Thursday 30 August 2012

Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: 9th May 2006
Pages: 372
Tally thought they were a rumor, but now she's one of them. A Special. A superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid. 
But maybe being perfectly programmed with strength and focus isn't better than anything she's ever known. Tally still has memories of something else. 
But it's easy for her to tune that out--until she's offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she's programmed to complete. Either way, Tally's world will never be the same.

Definitely not where I thought this series was going! The Special Circumstances have always been portrayed as this weird secret club, like a militia. And I've always thought of them as the bad guys. So, how does it work that Tally is made into one of them? With someone we know on the inside, we see that the Specials are still cruel and vain but also the city's defences, even if sometimes it's against themselves.

The Cutters seriously scared me in this one. Even with the bubbly or icy feeling, I just could not understand how Westerfeld glorified self-harming. Add that to Shay's weird mix of emotions, Zane's quick dismissal by Tally, David's absence for most of the book and Dr Cable's world crumbling way too quickly, and you get a somewhat disappointing conclusion to what has been an incredible journey for these characters.

Once again, I had issues with Tally. How can this character be so amazingly annoying but such a Mary Sue at the same time? She kept on showing how flawed her way of seeing the world was, how stunningly beautiful it was to be a Special. And even though she had been through so many surgeries to get her to see this way, she could still 'cure herself'. I get that its part of the plot line that she overcomes this Special-head way of thinking but I don't think she did. I'm going to stop on the unfairness of it all before I go off on one!

One more thing: the cure. While I knew that it was morally wrong for Dr Cable to be putting lesions in kids brains, I also understood her reasoning. Without them, they ruined the world. Diego was both amazing and terrifying, a mix of brilliant freedom and an awful lack of limitations. It is normal to us, dismissing the whole snakes for fingers thing, to see such a wild world but Tally knew that it could so easily get out of control.

And so the ending: for no apparent reason, I felt a sense of completion with Tally's cured Specialness. Don't get me wrong, I didn't understand it, but it was kind of a nice feeling, knowing that Tally and David would be there, like some secret heroes, protecting the world from themselves.

Monday 27 August 2012

Historical Fiction: genre and essay topic

So, regular readers will know that I love me some historical fiction. Heck, I even studied it last year and plan to write a dissertation on the subject! As history is my second love, right after books, you can understand how the two have melted into this perfect genre for me.

Now, here's the problem. A lot of it is set in the Victorian period, you know late nineteenth century, usually focused around Jack the Ripper or the social classes. Sometimes with vampires! Those are good, I love vampire novels. Well, proper vampires, where they're scary and sharp fanged and burn in sunlight. I'm wandering off topic. My point is, I love Victorian H.F but it is not much use to me right now. This is where you, my lovely readers, come in.

I would love some recommendations of books, specifically fictional, preferably young adult, set around the 1790's. You see, I'm writing my dissertation on Georgian historical fiction, using novels to show how the authors imitate the language of the time to portray its historical context and engage the reader in the time period. Still with me? Good. I've already got Den of Thieves, a Cat Royal novel by Julia Golding and Pure by Andrew Miller, both are set around the French Revolution. Another one I've got my eye on is Sovay by Celia Rees, which I haven't read yet but looks promising.

I know, I'm so awkward picking a time period that isn't very popular! But Victorian is so over done! In fact, a student just last year used it as her dissertation topic. And I am all for being original, but I'll admit when I'm having some trouble.

So, I plead with you, my readers, to help me find some books I can use and pick apart for my dissertation. I've got Philippa Gregory and Georgette Heyer in mind but am not sure they have written anything set in my time period. I am, however, willing to be proven wrong! Either would be a great addition to my essay, add some validation to it, you know? To include such well-known authors. Oh, I suppose I should add preferably set in England! France is fine, what with the French Revolution and all that. But to be honest, I have no idea what was going on in that time in the US, and really don't know how that would have affected us English!

I'm a little hesitant to send my dissertation topic into the great beyond of the internet, but I'm sure it will be safe in the hands of the book-blogger community. So finally, I am going to add a request for you to send this on to book-lover friends. You don't even have to send them this as a link, just ask! Please?

Thank you!

Saturday 25 August 2012

On My Bookshelf (6)

Sure you know it by now: similar to IMM; OMB is probably mine. Part two of my hand-me-downs from Sophie - all look really good but I am really looking forward to Time Between Us and Slide.

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett’s unique ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna’s life, and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility. 

As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate—and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together.

