23 December 2012

Festive cheer and mailbox update

For the past few days the number of things I should have been doing to get ready for the holidays have been piling up. Today I finally got the last of my Christmas wrapping done and behold the beauty of the gifts...

After the last visit to my library I had to admit to the lovely staff that I had lost my card, so with shiny new card in hand I found 2 awesome books that took my fancy...

Such beautiful illustrations in A Monster Calls that I would not have seen on the kindle. Real books 1: kindle 100.

And some other recent titles I downloaded from NetGalley recently...

Lots and lots of holiday reading for me! I can't wait!

19 December 2012

Walking Dead Withdrawal?

Are you suffering from the Walking Dead withdrawal? I know I am. Just to make me feel better because I had a cold last week my buddy, Sheriff Claw, sent me this picture.

He knew it would cheer me up and boy did it? It also then led me on to looking for Walking Dead themed gifts.

Now the exact case seen above is not available any more (sob), but you can feast your eyes on the following iPhone cases by the same artist (Tracey Gurney)...

(get them here and here)

And for the Walking Dead loving baby in your life...

(buy it here)

A quick browse of Etsy.com also brought up some amazing, bizarre and weird items that would work as gifts...

So have you found anything other walking dead inspired products?

Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Title: 13 Little Blue Envelopes
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: 29th January 2009
Series: Little Blue Envelopes #1
Source: Own Kindle Copy

When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel. - From Goodreads

A literary shout out to my hood!! This may be a common occurrence for some people who live in London or New York, but I come from an area in Edinburgh that has a less than stellar reputation. It is unusual to see Leith mentioned (in a good way), so I actually clapped for joy when Ginny travel to Leith as part of her journey.
Leith Gang Graffiti
I am not a huge fan of the Journey style story, as I like to get a good feel for where the character is and constantly changing scenery makes that trickier, but I felt like I was travelling alongside Ginny through this adventure and I enjoyed all of the twists and turns.

Ginny has lost her Aunt so when a package of 13 letters arrives from her Aunt in the post she feels that she has to follow the directions left on the letter left for her. This letter leads her to a flat in London where her Aunt used to live and from there 13 letters, in beautifully decorated envelopes take her on a Trip around Europe. During her travels Ginny meets some amazing people and learns to know who she is.

Ginny was a likeable character who goes from being quite nervous and unsure of herself to a strong, confident girl, ready for anything. I enjoyed seeing the progression of the character through the story and seeing how she handles the hurdles that life throws at her differently at the beginning and at the end of her story. There was a rotating support cast with this book. Since Ginny travelled so much there were a few characters who were consistent, but most of the people we met came into Ginny's life and left just as fast. These characters helped to enrich the story and add a warmth to a story that could have been a little lonely.

The story itself was interesting and fun with little twists along the way. The locations that Ginny travels to are interesting and fun much like the people she meets. The end of the story genuinely made me cry, but it was a good type of heartbreak and I was completely fine with the ending. I did not feel like I was missing anything, and I finished the book satisfied. I don't feel that I need a sequel to this, but I will read it as I am interested in seeing what Ginny is up to in the future.

18 December 2012

Review: The List by Siobhan Vivian

Title: The List
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Published: 1st April 2012
Publisher: Push
Source: Own Copy

An intense look at the rules of high school attraction -- and the price that's paid for them.
It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.
This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

Siobhan Vivian has a gift for giving stereotypical characters depth and complexity. I read this right off the back of Burn For Burn since I enjoyed the writing and the story. Every year a list is made which names the prettiest and ugliest girl from each grade. This story highlights how each girl is changed by the list and how it is a curse for most no matter which side of the list you fall on.

This written in the same style as Burn for Burn with each chapter being a different character. This can at times get a little confusing as there are eight different characters. There was a lot going on here with many issues trying to be covered across too many characters. The stories that I really enjoyed and wish had been focused on more were Jennifer and Margo or Lauren and Candace. I found that these were the most interesting stories and these characters had the biggest life changes through the novel.

I enjoyed this book, and I like the way each of the characters, in their own way, develops through the course of the story. Most of the characters have a turning point that changes the way their character views everything around them and makes them a more likeable character.

