling the reason is that it was triggered with the trauma of losing Mason, but I'm not sure. I remember she was seeing them on the plane on the way to the ski lodge before mason was killed and they gave her a killer headache, why was this the first time?

Oh, how can I be 2 paragraphs in and not have mentioned Adrian. I am firmly in the camp of Team Dimitri and it is clear that Dimitri and Rose are supposed to be together, but I love an underdog. This means that secretly I am also rooting for Adrian. I mean it is clear that he is a damaged soul who just needs some love. Argh it makes me feel so torn! Also in this novel I think I lost a little bit of love for Lissa. I mean come on woman can't you see your BFF needs you?!?

I liked that this book was based back at the school on familiar turf we already knew about. In this book Rose also has training which puts her as Lissa's Guardian withing school where the trainers will jump out and attack like real Strigoli. What does this mean? It means some awesome fights!! This book takes you from highs to lows to a real attack on the school. One that is so bad, it leaves you shaking the book to try and change the outcome, then moving straight on to book 4 without stopping to even look at another book. Well done Richelle!

17 October 2011

Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Title: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: 4th January 2011
Series: Unearthly #1
Source: Own Copy

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.
Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.
As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart. - From Goodreads

I am fascinated by angels. Some of them are pure and as we have seen in a number of other Angel based books there are also "bad" angels waiting to corrupt our main characters. Part angels or Nephilim are just as fascinating, have you ever seen the Paul Wesley mini series The Fallen? I thought was awesome! (If you have not seen this yet then check it out!!) With the popularity of angels being the main supernatural  increasing at the moment I was surprised to find that Unearthly felt really fresh and new to me. It was not what I was expecting, in a really good way.

For a start the main character is Clara who is struggling to come to terms with the fact she is part angel and has a destiny or purpose to fulfill. Before Clara began to get her visions all she really had to worry about was not being too good at school as being an angel-blood means she is faster, stronger and smarter than a teenage girl should be. Clara's visions start with a handsome boy standing in the woods. From this vision her family (Mum and Brother) move across the country to live where Clara has to be for her vision to take place.

We only find out small details about the vision at a time and the boy who has a starring role in it, Christian. He is not the only handsome man though; there is also the twin brother of Clara's best friend, Tucker. Now to me I felt that the character of Christian was a bit distant and a bit flat and Tucker was definitely the star of the show for me, I am Team Tucker all the way (although I do admit I have a thing for the rugged cowboy)! I think if Christian had been a bit more rounded as a character I would have felt more like there was anguish between the 2 boys.

I liked that a lot of this story was Clara's internal struggle of doing what feels right and what others perceive to be right. There is also a good number of issues left hanging at the end of the book which I am looking forward to finding out about in further books but none of them left me feeling cheated. Too often with books in a series I feel like parts of the story are just left to make you come back, but in this case it felt like there was just so much to know and we would find out in time when it was needed for the story.

I can't wait for the next book in this series, it promises to be amazing.

16 October 2011

In My Mailbox (12)

Welcome to this weeks in my mailbox where we discuss all the new books we acquired through the week. This weekly meme is hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren.

So just before I went on holiday I got a lovely delivery of some books I had ordered, a delivery from my friend I like to swap books with and an ARC. To celebrate the completion of the 10k I ran on Oct 2nd I will be photographing the books with my medal (oh yeah, I got a medal!).

Lent to me by the lovely AB

ARC For Review


So what did you get in your mailbox this week?

15 October 2011

Review: Raw Blue By Kirsty Eagar

Title: Raw Blue
Author: Kirsty Eagar
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Published: 29th June 2009
Source: Own Copy

Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly cafĂ©. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing … and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago at schoolies week.

And then Carly meets Ryan, a local at the break, fresh out of jail. When Ryan learns the truth, Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy? - From Goodreads

Raw is the perfect word in this title. The whole book is raw like an open wound with emotion dripping from every page. If there is one book I could give a hug and a cup of sweet tea to then this would be it! Look at it, even the cover is beautiful!

This is the story of a girl who at the start of the book is just trying to survive day to day. Every day for Carly is surfing and working to make the money she needs to surf. The back story of Carly's trauma is slowly revealed through the book, but it does not feel like this is being kept a secret from us, more like Carly is telling when she can.

The other characters in the book are also amazing and only add to the story. While on the subject of the other characters - Ryan!! Why can't I have my own Ryan? It is easy to see why Ryan keeps Carly afloat, he is charming, supportive, patient and smoking hot!! 

Right from the get go this is an extremely Australian book, using what can only be described as Australian sounds. I thought this was funny and my years of watching Neighbours and Home and Away when I was younger paid off. I also think that these years of viewing Home and Away made me think that surfing is super cool. I have no knowledge of surfing or any of the lingo but I never felt confused about the surfing talk.

I loved this book so much I think it will forever bin in my top 5 books. If you have not read it yet then out down whatever you are doing and get yourself a copy!

14 October 2011

Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
Publisher: Scholastic Pres
Published: 24th May 2011
Source: Own Copy

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program--or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan--or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again. - From Goodreads

So I wanted to read this book for a couple of reasons, firstly I absolutely love the cover and secondly I thought the story sounded great.

I remember at school Lord of the Flies was the first book we read in class that I could not get enough of. The premise of  a group of strangers being stranded on a desert island and having to fend for themselves is one of my favorites. There are so many different stories which can be explored with on top of this base storyline. What will they do for food? Is the island hostile? Will they all get along or will there be tension within the survivors? Will they be the only humans on the island? Do they have the knowledge to get everything they need to survive? Will any of them go crazy due to the situation? I could continue asking questions on and on and on... I am an absolutely massive Survivor fan.

I was expecting that Beauty Queens would feel a bit like reading Lord of the Flies, but I found that this was not the case. I felt that there was a lot more menace to the whole story with a weird alt-reality government and a wannabe president who wants to do deals with a psycho dictator who likes to dress as Elvis. All in all it seemed far more like Lost than Lord of the Flies. I had no problem with this and I think the alt-reality lent itself to some unexpected story twists.

So the deal with the alt-reality is that there seems to be a single overseeing body called The Corporation who are kind of like a national puppet master. They seem to have control over most things including pharmaceuticals, beauty products, clothes, weaponry etc... The story is interrupted every so often with "Commercials", which often made me laugh out loud, for products, programming or facts about the surviving Beauty Queens. I also got the impression that within this society there was massive pressure for women to conform to what is perceived as beautiful and that men could do as they liked.

I really enjoyed this book and by about halfway through some of the characters which had annoyed me to begin with had grown on me and I was rooting for them all. For me the real enjoyment in this book was the details, like the boy band song titles, or some of the male characters who were introduced later on in the story, however at times this could slow the flow of the story. My experience of this book may have been helped by the fact that I read most of this book on holiday lying on the beach.

13 October 2011

I'm back...

As mentioned earlier in this blog, I was attempting to run a 10k. Well on Sunday 2nd October I ran and I came in 5,547th with a time of 01:31:48. For my first run and my minimal training I am really happy with this time as it was 14 mins faster thank I thought it would be. To top it all off I got a shiny medal too!!

A couple of days after the race I ran away to Gran Canaria for a week of rest and relaxation in the sun and to catch up on all my reading.

I managed to raise loads of money for CMT UK. Thanks to everyone for all the well wishes and support. Now to train for the BUPA Great Winter 5k, running in snow should be interesting!

Finally Finished!!