20 November 2014

Review: Cress - Marissa Meyer

The third book in the Lunar Chronicles was so, so good. I got so into this again, even though I hadn't read Scarlet in a really long time and could barely remember Thorne and Wolf. I am now completely desperate for Winter, which is going to be amazing, I can tell.

As always, Meyer has created a sophisticated plot brought beautifully to life with her easy to read writing style and impeccable description. If you thought Cinder and Scarlet, were well done, just wait til you read Cress.

Firstly, Cress is a wonderful character. She is totally cut off from the world and not quite normal, but she is a sweet and very clever girl. She does need to learn a few things, but as we go through the book you can see that she is learning. The character development with Cress and Thorne was lovely and I liked the way that they weaved into being the characters in the fairytales. I finally understood why Thorne is called Thorne, and I loved that Cress isn't actually her name, but it goes so well for the Rapunzel story (those of you who don't know, Rapunzel is named after the Rampion plant, and it's leaves and root are both edible). I thought that some of the development of other character was slightly lacking in terms of Cinder, Scarlet and Wolf. I still adore Iko, who doesn't?

The one thing that really struck me after reading this book was the example that these main characters set. These strong, clever and emotional female characters are amazing role models and the book delivers some great messages in always telling the truth, to fight for yourself and to have some self-belief.

It's nice to see some original Grimm fairytale elements coming through in this book. I won't ruin it for you, but the turn of events is brilliant and the link to the original story has been done flawlessly inside the context, giving magical elements a much more scientific and futuristic base. I mean, even the settings are pretty perfect.

I thought that the space/ desert setting was really cool and quite unexpected. I loved seeing how everything comes together towards the finale. Everything and everyone are so much more interlinked than I realised. This sets up for one heck of a finale, with a full-on war, and we get to see what happens with Winter. Has her fairytale come to pass yet I wonder? I personally think it has but it ended rather differently. Might she want the crown? I can see a way out, but it's going to be a rocky ride.

Wow is all in can say.

Kyrax

14 November 2014

Book Banter #7 - How Long Can You Leave A Series For?



I just started reading Cress (Lunar Chronicles 3), which is great so far, but the only problem is I can't remember most of what has happened! It must be well over a year, perhaps maybe two years, since I read Scarlet, and a few months before that I read Cinder. Scarlet must not have made a huge impression on me, because I completely forgot about Thorne and Wolf, and where exactly Cinder was at this time.

Thank God for recaps at the beginning of books. Usually I hate this, but this time I am really glad there have been enough references to past events that I can (sort of) remember what has already happened, and piece together the parts that just elude me.

So my question is, how long is too long to leave a series for? I guess it depends on your memory, and on how much you previously enjoyed that series. A year seems to be the accepted time frame by publishers, but I believe that most people's memories aren't quite that long. They remember the jist of the story, but not all of it. Details woven into the plot can be easily missed by those, like me, who can't remember a name or seemingly insignificant events.

Needless to say, I'll be trying not to wait so long between the next books.
Kyrax

13 November 2014

Review: Graduation Day - Joelle Charbonneau

Cia now fully remembers the tragic events of the testing and is plotting to take the process down however she can. Although she has survived through many trials, she needs to be completely certain of who she can trust. Her life, and the lives of countless rebels and future colony students, are at stake. She needs to be careful though, because everything is not quite how it seems.

I was expecting a straightforward end to this trilogy, with a simple scheme that would set everything right again, that would end the testing. After all, this is YA fiction, and sometimes it's not all that complex. However, our author has a few tricks up her sleeve. The book starts simply enough, with a clear path in which to end the suffering, but then you realise it won't be a easy as it seems, with so many allegiances, secrets and misconceptions. There are a couple of very interesting plot developments, most of which linger in the background and slowly come to their conclusion during the end of the book. This means that you get to work out all the good bits with Cia rather than ahead of her.

We see a  fair bit more of Zeen, Raffe and Tomas here, and it is nice to see them developing slightly. However, the largest differences are now seen outside of the main protagonists, with Will, Dr Barnes and the President way in front in terms of character development. Cia seems to have stopped growing and instead finds the need to now hang on to the girl she was before. Here trusting nature is revealed to be more of a strength than a weakness when she finally learns the correct balance.

A very good read overall and a satisfying conclusion, though slightly drawn out nearing the very end. This epilogue part could easily have been drawn out further into a short but instead has been explained away, which is a great shame.

Exciting and interesting, this series has some great world-building and there is some wonderful storytelling involved. It would definitely hold YA interest throughout, especially those who enjoyed The Hunger Games and Divergent.
Kyrax

11 November 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #25 - Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit


Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where I will be picking from their top tens and attempting to reveal what my thinking is behind these choices.

Places books have made me want to visit:

1. Oslo/ Norway
The Witches, by Roald Dahl was one of my favourite books to read growing up. I loved this strange country where witches lurked around every corner and the funny, fierce old woman who lived there. I have always wanted to visit it. Also, Northern Lights  was another favourite, and it made me want to go there to experience the Aurora Borealis, so I'm twice as hungry for it.

2. Rural France
Lansquenet Sous-Tannes. I'm not even sure if it's a real place, but it feels real to me. First mentioned in Chocolat by Joanne Harris, it then features throughout a few more of her books, including my favourite, Five Quarters of the Orange. Although I have been to France before, I want to have the incredible experience of eating in patisseries and chocolateries and meld it all with a market village life along the banks of a beautiful river with gypsies living along the banks and irritable old ladies settling in shops for a mug of chocolat chaud.