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
Before Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw was a small town girl who knew she wanted more. She's ready for real life to start, but first she must navigate her senior year of high school. Up until now, Carrie and her friends have been inseparable. Then Sebastian Kydd comes into the picture, and a friend's betrayal makes her question everything.
With an unforgettable cast of characters, The Carrie Diaries is the story of how a regular girl learns to think for herself, and evolves into a sharp, insightful writer. Readers will learn about her family background, how she found her writing voice, and the indelible impression her early friendships and relationships left on her. Through adventures both audacious and poignant, we'll see what brings Carrie to her beloved New York City, where her new life begins.

Matched by Ally Condie
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.
The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Angel by L.A Weatherly
Angels are all around us: beautiful, awe-inspiring, irresistible.
Ordinary mortals yearn to catch a glimpse of one of these stunning beings and thousands flock to The Church of Angels to feel their healing touch. But what if their potent magnetism isn't what it seems?
Willow knows she's different from other girls. And not just because she loves tinkering around with cars.
Willow has a gift. She can look into people's futures, know their dreams, their hopes and their regrets, just by touching them. But she has no idea where she gets this power from.
Until she meets Alex… Alex is one of the few who know the truth about angels. He knows Willow's secret and is on a mission to stop her. The dark forces within Willow make her dangerous – and irresistible. In spite of himself, Alex finds he is falling in love with his sworn enemy.

The Mrs Marridge Project by Pauline Fisk
Half way through a school friend's funeral, Elin has an epiphany. Life's too short to waste on school - she wants to get married instead. Using her exam syllabus as a model, Elin embarks on a covert operation to find a husband - with disastrous results. Her quest takes her from the Arctic Circle to the wild west of Ireland and even onto the internet, where the guy she picks up turns out to be anything but her Mr Right...

Slide by Jill Hathaway
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth--her sister's friend Sophie didn't kill herself. She was murdered. Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn't actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else's mind and experiences the world through that person's eyes. She's slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed "friend" when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie's slashed body.
Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can't bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting distant lately, especially now that she's been spending more time with Zane. Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

Manifest by Artist Arthur
When fifteen-year-old Krystal Bentley moves to Lincoln, Connecticut, her mom's hometown, she assumes her biggest drama will be adjusting to the burbs after living in New York City.But Lincoln is nothing like Krystal imagined. The weirdness begins when Ricky Watson starts confiding in her. He's cute, funny, a good listener—and everything she'd ever want—except that he was killed nearly a year ago. Krystal's ghost-whispering talents soon lead other "freaks" to her door—Sasha, a rich girl who can literally disappear, and Jake, who moves objects with his mind. All three share a distinctive birthmark in the shape of an M and, fittingly, call themselves the Mystyx. They set out to learn what really happened to Ricky, only to realize that they aren't the only ones with mysterious powers. But if Krystal succeeds in finding out the truth about Ricky's death, will she lose him for good?

Wintercraft by Jenna Burtenshaw
Ten years ago Kate Winters' parents were taken by the High Council's wardens to help with the country's war effort. Now the wardens are back...and prisoners, including Kate's uncle Artemis, are taken south on the terrifying Night Train. Kate and her friend Edgar are hunted by a far more dangerous enemy. Silas Dane -- the High Council's most feared man -- recognises Kate as one of the Skilled; a rare group of people able to see through the veil between the living and the dead. His spirit was damaged by the High Council's experiments into the veil, and he's convinced that Kate can undo the damage and allow him to find peace. The knowledge Kate needs lies within Wintercraft -- a book thought to be hidden deep beneath the graveyard city of Fume. But the Night of Souls, when the veil between life and death is at its thinnest, is just days away and the High Council have their own sinister plans for Kate and Wintercraft. To help Artemis, Edgar and herself, Kate must honour her pact with a murderer and come face to face with the true nature of death.

The Out of Office Girl by Nicola Doherty
From London ....
Alice Roberts is having a rubbish summer. She's terrified of her boss, her career is stalling, and she's just been dumped - by text message. But things are about to change ...
to Italy
When her boss Olivia is taken ill, Alice is sent on the work trip of a lifetime: to a villa in Sicily, to edit the autobiography of Hollywood bad boy Luther Carson. But it's not all yachts, nightclubs and Camparis. Luther's arrogant agent Sam wants him to ditch the book. Luther himself is gorgeous, charming and impossible to read. There only seems to be one way to get his attention, and it definitely involves mixing business with pleasure. Alice is out of the office, and into deep trouble ...
... with love

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Rockoholic by C.J Skuse

Publisher: Chicken House
Published: 1st March 2011
Pages: 368
She's got it bad, and he ain't good -- he's in her garage? 
Gonna have to face it: Jody's addicted to Jackson Gatlin, frontman of The Regulators, and after her best bud Mac scores tickets, she's front and center at his sold-out concert. But when she gets mashed in the moshpit, loses her precious moon rock, and bodysurfs backstage, she ends up with more than a mild concussion to deal with. By the next morning, the strung-out rock star is coming down in her garage. Jody -- oops -- kind of kidnapped him. By accident. And now he doesn't want to leave. 
It's a rock-star abduction worthy of an MTV reality series . . . but who got punk'd?

