Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

“You were just worried about me." 
An exhale, relieved that I had understood. "Yeah"
I turned. "Because you think I'm worth it"
He put his fingers under my chin. "I absolutely think your worth it."
"But you don't think you are."
His mouth opened. Shut.
"That's what this is about, Derek. You won't let us worry about you because you don't think you're worth it. But I do. I absolutely do.” 

The third and final instalment of the darkest powers series picks up exactly where the second book left off, Chloe and the gang have arrived at the safe house and are planning how they can rescue the people that the Edison group still hold captive.

Once again I thoroughly enjoyed this book, Armstrong makes books that are easy to read and plots that you just get lost in. With many twists and turns and not knowing who you can trust, Chloe once again learns the hard way that not everyone is who they seem.

Chloe has really grown on me during the course of these books, at first she was a little too moany and too trusting of everyone she met (the problems of a sheltered upbringing) but now she doesn't run to the nearest adult for help, she learns to trust her own instincts. She also isn't the typical heroine we see so much of, she didn't wake up one day and have automatic control over her powers, even at the end of the book she is still struggling to come to terms with how strong she is, she doesn't run head first into every situation and knows that sometimes other people are better at handling them and maybe she is better just stepping aside.

I don't want to spoil the actual plot of the books, just that you'll find a lot more run/chase/fight/hide sequences in this book, but isn't that why we love reading them, Armstrong makes sure they are full of action and suspense that their is never a dull moment.

One little spoiler but I'm sure you all saw it coming a mile off, I know I did but Chloe and Derek finally admit they have feelings for each other. I love the dynamics of their relationship they both are able to call each other out when one makes a mistake and they've both grown and evolved as characters as a result.

Once again Armstrong creates a book with wonderful characters and an elaborate 'who done it' plot. I'm glad she left the ending open and I hope we get a chance to revisit these characters soon.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

"Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt"

"And so it goes...."

I've been sitting here for a while now trying to figure out why I loved this book so much. Its one that has been sitting on my shelf for a while now and I've been told by countless people that "I just had to read it". Now while I don't have the same finesse with words that Vonnegut does I'm going to try and put in to words why you should read this book.

Slaughterhouse Five is the story of Billy Pilgrim who survived the bombing in Dresden and then went on to survive a plane crash but non of this was new to Billy, he knows how his life will turn out due to the fact that he can time travel and so the book jumps through different parts of Billy's life as he time travels. Oh and he also gets kidnapped by some Aliens, who show him that there is no free-will. Your life is already planned out for who, as they say it is only us 'earthlings' who believe in free-will.

Now I know from that brief description it sounds like a science fiction novel, but its far from that, an anti-war novel that contains fiction mixed with fact. Vonnegut's writing is witty and sarcastic and had me laughing out load at moments that shouldn't be funny. He treads a fine line between disgustingly horrific (having to burn the bodies of the dead because the smell is so bad) and humorously entertaining. The scenes in Dresden where breathtakingly sad, as was Billy's life, he marries a woman he doesn't really like, Billy isn't a strong character, he is weak and unable to stand up for himself and he ends up walking through life never really striving to be more because he knows how it all ends.

I suppose one thing we can learn from Billy is not to wish that we knew how everything will turn out and to never become complacent with our lives. Things may not go as planned but we should enjoy the many ups and downs that life brings.

My review has definitely not done this book justice, its easy to read but hard to understand. It will probably take me a few reads of this to make sure I get everything from it. So it goes.

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

“There was no closing my eyes and sliding back into that blissful dream of normal. This was my normal now.” 

The second book in the darkest powers trilogy, starts with Chloe being trapped in the research institute and trying to figure out a way to escape. For those who don't remember Chloe has recently discovered that she is a necromancer i.e. she can communicate with ghosts, except that she isn't just a normal necromancer, her and her friends have been genetically modified by the Edison group, meaning that in some their powers are amplified and in others they are weakened. Unfortunately for Chloe hers have been made stronger, which means that she can't control the necromancers powers and manages to raise the dead, by accident, a lot!

I have to say this was a superb book, full of drama and mystery. Chloe and her friends are out on the streets by themselves, they have no-one they can turn too. After being betrayed by her Aunt, Chloe knows that not everyone is who they seem.

