Tuesday 29 May 2012

On My Bookshelf (3)

Long overdue, I know. But with exams and essays, I haven't had to time to update, let alone read them! Same disclaimer - probably someone's idea before mine, similar to IMM, etc.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
War looms in sixteen-year-old Tris’s dark dystopian world as disputes between the factions grow. Tris must now fight against all odds to discover the truth that can save her and the people she loves. Sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge – and the choices she makes will have devastating and unexpected consequences.

Been extremely looking forward to this one!

Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.
Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

Thank you to Sophie who gave me this copy

Undead by Kirsty Mckay
Being new at school bites. But at least it doesn't kill you. Mostly. Bobby thinks she might well be on the School Trip from Hell. Too bad she's a noob, too bad her classmates don't rate her weirdo accent and too bad that Scotland is having the worst blizzard since the Ice Age. Looks like she's going to be on this school bus for a quite a while; could things get much worse? Yep. They could. Inexplicably, her classmates start dying...and then they come back to life again...and what's more, they're very, very hungry.
With nowhere to run and no contact with the outside world, Bobby is thrown together with a raggle-taggle group of survivors at a roadside cafĂ©. There's indie kid drop-out Smitty, the class beauty queen Alice, dweeby Pete and two near useless adults: a half-conscious bus driver and a volatile petrol station attendant. The frenemies struggle to stay alive - through explosions, deadly battles and a breakneck chase through the snowbound wilderness. Somehow they have to make it to safety - and get some answers - no matter what the cost. Can they survive the Undead? And each other?

Again, thank you Sophie!

Changeling by Philippa Gregory
Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.     
Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape. Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon. 

Oh, Sophie's too good to me! I really wanted this one!

Saturday 26 May 2012

Blue Moon by Alyson Noel

Publisher: St Martins Press
Published: 7th July 2009
Pages: 289
Just as Ever is learning everything she can about her new abilities as an immortal, initiated into the dark, seductive world by her beloved Damen, something terrible is happening to him.  As Ever’s powers are increasing, Damen’s are fading—stricken by a mysterious illness that threatens his memory, his identity, his life.

Desperate to save him, Ever travels to the mystical dimension of Summerland, uncovering not only the secrets of Damen’s past—the brutal, tortured history he hoped to keep hidden—but also an ancient text revealing the workings of time. With the approaching blue moon heralding her only window for travel, Ever is forced to decide between turning back the clock and saving her family from the accident that claimed them—or staying in the present and saving Damen, who grows weaker each day...

This took me so long to read because I was actually a little reluctant to pick up the book! I really like the idea of this book, just like the first one, but again, there were too many little annoyances for me to really enjoy it. I think mostly it was that I do not believe their love story. Which is probably why I was getting more than annoyed with Ever's insecurities, no matter how possible and utterly teenager-y they were. Also the reason I laughed rather than getting my heart broken when Damen forgot who she was. Does that make me  mean?

Ever is still not my favourite heroine. She has flaws that only make her more annoying, not more easy to relate to. And while I'm at it, why in the hell does she trust Roman at the end after all the shit he's put her through? What an idiot. And! Why does she still go back to her family, knowing it won't work, knowing she's leaving Damen behind?

Onto the side-kicks. Haven and Miles irritated me more in the sequel than the original - they are so stereotypical and two-faced and petty, it gives a bad name to teenagers. They both have such potential to be great friends to Ever in her time of need, even before they had no choice because of Roman's mind games. Not to forget Ava. I really liked her, she had heart and humour and good senses, why did Noel have to make her so selfish and weak in the moment of truth?

Roman gave the overall impression of being a good villain. There were moments, mostly at the end with his either really good or really bad acting, that he disappointed me but still, a bad boy with a British accent? Awesome! But since when do British guys sound like pirates?

Again, the story had potential but the lack of character development ruined the read for me. Good for young teens, not so good for those of us who have actually grown up.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Publisher: Corgi
Published: 1st August 1991
Pages: 382
Synopsis: According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter--the world's only totally reliable guide to the future--the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just after tea...

I simply adore Pratchett's writing and I've been slightly obsessed with Neil Gaiman since he wrote 'The Doctor's Wife', my favourite ever episode of Doctor Who. But's that's neither here nor there. This pair of writers can only mean good things!

It's a great new spin on the old apocalypse - Pratchett can always manage to bring laughter to any situation, even the end of the world. Their world is written well and complex, with little characters becoming important and some characters so good you couldn't forget them if you tried. You do have to pay attention to subtle jokes you have to re-read to understand and small details that become important later. I love how the little details become part of the big picture but it does make it a complicated book to read. Worth it though!

Some highlights for me include the conversations between Azriaphale and Crowley, the angel and demon that have known each other for so long, they don't even know why they are on different sides. Adam Young, the terribly young Antichrist, was actually adorable and a little bit stupid but the kind of stupid that is just innocent ignorance. The side characters, like the other Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, were incredibly funny, had some awesome lines and integrated so well into the story I'm a little envious that I can't write like that!

