2

Revisiting Anna and the French Kiss

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I don’t know about you, but I need a new Stephanie Perkins book like yesterday!

Anna and the French Kiss is probably one of the only books I will happily re-read. I’m not a re-read person so this is a big deal.

But 2016? Ugh! I’m dying here!

Which was your favourite of the series? 

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April 2015 Round-Up

Well, April was busier than I thought it would be.

It was one of those months that I assumed would be full of dossing around and lots of reading. WRONG!

I started with good intentions. I was getting stuck in to CampNaNoWriMo and things were going well… and then I went to London Book Fair and everything got a little crazy.

You can read the article I wrote about the Sally Green ‘Dark Arts’ panel on the Hoddercape website. Yup, I managed to wriggle myself onto there which is very exciting!

Aaaand then it was suddenly one week until hand in. Oh. My. Gods. Yeah, I severely underestimated my word count.. as in, I put all the bits and pieces together and it was over a thousand words from where I needed it to be. Oops. It came right in the end, of course. But I never want to feel like that again (like my stomach had dropped out of my arse, if you must know).

More news: I became the literature contributor for FLiCKonline.co.uk which is a lot of fun!

But all this excitement meant not a lot of books were read! Sad times! Serious sad times. I’ve found a link between the amount of books I read and the amount of words I write of my own stuff, so my output has been measly.

So what did I actually read?

I haven’t quite finished The Happiness Project, but I’m literally a few pages away, so I’m counting it… I need the numbers! HA!

The Dark Light and Hidden Huntress won’t have reviews until closer to the pub date but the others are already up or will be live soon.

And hey! I joined Vine. Why? Because… fun.

https://vine.co/v/ezXwqurHKaP/embed/postcard

I don’t feel like I’ve been connecting to y’all and your blogs very well this month, but please please PLEASE link me to a favourite blog post of yours, or something you think I should read, or whatever, and I’ll head straight on over. Deal? x

8

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Feature Characters Who Shocked Me!

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Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

So this week was a ‘fill the blank': Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who _______

Shocked Me.

Here I’ve chosen to feature characters that have left me agog, aghast, astonished. Characters that have fooled me all along and then POW! They reveal something that I couldn’t have guessed, or that I had an incline about but didn’t really think it would come off. Characters that go above and beyond. Or choose the path less trodden.

I’m not sure I’ll make it to ten, but here we go:

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No list is ever complete without me wanging on about how much I love Haas and her ‘Dangerous’ books. But I think for this list Girls definitely meets my requirements. The character of Anna completely blindsided me. The ending of this book left me breathless. Shocking. Disturbing. Gorgeous.

 

 

 

 

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Oh my days. This series has me by the throat. In a chokehold. I’m attached to it whether I like it or not (and I like it. I like it a lot). But Roque in this book… oh my days. If I weren’t made of stone I would have cried. I had a lump in my throat, my mouth was open in disbelief and I kept praying it was all a dream and it wasn’t really happening. But it was. Gods. It’s gorydamn upsetting! Bravo Mr Brown, you got me good. *sniffles*

 

 

 

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Yup. She got me. Mara got me. This I had an incline about, but the way the end of this series ties everything together is magical. Hodkin is a real talented writer. But more than just the end, I found Mara’s decisions throughout the series to be consistently shocking! It really keeps you on your toes!

 

 

 

 

 

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Perhaps the ‘shock’ here is more subtle. But I found Faythe’s character kept me on tenterhooks. She made decisions that I didn’t necessarily agree with but that made her all the more human. But JEEZ she kept me guessing right up to the last few pages of the last book! Dammit woman! Her final ‘decision’ shocked me because I was so sure she’d go one way… and then she went the other! Relief!

 

 

 

12106940 (1)I had to include Miss Sookie Stackhouse because I rooted for her throughout the whole of this series. Bill, Eric, Alcide, will they? Won’t they? Fae, vampires, werewolves… oh my!

And then the last book rolls around and I remember finishing it and then staring at the back cover for ages like ‘what the hell was that?’

I didn’t see it coming. At all. Sookie shocked the hell out of me with her final decision. And I wasn’t a happy camper. I can appreciate where Harris is coming from with it as an overall message, but it didn’t satisfy my inner reader at all.

 

 

Hoi. Well I made it to five! Party!