The relationships between the characters are realistic, they may not like each other but they have to stick together in order to survive, there isn't anyone else who knows what they are going through. I have to say though my favourite relationship has to been between Chloe and Derrick  I know their isn't any overtly obvious romance within this book, but you can see the chemistry building between them and I'm hoping Armstrong continues the characters on this path. After reading Bitten in Armstrong's adult series and seeing the relationship between Elena and Clay, you know that the werewolf nature is fierce and protective. So every time Derrick makes a somewhat mean remark, I know that he is showing his feelings for Chloe, even though it doesn't seem that way. Not that I condone mean spirited men, I definitely think he needs to change his attitude and be a little bit nicer to Chloe.

It was well written and engaging, with a great balance of funny and light hearted moments mixed with the angst and horror that make this books such an interesting read. I know a lot of people don't think much happened in this book and that's not wrong. Instead of focusing on a fast pace plot, Armstrong builds on her characters and makes them more well-rounded.

Now I just want to know what is going on with that necklace of hers, it changes colour but why is this significant?

Happy Anniversary

"I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that it had begun."

Yesterday marked the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

On 29th January 1813, Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra to tell her that Pride and Prejudice had been published she described the book as "her own darling child". Jane Austen's novels have managed to transcend time, she created independently thinking female protagonists and paved the way for female writers.

Pride and Prejudice will always hold a special place in my heart, it was the first classical novel that I ever read. The language and imagery within it transported me back to a time when ladies wore amazingly extravagant dresses and hosted balls at their stately homes every other week, when language was everything and one remark could ruin a reputation.

Through the years I have revisited Elizabeth and Darcy many times and I always take something new away from it. As my life changes, so does my experience with this book. Mr Darcy was the first fictional character I ever fell in love with, he was the basis of which I formed my ideal partner (and probably not too dis-similar to my boyfriend). Elizabeth was the type of woman I wanted to be, kind and considerate with her family and those she loved but quick witted and independent, not afraid to speak her mind and stand up for what she believes in.

Pride and Prejudice introduced me to a whole new world of literature, one I am still trying to get through today. It is one of the most highly adapted novels, with the likes of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and not to mention the famous BBC adaption with Colin Firth.

If you haven't read this book, then why not? Trust me you won't be disappointed.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Words with Friends

Even though this blog is only a few weeks old, I have been blogging on and off for the past few years, I've blogged about different interests in my life and also about personal issues but nothing has ever seemed to keep me engaged.

I'm currently in my last year in university (I study biochemistry in case you were wondering) and I suppose now is the time I'm supposed to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life. I love science, I really do but I also love reading and writing and for years I toyed with the idea of working in the publishing industry but alas I've always had those self depreciating thoughts, I'm not good enough and for a while I thought I needed to do something with my chosen degree. Those thoughts plagued me through my second year, I questioned every decision I made to the point where I was harming my chances of even getting a degree.

And then I dropped out (or suspended my degree course) of university, I was confused about my life and who I was, I really disliked the person I saw and so I did the best thing I ever did. I took a step back, took a deep breathe and discovered who I was. I went to counselling, I connected with my friends and family more. I didn't hide who I was and finally I started to believe in myself and the person I could be. It took me two years and a lot of ups and downs to know I was on the right path. I finally had enough confidence to start this blog and post my book reviews which I've been secretly writing for years and I went back to university.

As I said before, I'm currently completing my final year and for once I'm really enjoying myself, I've just finished my January exams, which is why there has been a little bit of radio silence these past couple of weeks, I just haven't had the time to read any books never mind review them, but don't fear I have a few in the pipeline at the moment. My exams went well, I didn't panic and I made and kept to a strict revision system, which fingers crossed will pay off.

So this is my time, to make sure I accomplish everything I want to do in my life. I'm currently writing like crazy to every publishing house I can think of to try and get some work experience and fingers crossed someone takes pity on me. I'm hoping with my science background I could maybe go into educational publishing but I think ideally I would love to be in fictional publishing whether it be teens or adults.

Sometimes in life you just need to take a deep breathe and say I can do this.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill

“Awkwardness, thy name is vampire.” 

