Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. This weeks topic is top ten books you've read so far in 2013. So far this year I've read 59 books so I had a lot to pick from.

  • Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
  • The Diviners by Libba Bray
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  • The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
What's been your favourite book so far this year? Any you think I should be reading?

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

“There are no good choices, Allison," Kanin offered in a quiet voice. "There are only those you can live with, and those you can work to change.”

Eternity cure picks up a few weeks after the events of the last book with Allie following the call of her sire Kanin who has been taken hostage and is being tortured by a seriously deranged vampire known as Sarren. On her long journey to find Kanin, Allie finds herself partnering with her 'brother' Jackel who is also trying to find Kanin and together they try to free Kanin albeit with different motivations. This is an action packed sequel that definitely doesn't suffer from second book syndrome, full of twists and turns that we leave you wanting more. Kagawa isn't afraid to push the boundaries and she will have you screaming in frustration by the end of this book.

Once again Allie was the tough girl, sometimes she comes across as heartless but with everything that she has had to suffer through I can forgive her for this. She hasn't had an easy life and it doesn't get any easier in this book. She is struggling to hold on to the small piece of humanity left inside of her but life as a Vampire for Allie seems awfully a lot like life as a Fringer, trust no-one and look out for number one. The only times Allies human side comes out is when she is with Zeke, he is the only light left in the dark world she now lives in. Their relationship is sweet and tender and faced with so many obstacles its hard to see them overcoming them all. Kagawa also explored Allies relationship with Kanin a lot more thoroughly  in the first book he was her sire and I understood that she felt some loyalty towards him and so that's why she went searching for him but throughout the Eternity Cure I felt like he was more like a father-figure to Allie she looks to him for guidance and understanding. In the end both these relationships are tested with heartbreaking conclusions.

One of the more surprising aspects of this book was Jackals character, we saw him in the first book as the King of the Raiders trying to find a cure for the rabids. Jackal teams up with Allie in order to help him find Kanin who he believes knows the secrets for the cure. What's surprising about Jackal is that like Allie I found myself warming to him, he was comical and teasing and would often make me laugh during very dark moments in this book. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't supposed to like him but I suppose its a testament to Kagawas wiring that she can turn the villain of one book into the comical bad boy of another. The real villain of this book and I suppose the entire story arc is Sarren, an extremely psychotic vampire hell bent on riding the world of all humans and vampires so that civilisation can start again. Kagawa has created a wonderful villain and because he has a few screws loose you know he is capable of anything which makes these books even more thrilling and compelling.

This book had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish, the story moves along at a great pace and never lets up on the action. Its a dark and deadly world and such an original concept, Kagawa is able to mix vampire and dystopian fiction together seamlessly. This book will leave you breathless, its bloody, violent with just a sprinkling of romance. The jaw dropping ending will have you wishing the next book was already out. 

My Rating: 4

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

“Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.” 

Cinder is the retelling of the classic fairytale Cinderella with a twist. Set in a dystopian future where the world has been ravaged by four world wars, a plague called leutomis kills within a matter of days and has no known cure. Cinder is a cyborg, living in New Beijing with her two stepsisters and her 'evil' stepmother she works as a street mechanic fixing androids and other mechanical items. Being a cyborg means Cinder is treated as a second class citizen, she is content on living her life as best as she can until one day she meets Prince Kai and her sister falls ill to the plague and then Cinder's whole world starts to fall in around her and she is left questioning who she really is.

I really enjoyed reading this book, it was a fast and easy read but full of action and suspense. It was a never ending roller-coaster with plenty of twists and turns in the plot. Cinder is written in third person mainly from the perspective of Cinder but occasionally from Kai. The writing although not poetic or overly descriptive still manages to have a distinct voice between Cinder and Kai meaning you know instantly who the voice of the chapter is.

I really liked the character of Cinder, she was funny and sweet and the relationships between her and her sister Peony and Iko the android are charming and show a vulnerable side to Cinder. I loved how self-concious she was about her cyborg parts, always making sure they were covered up, she hated how people judged her because of them and again it showed a vulnerable side to her that we rarely see in female leads. Don't be fooled into thinking that she is weak because she isn't, Cinder shows many times how brave and strong she can be, but I liked how Meyer made her a normal girl.

However Prince Kai I wasn't in love with, he is a great male YA character, he is sweet and kind and doesn't look down on Cinder for being a mechanic (he isn't aware of her cyborg nature) but I don't feel like he was a fully fleshed out character. Maybe he will grow on me in future books. I did however like how he had concerns and problems that didn't involve Cinder. Both him and Cinder had their own lives and own issues, their worlds didn't revolve around each other. I did like the relationship between him and Cinder, it wasn't instant love but it was instant attraction. There flirtation was cute and real and as both their worlds are crumbling around them it was nice to see a little light romance at times.