I ended up not forcing this list to ten because there were a lot of books that could have been included but they weren’t ‘shocking’ on the same scale as those listed. Huh. This was a tough one!

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Top Ten Tuesday: All time favourite authors

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TTT hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Holy hell. This is going to be difficult.. especially when I’m down to only one or two spaces left. Hurrrh. Here goes…

1. Richelle Mead. Because, hello? She’s badass. I love both her YA and adult titles. I love her character creation. I love her. I actually love her. End of. (Cannot WAIT for Soundless)

2. Anne Rice. I think her books really started something in me. The prose, the magic of the words, something about it all made me want to try and do it too. And ohmigosh. I have Prince Lestat… It’s slowly making its way up my TBR. I’m savouring it.

3. Maria V Snyder. I still feel so blessed to have met her. Similar to my experience with Rice’s books, reading the Study series sparked the reader inside me to come back to life again. Valek was my first (and probably only true) book boyfriend. Shadow Study was so good; you can see my review here.

 

4. Jennifer L Armentrout. Now, I’ve always felt a little guilty over how I acted in regards to the Covenant series. But the wonderful thing that hindsight is led me to write an honest letter of apology. I mean, it didn’t actually ‘do’ anything, but I felt like I had in how my brain thought about it, you know? Anyway, I received a lovely response to my blubbering letter and all is well with the world (although, she possibly thinks I’m a bit screwy). That said, I will pick up and read anything this woman writes. And man alive, she writes a lot!! Wicked is next on my list to read.

5. Megan Miranda. Another slightly odd choice, perhaps, because I haven’t always rated her books with flying five out of fives. But! There is something so compelling about her writing style. I love it. I think Hysteria is probably my favourite from her so far, but I included Soulprint since it was the most recent.

6. Pierce Brown. Came storming into my life with Red Rising.. which I didn’t stop raving about for the full year before Golden Son was published. Just some real good story telling. The detail, the drama, the politics. All of it meshes together beautifully. Gritty, squishy writing. (huh?)

7. Abigail Haas (aka Abby McDonald). This woman. She writes under three names (that I know of) and I won’t lie if I say that it has given me the confidence to do the same, when the time comes. I love her books as ‘Haas’ especially. Dark, terrifying and MY GOSH the endings. Phenomenal.

8. Leigh Bardugo. Her writing style is so addictive. Beautiful prose. Characters you really feel. And stories to end all stories! Ha ha! I’m really looking forward to Six of Crows.

9. Rachel Vincent. If I binge read an entire series you penned, in just one month, then you deserve to be on this lift. I loved the Shifters series, but having just received an ARC for The Stars Never Rise.. I’m more than excited!

10. J R Ward. All hail the WARDen. The Black Dagger Brotherhood series is up to 13 books now, and it doesn’t show any signs of tiredness. Strong, solid reads with badass mofo characters leading the story. There is no one like her. *bows down*

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Phew! We made it! Who would you include on your list?

 

2

Judgin’ a book by its cover: ‘decapitate them, to relate’

So this is a post about Nearly Headless Nick.. heh.

Naw, this week I’m looking at some of the ‘headless’ covers that really work.

You know the ones, the model on the front in a certain pose.. but we can’t see their face. Why? Because as a reader we’re supposed to relate. The point is that it’s US in the story, not whoever they slap on the front cover.

Oh, the possibilities! Below are some of my favourites; I’ll be listing ‘fails’ in a different post.

15777621 I have a real soft spot for this book, to the point that I still haven’t been able to get my thoughts together on it enough to write a proper review. I’m trying!

I think this cover does all it needs to do.

The font is simple, but the added ‘red’ letters spelling ‘love’ area  cute touch (even if, in hindsight, it doesn’t quite hit the mark in regards to the story) and I like the smaller details on the model.

It helps that I have a pair of gold headphones… THAT COULD BE ME!

As an aside: Does anyone else struggle to wear glasses and headphones at the same time?

 

 

 

11408650You get two headless mdoels for the price of one here! WINNING!

Again, maybe the metaphor here only makes sense once you’ve started reading the series (cos hell, I drowned in confusion! Still really enjoyed it.. but jeez, throw me a life jacket!)

I like how this says ‘I’ll describe myself in the form of a contemporary dance, underwater’.