3. New Orleans
The Casquette Girls is something I read quite recently, and I really enjoyed it! I want to put a city to a name now and stroll around in the historic french quarter. I want to see voodoo shops and street celebrations and really take in the history and the eerieness of the place. Oh, and did I mention it's the setting for Disney's The Princess and the Frog?

4. Narnia
It's quite not as dangerous as the likes of Westeros and you don't get stuck there, unlike Neverland. No time passes when you're there, so you can go off an have an adventure, see some mermaids and a giant friendly lion and come back to your boring life again. Plus, there are so many magical entities that I would love to spend time with! Hell, once I wished I was a Dryad.

5. Madrid
It's not often I get funny notions of going to big cities, but Carlos Ruiz Zafon's novels truly take me to Madrid, and I would love to see it and experience life there. It sounds like a great holiday destination with a lot of history and it can get a bit creepy at times I am sure.

6. Ancient Europe, Greece and Rome
Any Ben Kane novel can take me to this point in time, as well as the excellent David Gemmel series, Troy. I'm not really one for danger, and this is rife with it, so perhaps I would lay low. I think it would be incredible to go back to this time and see how people did things then. I love the mythology of these times and I think we could learn a lot from the way these people lived.

7. Ingo
I wish I was away in Ingo... I really do. This beautiful but treacherous undersea world, thought up by Helen Dunmore,  is filled with merpeople, and I love the idea that you can become one, and that people are actually able to breathe underwater if Ingo wants you to.

8. The Bayou
Ok, this is not dissimilar to New Orleans, but instead of going to the city, I would want to see the Bayou in all its glory. This was inspired by Teardrop, which focuses much more on the power of water and the Bayou feels like an extension of this power, as it floats in the background only to become part of a main event later on.

9. Italy, Rome and Venice
This is derived from Dan Browns novels, Angels and Demons, and Inferno. I am pretty obsessed over history, and it really liked the way the mystery fits in with the actual stuff in real life. I have been to Rome and seen a few of the landmarks in the book. Let me say they are stunning and well worth going to see.

10. Neverwhere
Who wouldn't want to travel to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, an alternate version of our London, where nothing is as it seems and some things have been taken pretty literally. Black Friars really does have Black Friars in it while The Angel, Islington is an angel named Islington. I need to read this book again.

Kyrax

10 November 2014

Film Mini Review: In Time

Synopsis:

In a world where time is money, people live freely until they are 25, when a timer device begins ticking on their arm. They then have one year until their death. While some die young, with next to no time amounted and stuck in dead end jobs, other high flyers in better time zones can live for a hundred years, a thousand years, even a million. It all depends how successful you are, and where you were born. Some live by this law: for the few to live, many must die, but two young people are about to put a stop to that.

The Good:
  • An awesome idea of time being currency, set in a dystopian future.
  • Takes on a Bonnie and Clyde feel which is great, but also this all happens for the good of the people from impoverished time zones, which can also be compared to Robin Hood.
  • Olivia Wilde, Cillian Murphy, Alex Pettyfer, Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfriend star, and it's a really good watch.
  • Lots of action.
  • Makes you honestly question what you would do in such a situation.
  • Dystopia, yay!
The Bad:
  • I am not too keen on Justin Timberlake's acting abilities
  • More world development would have been good.
  • Some distances and time-frame didn't make sense when added up against the time on the protagonist's clocks. eg: When passing between multiple checkpoints.
Overall:

A really good film and something I will be watching again. Suitable for fans of dystopia and action films, as well as sci-fi lovers and those who like a futuristic feel. Very entertaining.
Kyrax

9 November 2014

Review: Independent Study - Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing was only the beginning. Cia is once again forced to use all her wits as she enters University. Fist she sits the enttry exams, where the penalty for failing is redirection. Then life gets even harder as she is separated from those she trusts and  put through a horrific hazing system.

Here we see Cia develop all over again as she begins to piece together her testing experiences. Her nightmares and the recording she left herself are enough to give her a good sense of the awful things she has to face. People change during the testing, and she has no idea who to trust and who will be the same person they were before they entered the process. Cia is on her own, and with her memories slowly returning, she come to the conclusion that the testing has to end. This character never disappoints. Her trusting nature still makes her an easy target, but she is working on it. The plot device to allow her to forget her memories actually give an excuse to recap the last book throughout, whilst not giving a boring overview at the beginning.  This was great as too many books do this, and when you are reading one after the other, this can be really aggravating.

In this second book of the testing trilogy, we meet more characters, and more about the Government and the rebellion is revealed throughout. This has developed the plot very well, but unfortunately once again the supporting character have not been given the same treatment. While a few key classmates stick out in terms of the fact that they may have ulterior motives and that they have different beliefs to Cia, they do not come to the fore, and Cia remains the only character who truly has a lot of depth given to her.

However, I really enjoyed this book. The pace was as good as the first, and the plot is full of action, with no dull moments. The story definitely pulls you in straight away, and the idea has now taken a further step away from other YA dystopian fiction that may be similar. A great read.

