Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Hollow Pike by James Dawson

I have a feeling this one is going to scare me rotten but I am so excited about this 2012 debut.

Hollow Pike by James Dawson
Published by Indigo



Something wicked this way comes... She thought she'd be safe in the country, but you can't escape your own nightmares, and Lis London dreams repeatedly that someone is trying to kill her. Lis thinks she's being paranoid - after all who would want to murder her? She doesn't believe in the local legends of witchcraft. She doesn't believe that anything bad will really happen to her. You never do, do you? Not until you're alone in the woods, after dark - and a twig snaps... Hollow Pike - where witchcraft never sleeps.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Why everyone should watch Firefly

Yes I know my blog is about books but in this case I am about to make an exception to tell you all why you should watch Firefly


Firefly is absolutely without a shadow of the doubt the best thing to ever have graced our TV screens. I am not one for watching a huge amount of TV (Until last week I didn't even have a TV signal in our house) but I absolutely love this. Hadley and I just finished rewatching the series for the third or fourth time and it absolutely still holds all the magic it had when I watched it the first time around.

Firefly was created by the genius that is Joss Whedon (for those of you who don't know he created Buffy the Vampire slayer). It is described as a Western set in Space and is nothing like anything else you will ever see on TV. It ran for 13 episodes and had a film called Serenity which continued and tied up the story somewhat.

The real brilliance of the series is in the characterisation and the world that is set up around those characters. The series is set in the distant future. All superpowers except USA and China have gone. People have fled the earth and set up new worlds across other galaxies. This therefore means the people you meet are an extraordinary melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds. The details included are fantastic my favourite being that the characters speak both a mix of English but also Chinese (usually when swearing).

I also love each and everyone one of the characters. Captain Mal Reynolds is the lead, a war veteran with a hard exterior but a soft inside which he tries to keep hidden from the world; Jayne Cobb the ruthless mercenary who is in it from the money; Zoe the warrir women and Mal's second in command; Her husband Wash the pilot and comedian of the ship; Kaylee the girly mechanic who sees the best in everyone; Inara the 'companion' who brings class and respectability to the ship; Shephard Book the preacher with a mysterious past and finally Simon and River Tam who are wealthy upper class geniuses on the run from the authorities. The mix of characters is both brilliant as each bring their own separate qualities to the story but they also compliment and mix together well to tell a brilliant story.

For me the real tragedy with Firefly is the fact that it didn't go on for longer. The series was cut short by the network who didn't follow the ideas of Joss Whedon to allow viewers to settle into the series slowly with the original pilot but insisted on the second episode being shown as the pilot which confused everyone at the time. As you watch it you see so many plot line emerging and ideas thrown out there which you just know would have been epic. Serentiy goes some way to address these ideas but there is so much more that could be told and done with these characters.

So to cut a long story short go and buy this series. It is on Amazon for less than £12 and will be the best thing you watched this year.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Review: Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck

Tiger's Voyage
Published by Hodder
Series: Tiger Saga #3
Source: Review copy



In the third installment of the Tiger series, Kelsey Hayes pushes through the pain of lost love and strengthens her friendship with Kishan. Despite his strong feelings for her, Kishan has agreed to be her ally in helping her reunite with the man she still loves. Together, they seek to help Ren regain his memory and begin the search for the third magical gift—an object of power that will help break the curse that causes them to live part of their lives as tigers.

They board a luxury yacht and seek Durga's aid once again, who supplies them with her golden weapons. With Nilima, Mr. Kadam, Ren, and Kishan at her side, she soon learns that the task ahead will be even more difficult than the others. Confronting a dark magician, multiple dragons, and terrifying denizens of the deep seems easy when compared to facing the daunting task of stitching up her heart. Just when she thinks she's ready to set her feet on a new path, she is yanked back with a jolt to the one she's determined to leave behind.

The jarring tug-of-war that ensues for Kelsey's heart leaves her anxious and confused. Combined with the stress of almost being killed every other day, it would appear that saving the tigers is almost more than she can handle. Still, she presses on, knowing that a choice is looming on the horizon. One she cannot put off making for long.