This had an interesting story and was not something I had seen tackled previously, but at times I felt that the pace dropped away, or the particular character chapter I was reading was a bit of a slog to get through. I always enjoy watching the way Siobhan Vivian shapes her characters and turns them into real girls who each have flaws and issues, but maybe with 8 girls she bit off a bit more than she could handle.

17 December 2012

Review: The Girl In The Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab

Title: The Girl In The Wall
Author: Daphne Benedis-Grab
Published: 18th December 2012
Publisher: Merit Press
Source: eArc with thanks to NetGalley and Publisher

Ariel's birthday weekend looks to be the event of the season, with a private concert by rock star Hudson Winters on the grounds of her family's east coast estate, and all of Ariel's elite prep school friends in attendance. The only person who's dreading the party is Sera, Ariel's former best friend, whose father is forcing her to go. Sera has been the school pariah since she betrayed Ariel, and she now avoids Ariel and their former friends. Thrown together, Ariel and Sera can agree on one thing: this could be one very long night.
They have no idea just how right they are.
Only moments after the concert begins and the lights go down, thugs open fire on parents and schoolmates alike, in a plot against Ariel's father that quickly spins out of control. As the entire party is taken hostage, the girls are forced apart. Ariel escapes into the hidden tunnels in the family mansion, where she and Sera played as children. Only Sera, who forges an unlikely alliance with Hudson Winters, knows where her friend could be. As the industrial terrorist plot unravels and the death toll climbs, Ariel and Sera must recall the sisterhood that once sustained them as they try to save themselves and each other on the longest night of their lives.

Sometimes it is refreshing to read a book that turns out to be completely different to what you were expecting. I was expecting this to be a fluffy easy-read book, but I found it to be an engaging thriller that made my eyes well up at points.

So to set the scene we have Sera, who is a fairly recent social outcast, and Ariel who is the one that exiled Sera from having any social standing at school or within the powerful group of friends. Sera has been made to go to Ariel's fabulous birthday party by her parents since they used to be best friends. The party is going to be fabulous, her whole class is going to be there, and there is will be a musical performance by Hudson Winters, rock star extraordinare. Suddenly the party is taken over by men at gunpoint in an attempt to kidnap Ariel's Father. Ariel manages to hide in the secret passages in the walls of her house which angers the kidnappers. As the hostages begin to die, Ariel has to decide if she stays where she is or gives herself up, and Sera has to decide if she tells the kidnappers where Ariel is or stays quiet.

The story in this book only covers a few hours, but it is a gripping read. The chapters switch between Ariel and Sera being the narrator. At the beginning when the two girls have really different personalities which made it easy to know who you were reading. Ariel is incredibly strong and closed off emotionally at the beginning of the book. She quickly decides that she will have to sort this problem out herself and takes charge of the situation the best she can. As Ariel's character evolves and we find out why there is a rift between her and Sera she begins to soften a little and become a rich character.

Sera starts off as a quiet character who tries to keep her head down and not get involved with what is going on. She is a little bitter about why she has been socially exiled. As her character develops and she begins to understand Ariel's issues a little more she starts to get stronger and less willing to roll over and accept the situation. I felt that towards the end Ariel and Sera had become extremely similar as characters and I would forget who I was reading.

This story and the characters gripped me and made this an amazing read. I love a good thriller and a bit of a mystery, and with the addition of it being YA and having some solid characters, made this book really enjoyable and something I will be recommending to others in the future.

11 December 2012

Review: Across The Universe by Beth Revis

Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Published: 11th January 2011
Publisher: Razorbill
Series: Across the Universe #1
Source: Kindle Copy

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. - From Goodreads
In my experience it tends to be a bit hit and miss with sci-fi books. I either love them or I hate them and give up halfway through the book because I am totally lost. I love a bit of sci-fi when it is done well and I have always had a bit of a fascination with space, so I was hoping that this book would tick all the boxes for me. It did! It was definitely a sci-fi book, being set on a spacecraft, but it did not push reality too far.

Amy and her family are being frozen as cargo on the Spaceship Godspeed. The plan is to awaken in 300 years when they land on a new planet. A problem comes when Amy wakes with 50 years left on her journey. Soon Amy begins to realise that it was no mistake she woke early and things are not as they seem on the ship Godspeed.