Kyrax

8 November 2014

Review: The Testing - Joelle Charbonneau

Cia is a determined girl and a hard worker. Her goal is to be chosen for the testing and  to go to University like her father. She soon learns to be careful what you wish for when the testing takes a sinister turn, with failure meaning almost certain death. Cia soon has to use all of her knowledge to ensure her own safety. Her only clue as to how to survive is the advice her father gave before she left home: Trust no-one.

Another YA dystopian trilogy with a skewed Government and a horrific amount of danger involved. This book is similar to The Hunger Games in that young people are pitted against each other in a competition, but this one is far more precise. The playing field is more even and the tests are more sophisticated, the players are cleverer too, with much more room for trickery and tactics. yes, you have to try not to die, but it becomes apparent that the answer is to evaluate the competition carefully and fully utilise your skills.

Cia is a great character that you can really sympathise with. She is very smart, compassionate but slightly too trusting and slow to make decisions. She is emotional and understanding in the worst circumstances, and sometimes this makes you wonder if she will survive the process at all. Her journey is difficult, but seems natural as she slowly learns to be tougher, to listen to her instincts and to become less trusting. However, although Cia is great, there is much less character development in her supporting characters, such as Tomas and Will.

The main theme in the book is trust. Though there is romance involved, even that is affected by the tests and the secrets Cia has to keep. This book really makes you think about what you would do in these situations. Who would you trust? How much would you know? How would you cope with the pressure, the animosity, the danger? Would you even make it to the testing? The book also makes a comment about human nature as some candidates turn to manipulation and murder to succeed in these tests, thereby forcibly eliminating the competition. The question is, would you?

The Testing is very fast paced, with no boring parts and lots of interest. This is a great start to the trilogy and I am very intrigued as to what happens next, especially with the ending that has taken place.

Kyrax

6 November 2014

November Update

So as some of you may have noticed, I have recently skipped a couple of days of blogs. This is because my internet is down and I can barely get online. If I do, it takes up far too much of my time waiting for it to respond. This is time I really don't have.

Therefore, I am sorry to say that until this is fixed properly I will only be working on the blog on weekends. Hopefully this won't be too awful, but in the meantime I am going to only be reviewing the books I am reading and maybe making some Book Banter and Top Ten Tuesday posts. This might mean that I will be posting a couple of times a week instead of every day.

Bear with me! I am hoping that the issue is solved soon!
Kyrax

5 November 2014

Wednesday Wishlist #27 - Halloween Edition


Enjoy the creepfest!

The Fall - Bethany Griffin


Based on The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, this book follows the story of Madeleine Usher, who is cursed to die young and forever live in the haunted Usher home, which seems to have a life of its own. A psychological thriller which sounds incredibly creepy.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan

Yay! Zombies! our main character is trapped inside a rigid world of rules, but one by one these rules fail her. People keep dying, and eventually she has to choose between her home and the one she loves. Is there a life for them outside the safe fences of the village?

The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness

Being able to hear other people's thoughts mixed in with a horrible secret and a thrilling chase where it is highly likely the bad guy knows what you're thinking. Wow, how will the protagonist get out of that? Or maybe they won't?

Kyrax

4 November 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #24 - Creepiest Books I've Read



1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The graveyard scene scared the hell out of me!

2. The Prince of Mist
A scary YA with clown ghosts and misty seas, courtesy of Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

3. The Midnight Palace
This YA by Carlos Ruiz Zafon contains a very ominous railways station and a vengeful ghost.

4. Goosebumps (the werewolf skin one)
Both the TV series and the books scared me, but this was by far the scariest one.

5. Dracula
This classic is a great read, though not as scary as it would have been originally. I blame scary films.

6. Frankenstein
A good read, but it's the idea of creating a living thing and the madness that consumed Frankenstein that actually makes this book scary. not the monster himself. Well, apart from the fact that he is made up of multiple dead people and is quite murderous.

7. Unwind
Again, the worst part about this was the idea of being unwound. Staying alive while bit by bit, pieces of your body are taken away from you, just because your body parts are worth more than you are. Just because you're not allowed to go on living.

8. The Angel's Game
This one was horrible because you never really knew what was going on or who to trust. Not quite scary, but scary enough. It had a few mind games, and of course it's another Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

9. Sleep Pale Sister
This creepy victorian style ghost story is courtesy of Joanne Harris, as is the next story. This one was really interesting and I loved the way the story dropped into place quite nicely.

10. The Evil Seed
This one is quite a thrilling, and chilling, vampire story, and it was really engrossing. Joanne Harris really knows how to write.

Kyrax

3 November 2014

Mini Review: Deathless - Catherynne M. Valente

Deathless is based on Russian folklore detailing the life of Marya Morevna, the wife of the Tsar of Life, Koschei. The story follows Marya as the protagonist, where as a child she waits for a bird to marry her, and through her challenges as she is abducted and taken to the Tsar's kingdom, where she is given difficult tasks by Baba Yaga, all the way through to the end of the war between life and death.