Tiger's Voyage is an irresistible romance with a barrage of action on the high seas, where a reader will find a treasure chest full of dragons, sea monsters, knights in shining armor, fabled weapons, and enduring love. The tropic waters of India create the backdrop for the latest installment in the tiger series. This novel, a multicultural take on the classic Beauty and the Beast tale, delves into the complex emotional turmoil and pressure associated with not only making the best choice for a nation but also the best choice for yourself.


***
The Tiger series is one of the series I am most keenly following at the moment. There are many things I love about it as a series and after reading Tiger's voyage I am still just as desperate to get the next instalment but for me this latest instalment was not as strong as the first two.

I love how different this series is. It's paranormal romance for people who are bored to death with vampires and werewolves and in that respect it is a breath of fresh air as it is nice to read something completely original.

I love that the action in the story is fast paced and exciting and you never quite know how things are going to turn out. The end of this book in particular left me completely on the edge by the end and left me with feeling like I had just been on a full on roller coaster ride.

However I found myself getting frustrated at several things in this book.
Firstly the book has several references in a huge amount of detail to the food the characters eat. I don't actually care what they are eating and often feel like those scenes are fillers making the gaps between the action longer which I found increasingly more frustrating as the book went on (maybe this was always the case with this series but this instalment is a long one).

I found the sheer arrogance of Ren and Kishan and their over protectiveness very very irritating in this book. I wanted to shake both of them to tell them to get over themselves quickly. I don't know why Kesley puts up with it either.

Finally I found Kesley to be a bit of a tart in this book in the way in which she played the boys off each other flitting between the two desperately needing to have a boyfriend in her life. I also wanted to shake her a little bit and tell her to get some self respect.

All in all not as strong an instalment as I had hoped for (although my mum, who read my copy before me, loved it more than the first two books) but certainly a series I am keen to continue following.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

In my mailbox (69)

In my mailbox is hosted by Kristi at www.thestorysiren.com

A quiet (but awesome) week for books at the Connor household this week....

For review


Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (UK paperback collector edition)
Yes I know!!!! I was all kinds of excited when this bad boy finally arrived!

Bullet Boys by Ally Kennen (UK paperback)



Trapped by Michael Northrup (UK paperback)
Read it in one evening and enjoyed a lot. Definitely worth the wait (I've had my eye on this since early last year)

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Bookcase Showcase: Much Loved Books

Kirsty has kindly agreed to let me ramble on about my bookcases so that is what I am going to do.
 
At this moment in time I am waiting to move, so unfortunatly at the moment I have 4 empty bookcases and at least 11 boxes of book waiting to be moved.  This is my current home for my books, I think one little box has games/DVD's but the rest are books, even the big boxes
 
 
 
 
I do however have 2 shelves of books that I purposely kept out, either they are books to review on my blog Much Loved Books, or they are books waiting to be read when I get the time.
 
On the first picture, the books on the left of the shelf are my review books.  These books have either already been released with a second one out soon or are new out next year, so I have a lot of reading to catch up on for new releases.
 
 
 
The books in the middle are books I got from Harper Collins event, or books that are my own and even my signed copy of The scorpio races, the books on the right are books that I need to read, again either my own or books I have won.  I do have to admit the tatty destroyed book (A Game of Thrones) on the top is not mine, its my brothers that got wet when he went on holiday, I am horrified at the state of it but since he said i HAD to read it I reluctently borrowed it off him.
 
 
Now the second shelf are all my own books waiting to be read, some of them are new to the shelf but still can't wait to get stuck in.  These are some that I really want to drop everything to read (i love Rachel vincent so Shifters is a main priority)
 
All of these books are probably half of the pile of books on my TBR pile that I own, I have easily at least 50 books I want to read bookmarked on my computer, I have another box full of books also waitng to be read with more fantastic authors but sadly I have no time at the moment.  If all my books were actually on their bookcases I would have sent a photo of my favourite shelf, it has my David eddings books in it.  He was one of the first authors i read just for fun and it was my Nan's books I ended up reading but have since been replaced as they were so well read by everyone the pages were falling out, and also my big masive books for Lord of the rings, with the 3 stories in one, again another one of my Nan's books.  I would probably show my shelf with all my signed books on it too (Maureen Johnson, Will Hill, Rachel Caine, Ilona Andrews, Magie Stievfater, Jana Oliver, Jeyn Roberts and Cassandra Clare).
 