I'll admit, the first few pages were rocky for me - it took me a while to get to grips with Jody's unique teenage-speak. Plus, the opening setting was Grandad's funeral, which was sad even before I got to know him. But I shook that off quickly, thankfully, as Jody's story was incredible. I completely fell for her, the way she wanted to honour her grandad's memory, the way she was so out of it in love with Jackson's image - she just knows he's the one for her. You know, how we've all felt at some point or another about a celebrity. I had no idea how crazy she was, didn't understand how you could kidnap someone by accident, but oh my God, she did!

Jody was real; she hated her body but knew her limitations, she had the typical teenage delusions about her hero, was madly in love with a PR image that she'd never met. She also tended to be a little impulsive, to the point of stupidity. The aftermath was usually messy. And also usually cleaned up by best friend Mac, who is an incredible singer, possibly but not gay, and a lovely big brother to the adorable Cree.

Finally, the Rock God himself. Jackson was not-quite-beautifully flawed. It was obvious he was spoilt, used to the rock star lifestyle and that made him so annoying. Not to mention his drug habit, which made him a little bit stereotypical but at least CeeJay didn't brush over the harsh reality of its effects.

The thing with this book was I never really knew what was going to happen. Jody's impulsiveness I guess. So while I was sometimes scared to turn the page, that didn't stop me devouring this book, laughing out loud and tearing up a few times too.

Monday 20 August 2012

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: 1st November 2005
Pages: 370
Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she's completely popular. It's everything she's ever wanted.
But beneath all the fun -- the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom -- is a nagging sense that something's wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally's ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what's wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life -- because the authorities don't intend to let anyone with this information survive.

So first things first, I suppose I'd better mention that I didn't like this one as much as I did its predecessor. Which isn't fair because I still really like this world and all its weird little parts, its perception of beauty and its social rules. But that's where I tripped up a little reading Pretties: it took me ages to get the hang of pretty-speak. Even now, I still don't really get what bubbly means!

Tally was just as annoying as before, but now she is even more selfish and petty. Which is sort of the point of the lesions. She has these amazing flaws that make her real but in this instalment, she mostly came across as clueless, yet with moments of strength. This mostly came from her love for Zane. Which, don't get me wrong, is admirable but I don't like Zane. It isn't fair, because there is no reason for it, he just... he doesn't do anything and when he does, he does it wrong! I didn't quite trust him at the beginning and even as Tally fell for him, I was always on guard. Stupidly, it turns out, but I couldn't help it.

Another character that I lost hope for was Shay. She literally scared me in this book. I really liked her, then she turned pretty and into an air-head, then she turned violent towards Tally! Shay was more selfish, more strong and way more dangerous. The whole cutting thing she started creeped the bejesus out of me.

Pretties didn't do what I thought it would. As a happy-ending romantic, I wanted Tally to run away with David. Obviously that didn't happen. I suppose this plot turn is more realistic and understandably, because this world wasn't going to get fixed by a few runaways.

Even though this book was a bit hit and miss for me, I would still happily recommend it and I will finish this series, because I have to know what happens to the New Smoke!

Saturday 18 August 2012

On My Bookshelf (5)

Same disclaimer - similar to IMM, will happily take credit for this idea though! All books below are gifts/hand-me-downs from Sophie, with a synopsis from Goodreads. Really looking forward to reading this lot, especially The Raven Boys! This is only part one of the stack from Sophie - the next two Saturdays are going to have a lot of books!

Ashes by Ilsa J Bick
Seventeen-year-old Alex is hiking through the wilderness when it happens: an earth-shattering electromagnetic pulse that destroys almost everything.
Survivors are divided between those who have developed a superhuman sense and those who have aquired a taste for human flesh. These flesh-hunters stalk the land: hungry, ruthless and increasingly clever...
Alex meets Tom, a younge army veteran, and Ellie, a lost girl. They will fight together and be torn apart, but Alex must face the most difficult question of all: 
In such a vastly changed world, who can you trust?
A srtory of high-wire tension, gut-wrenching twist, and burgeoning love,Ashes will leave you breathless.