It made me want it. And so I got it. Marketing strategy was a success.

 

 

 

 

 

17926775Again, WINNING! I want to be her.

There is so much to like on this cover. There is an acute attention to detail that I truly admire. It sings fantasy (ironic! If you’ve read it, you’ll get what I mean) and promises so much.

And what dya know? The narrative delivers everything it said on the tin!

I miss Strange Chemistry books…

 

 

 

 

 

 

12924275Ooh. Oh. Oooh.

Sorry. I had to have a private moment there.

The art and design on this cover is right up my street. It’s the black and red. The ‘Madam Red’ from Black Butler vibe. Satin. Parasol. Long gloves.

I want it.

I want it all. Now. Gimme.

I haven’t actually read this book yet, but I have it. Because, duh!

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think? What other books would you add?

12

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (February 2015) Bought with my Christmas book tokens :)

“The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?”

*this will be as spoiler free as possible, so some points might be a bit vague. Feel free to drop me a message if you wanna rant and rave about the plot, characters etc. 

The cover man. This cover is doing so much work by staying understated. It’s beautiful! And I don’t mind saying it’s part of the reason I wanted to read it.

I’ve spotted some mixed reviews around the interwebs, so I did go in with some trepidation.

At first, I will admit, it felt like a chore to read. And that’s never a good sign. But my attitude changed very much so, by the end.

What worked for me?

Maven – Huh huh. Yep. Whatever you say about him, the way his character is presented on the page is perfection. He has the biggest impact, methinks.

Cal – Yup. Liked him too. His interest in mechanics is what swayed me. You know what I’m talking about. ;)

Abilities – I really enjoyed discovering the different abilities the ‘silvers’ had. I thought out of everything, this felt the most originally crafted.

That twist – Even though I could almost feel it coming, this was the one thing that jumped up and got me. I’m not completely sure someone could change so suddenly like that. But I felt that one. Ouch.

What didn’t work?

Story – Ok. Not ALL of the story. Let me try and explain. There were a lot of moments near the beginning that I struggled with because of how predictable it was. And when it wasn’t predictable, it wasn’t unexpected. Red Queen feels like it takes from a many number of fantasy and SF canon and just reuses it without really changing it.

These are the books this book reminded me of: Red Rising by Pierce Brown, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Stolen Songbird by Danielle L Jensen…

And sure, you could probably find glimmers of all in each. But I didn’t read the above titles and think whilst reading them that they were like other books. It was only in hindsight. Here though, I couldn’t help but see it as I read it.

Here’s why I think this might be the case: Not enough time is spent immersing the reader into the world. I like The Stilts and the idea of a lowly race of people oppressed by some god-like others must rise up! Well, it’s a timeless theme. But I don’t think we were there long enough to care. We were told how bad it was, but I didn’t get chance to experience it with Mare.

Mare – Is a female horse. I can’t get passed that. Soz. Xx

Show me – Like I mention above, there was a lot of ‘telling’ me how Mare felt, how terrible conditions were, how the politics of the world were so much bigger than her.. I wanted to feel it, not be told it.

Details – Again, I think more time needed to be spent leading the reader in a bit more. I wasn’t sure what kind of world this was. They have electricity, television screen, CCTV.. so this is a hybrid type fantasy setting? I think what was throwing me was the turns of phrase, using words like ‘hell’ clanged because did they believe in hell? As far as I could tell, they seemed to have a system completely devoid of faith, except that of the monarchy.

Also, I wasn’t sure I was really going along with the motive to keep Mare alive. Could the plot have played out the same without her? Probably. It might have even have been easier, in the long run, if you think about it. With Queen Elara’s powers, surely they could have had anyone take Mare’s role in it all? *shrugs*

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It’s fair to say I have conflicted feelings about this book. However, it did get better the further I read. The beginning, for me, did not fill me with much confidence that this was going to be anything special or different. But the end of this book is its redeeming quality. It’s exciting and I was finally feeling how high the stakes were.

I definitely look forward to reading book 2 because I’m attached to the brothers, if no one else. I can’t wait to see how their stories unfold from here! Where the hell can you go?!

I gave this book a good 3.5 out of 5. I wanted it to blow my socks off, but it didn’t. I enjoyed it well enough though and there is some real shiny characterisation going on.