I really dont know what I would do without books, I love reading and probably have far too many books as it is. 
 
Even though I have a lot of books, my friends will not lend books off me.  I have some OCD issues with my books, you cant eat or drink by them, you cant bend pages to mark where you are up to, you cant break the spine or even crease it a tiny bit.  Any books that belong to a  series have to match, so if they release the newest book to that series  in hardback (like House of Night) I get the hardback version then when paperback is out i replace the hardback with paperback.  My series also have to match in the artwork style or colouring and actual size of the book.  David Eddings is one series that has been a pain to match I managed to get all but 2 books all with black spines, the 2 odd ones had a hint of blue, so I had to inspect every book shop and actually took my own book to match them all up. When my books are all back in thier proper homes they have set places to go, either authors books all together, or similar story theme together.  I am that strict about their placement that I can be in a book shop, ring my boyfriend and direct him to a shelf on my bookcase and get him to tell me what book I have.  I had to do this with my Vampire Academy books as they changed from black to red so I had to replace my black books and rang him to direct him to the shelf and he told me what books I had in black. Although when I was packing all my books I took photos of them all so I knew where to put them when we moved.

 In fact here are some photos which I remembered I had of my deshelving in process, not all my books are shown but again this is just a small example. 



Friday, 25 November 2011

Historical Fiction and its use in schools ....

A few weekends ago I had the chance to attend a conference organised by the Ipswich Children's Book Group about Historical fiction and the uses of it to support the teaching of history in schools and I had a brilliant time.

I love the idea of using historical fiction to assist the teaching of History in schools. On my school blog mrsconnorloveshistory.blogspot.com I have a page where I recommend books about periods of history we study and find it really helps to broaden a student's knowledge base and engage their interest in the topics we study in the classroom.
 
Some parts of the day which were really highlights for me and made me think both as someone who loves reading but as a history teacher teaching teenagers ...


The main reason I went to the conference was to meet Harriet Castor. If any of you regulary read my blog or follow my random ramblings on Twitter you will know her book VIII was one of my favourite books this year so far. I loved how her book really got underneath the skin of Henry VIII and all the differing reasons why he became the man he did rather than just focusing on the usual ideas that most children can spout off about him before they leave primary school.

For those of you who are history teachers Harriet's book really addresses well the Key concept of Interpretation (as outlined in the last National Curriculum reforms and one which I think we be staying even if the Government decides to meddle once again) and forces the reader to take this new look at this huge historical figure we all think we know so well. Harriet has said she is working on a similiar project looking at Henry's daughters which I am already excited about and it got me thinking about other characters from history that I would love to see explored in fiction. How fantastic would it be to get under the skin of King George V, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II the three cousins at the root of the First World War? I am always fascinated that such a huge war was fought by countries who were all ruled by grandchildren of Queen Victoria. I would love to get to know Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (the first female doctor in England) and find out what gave her the determination to go on despite all the seemingly impossible hurdles she faced. I'd also love to meet Sophie Scholl and find out why she decided to stand up to the Nazis and risk losing everything when others decided not to. The notion that we should have such empathy with historical figures is something I strongly believe in (although it appears the government does not if you look at the new history curriculum) and think it is vital to make children care about characters from the past and want to learn more about them.



I also enjoyed listening to Kevin Crossley-Holland who opened the conference. I have read Kevin's books before and have toyed with the idea of using parts from his Seeing Stone / Arthur series before to teach about Medieval life as some of the parts are brilliantly insightul and well researched.  He actually talked very little about his own titles but actually talked at length about his ideas about historical fiction and what it can and should look like which I found really fascinating.