I really liked all the main characters in this book, including doc. I was clear to see that Amy was struggling to hold herself together in this new life, but that she was a strong character and really enjoyable to read. I thought all of the other characters such as Harley and Orion were interesting to read and kept me on my toes.

Beth Revis created an amazing world on board the Godspeed. This amazing world was described enough to give me a very clear picture of what was going on in my head as I read. This story kept me reading. I found it really hard to put this book down to eat or go to the bathroom because I had to know what was going to happen next. This was a whole new society built into a spaceship which means that there are new rules and new ways to get things done. This is something I really enjoy and paired with all the twists and turns Amy encountered, this made for a great book.

This is the first in a trilogy, if the next two books manage to keep up the wonder and suspense then I am sure I will speed through them.

10 December 2012

Warm Bodies: A Zombie Romance

Oh the things that people will think of! We have had some vampire love in all vampire films ever and then Twilight. There was some wolf love going on in Teen Wolf. There were some witchy relationship goings on with The Secret Circle and Charmed. Lets not forget that sweet romance between girl and ghost in Casper. And if that was not enough, there is some of everything in The Vampire Diaries.

As you can see from my select examples, trying to find a new supernatural angle is tricky, but I think this might just be it! Zombies!! I know that there are endless zombie films and TV shows around at the moment so this may not seem like a new idea, but based on the novel Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, we have ZOMBIE ROMANCE!! That's right. A film all about Zombie romance staring Nicholas Hoult

Warm Bodies

I saw the second trailer first and then watched the first one. I am very excited about this film and it will help with my zombie fix before The Walking Dead comes back.

So what do you think? Are you convinced yet? Need some more help? Try these out for size...

Official Trailer #2

Official Trailer #1

I am now adding yet another book to my list of ones I want to read!

03 December 2012

Running Thoughts - The Walking Dead 3x08

My mental vomiting of thoughts while watching the walking dead continues. I want to share my thoughts on the latest episode of The Walking Dead with my buddy "Sheriff Claw" and all of you...

If you have not seen this episode yet, do not read on, lots of spoilers ahead for episode 3x08

The Walking Dead 3x08 - "Made To Suffer"

I am currently full of the cold, so my excitement is masked by coughs and sniffles but it is there!! I feel like Andrea when it was just her and Michonne before she got stupid and slept with the Guv'nor! As soon as the kettle has boiled I will be getting my walking dead on!

Previously... Naked Maggie, bleeding Glen, Prison, Michonne, zombie child, "I'm in", brothers, sex, waiting!

We open on screaming and a zombie following the sound. And we have a new character, Tyreese, who is killing zombies left and right to get his group to safety. We have what looks like a husband, wife and son. Better not get too familiar with the wife since she has just had a massive chunk eaten out of her arm. They stumble upon the other side of the prison, which has not been secured yet and where we know there is a fence down. We see the full extent of the damage where it looks like a massive chunk of one of the blocks has been blown up or has crumbled. Sasha wants the wife to stay outside since she has been bitten (they could cut her arm off!!) by Tyreese convinces her to let them all in with them.

Credits - creepy

Andrea is making herself look as apocalypse slutty as she can for the Guv'nor. She has agreed to help Doc "cremate" Mr C from the last episode. She agrees that Woodbury is growing on her and I want to slap her in the face with a fish to wake her from this delusion. The Guv'nor give himself a really creepy look in the mirror. He is back in the room with the fish tanks, and we see that this is where he is keeping his daughter zombie in a cage. She comes running at him with the bag on her head and he pets her and continues to trat her like his daughter, singing to her and stroking her hair. It looks like it is working for a while, but she is just distracted by the bowl of meat! He then gets angry and locks her up again! Good parenting!

Maggie and Glen are together and Glen wants to know if Maggie was raped. Maggie assures him that she was not. There is a great line where Maggie states that with all the walkers out there you forget what humanity can do. In a totally gross but also awesome move, Glen goes to the dead zombie in the room and pulls off his arm like it is a massive chicken leg, and breaks it to get the bones out as makeshift weapons. The sound effects here are amazing and add to the whole effect.

Rick, Oscar, Daryl and Michonne are all outside scouting the wall. Michonne disappears and Rick thinks that she has run off. They know that they can't search everywhere so start to make a plan to take less stuff. Michonne comes back and signals everyone to follow her.