I love the Cinderella arc in this book, I grew up reading fairy-tales and so it was nice to see it refreshed and in a whole new light. Cinder's stepmother isn't as evil as she first comes across, she has had a lot of heartache in her life, her husband adopted Cinder behind her back but before he could return from Europe with her, he contracted the illness and died and so Cinder's arrival in the family came at a very hard time for her. Apart from the whole Cinderella aspect of the book, the other major arc would be the Lunars, these are a race that live on the Moon and are able to use bio-electricity to glamour people into believing and seeing things that aren't there and so they are deemed by the people of earth to be very evil people. The most evil of them to be their Queen, who is the most powerful of the lot. Queen Levana is pure evil, she enjoys playing political games with Kai and the other rulers of Earth, she wants power and will do anything to get it. She feels like a real villain that won't be easily overcome, you can tell just from the first few pages of meeting her that she will do anything to get what she wants. (The Lunars play a major role in this series but I don't want to say too much about them or their history otherwise I will end up spoiling the entire story for you.)

The one flaw I have with this book is the lack of world building, so much back history behind the Lunars and why the world is the way it is, is left out. I don't know whether this was intentional or not but I just wish we knew WHY?

Overall I really enjoyed this book, it was engaging and exciting from start to finish. I would definitely recommend if you like sci-fi or dystopian fiction or are just looking for a little something different. The romance is plausible and Cinder is a great kick-ass lead. This is more than a fairy tale retelling and would be a excellent story without it, the ending left me turning the page and needing more, I can't wait to get my hands on Scarlet.

My rating: 4

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

New Books

These are all the book I bought in May and boy did I buy a lot. I didn't get much reading done in May because I had my final third year exams. No more studying for me :). So most of these books are on my June TBR pile.

 Looking For Alaska By John Green
Eric by Terry Pratchett
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
I am Legend by Richard Matheson
Flowers for Alergnon by Daniel Keys
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
Cinder by Merissa Meyer
The Beautiful and the Damned by F.Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gastby by F.Scott Fitzgerald
Tender is the Night by F.Scott Fitzgerald
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain Banks
Walking on Glass by Iain Banks
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Paper Towns by John Green

These books I got for free from book and publishing events I attended through work

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Casino Royal by Ian Flemming
Misery by Stephen King

Fuse by Julianna Baggott
Fracture by Megan Miranda
Hidden by Marianne Curley
Insignia by S.J Kincaid
Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

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Green-Eyed Demon by Jaye Wells

“He paused, letting the tension mount. His solemn gaze met mine. "How long are you going to make me wait?"

I considered making a joke. Blowing the whole thing off like nothing had happened. But I cared about Adam too much to dismiss his genuine interest with careless sarcasm. "I don't know."

He stared at me for a few moments. Behind his eyes I could see the wheels turning. Weighing the options and eventualities. Finally, he breathed out through his nose, like expelling bad energy. "Well, I guess that's better than 'never'.”

Green-eyed demon is the third book in the Sabina Kane series, it picks up a couple of days after Sabina's sister has been kidnapped by her Grandmother. I absolutely adore this series, it has everything you could want from an urban fantasy, Vampires, Werewolves, Mages and a kick-ass heroine. We move cities again in this story and Sabina finds herself in the home of voodoo, New Orleans.

This story is all about character progression, Sabina is becoming less cold-hearted and there are many scenes within this book were we see her thinking about her actions instead of just jumping in and thinking about the consequences later. In order to get her sister back she has to learn to work with others and keep her mouth shut at times. Which we know from past books is very hard for Sabina to do. I like how she becomes more open and vulnerable and she is starting to understand more why she is unable to love. Wells does all this though without losing the qualities of Sabina we love so much, she is still pretty much bad-ass, has a wonderful snarky attitude and always manages to piss someone off.

I don't want to give to much away but Sabina and Adams relationship certainly starts to heat up finally (even thought its at a snails pace). After she ran into the arms of another man in the last book,Sabina ends up having a heart to heart with Giguhl about her and Adam and he gives her some very good advice. They still have a lot to work out at the end of the book but the L word may be mentioned by a certain someone at one point. Sabina is finally understanding that letting people in and showing emotion is not a bad thing.