A fascinating event for me which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Guest Review: Vampire Academy Graphic Novel

Vampire Academy Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead
Guest Review by Hadley
Published by Razorbill
Source: Review copy



After two years on the run, best friends Rose and Lissa are caught and returned to St. Vladimir's Academy, a private high school for vampires and half-bloods. It's filled with intrigue, danger - and even romance. Enter their dark, fascinating world through a new series of 144-page full-color graphic novels. The entire first Vampire Academy novel has been adapted for book one by Leigh Dragoon and overseen by Richelle Mead, while the beautiful art of acclaimed British illustrator Emma Vieceli brings the story to life.

***

Although not unfamiliar with Richelle Mead I had not previously read the Vampire Academy novels. Despite this I did not feel I was missing out by reading an abridged graphic novel which can never have the level of detail of a full novel. The story flowed coherently with sufficient time devoted to character interaction and development. Have to admit that now I have read this I am tempted to pick up the novel as a point of comparison and then continue on through the rest of the range. 

As a graphic novel this title is also a success. The artwork (both drawing and colouring) is of a very high standard. It has a lot of text rather than favouring the style of some comic books whereby there is a great deal of flashy fight scenes and little dialogue. 


To summarise this graphic novel certainly served as an excellent introduction to the Vampire Academy setting. It would also be suited to general comic book lovers.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

I love the cover for this one will probably be buying it just for that reason alone!!

Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey



A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger

Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Review: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
Published by Simon and Schuster
Series: Leviathan #2
Source: Purchased for myself



The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.
Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.
Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead.


***

I loved Leviathan being a fan of Steam Punk and a history geek and was so excited to get round to reading Behemoth. I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed and enjoyed it as much as Leviathan and am equally excited about getting started on the final book in the series.

The thing I loved about these books is the characterisation of the two main characters Alek and Deryn and the contrast between the two. I love both of them separately and also love the relationship built up between the unlikely pair.

I love the world Alek and Deryn live in. There are many parts which you recognise from history which excited the history geek in me. I often found myself looking up people and places and events elsewhere whilst I was reading it to find out a bit more about the main events and what in fact did actually happen. I also love all the steam punk elements and the combinations and contrast between the world of the Darwinists and Clankers. I particularly love all the Beasties particularly gorgeous little Bovril.

The main storyline in this instalment was fast paced and engaging keeping me wanting to read more and more to find out what was going to happen. I also really enjoyed the scenes with the rebel groups and thought there were some brilliantly funny scenes which I loved reading. I loved the pictures that appeared alongside the story and really felt they added to the story.

A fantastic instalment in the series which I enjoyed. I am looking forward to reading Goliath very soon and finding out how everything finishes.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Review: Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed by Ally Condie
Published by Razorbill
Series: Matched #2
Source: Review copy



Rules are different outside the Society.

Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky-taken by the Society to his certain death-only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life and the enthralling promise of rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices everything to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again.

Narrated from both Cassia's and Ky's points of view, this hotly anticipated sequel to Matched will take them both to the edge of Society, where nothing is as expected and crosses and double crosses make their path more twisted than ever...


***

I was a huge fan of Matched. I loved the characters and the world built up around them. By the end of the book I was desperate to know what happened next and see where the story went next.

Crossed takes up the story directly where the Matched left off. The story itself is really a development of the Ky and his view on the world in which he and Cassia live in. You start to see the world from his point of view and after not being a fan of his in book one I really started to warm to him especially when you see the way he sees Cassia.

The thing I found most confusing about this book was the split narrative. I didn't think their voices were distinct enough so sometimes found that I forgot whose story I was reading and had to keep flicking back to check.

The story was very very slow. I felt that nothing really happened and spent the entire book waiting for something to happen and it just didn't which is were I felt it contrasted completely from the Matched. You definitely did get the idea that the book was setting up something big for the rest of the series but I just wished something more had happened in the meantime.

In my review for Matched I described Cassia as a kick-ass Character. I felt however in this book that she was very weak as a character and again I was left hoping and waiting for her to pull something out of the bag.