The Guv'nor and Merle discuss what we already knew... the prison is an amazing place to hide out. He doesn't plan to move Woodbury there as everyone likes it where they are, he plans to kill them, take their resources and lock the Walkers in. Merle wants to get Daryl out first and the Guv'nor agrees saying that they can make him the inside man, but you can tell from his face that he is lying! They discuss Maggie and Glen and The Guv'nor wants to get rid of them in the "Screamer Pits" before Andrea finds out that they are here. WTF are screamer pits, is that where they collect the zombies for the zombie fight. Good name, I tip my invisible hat to you Guv!

Michonne and the guys are breaking in via the place where Michonne was questioned after the zombie killings. they want to know where else Maggie and Glen could be being held and Michonne suggests his apartment. They wonder if Michonne is leading them into a trap (no, Michonne is awesome, trust her!). Someone comes to the door and they all hide. The question the poor man who was just checking up on things and he knows nothing so they knock him out cold.

Axl is getting his perv on asking Beth how old she is. Just when you thought Carol couldn't be more great she steps in and puts a stop to it. Axl was only looking for a partner and that was his best choice since he thinks that Carol is a lesbian because of her hair. This was one of the funniest scenes in the whole series, especially after finding out that she is not a lesbian Axl looks like he has decided to go after her.

Maggie and Glen try to escape when the door opens. Maggie gets her guy in the throat with the bone, but Glen is up against Merle and his bayonette arm and over powers him. There is some gunfire which draws others (including Rick and the guys) to where the prisoners are. Maggie gets a gun and points it at Merle, but as always happens more guys with guns, aimed at her head, come in.

The rescue mission is in full swing and the guys and Michonne are in the correct building. Maggie and Glen are being forced onto their knees and they are going to be shot at gunpoint. Daryl is close enough to her Merle's voice through the tin wall. I know if I ever heard my brother or sisters voice I could pick them out easily. Maggie and Glen are dragged away and flash bombs are thrown so that they can only just see Maggie and Glen and not who was holding them (handy).

The Guv'nor is trying to keep everyone calm in the village telling them to go home and lock their doors. When the find the guy who was knocked out cold they realise that the village is under attack. The Guv'nor tells them not to take prisoners, kill on sight.

Glen is not looking good. Looks like some broken rib acting to me! They hide out in an abandoned shop, and Michonne closes the door and takes off on her own. Glen tells Daryl that it was Merle!!! RESULT! Daryl now knows about his brother being alive and being a sadistic bastard. I may just be high on lemsip at the moment, but I am finding the dialogue in this episode hilarious. "he threw a walker at me!. I laughed so hard!! Daryl then thinks that Merle is the Guv'nor (he wishes) and Glen apologises to Rick saying that he broke and told them where the prison was (no Maggie did it!). Rick brushes it off and tells him not to apologise in the way a good leader does. OK this just got touching! Daryl wants to go and see Merle and talk to him. He thinks that they can work something out. This makes me love Daryl even more, he suddenly looks so sweet and lost without his brother, but he agrees to stay with Rick and help him with Glen.

Merle hilariously puts it that "they want what we have". You mean your prisoners. Merle stretches the truth saying that they killed someone by stabbing them in the neck. Well yes she did, but you had her hostage first! Andrea gets a rubbish task and she is pissed about it, but The Guv'nor can't risk you seeing your old gang now you silly cow, because he knows how flighty you are!

Michonne has gone to The Guv'nor's apartment to wait for him. She is sitting in a chair facing the door with her sword out, just oozing cool!

The gang thrown smoke bombs into the street for cover and make a run for it. There is lots of shooting, but only casualties on the Woodbury side. Andrea tells The Guv'nor that she saw one of them, a young black guy in a prison uniform and the Guv'nor, nods and states that they must be escaped convicts. He tell Andrea to get inside and that they can wait them out. There is more gunfire and Daryl is going to hang back and give cover while the others run for it. When Rick is shooting he sees SHANE!! What?!? Who SHOOTS OSCAR!! What? No, I liked him! Rick shoots him and he was seeing things all along, I guess he is not over his Lori, phone mental break thing (or his fugue state as they call it over at the Watching Dead podcast). Maggie is screaming for Rick since Oscar is dead. She puts one between his eyes so he doesn't come back. I am pouring one out for Oscar! Rick is almost over the wall with Maggie and Glen, but Daryl is still shooting!