Friday night bites starts a couple of weeks after some girls bite finished, Merit is moving out of the house she shares with Mallory and into the Cadogan house to fulfil her roll as house sentinel. Once again Friday night bites is full of drama, action and of course a little bit of mystery.

Merit is still struggling to get to grips with her vampire nature, especially since she knows she isn't 'normal'. I loved her sarcasm and wit and we got to see more interactions with people from her human life.  Merit is a wonderful female lead she doesn't become a vampire and miraculously become the perfect fighter, she knows she is weaker than most and she has to fight so much harder to stay on top.

The chemistry between her and Ethan is heating up, they still have their love hate relationship but I doubt that will ever change. He infuriates me sometimes, every time you think they are getting close, he will say something hurtful or dismiss her completely putting them back to square one. I felt really sorry for Morgan, you can tell he really wants to try with Merit but her heart just isn't in it, they do have one pretty steamy scene together though. A few hints where dropped about him at the end and I'm starting to wonder like Merit how much you can actually trust him. I also loved how her relationship with Mallory is playing out, you can see they are both going in separate directions and their friendship is drifting apart, I wonder if this is a hint for what's to come.

Its not as fast paced as the first book, but has a lot more world building and character development, which is always important within a series, you don't want your characters to become flat and predictable.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, it drops a lot of hints and future plot lines and I like the element of dis-trust, you never know who is going to betray them next.

Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

“He's twenty-nine. And what did you think he was going to look like?"
She shrugged.
"You know-old. Grizzled. Long white beard. Scruffy robes. Loveable, smart, a little absent minded." 
I bit back a grin. 
" I said 'sorcerer,' not 'Dumbledore.' So he's hot. It could be worse.” 

College student Merit is attacked by a rouge vampire whilst on campus, she is however saved (and turned)  by Ethan the Master of the Cadogan vampires. Merit is thrown into a whole new world, where she has to quickly learn to accept what she has become.

I loved this book, I was instantly hooked. Neill does a great job a building a fresh and intriguing vampire world, the plot is nicely paced, full of action and excitement. Neill's characterisation is great, they all have an individual voice with some very witty dialogue. 

Merit is a wonderful character, she is smart, funny and has such a strong personality  I loved how she adapted to being a vampire, it was realistic and even though she doesn't like what she has become she knows she must find a way to learn and adapt and she isn't afraid to kick some ass along the way. Merits relationships with the rest of the characters was great too, especially with Ethan the dark and brooding Master who turned her, she fights him all the way, literately at some points as well, I can tell their relationship will not be an easy one. 

 This book was full of adventure, mystery and a lot of laugh out loud moment. Its a great start to the series, that has left me wanting more.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

“That's what being crazy was, wasn't it? You thought you were fine. Everyone else knew better.” 

Chloe Saunders is a typical 15 year old girl, worrying about school, boys and now ghosts. When Chloe unexpectedly starts seeing ghosts she is shipped off to a group home called Lyle house, Chloe leaves behind everything she thought she knew about herself and enters a strange new world,where not everyone is what they seem.

(Side note: If you've read Armstrong's other series woman of the otherworld, then you'll probably have already guessed what Chloe and everyone else in this book is but if you haven't then I don't want to spoil the surprise.)

I really enjoyed this book, it was more than just a ghost story, full of mystery and suspense, the scene in the basement crawl space was terrifying realistic, as was Chloe's reaction. If I was stuck in a confined space with dead bodies that have been bought back to life I would definitely pee my pants too.

I loved Chloe's character, she was strong and independent and even when she had been 'diagnosed', she still questioned everything. Her relationship with Simon and Derek was one of my highlights, Derek who is moody, aggressive and creeps Chloe out, yet deep down all he is trying to do is help her discover who she is and Simon the handsome young boy who appears to have no reason to be at Lyle house.Everyone in this house is shrouded with mystery, you never know who to trust. Once again Armstrong has developed well rounded and believable characters.

The only down side to this book was the cliff hanger at the end, I'm eager to find out what happens next.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

“Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud...” 

Life of Pi follows the life of Pi Patel, when his family decide to move their Zoo from India to Canada it starts Pi on a journey for his survival. Stuck on a boat with a Zebra, a Hyena, an Orang-utan and a Bengal Tiger, Pi learns that friendship and courage sometimes comes at the most unexpected of times.