As usual the fight scenes are intense and action packed. Wells never fails to create fast paced and descriptive action sequences that constantly have you wondering if everyone will survive. The big bad evil that the plot seems to centre about was not too much of a surprise I had pretty much guessed it a couple of chapters in but still it is going to make a good story arc for the next story. I loved the setting of New Orleans, I've been there when I went travelling and it made the perfect setting for this story, the graveyards and voodoo queens, really give the story a spooky magical quality.

The only thing I will say about this book is Sabina's actions would at times frustrate me, she seemed to be making progress in admitting how she was feeling and then she would do something stupid again. I know learning takes time but how many times can you learn the same lesson.

Green-Eyed Demon is a fast past and well executed book, it kept me hooked from start to finish. All the characters learn something about themselves and the world around them in this book and not everyone at the end is the same any more.

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Paper Towns by John Green

“The town was paper, but the memories were not.”

Paper Towns follows the story of Quintin 'Q', the one crazy night he spends with Margo Roth Spiegelman and what happens afterwards. The story is spilt into three parts; the strings, the grass and the vessel, each part discusses a different philosophy on life.Margo's 'strings' that can eventually become cut until there is nothing left, Walt Whitman's 'grass' which becomes a metaphor for so many different things, hope, life, death, connectedness or Q's  'cracked vessel' where we start out whole but as life continues on we become cracked and broken. 

This is my second John Green novel, the first one I read was 'The Fault in Our Stars' which set Mr Green on a very high pedestal. When I finished this book I found it rather hard to decide whether I liked it or not. I liked the themes and ideas behind but I don't think it had be as enthralled as the fault in our stars did but maybe that is just because I had such an emotional connection to the latter.

Margo and Q represent more than just two high school children who've known each other their entire lives but not really known each other. They show how the world views each other, we have these ideas in our heads about people, even people we are extremely close too but are they really true. Do we know the person or just a version of themselves? Q thinks he knows Margo, they live next door to each other, she appears to be happy and care free but is she really, as the story progresses it seems more and more that Margo feels lonely and isolated, misunderstood by those around here. In one particular scene Q thinks he sees Margo laughing when really she is screaming because she is angry. Q has Margo on a pedestal, he likes the idea of her without really knowing who she is. 

“When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out.” 

The middle of this book was hard going for me, as they searched for the missing Margo following more and more of her clues, I found myself not caring at some points, at first Margo seemed selfish and uncaring. She knew people would be missing her and yet she just left and it wasn't the first time she had done it and yet as the story progressed and I realised how vulnerable she really was, I stared wondering along with Q if she really had killed herself. 

Throughout this book Q learns more about how he judges other people based on his own ideas. He has to learn to accept his best friend Ben for his 'honeybunny'  and prom loving ways. People aren't going to be who we want them to be but you just need to learn to accept it.

“You know your problem, Quentin? You keep expecting people not to be themselves. I mean, I could hate you for being massively unpunctual and for never being interested in anything other than Margo Roth Spiegelman, and for, like, never asking me about how it's going with my girlfriend - but I don't give a shit, man, because you're you. My parents have a shit ton of black Santas, but that's okay. They're them. I'm too obsessed with a reference website to answer my phone sometimes when my friends call, or my girlfriend. That's okay, too. That's me. You like me anyway. And I like you. You're funny, and you're smart, and you may show up late, but you always show up eventually.” 

Paper Towns is a wonderful if yet slow moving and slightly repetitive story about looking at more than just a paper image of someone. This book gets you to think about people being more than just the outside shell that they allow us to see. People are complex, with hidden layers and it is only when the cracks start to show that we can really start to see them at all.  
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Monday, 3 June 2013

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” 

Coraline is a delightfully short and creepy book, a story that is both appealing to adults and children alike.

Coraline is a clever and curious child who is often misunderstood by her parents. She loves to explore and on one particular boring and rainy afternoon she finds a mysterious door in her house that leads to no-where. Coraline can't let the mystery of the door rest and soon she finds a whole new 'other' world.

I love the character of Coraline, she has a wonderful imagination and is extremely brave and has a rather quirky sense of humour. Through the book she grows and learns and finds courage and wisdom to save herself and her parents.

“Because,' she said, 'when you're scared but you still do it anyway, that's brave”

 The Cat who has no name and cats require no names, is one of my highlights from this book. he is sarcastic and witty and his personality is exactly how I imagine a cat would be if they could talk.

Gaimans writing defines dark and creepy and the images in the book are enough to scare anyone. His descriptions of the other mother and other father become more and more disturbing as the book progress. A great introduction into Neil Gaiman and fans of his other work won't be disappointed.
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