The Good:
  • The russian folklore ties in beautifully with the events preceeding the first world war, and if you know your history, you may find a few familiar faces there.
  • Strange magic and very dark, reminiscent of Grimm's tales rather than the cutesy things we see today.
  • A fairytale for adults which has a rather bittersweet ending, makes you want to read the original stories.
  • Stunning descriptions
  • Excellent characterisation of Marya, Koshei, Baba Yaga and a couple of Marya's demonic friends.
The Bad: 
  • I didn't invest in too many of the characters and did not like hte inclusion of Ivan, even if he was integral to the story
  • Confusing at times as the timeline jumps around during the beginning and end, not telling you where you are sometimes.
  • The end did get a little bit boring and nonsensical.
Overall:
This is a nice book and a very interesting one, however, it was a little bit long and did drag slightly in places where there was next to no action. The whole story, while I liked the magical elements and the adult aspect of it, was dark and didn't capture me the way other dark fairytales have.

Kyrax

2 November 2014

Book Banter #6 - Choosing Which Book To Read


I believe that there are only five ways in which you can go about choosing a book. Although many may choose differently each time, I am one of those people who remain mostly in my last category, and only in the first due to blog pressure.

Which do you fit into? Or are you.. Divergent? (I could not resist!)

1. Orderly
This method involves reading books in the order that you buy them or borrow them. This makes it really easy to choose, specifically because you don't really have to. Perhaps you have an ounce of restraint and only buy one book at a time (I really don't), or perhaps you do this as a means to make it easy, like it's a stock rotation.

2. Lazily
Sometimes the lazy way is the best way: let someone else pick for you and save yourself the hassle. Plus, it makes it kind of exciting when you have no idea what you're reading next.. or is that just me? Maybe you get people to recommend book to you, or maybe you pushed the boat out and got people to answer a poll online. This is living on the edge.. I'm not sure if I could ever be ready to take this method on.

3. Randomly
Living way, way over the edge. Writing down all your books and making a bookish lucky dip, closing your eyes and pointing at the reading pile, blurb surfing books in shops. I just.. I can't.

4. Seasonally
Maybe you're the type of person who liked to read scary books in October, romance in February, thrillers in January and YA in spring. Perhaps it's a bit more simple than that and maybe you read books that are due to be released in the near future as movies, you know.. to judge them ahead of time. I try to do this.. but I just get too carried away by certain genres that I never have read a Christmas book in December, or a summer book on holiday.

5. Emotionally
This is me. I choose my books according to whatever takes my fancy as soon as I'm finished with the first one. Sometimes I am so into a series i read the lot in one go. Sometimes I will read book after book of fairytale retelling or YA dystopias, just  because I am in that kind of mood. I tend to get really into genres before switching to the next. At the moment, it's dystopia again!

Which type are you? Do you have any others to add?

Kyrax

1 November 2014

The Immortal Circus: Final Act - A.H. Kahler

The final book in the Immortal Circus trilogy sees Vivienne betrayed by those she cares about and cheated by Mab, the faerie queen of the winter court, into becoming the ringmaster of the circus. She is trapped, powerless despite the fact that she can destroy demons and is unable to calm the angry troupe. She still sees horrific visions, and every day gets closer to the future she has seen.

This whole series is one that I have not been able to put down, and the final book is no exception. I was so invested in the entire story and couldn't wait to see how it would all pan out, and this was definitely not a disappointment. There are a fair few unexpected elements, danger lurks around every corner and Mab continues to throw obstacles in Vivienne's way. We even see a glimpse of the Winter court! This ending was great, and it was the build up of tension that I really liked, which ran throughout the books and finally came to fruition here.

Th explanations given to certain plot points (notice I am trying hard not to give anything away), were very nicely reasoned out and everything actually made utter sense. I think my only issue was that at the end we didn't quite get all the 'hows' and 'whys', only what happens a long time later and the in-between is a blank. I would have liked some more explanation as to what happened with the courts and how certain characters lived and died.

There was some slight character development for Vivienne as she realises the truth and learns who she can trust. She also has to cope with a lot of varied emotions as well as the responsibility of looking after others, people she hardly knows. In the end she does exactly what she thinks is right, and it is kind of heart breaking.

Themes of love, betrayal, guilt and remorse run through this story right to the core, with a few disturbing truths and painful choices coming to light. I love the use of the faeries realms and the existence of the circus and really liked how much bigger the story got through every book.

This is a great read and is very satisfying despite lack of detail. It is a well-imagined readable series that I recommend for YA readers and lovers of fairy lore.



The Immortal Circus on Goodreads
Kyrax

31 October 2014

Trailer: The Casquette Girls - Alys Arden



The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden 
(The Casquette Girls #1) 

Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult


I have already read this book and I loved every second. Quite creepy, a nice bit of paranormal and some great voodoo references. Very interesting in terms of history and storyline.


Synopsis:
Seven girls tied by time.
Five powers that bind.
One curse to lock the horror away.
One attic to keep the monsters at bay.
* * *
After the Storm of the Century rips apart New Orleans, Adele Le Moyne and her father are among the first to return to the city following the mandatory evacuation. Adele wants nothing more than for life to return to normal, but with the silent city resembling a mold-infested war zone, a parish-wide curfew, and mysterious new faces lurking in the abandoned French Quarter, normal will have to be redefined.
Events too unnatural – even for New Orleans – lead Adele to an attic that has been sealed for three hundred years, and the chaos she unleashes threatens not only her life but everyone she knows.
Caught suddenly in a hurricane of eighteenth-century myths and monsters, Adele must quickly untangle a web of magic that links the climbing murder rate back to her own ancestors. But who can you trust in a city where everyone has a secret, and where keeping them can be a matter of life and death – unless, that is, you’re immortal.
Trailer:



PurchaseAmazon.com

Author Bio:
Alys Arden grew up in the Vieux CarrĂ©, cut her teeth on the streets of New York, and has worked all around the world since. She still plans to run away with the circus one day.

www.facebook.com/TheCasquetteGirls
www.thecasquettegirls.com
www.alysarden.com

30 October 2014

Review: Remnants of the Damned - Gavin Hetherington

As it's closing in on Halloween, I've been trying to creep myself out, and this book reads just like a classic horror film. It was perfect, but apparently I have a very tough skin.