Don't get me wrong I do think the series as a whole still has the potential to be good and I like the ideas that have been set up. I really feel that this instalment really suffered from being the middle book in a trilogy but I'm still hopeful the series overall will be awesome.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

In my mailbox (69)

In my Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at www.thestorysiren.com

This week was relatively slow book week for me but I did get some good titles ...




How to be a cat by Matt Haig (UK proof)
This looks really cute
The Brides of Rockroll Island (Sea Hearts) by Margo Lanagan (UK proof)
I've heard amazing things about this one from Marilyn at the children's book centre. Looking forward to starting it.
Pure by Julianna Baggott (UK proof)
I've heard brilliant things bout this one from loads of people.
Snow child by Eowyn Ivey (UK proof)
The proof for this is so beautiful. Definitely looks like a wintery read.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Bookcase Showcase: Author Katy Moran

Today I am delighted to have author Katy Moran on Bookcase Showcase ...





My husband and his assistant (our three-year-old son) finished making these bookshelves just in time for you to drop in. Up till a few days ago, most of our books were languishing on windowsills and in piles, so this bookcase showcase has been a very good excuse for a bibliographical tidy-up. I keep my books in no particular order but I know pretty much where each one is. They’re a mixture of research and inspiration. The Quiet Room by Lori Schiller was one of my chief resources writing Dangerous to Know – the author’s account of her encounter with mental illness profoundly shocked me, and I hope her recovery continues to this day. I was addicted to Ellis Peters’ Cadfael mysteries as a teenager: they definitely inspired me to write historical fiction. I bought this humdinger of a compilation when my oldest son was a newborn, and read the whole thing on a sofa with him curled up on my chest – a lovely experience! And of course there are several books by Rosemary Sutcliff and Georgette Heyer: two absolute masters of the historical genre. I read Warrior Scarlet by Rosemary Sutcliff when I was about ten: this beautiful and exciting tale woke my imagination and made me start writing. Bloodline is my homage to it. La Morte D’Arthur by Thomas Malory was a later encounter ­– Middle English looks difficult at first glance but gets much easier when read aloud, and this version of the great Arthurian myth has the most moving ending of any book I’ve read: “Here lies Arthur, once and future king.” It gave me an idea for a title when I was a desk editor working on Philip Reeve’s tremendous Here Lies Arthur. I got an undeserved credit for that in the acknowledgements. These gorgeous Everyman’s Library titles on the bottom shelf were given to me when I worked there – my very first job in publishing, before I became an editor or an author. Many of the books on this shelf are ones I have helped to edit, reviewed or used as research. There are some stories I could tell about those I edited, but I won’t!



Finally, the books here are those I read most often. My husband also made this space-age bookshelf. The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway is my favourite, but I could probably quote at length from each and every one.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses series

Today's post isn't a review as much but just an excuse for me to fan girl away about the awesomeness that is Malorie Blackman and her noughts and crosses series


I'm going to start my saying I freaking love Malorie Blackman and everything I have read to date of hers I have loved. I was lucky enough to meet her back in September through an event planned by the North Norfolk Children's Book group (which I would totally recommend you join if you live in Norfolk and love children's books). She was as warm and bubbly as I have always expected her to be and speaks faster than I do which is impressive. I loved hearing her talk about how she came to being an author and loved the insight I got about her noughts and crosses series by listening to her talk about how much of her inspiration for the novels came from her own personal experiences.

I read noughts and crosses well before I started blogging back in the days where I randomly picked up books because the cover looked interesting. What I loved about them was how true to life they actually are in how they portray the racist way in which some people in our society have and continue to operate. I loved the twist in the world view and thought it was a really clever take on the issues it brought up. I loved the main characters and immediately went straight through the series back to back and bought (and continue to buy) several copies for friends who I know love reading all of whom have enjoyed them as much as I hoped they would. I also loved the comparsions and links to historical events linked to the civil rights movement campaign in Amercia and coould certainly see how it could be used as a spectacularly useful teaching tool to help youngesters get insight into rascism, bullying and how such narrow minded views led to awful consequences.