I was completely sucked in by this book, the first half of the book was a little slow, I put it down so many times and something always had me coming back to it. The description of his life in India was wonderfully I loved how he talked about exploring the zoo and all the quirks of the animals living there. The writing was beautiful and flowed so easily that you could really transport yourself into Pi's world.

Pi is a wonderful young boy, he is incredibly inquisitive and his faith in God never wavers. This book has me questioning my life, what did I believe in? Would I have the courage and faith not in a higher power like Pi but in myself to survive and do everything Pi did to make this happen. Isn't that what a good book should do, make you question the life you live?

I don't want to mention much about the ending but there is a twist that will leave you questioning everything you've just read. 

Life of Pi, is a beautiful book about one young boys fight for his survival. Even though slow to start it gets progressively better so don't give up.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Stray by Rachel Vincent

“ I'm glad you think so. I've always considered my sense of humour to be largely under-appreciated, so it’s nice to finally meet a fan.” 

Stray is the story of Faythe Sanders daughter of the Alpha of the werecat territories. When we first meet her Faythe is away at college trying to live a normal life, with a normal human boyfriend away from her family. That is until her cousin is kidnapped and she is attacked on campus and her father orders her to return home

I'm undecided how I feel about this book, there where times I liked Faythe, she was feisty  sexy, knew how to run with the boys and always stood up for what she wanted. Yet there were also times when she was just plain annoying, she wanted to try and escape her oppressive family, who aren't really that oppressive just looking out for her best interests and then its her own stupidity that land her in the dire situation she finds herself in. Yes she wants to be independent but it just comes across bratty and spoiled at times.

Faythe definitely has a lot of love interests and I know which one I prefer, Marc came across as another version of her dad, moody and over-bearing whereas Jace was dirty, funny and saw her as her own person. 

This book is a great mix of action and romance and even though slightly annoying Faythe is a strong female protagonist who doesn't the men in her life rule. This book has me intrigued and I definitely want to read more about these werecat.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells

“Got it. Look for a room with a sign with a big arrow that says, ‘Kidnapped Mancies Here,’ ” he said.” 

Half vampire and half mage, Sabina works for the vampire high council as an assassin. Raised by her grandmother she has always been told to repress her mage side that is until she meets someone who turns  her world upside down and makes her question everything she thought was real.

A wonderfully exciting and engaging urban fantasy novel. Sabina is a bad ass heroine  she is a cold hearted killer (within the first chapter she  has killed someone who she thinks of as a friend) who loyally follows whatever her grandmother tells her. The characters are wacky and charming, Giguhl was a great addition and bought plenty of humorous moments, a fearless demon turned into an ugly hairless cat, what more could you want? An Adam the mysterious stranger,he finally opens Sabina's eyes to her grandmothers evil ways, he plays such an important role and yet we barely see much of him, hopefully this will change in the next book.

Sabina grows so much within this book at first she blindly follows whatever he grandmother says but eventually she learns to think for herself and starts to question everything she has every known.

One of my favourite aspects of this book was the mythology of Cain and Lilth and that vampires have red hair due to the mark  of Cain. As the vampires age their hair colour gets darker. It was a cool and interesting take that gives it something different to the vampire books out there already.

A wonderful novel, with an excellent story line, there is still a lot of world building to be done and a lot more character development but I'm excited to continue on with this series and find out more about the world of Sabina Kane.

Jurassic Park by Michael Critchon

“You know what's wrong with scientific power? It's a form of inherited wealth. And you know what assholes congenitally rich people are.

If you don't know the plot to Jurassic park, then where have you been for the last 20 years. Scientists decide its a great idea to bring back Dinosaurs and so they do, with no thought to any consequences these actions might bring and low and behold it turns out to be a bad idea.

Jurassic Park is a mix of scientific nonsense with a little bit of fantasy. It a book with bite, yes its not a literary masterpiece but its a real page turner with an exciting adventure story that has kept me reaching for it time and time again. The plot is fantastic, full of exhilaration and great visual imagery. Crichton does not spare on the details of a dinosaur munching away on a human. The characters are fun and charming and the science is explained in an easy to understand way.