The first book in The Abyssal Sanctuary Series is a standard horror story. There is a lot of bloodiness and a fair bit of gruesome gore. A lot of vicious attacks and a bit of murder and cannibalism, all in one city. Oh, and people in masks. However, if I had to rate the creepiness factor, it's about a 6 for me, but I have a feeling that reading all these bloodthirsty YA novels has had a hand in it, because the blood loss no longer scares me, and being hunted by things just means you have to fight back.

The narrative comprises of five viewpoints of the main characters, who all saw the aftermath of a murder at their workplace. Something connects all of them, and someone is trying to kill all of them, too. The book begins as a young girl if horrifically murdered in front of a crowd of people at a cafe, including her own sister, and the viewpoints culminate to one event, where they team up to find out what on earth is going on.

This book is seriously bloodthirsty and full of action, perfect for those of you who like a bit of gore. It is not especially frightening, though people are dying all the time in quite horrible ways. The thing it seemed to be lacking is character development. Although this is realistic, (because who on earth develops within 24 hours anyway?) it doesn't give the depth of character that we need to like and care about these five. You do root for them, but it is half-hearted as most of them seem too nice and innocent to be real. Maybe there will be more development in the next book as it seems like the town isn't quite done with them yet, and there is a lot being left unanswered here.

There were a few spelling a typo issues, but the most obvious one to me was 'smelt' instead of 'smelled'.

Overall this was a good read, but not exemplary. However, in a horror genre, I do not expect mind blowing things to happen, so this was fine by me. It was quite scary, but not enough to give me nightmares.

Kyrax

27 October 2014

Blog Tour: The Zodiac Collector - Laura Diamond


The Zodiac Collector
Laura Diamond
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Date of Publication: September 23, 2014


Synopsis:

For almost-16 year-old Anne Devans, the annual Renaissance Faire means three things--her dad spending weeks in the smithy, her bipolar mom doing some manic costume making, and another ruined birthday for her and her twin sister, Mary.

This year, Anne wants things to be different, and she's going to do things her way. On the eve of the Faire, Anne, along with a reluctant Mary, conjures up a spell that will make their 16th birthday party a whirlwind event. Little do they know that it's a literal request.

After the mini tornado in their room subsides, the girls realize they've invoked the power of the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux. That's the good news. The bad news is they also caught the attention of a sorceress named Zeena who has been collecting children born under each Zodiac Sign to enhance her power. Once she captures Anne and Mary, Gemini twins, the entire Zodiac, and the world, will be hers.

Anne leads the fight against Zeena, but her one-sided decisions could throw them into a world so far from home, even the Renaissance Faire would seem like a brilliant vacation. Between managing their new Zodiac powers, dodging their manic mother and trying to stop Zeena, they'll get a 16th birthday they'll never forget.

Available at: Amazon - BN - Book Depository

About the Author:

Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist and author of all things young adult paranormal, dystopian, and horror. She’s a lucid dreamer, meaning she can direct her dreams while they’re happening. When she’s awake, she pens stories from her dreams and shares them with her readers.

Laura has many published titles including the Pride Series (New Pride, Shifting Pride, soon to be re-released, and Tsavo Pride), the Endure Series (Endure and Evoke, soon to be re-released), The Zodiac Collector, a novella Sunset Moon in the Lore anthology, and several shorts stories. When she’s not writing, she is working at the hospital, blogging at Author Laura Diamond–Lucid Dreamer, and renovating her 225+ year old fixer-upper mansion.

Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon.com - Blog
Kyrax

26 October 2014

Review: We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

At first, I was confused by this book. The writing really wasn't my kind of thing, with short sentences and paragraphs that didn't quite flow in terms of narrative. At first, I couldn't care less about the beautiful Sinclairs, and I didn't care about these spoilt kids who spend all their summer on a stunning Island with servants to do their cooking and cleaning for them. In all honestly, it got to bout the middle before I realised there was something a bit fishy about the whole thing, until I realised that perhaps there was more here than met the eye. It turns out there was.

This book sets off at a rather slow pace and carries on for quite a while in that way. The tone is confusing until our protagonist tells us about her head injury, and then it makes more sense. The tension never builds, but my interest did peak when I realised there was something pretty dark going on.

And then the truth comes out and hits you like a ton of bricks. You haven't been able to piece it together, it's completely unexpected. I loved that. I loved the way so many things began to make complete sense. I felt a huge loss at all the little things Cadence spoke about doing before, the normal things that were suddenly so far out of reach.

As characters go, Cady is really interesting and her whole group have a good depth to them. They weren't the perfect Sinclairs, they were the ones who value their friendship more than any possessions. Gat is a really great character and a nice love interest. I found all the characters to be quite normal, with their weak points and their strengths. Sometimes I was disgusted and other times I was surprised by some coherent thoughts that were put together by these teenagers.