Back at the prison and Carl and Beth are loading up clips so they are ready to go. They only have a month of formula and Carl says that he will go on a run with Carol to get more. He is such a great strong character now, but he still needs someone to drive the car! They start to hear screaming from inside the prison, seriously is that woman still screaming? Carl says that he will check it out since that's what Rick would have done. He is a wee badass! On his hunt he comes across the boiler room and he looks at it with regret, then BOOM a walker comes out of nowhere and he shoots it's head off! Yeah Carl! It sacred the shit out of me! Carl comes across Tyreese and his gang in the power room and he shoots a zombie in the head. He then leads the group to safety telling them to leave the woman who was bitten (ahhh... from last week's teaser!) Tyreese refuses!

In the Guv'nor's apartment Michonne hears a noise and busts into the Guv'nor's room of weird. She looks as shocked as you would expect and then finds the daughter zombie. She doesn't know that the girl is a zombie and unchains her. Michonne... how did you survive so long without knowing that you take the bag off first, also can you not hear that it is a zombie by the weird breathing moan thing? Michonne is going to kill her, but the Guv'nor comes in and draws his gun on Michonne. After a stand off where the Guv'nor all but surrenders, Michonne stabs the zombie daughter through the back of the skull and the sword goes straight through and out zombie girl's mouth. Some serious fighting then goes on with both Michonne and the Guv'nor being pretty equally matched. They are both kicking the shit out of each other and then the Guv'nor gets the upper hand and smashes Michonne's head into one of the tanks. Michonne manages to pull down two more tanks and mow there are zombie heads chomping away all over the place. It looks like the Guv'nor has the better of Michonne, but she manages to grab a shard of glass and shove it into the Guv'nor's eye! He is wriggling around and screaming when just as Michonne is about to finish him off, Andrea comes in and pulls her gun on Michonne! They circle each other and then Michonne leaves. Andrea tries to help the Guv'nor but he is morning the loss of zombie daughter. Andrea is not as freaked out about the skulls in tanks as I would be!

Carl has lead Tyreese and his group to the holding area. The bitten woman is dead and Carl offers to step up to the plate and put her down. Tyreese steps in and says he will do it and pulls out his hammer. So messy Tyreese, stick to the single bullet. When Carl locks them in Sasha starts to go mental demanding to be let out. Tyreese stops her and tells her to leave the man alone. I assume he is talking about Carl and I don't think it is in a patronising way. He says that it is Carl's house, so Carl's rules. In this new way of life "manhood" is when they have the skills to survive and provide shelter for others, so I would concur that Carl is a man! Way to go Carl.

The Guv'nor's eye socket is disgusting, to be fair, it could look worse, but it looks like he has lost the eye. Andrea wants to know what was going on with all the heads and why Michonne came back for him. The Doc and Merle barge in and tell the Guv'nor that they lost them. The Guv'nor states that she came to kill him, and this sounds to me like a declaration of war!

Glen, Maggie and Rick get back to their post on the other side of the wall, and Michonne turns up. She looks like hell and Rick takes her sword. She pleads her case saying that they will still need her help if they are going back to the prison, or going back to get Daryl.

The Guv'nor walks into the arena to give a speech to the masses about how this was akin to the night the virus broke out. It sounds like a rousing speech, but I hate the Guv'nor so I am tuning out. It is all just propaganda nonsense anyway. OK, this has just taken a turn for the worse. The Guv'nor has decided to turn on Merle and they have Daryl as prisoner. He shouts that these are the terrorist and what should be done? Everyone is chanting to kill them, and The Guv'nor turns to Merle and tells him that now he has his brother like he wanted. During this whole speech the Guv'nor's eye bandage has turned from stark white to having a murky brown stain on the bottom half. It is rather gross and amazing at the same time.

So that's it until February 2013 folks!! Looks like we have some awesome stuff coming up and I can't wait to see what happens with Merle and Daryl. Will the gang accept Tyreese and his group? Will Andrea finally wise up? We shall see!!!

Now I just have to decide what to watch to keep me entertained until Feb!

All images from amctv.com.