Unrest by Michelle Harrison
Seventeen-year-old Elliott hasn’t slept properly for months. Not since the accident that nearly killed him. Sometimes he half-wakes, paralysed, while shadowy figures move around him. Other times he is the one moving around while his body lies asleep on the bed. His doctors say sleep paralysis and out-of-body experiences are harmless - but to Elliott they’re terrifying.
Convinced that his brush with death has attracted the spirit world, Elliott secures a job at a reputedly haunted museum, determined to discover the truth. There, he meets the enigmatic Ophelia. But, as she and Elliott grow closer, Elliott draws new attention from the dead. One night, during an out-of-body experience, Elliott returns to bed to find his body gone. Something is occupying it, something that wants to live again - and it wants Ophelia, too . . .

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Emily Bell believes in destiny. To her, being forced to sing a solo in the church choir—despite her average voice—is fate: because it’s while she’s singing that she first sees Sam. At first sight, they are connected.
Sam Border wishes he could escape, but there’s nowhere for him to run. He and his little brother, Riddle, have spent their entire lives constantly uprooted by their unstable father. That is, until Sam sees Emily. That’s when everything changes.
As Sam and Riddle are welcomed into the Bells’ lives, they witness the warmth and protection of a family for the first time. But when tragedy strikes, they’re left fighting for survival in the desolate wilderness, and wondering if they’ll ever find a place where they can belong. Beautifully written and emotionally profound, I’ll Be There is a gripping story that explores the complexities of teenage passions, friendships, and loyalties.

The Immortal Rules by Julia Kagawa
"In a future world, vampires reign. Humans are blood cattle. And one girl will search for the key to save humanity."Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of "them." The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked--and given the ultimate choice. Die...or become one of the monsters.
Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad. Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend--a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.
But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what--and who--is worth dying for.

Entangled by Cat Clarke
What does he want from me?
How could I have let this happen?
Am I going to die?

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? Then, in a story full of dangerous revelations, Grace must face the most important question of all: why is she here?

Emma Hearts LA by Keris Stainton
Emma's not sure that LA's for her, but when she accompanies her sister Jane to an audition, a chance meeting with a teen TV star starts to change her new sunshine lifestyle for the better... But what about Oscar, so far her only friend in LA, who's turning out NOT to be the idiot she thought he was?
Soon Emma begins to find herself torn between two boys and reconsidering her entire future. Maybe LA's not that bad after all.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Publisher: Dutton Books
Published: 29th September 2011
Pages: 338
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

God, how is it possible to love a book so much that you cannot wait to read it but don't want it to end?

Another flawlessly written, perfectly awkward romance with characters that you can't help but adore. Lola was just incredible, the girl I would love to be if I was brave enough. She was funny, adorable, an amazing dress sense, and let's not forget in love with two boys. As a general rule, I don't like books with hard break-ups in them simply because I am a romantic. And even though it was obvious Lola did love Max, I liked how their relationship was not portrayed as perfect. Not just the age gap, but his attitude towards her costumes and her friends and her parents. As a girl in love, she was blind to his flaws until they were pointed out to her a moment of harsh reality. But this made it easier to at least understand their break up, although I did tear up a little - Lola was so hurt and Max was such a... bad word!

Anyway, let's move on from the failed and onto the brilliant: Cricket. I loved how Miss Perkins didn't spill their history all in one go: that would have been boring and we needed to understand Lola a little bit before we could poke around in her past. Cricket himself was an ingenious inventor, quirky and adorable with his doodles on his hands and his almost lanky height. His twin sister was quite fascinating as a character, proud and confident, caring and very protective of her brother but grudgingly willing to give Lola a chance once she proved herself.

Oh, how could I forget? I loved the reintroduction of Anna and St.Clair. Love to see the love is still there after the 'happily ever after'. Hey, romantic, remember? They were very much still in love, but equally realistically planning their future. Their relationship was a good solid reminder for Lola, to aim for true love and be real to herself, all that stuff.

Realistically portraying the differences between ideal and real love, Lola and Cricket made an adorable couple that made me annoyed with Lola that it took her so long to realise it! But at least she made the right decision in the end. Miss Perkins has got herself another fangirl!

Saturday 11 August 2012

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Publisher: Marion Lloyd (Scholastic)
Published: 1st January 2011
Pages: 459
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.

I'll admit, I was a bit apprehensive when I started this, mistakenly thinking it would be similar to After The Snow. Boy was I wrong! And happily so! Saba's voice was so distinctive and true and a little annoying but mostly real. She was rude, stubborn, strong and a little weird in her placement of love. Don't get me wrong, I might not be a twin but I understand the bond between them; I also have a little brother and while he is annoying as hell, I cannot imagine hating him like Saba does Emmi.