Certainly a series that is worth a read and one I cannot recommend highly enough.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Review: Immortal beloved by Cate Tieran

Immortal beloved by Cate Tieran
Published by Hodder
Source: Gifted by my lovely blogging friend.






New name, new town, new life. Nastasya has done it too often to count. And there's no end in sight. Nothing ever really ends ...when you're immortal. But now, after centuries of feeding from the lives of the innocents around her, of living with little care for others, Nastasya is ready to turn towards the light. 'After some of the events I've witnessed I felt like I was a shell with nothing alive left in me. I hadn't been going around killing people, but people were hurt -- the memories just kept trickling in like rivulets of fresh acid dripping into my brain until I wanted to scream. It was in my blood, I knew. A darkness. The darkness. I had inherited it, along with my immortality and my black eyes.' Captivating, intense and with an incredible and original voice, EVERLASTING LIFE is a haunting story of friendship, love and secrets, tragedy and loss. Sometimes life is eternal...

***
Immortal Beloved is unlike any other YA paranormal book I've ever read. I didn't know what to expect and as a result was surprised with every page.

Nastasya is an interesting character. She has lived for a long long time and practically seen and done it all. On an evening out with all her crazy friends all the jokes go too far and something terrible happens. For Nastasya it is the last straw and a wake up call that makes her realise she needs to get away from her crowd of friends and go somewhere else and be somewhere else.

She finds herself at a retreat owned by River, someone she met a long time ago to learn more about herself and live a completely different life. To start with the sheer contrast in the change in her life is stark. Nastasya is expected to muck in with running the farm like retreat, get a low paid job and generally live a humble existence. To start with she finds it extremely difficult but eventually she starts to see how living such a life could make her a better person.

My favourite parts of the book are the bits where you get flashbacks into Nastasya's past and all the things she has done in her long life.

The story twists once Nastasya starts to remember and understand the significance of where she has come from and recognises someone from the retreat with whom she has crossed paths with before. From there on out the tone of the story changes and becomes much more dark. The book from there on out makes you question everyone and keeps you guessing right up to the last chapter.

The only thing I didn't like about the book was that ending ... it was a total cliff hanger. I'm just glad I already have book 2 waiting for me on the shelf.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

I can't wait for this because I loved Wither

Fever by Lauren DeStefano



Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion...by any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Review: Dear Bully

It only seems apt to post this review during Anti Bullying Week

Dear Bully by Various authors
Published by HarperCollins USA
Source: Gifted from my Blogging Friend



You are not alone
Discover how Lauren Kate transformed the feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the “funny guy” into the best defense against the bullies in his class.
Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.


***
 This is a book I certainly will be recommeding it to everyone to buy and read simply because of the values it promotes. It is an anthology which has been put together to make people more aware of bullying and help those reading it to be more equipped to stand up to bullying. Both of these things need to be appaulded whole heartedly.

The book has a huge variety of contributors, all YA authors, writing about their experiences with bullying. It's certainly not enjoyable but I imagine I'd be of comfort to teens experiencing bullying. I also liked how it gave the perspective of people who although not outright bullies were those type of people who stood aside and let it happen.

UK readers be warned, all the authors contributing are American which meant I had no clue who some of them were. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but I definitely there would be a market for a UK version to be released especially if it helped to raise funds for an Anti Bullying Charity like Child line.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Review: Flying Blind by Deborah Cooke

Flying Blind by Deborah Cooke
Published by Allison and Bushby
Source: Review Copy



Zoë Sorensson is perfectly normal, except she's been told she's destined for great things. Zoë's the one female dragon shapeshifter of her kind. But Zoë is at the bottom of the class when it comes to being Pyr and her powers are AWOL, so she's sent to a Pyr boot camp.
Zoë quickly realizes that she has to master her powers yesterday, because the Pyr are in danger and boot camp is a trap. The Mages want to eliminate all shifters and the Pyr are next in line-unless Zoë and her friends can work together and save their own kind.


***



I'm quite happy to say that I might be doing this book an injustice with my review as I really didn't get on with it. Maybe it was because I read it to close to reading Firelight, another dragon shapeshifting book but for a variety of reasons I'll go through below this book really didn't do it for me.