Its a suspense thriller with dinosaurs what more could you want.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”

Divergent is set in a dyspotain future where everyone must choose which fraction they belong too; Candor (the honest), Amity (the peaceful , Erudite (the intelligent) , Dauntless (the brave) and Abnegation (the selfless). Our heroine Tris starts the story off in Abnegation with her family but on her sixteenth birthday she must choose whether to stay with them or move to a different fraction.

This story wasn't without its flaws, the lack of world building was a real problem for me. There was no talk of how the world came to be this way, you just had to learn to accept it and there was no real character development, apart from Tris and Four, I felt no real connection to anyone else and at times I felt myself not even liking Tris, her mindless violence and lack of empathy for anyone else really bothered me.

However saying that I actually really enjoyed reading this book, I found myself constantly turning the page wondering what would happen next. It was engaging and full of action.The plot was well paced and the story moved quickly and the somewhat harshness of the writing really worked well. The romance between Tris and Four was sweet and endearing and I loved the idea of overcoming fears. Tris, what can I say about her, I found myself loving and hating her all at the same time, even though I couldn't connect with her I found it refreshing to read about a female protagonist that had flaws and made the wrong decisions sometimes. 

I'm definitely going to pick up the sequel insurgent and hopefully some of my questions will be answered.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

“You are a monster.” Kanin’s deep voice droned in my head again, as I forced myself to move, to walk away. “You will always be a monster, there is no turning back from it. But what type of monster you become is entirely up to you.” 

Allie is an orphaned teenager, living in a world where vampires rule and the human race is enslaved, forced to give blood to their masters in order to survive. She lives on the fringes of her society as an unregistered, scavenging food to stay alive, until one day when she is attacked by rabids and turned into a vampire. Thrown into this new life, Allie struggles to hold on to her humanity and deal with the monster inside.

This is a unique take on the vampire genre, I've never read anything quite like it. Once again I was sucked into the world Julie created, she has an amazing talent of transporting you to new places. I felt I really knew what it was like to face down a group of rabid vampires. 

This is a dark and disturbing world, where vampires rule and humans are just walking blood bags. At the begging Allie is a loner, unable to trust anyone, fighting to survive each day, that is until she is turned into a vampire, she struggles to come to terms with being the monster she hates, and has to fight to save her humanity. I loved Allie, she was fierce and totally bad ass, a young girl struggling to find her way in the world. Once again Julie's characters are well rounded and believable, Kanin, Allie's mentor is dark and mysterious, whose knows the price of letting people in, Zeke the loveable human, who only sees the good in people and wants to help everyone and finally Caleb, the little boy, lost in a world full of monsters.

I loved this book, its a whole new take on both vampires and dystopian fiction. Its dark and disturbing with plenty of kick-ass action, you'll not be disappointed. 

December Round-up

These are all the books I reviewed in December:

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

“The show's writers had peppered the piece with words like "savage," "wild," and "animalistic." What bullshit. Show me the animal that kills for the thrill of watching something die. Why does the stereotype of the animalistic killer persist?

Because humans like it. It neatly explains things for them, moving humans to the top of the evolutionary ladder and putting killers down among mythological man-beast monsters like werewolves.
The truth is, if a werewolf behaved like this psychopath it wouldn't be because he was part animal, but because he was still too human. Only humans kill for sport.” 

Bitten is the first book from the woman of the otherworld series,right from the beginning I was hooked, the plot is fast moving and engaging and the characters are well defined and entertaining  I couldn't wait to keep reading to find out what would happen.
Elena is the only female werewolf in the world, she was turned by someone she loved and trusted against her will. It has taken Elena a lot to come to terms with her werewolf side and deal with her past. When we first meet her she has left her pack and is trying to live a normal human life with her human boyfriend, however when the pack needs her help she can't say no and she is thrown back into everything she tried to forget.

As I said before I was hooked from the first page, Elena is sexy, fierce and wonderfully funny, everything you want from a heroine. Clay is a cold hard killer with a charming personality  he'll do anything to protect the ones he loves, he's a loveable rouge.  The chemistry between her and Clay is hot and passionate, its definitely a love/hate relationship. Armstrong has created characters full of flaws and that connects you to them even more and makes you root for them throughout.

A book that is full of action and characters that will endear you to them, a real page turner that will keep you absorbed from start to finish.