It was a short book, but it felt longer to me. I was slightly bored by the mundane things, the inconsequential conversations and general glimpses of life. But I kept reading and I am glad I did, because the end, although slightly drawn out after that punch in the stomach, was really good.

Kyrax

25 October 2014

Mini Film Review: Django Unchained

Synopsis: 

A freed slave and an ex-dentist take up bounty hunting together in 1858 America. Django has other plans to save his wife, who is trapped as a servant in a Mississipi cotton plantation.

The Good:

  • Excellent story about love and revenge, really bringing to life the hardships of black people in this place and time.
  • Interesting in the way that Django handles himself, especially towards the other slaves. Is he acting, or is he enjoying it? You honestly can't tell.
  • Christoph Waltz excels as Dr. King Shultz, the ex-dentist, with Jamie Foxx and Leonardo Dicaprio not far behind him.
  • It's got Samuel L. Jackson in it. As we all know, a film isn't a film without him.
  • Funny at times, especially when Waltz says and does clever things.
  • Cameo from Jonah Hill anyone? Two cameos from Quentin Tarantino himself.

The Bad:
  • So, so, graphic in terms of violence, sometimes utterly unneeded.
  • A bit ridiculously bloody nearing the end.
  • Too much use of the word 'nigger' for my taste.
  • Really long.

The Overview:

Honestly, not a bad film at all. Quite entertaining but not something I would actually choose to watch again thanks to the overload of violence.
Kyrax

24 October 2014

Review: Crane by Stacey Rourke

This modern retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow features Ireland Crane, Ichabod's feisty descendant who lives in present day. Ireland runs away from a broken relationship and finds herself a new job as a school counsellor in Sleepy Hollow. The town is pretty normal, but there is one hitch; people are getting murdered again, and some believe that the headless horseman has come back.

I loved so much of this book. It was really creepy and once again perfect for my Halloween-a-thon. It was a ghost story, but filled more with memories than actual hauntings, and of course, there were a few gruesome deaths.

I can't pretend. I haven't read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but now I really really want to, because from the sound of it, the film is nothing like it, and neither is this book. Crane really plays with the Sleepy Hollow story as it cleverly blends The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with Washington Irving's other story, Rip Van Winkle, and features Washington Irving himself. This is really very clever and lends a whole new twist. This story plays havoc with the original as it twists all the events that happen to skew everything in a light much more similar to Time Burton's adaptation where Ichabod is the hero. It makes excellent use of the viewpoints of Ireland and Ichabod to give a mystery to the novel, even if you have read the original.

As characters go, Ireland is a very suitable heroine, but she also makes a fantastic, grudging villain. I loved that idea and was very happy with how she acted throughout with her feisty remarks. I liked that Ichabod was included as a viewpoint as this went back to the original story nicely and their symmetry was quite pleasing to read. Rip was also a nice touch, with excellent use made out of his peculiar sleeping habits, which actually made sense. It was also good to have a character who had lived through both timelines, as this made it easy for explanations and so the pace was very good.

The only thing was that I felt something was missing with this story. Maybe there could have been a subplot or something that could have made the plot more complex. Instead this was quite short and it was over far too soon, with all the action happening very quickly. I would have preferred the suspense and action to carry on for much longer, as it still would have been an engrossing read.

As you would expect, the novel is quite bloody and fairly disturbing. I wouldn't say it gave me nightmares, but it certainly affected me as a few visions made their way into my sleep. The story is suspenseful, made worse when there is suddenly a time limit. A great read with a suitable ending which, unfortunately, you could see coming. All in all quite satisfying.


Kyrax

23 October 2014

Film Mini Review: A Million Ways To Die In The West

Synopsis: 

When Albert's girlfriend dumps him, he loses his will and nearly leaves his hometown, only to be persuaded to stay by a mysterious woman he hardly knows, who can shoot a gun better than any man.

The Good:

  • Western comedy full of modern references, and lots of laugh out loud moments.
  • Seth MacFarlane. Also starring Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Sarah Silverman, Neil Patrick Harris.. the list goes on.
  • Look out for funny cameos from the likes of Ewan McGregor, Jamie Foxx and Ryan Reynolds, oh and the voice of Patrick Stewart.
  • Nice bit of romance and danger elements.
  • Loved that the main character was so normal and kind of cowardly.
  • The moustache song.
  • Acting is actually really good!


The Bad: 

  • Fair bit of unnecessary swearing.
  • Tiny bit of toilet humour (I am just not a fan)


Overall:

A great film and brilliant for a bit of fun. Those with a penchant for dark humour would really enjoy this, or anyone who likes Ted or Family Guy. Totally recommend for a non-serious night.

22 October 2014

Wednesday Wishlist #26 - Fantasy and Retellings


This week it's fantasy and retellings. Yay!


The Queen of the Tearling - Erika Johansen
A nineteen year old girl must claim her right to the throne and become the fearless leader her brutal country expects. She battles against all those that would do her harm, but can she survive long enough? Magic, mystery and romance.. sounds pretty interesting!

Ella Enchanted - Gail Carson Levine
I watched this film as a kid and I loved it! It's a fairytale about a girl who is given the 'gift' of obedience. She goes on a quest to get rid of it by finding the fairy responsible and ends up falling in love with a prince along the way. A Cinderella story, but not as you know it.

Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge
Beauty and the Beast gets a makeover in this fantasy retelling. A girl has been betrothed to the powerful, immortal man who has issued a curse over her people, and she is trained to be the one who kills him. But he is not as expected, and soon she finds herself beguiled by his charms and his magic. A love story at heart, but with a nice bit of fantasy mixed in to make thing interesting. I must read this.

Kyrax

21 October 2014

Release Day Celebration: Loop - Karen Akins



Loop by Karen Akins

Loop #1
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin




At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.


After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her. 


Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.


But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future. 


Loop on Goodreads - Barnes and Noble - Amazon.com


Praise:
"A creative take on romance in a high-stakes, high-concept mystery that trusts its readers' intelligence." - Kirkus.


"Loop is a page-turning adventure with some brilliant and original twists to the time travel genre. I devoured the entire book in one sitting!" - Julie Cross, Author of the Tempest series.


"Hilarious and suspenseful with a delicious dash of romance, Loop is a mind-bending good time!" - Melissa Landers, Author of the Alienated series.


About The Author


Karen Akins lives in the MidSouth where she writes humorous, light YA sci-fi. When not writing or reading, she loves lightsaber dueling with her two sons and forcing her husband to watch BBC shows with her. 


Karen has been many things in her life: an archery instructor, drummer for the shortest-lived garage band in history, and a shockingly bad tic-tac-toe player.


Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Tumblr Instagram - Pinterest - Wattpad



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Kyrax

20 October 2014

(Early) Top Ten Tuesday #23 - Books Made Into Film and TV I Need to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where I will be picking from their top tens and attempting to reveal what my thinking is behind these choices.


Books Made Into Film and TV I Need to Read

A bit of a long-winded title isn't it? But never mind, it gets across exactly what I wanted! All of the following books are or have been made into films or TV series and are all sitting on a shelf or in my kindle awaiting some reading.


1. I Am Number Four - Pittacus Lore
2. Before I Go To Sleep - S.J. Watson
3. How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff
4. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
5. The White Queen - Phillipa Gregory
6. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
7. The Fault In Our Stars - John Green
8. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

These two I haven't actually got yet:

9. If I Stay - Gayle Forman
10. The City of Ember - Jeanne DuPrau
Kyrax

19 October 2014

Review: The Grimm Legacy - Polly Shulman

Elizabeth is just your usual nerdy schoolgirl, until she lands herself a job at an unusual lending library that deals in objects. Among the antiques and collections of spoons, there is a basement full of exciting and interesting objects. One collection catches Elizabeth's attention though: The Grimm Collection, objects with magical qualities that were collected by the Grimm brothers themselves.

This is a definite teen read, but also one that can be enjoyed by adults who have a vested interest in fairytales. The content is mostly about friendship and romance, but there is a good mystery here as to who is stealing the Grimm Collection and why. You have a feeling about who it is, but really you can't guess for sure until the moment is already on you. As the book surrounds a mystery, I would have liked some more investigation into it, and that is fairly sparse. It would have elongated the book and made it a bit more engaging for me.

This book centres around the objects in the Grimm Collection, so it stand to reason that you must know a little bit about fairy-tales. The research into this is really good, and I liked the way it was not just the well-known fairy-tales that were used. It really made me want to pick up my book of tales and flick through it, because some of the stories sound really interesting to read. Although this story is about fairy-tale magic, there are other collections in the dungeon that interest me, such as The Wells Bequest. This is actually dealt with in the companion book of the same name so I think I shall be reading that at some point.

So with the characters, I thought Elizabeth was great. She is pretty normal and kind of nerdy, reminding me of myself in the way that she is kind of proper in some ways. However, I didn't find myself invested in many of the other characters. Their personalities were good and quite realistic, but I found them also to be bland. This meant that when things did happen to them, I didn't really care. I did fins Aaron intriguing and I definitely enjoyed reading about Jaya the most although she did have a smaller part to play.

There was a little bit in the way of themes, with trust being the most prominent. Friendships and responsibility are also high on the list, but there weren't made too obvious.

I quite liked the way that the items were deposited for. Since the items were magical, instead of money you would deposit a part of yourself; your firstborn child, your sense of humour or smell. It's kind of creepy when this actually happens and it makes the characters realise that even the smallest parts of them are important and it honestly makes you value things you didn't realise you should, like a sense of direction.

This is my kind of book, and I am now even more interested in antiques and workmanship. It's a good read, but needed a bit more guts to it. Perfect for teens and lovers of fairy-tales.

The Grimm Legacy on Goodreads
Kyrax

18 October 2014

Review: Spell Check - Julie Wright

I am totally gearing up for Halloween now and so I started off with a nice witchy YA story.

Ally finds out that she had powers on Halloween, when she accidentally curses most of the cheerleading squad after a vicious prank was played on her. Unfortunately, Ally can't stop wishing, and she can't stop the way that her wishes turn out which, usually, is badly. When her Swedish Grandma turns up on the doorstep, Ally realises there is something else she should be worrying about.. her impending trials that will secure her powers... or kill her.