The story itself is interesting and it's nice to be offered something other than vampires or werewolves in the YA paranormal romance market and their certainly were some good ideas going on which could make for a really good overall plot.

The thing that really did it (or didn't depending on how you see it I suppose) for me was that the main character Zoe in this book was a complete whinger. All the girl did was moan about not being powerful, not having big breasts (seriously I did not need to read that the countless times I had to) and how everyone was better than her. I honestly got to the point where I really didn't want to hear anymore about her self indulgent whining. There were sections of the book where she acted like a complete child and was really selfish and self-involved meaning others got put in danger. I got to the point where no matter how fast paced the storyline of interesting the ideas I really didn't care because I wanted Zoe to get ripped to pieces by the other dragons so everyone could have a peaceful time without her.

So will I read the next book? Probably not! If you want a dragon book read Sophie Jordan's Firelight instead.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

In my Mailbox (68)

IMM is hosted by www.thestorysiren.com


For review
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (UK proof)
This came in a gold envelope which was very very exciting. Looking forward to it muchly.
Wink Murder by Ali Knight (UK paperback)
An adult title by a debut British Author which looks good. I will actually be running a giveaway for this one early on in the new year to fit in which my new project.
BZRK by Michael Grant (UK proof)
I love Michael Grant's Gone series (even though it scares me) so looking forward to seeing what this is like.
Tiger's Voyage (UK paperback)
Yay. So excited for this one
Destined by PC Cast (UK hardback)
Not sure whether to be excited or frightened about this one ... time will tell.
Enthralled by Various authors (UK paperback)
I like loads of the authors in this one so hopefully it should be good.

Bought
The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland (UK paperback)
I went to a historical fiction conference at the weekend and saw Kevin speak about historical fiction which was really interesting. I vaguely remember trying this one a while back but don't think I finished it. maybe next time.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Bookcase Showcase: author Ian Beck

Today I am really pleased to be hosting one of the stops on the blog tour of The Haunting of Charity Delafield


These choices are strictly personal and in a vaguely chronological order. I could have chosen any number of books from my library, which is all consuming but these mark key points in my reading history so to speak and stand out as special mainly for reasons of sentiment.
Book 1. .
The Time Machine by H G Wells


I saw the George Pal film adaptation of H G Well’s book at the long demolished Odeon Hove in 1961. I was 13 and I was at once entranced and obsessed. I sought out the original book. It was the first book I ever bought with my own pocket money.  . Very happily it led me into further reading. All of H G Well’s short and long stories were followed in quick succession by a wholesale devouring of Ray Bradbury, Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and all the rest for ever. It set me off on the path that I am still on and it marks the beginning of my obsessive book collecting which has never stopped

Book 2.
Young Man On a Bicycle by Victor Canning


This tattered paperback was given to me by a man who worked with my late father. He was a jobbing printer whose job it was to add columns of late sports results to wholesale batches of the London Evening News after they arrived by train from London on Saturday afternoons. My father would then set off in a van and deliver the copies to various newsagents around Hove. I was fascinated by the printing process and like to watch the press work. I drew the printing press one Saturday afternoon and the printer was encouraging about my drawing abilities and then he randomly gave me this book to read. At that time I was very starved of reading matter and the title story, a light hearted jewel thief romp set on the Riviera fostered my nascent love of all things sophisticated and French, a passion which is still there.

Books 3, 4 and 5.   
The Quatermass Trilogy by Nigel Kneale


In 1953 my aunt and uncle bought a television. It had a very small square screen which was set into a polished wooden cabinet. We all gathered to watch the coronation, the first big television event. Later on that same summer one Saturday evening I was at their house again when a serial began with some very ominous music and a spoken warning, ‘viewers of a nervous disposition’, it said and went on about the general unsuitability of what was to follow it was promptly switched off. I had never been more thrilled by a glimpse of anything as much as I was by those few seconds of the first Quatermass serial. Later on at school luckier hardier children had been allowed to watch the whole thing and it was the talk of the playground. By the time the third serial Quatermass and the Pit (1958) was broadcast we had our own television. Now I too was allowed to watch, as did the whole nation, gripped by the horror and tension. I would dash back home from cubs on Monday nights to watch it and was both thrilled and horrified in equal measure. Penguin books eventually published the three scripts in book form with useful stills, they  formed the core of my collection of scifi books.