All in all, such a good book. Admittedly I struggle with Pratchett's writing but that doesn't mean I enjoy it any less, it just takes me longer to read it. If the end of the world had to happen any way, I would love it to be like this!

Sunday 6 May 2012

Black Dawn by Rachel Caine

Publisher: Alison and Bubsy
Published: 1st May 2012
Pages: 350 scrap that, my book says just over 500
Book Cover's Synopsis:
When a tide of ferocious draug, the vampire's deadliest enemy, floods Morganville, its eclectic mix of residents must fight to save their town from devastation.
Chaos has taken over the quiet college town of Morganville as the threat of the draug rapidly spreads with the help of the city's water system. Whilst most of the locals have already fled, student Claire Danvers and her friends Shane, Eve and Michael choose to stay and fight.
Things take a turn for the worse when vampire Amelie, the town's founder, is infected by the master draug's bite. Unless Claire and her friends can find an antidote to save Amelie and overcome the draug, Morganville's future looks bleak...

The twelfth in the Morganville series throws you right back in the action, picking up where Last Breath left off. My heart did not stop rapidly beating all the way through this book - I literally couldn't put it down, finished in two sittings! The blurb is kind of misleading - Claire and crew are more concerned with surviving - not to mention salvaging their relationships. If you can remember, Michael lost control at the end of Last Breath and nearly drained Eve. Needless to say, they have some issues to work through that takes some time. And Claire almost loses Shane to the draug in a terrifying battle that leaves him... mentally unstable. Even more than usual. And let me just say: watch out for chapter seven. It actually broke my heart.

There was an incredible amount of action in this latest instalment, with even more perspectives, including Oliver's, Hannah Moses' and Naomi's - Amelie's vampire sister - to take you through every part of action and madness that is taking over Morganville.

One of the reasons I love this series so much is Myrnin, the mad vampire scientist. He has some of the best lines and the most adorable interactions with Claire. Don't get me wrong, I'm Team Shane, but I still awwed when Myrnin called Claire 'cherub'. Their relationship became somewhat strained after Myrnin forced them all to leave Shane behind - Eve herself noted that Myrnin put Claire's life above all others. Which says something about how he's grown and I wonder if Caine is going anywhere with this.

Now, the draug. This is quite possibly the best plot-line ever. Of all time. They are so terrifying, especially to be something the vampire's are scared off. Not even Myrnin can truly face up to them, which is saying something.

No matter what I say about this series, I cannot do it justice. So let's just summarise with: poor Amelie. And, holy crap! And, eww! And, new rules in Morganville does not bode well!

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Evermore (The Immortals, #1)
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Published: 3rd February 2009
Pages: 306
Goodreads Synopsis:
Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever can see auras, hear people’s thoughts, and know a person’s life story by touch.   Going out of her way to shield herself from human contact to suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste 

Ever sees Damen and feels an instant recognition.  He is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy, and he holds many secrets.  Damen is able to make things appear and disappear, he always seems to know what she’s thinking—and he’s the only one who can silence the noise and the random energy in her head.  She doesn’t know who he really is—or what he is.  Damen equal parts light and darkness, and he belongs to an enchanted new world where no one ever dies.

I've heard equally good and bad things about this book - a lovely, easy read, the type of language that just flows and that I love to read. And yet, when  I started this book, something was missing. The general idea for the book - an immortal falling in love with a mortal - is sweet yet somewhat clichĂ© but I didn't mind that so much when I finally found out. The twists Noel tried to add, such as Ever's psychic powers and the reincarnate bodies were good but not fully explained or developed for me to enjoy. I spent most of the book a little angry with Ever for complaining about her powers and not even explaining that she doesn't know how she got them! Come on! It's called research (or at least bullshiting)!

Ever wasn't my favourite type of female lead. While I immediately felt sympathetic towards Ever, she made it difficult to keep that up, she is just so emo! The teenage angst of feeling ever-so guilty for causing the car accident went on for so long, that when it was finally explained, I hardly cared anymore!

Damen should be the perfect boy, but I think that's why it took me ages to like him - he was too bloody perfect! And it took way too long to realise what the flowers meant - it just made him look like a playboy. And another thing - was it some sort of narrative device to keep the suspense for so long about Damen's mysterious past? Because it took so long to uncover and explain that I was annoyed with him for keeping it secret for so long!

Unfortunately, while I liked this book, I think I might have outgrown it - I was very aware that if I'd read this a few years ago, I'd have been all over it, but now? Not so much. The plot was good but not solid enough, the character's were definitely not explored thoroughly - I really liked Miles and Haven but they came across too one-dimensional, despite Ever could read their thoughts. Speaking off, reading their thoughts should have uncovered likeable motivations but in most cases, it just made them appear more petty and selfish. Also, I will admit that the love story across time and bodies was incredibly adorable, I just didn't believe it.

Now I'm off to see if the sequel fares any better.