This story is really good. It has everything you could possibly want in a piece of YA fiction. Issues to do with your family, ranging from fighting parents to mad Grandmas and annoying little brothers, bullying, school, strange and interesting magical abilities and even a bit of romance sprinkled in. May I say though, that I loved the fact that this romance was actually pretty cool because it flowed into the story well and wasn't a sickening kind of puppy love. I liked the morals about believing in yourself and standing up to others, whether that may be bullies, trolls or witches.

Ally is a strong, powerful heroine and saves the day by standing up for her beliefs and not letting others rule her decisions. She is clever and does what she believes to be the right thing, even if she messes it up sometimes. She has a very good character arc as she gradually finds out that she is a witch and learns about her powers and how they work. She does grow up in this book and realises that sometimes parents aren't meant to be together. She learns not ot be selfish and to accept the human nature of others, even if she can't stand them.

The world building is really good. I loved the way that things that happened in the past were brought into the book by with magic to make an image in your head, rather than the character simply being told the events. It makes it much more memorable and gave the ideas more meaning. I also liked the trials and the descriptions of their home. I'd have liked to know a bit more about how the magic works and what exactly it feels like to control it as it was a little bit vague on the details.

For a short book, there is a lot packed in and to be honest it was a little bit too short for me. I'd have also liked a bit more difficulty in setting things right or perhaps a couple more challenging predicaments for Ally before the book ended. There will definitely be more books and I will be looking out for them so I know what happens with Ally and her new powers.

Kyrax

17 October 2014

Mini Review: Pompeii - Film

Pompeii - A Quick History Lesson: 

The city of Pompeii was an ancient Roman site near Naples that was mostly destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. The population was 11,000, and most of them did not survive, having been blasted by heat at 250 degrees Celsius and being killed instantly.

The Good:
  • Kit Harington is really good, and I love that Emily Browning was there too. Oh! Emily Browning's parents are some pretty big names too, so watch out for them.
  • The film ties in with what many already know about Ancient Rome. The gladiators being slaves and seeking their freedom by fighting their way to it is a fairly well trodden path. I liked how this was incorporated in the film to create a background for our protagonist and supporting characters.
  • Absolutely full of action, the fight scenes are great.
  • Nice bit of romance and a nice little friendship between gladiators.
  • Realistic as far as I know, in terms of how the people reacted (by fleeing to the port) and as to how long the eruption would have taken.
The Bad:
  • The ending! Maybe slightly too realistic, and that is all I can say.
  • Some of the effects (take the chariot chase scene) ended up looking like a video game.. but not state of the art.
  • A lot of people die. I mean, I expected it, but they do kill off some great characters.
Overall:

Really watchable and really enjoyable. I will be watching this again soon, I can tell! 
Kyrax

16 October 2014

Book Blitz: Dead New World by Ryan Hill


Dead New World by Ryan Hill 
Published by: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication date: October 13th 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult, Zombies


Synopsis:
Zombies aren’t mindless anymore.
Before the world fell into chaos, the undead existed only in the imagination. Now, more of them walk the earth than living. Zombies move about freely, while humans entomb themselves inside concrete barricades to stay alive.
All that, while the leader of a powerful cult – known only as Reverend – becomes the next threat to the rebuilding United States. Believing zombies to be God’s latest creation, making humanity obsolete, he wants to give every man, woman, and child the chance to become one. With his combined army of humans and zombies, he may well get his wish.
Best friends Holt and Ambrose went up against the Reverend once. Holt lost a foot and a zombie bit Ambrose…though he survived the virus, only to become a human-zombie hybrid, reviled by the living and unwelcome among the dead. When the Reverend kidnaps the woman Holt loves, the race is on to save her from a fate worse than death.

Purchase:

Excerpt:
“Thanks. For helping me with, you know,” I said in a hushed voice. The Lancasters, or Baker, for that matter, didn’t need to hear me thank my friend for saving my life. Again. “Been a while since one of them got within spitting distance of me, and that includes last night.”

“No problem,” Ambrose said. He kept his eyes on the terrain for potential threats.

“Why did it listen to you?”

Ambrose looked at me funny. “What are you talking about?”

Ray cast a suspicious look back at us. I managed not to laugh when he bumped into the corner of a car. Scowling, Ray faced forward, rubbing his leg.

“The zombie. It was trying to bite off my face when you yelled ‘no.’ It stopped and stared at you. Like it understood what you said.”

“I didn’t notice.”

Just like him, to play dumb.

“Probably because you were busy blowing its head off. But it did look at you. I know you can kind of sense when they’re around, but maybe there’s more to it than that.”

“You saying I can talk to them? Ask them what they like to do when they’re not trying to eat people’s brains? That’s stupid.”

Was it, though?

“I mean, maybe you can control them or something, like the Reverend.” I kicked a piece of burnt metal off the road. “I don’t know. That kid did say you were one of the chosen ones. And, if you can, that could be useful.”

“Shut up. That’s an order.”

“Yes, sir,” I said in a snarky tone, and I mock-saluted. If he didn’t want to talk about it, fine. Two could play that game.

Author Bio:
Growing up, Ryan Hill used to spend his time reading and writing instead of doing homework. This resulted in an obsession with becoming a writer, but also a gross incompetence in the fields of science and mathematics. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Ryan has been a film critic for over five years. He lives in Raleigh, NC, with his dog/shadow Maggie. Ryan also feels strange about referring to himself in the third person.

Author Links:




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