Book 6.
The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales by Sir Arthur Quiller Couch illustrated by Edmund Dulac.


I bought this finely produced book at the height of my love affair with the Edwardian gift books. These were produced to showcase the work of artists such as Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac. As a young illustration student I found the delicacy of Dulac’s work astonishing. I could not imagine how such images were made. In those days (late 1960s) you could still find copies of such books in the second hand bookshops which proliferated in Brighton. I bought a copy of this one from Bredon’s in East Street which also sold art supplies. I sold a nice suede jacket in order to afford it, eight guineas. I admit I also had a bit of a crush on the girl who worked there she looked exactly like a Dulac watercolour of a water nymph, or mermaid, sigh.

Book 7.
The Sot Weed Factor by John Barth jacket design by Owen Wood


I was attracted to buy this book by the excellent illustration on the cover, which is a pastiche pen and ink drawing in the eighteenth century manner by British illustrator Owen Wood. John Barth is an American writer and this book was published in the early 1960s, a few years before I found it in a second hand bookshop. It proved to be a bonus discovery beyond the beauty of the cover illustration. The book itself turned out to be a picaresque bawdy comic novel written in the style of a 17th c memoir detailing aspects of early American colonial life, and included Pocohontas and Captain John Smith et al cue more reading aloud and a great deal of falling about with laughter.


Book 8.
Eugene Onegin translated by Vladimir Nabokov.


I became obsessed with the work of Vladimir Nabokov when I was an art student at Brighton. I bought and read everything of his I could. I read short stories like Spring In Fialta out loud to my friends and no doubt drove them all mad. I moved up to London in 1969.  I went into Foyles bookshop one lunchtime, and there I found this rare Nabokov item sitting on a shelf for sale. It was published by the Bollingen Foundation in four delightful volumes, slip cased. One volume is Nabokov’s translation of Pushkin’s great narrative poem Eugene Onegin. The other three volumes are taken up by his lengthy and sometimes eccentric footnotes and commentary etc. The structure of a narrative poem and a long winded commentary is of course the clue to the making of his great novel, Pale Fire.

Book 9
Amphigorey  by Edward Gorey


Sometime in the early 1970s I found a pile of remaindered copies of The Doubtful Guest by Edward Gorey in a bookshop on Maiden Lane in Covent Garden near to my studio at that time which was just up the road in Garrick Street. Fellow illustrator the late Glynn Boyd Harte and I became obsessed with Gorey’s work, and a month or so later a very kind friend, Chistine Nicholson, fresh from a visit to New York, brought me back a copy of Amphigorey. This is a collection of fifteen of his early and hard to find little books all gathered into one big book. The Doubtful Guest was thus joined by The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Hapless Child and many others, including one of Gorey’s masterpieces The West Wing. His spidery cross hatched drawings combined with his brilliantly spare and  macabre texts taught me much about being personal and following your inclinations and even your demons to make your art, lessons I have only recently realised.

Book 10
 Northern Lights by Philip Pullman


I had known Philip Pullman for several years, I was edited and published by his editor and publisher David Fickling, both at OUP and at Scholastic, and our paths had crossed many times. I had read and enjoyed Ruby In The Smoke and the other Sally Lockhart books, and I was eventually to illustrate his version of Puss In Boots. I remember the exact moment when David excitedly mentioned Northern Lights to me. We were in his old office in Pratt Street in Camden Town and he said, ‘Philip is doing something really big for us, an epic based on Paradise Lost’. So it was on another occasion in that same office that I was given this same copy of Northern Lights, and Philip kindly inscribed it, so doubly precious, a great book and effusively autographed. Later of course I had the great pleasure of adding ephemera such as illustrations, fake letters and journal entries to the special 10th anniversary editions of all three of the His Dark Materials Trilogy.