This confusion in my interpretation of Saba did not last long, thankfully. I warmed to her as she matured, learned to accept and even care for Emmi, never wavered in her hunt for Lugh. One thing though: did not understand how she resisted Jack for as long as she did! I had to keep reminding myself she was so antisocial because she literally did not know anyone other than her family. And that was why poor Saba, at 18, didn't get flirting with a cute boy.

Let's talk about Jack. Not sure if I just thought he would be cute or important or whatever, but I liked him immediately. His cockiness really should have annoyed me, and I'm sure in real life he would have at least some of the time, but just like he fell for Saba's smile, I melted whenever he smiled. Damn him!

Moira Young has created an incredible dystopian world that, much like Uglies, explains how our world moved on and broke itself to form this fictional one. Creepy really, to think that Hopetown is a completely possible and plausible future for us. *shudder*

Saba's adventure through desert and an utter lack of moral civilisation was awe-inspiring, moving and just plain amazing. I cannot wait to read Rebel Heart!

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Working Stiff by Rachel Caine

Publisher: Allison and Busby
Published: 31st October 2011
Pages: 473
Bryn Davis knows working at Fairview Mortuary isn't the most glamorous career choice, but at least it offers stable employment--until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the clientele as part of an extortion racket. Now, Bryn faces being terminated--literally, and with extreme prejudice.

Wit the help of corporate double-agent Patrick McCallister, Bryn has a chance to take down the bigger problem--pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She'd better do it fast, before she becomes a zombie slave--a real working stiff. She'd be better off dead...

The first in the Revivalist series, this book is everything I've come to expect from Rachel Caine: great writing, complex plot and incredible characters. Saying that, the story was definitely not at all what I thought was going to happen but still amazingly good. Without giving too much away, let's just say I was shocked at the twists in the plot,  both in who Bryn ended up falling for and in what happened to her - more specifically, how fast it happened to her!

I really felt for Bryn, bless her. She just cannot catch a break! Having just moved from military to civilian, Bryn is easy to relate to with her worries, family drama and tendency to break down. I also loved how, while she was strong and definitely stubborn, Caine did not even try to make her into something she's not, i.e. Wonder Woman. Even with a military background, she's still an average woman that has been handed a really crap deal and she doesn't like it. Understandably.

Caine does not sugercoat the grossness. Of course not, this is fundamentally a zombie novel, just with a very unique spin. While there is quite a bit of grossness, on plenty of levels (you know, icky come-on's to rotting flesh), Caine doesn't bog us down with, evening it out with some normalcy, a little budding romance and sibling squabbles.

An overall excellent read, with characters to love and hate - won't even talk about Fast Freddy - and an incredible concept that left me both intrigued and feeling a little ill.

Monday 6 August 2012

Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost

Publisher: Avon
Published: 26th July 2012
Pages: 346
She's a mortal with dark powers...
After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person's darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude...until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world's most infamous vampire...

He's the Prince of Night...
Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don't call him Dracula. Vlad's ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him—a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.

I literally could not wait to get my hands on this bad boy - lost count of all the giveaway's I entered for an ARC but it was not to be. Luckily, I managed to get my book before I went out of the country! I had heard amazing things about this book and unsurprising really; Jeaniene Frost is up there in my favourite authors. This new instalment of Vlad's story was incredible. It had the action, the mystery and the romance that I automatically expect from Frost's writing.

I thought the main plot would be over quickly, especially as Leila was rescued in like chapter 5. But as always, Frost does not disappoint; it was always interesting and fun to read, whether it be another clue to into Vlad's mysterious enemy or Leila taking another risky step into her relationship with Vlad.

Leila was a very intriguing character; her mysterious condition wasn't skated over but it wasn't overly technical either. Frost nicely explained it in little chunks, not so much at once but so the reader did understand the whats and whys quickly enough. She also reminded me of Cat: strong-willed and stubborn but also vulnerable and kind of cute. Leila's initial interactions with Vlad were absolutely hilarious: Dracula obsession, indeed!

Ah, Vlad. How do I even describe how much I love him! He should be such a jackass - and he completely is sometimes - but he is secretly adorable. Not to mention very protective. As a character, we have not seen all that much of him/his past in previous Night Huntress novels. All that we really know about him is that he is mean to people who deserve it, has a wicked sense of humour and is sexy as hell. And, you know, he fights well and is pyro-kinetic and stuff, but really, the 'hot as hell' bit is the most important part, wouldn't you agree?

All in all, a simply amazing book. Nothing less than I would expect from Ms Frost. And of course Vlad! Cannot wait to see what happens to our incredible hero and heroine next!