Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Desert Island Books

Hey Readers!

This week I watched a few BookTuber videos and as i'm blogger and not a vlogger, here are mine!
This is where I got the idea from - Kayley's Video

1. A book that you have read before and would like to re-read.
Poison Study (and the next two in the series!) by Maria V Snyder.

It's been 2 years since I read these books now. I recently convinced my friend to read them (& she loved them too!) and whilst she was talking about specific parts of the book, I realised that i'd forgotten a lot. I have a huge TBR pile and re-reading books is probably not going to happen any time soon but should I be on a desert island, i'd definitely like to take the time to read them again.

2. A book you have never read but would like to read.
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

It often surprises people that I haven't already read this! It is most definitely on my to-read list but for some reason I always end up buying other books instead and it just gets put on the back burner. I'm trying to reduce my book buying habits (particularly physical books) to save money and space until I move house and these books I would definitely want physically. I will read them one day!

3. A childhood book you would want.
What Katy Did (& others) by Susan Coolidge.

Again, i'm cheating a little as it's technically more than one book but I adored these books growing up!

4. A series that you would like to have.
The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine

This was probably the hardest question to answer as there are SO many good ones out there that I just love. It was definitely hard not picking Harry Potter but honestly, I could probably recite those books to myself when I needed a Potter fix.

5. Random selection.
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Levithan & Cohn
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

I honestly can't pick between the two. Dash & Lily would be one of those comfort, heart-warming books that just felt right but Shakespeare would not only provide me with reading material but would also give me the chance to read those daunting history plays, learn something and put on a good play when I felt like it!

This was a lot of fun and i'd love to know what you would take to a desert island. Please leave comments and let me know!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Review // Black Dawn (Morganville #12) - Rachel Caine

Published - 1st May 2012
Published By - Allison & Bubsy
Format - Paperback
Goodreads Sypnosis - In Last Breath, the rain brought a new and dire threat to Morganville and its vampires... their ancient enemies, the draug. Now, the vampires are fighting a losing war, and it will fall to the residents of the Glass House: Michael, Eve, Shane and Claire, to take the fight to an enemy who threatens to destroy the town, forever.

 Black Dawn is book 12 in Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series. Despite it already been 12 books long with another 3 releases in the upcoming future, I am still loving Morganville! There seems to be no end of mischief in Morganville and Claire, Shane, Michael and Eve always seem to be right in the middle of the trouble. This time though, they're teaming up with the enemy in order save their homes, and their lives.

Black Dawn fits right into the series but this time it's darker.  A lot darker. After books 10 and 11 I didn't take anything for granted so the worry I felt when the foursome were in trouble was real. What was new for me though, was the worry I felt for characters like Amelie and Oliver. So far in this series i'd felt that the safety of those two were guaranteed, but not any more. 
It was a real page turner for me and I kept reading until 4am to find out what was going on! 

As all Morganville fans want to know - just how crazy was Myrnin this time around?
I love Myrnin as both a character and an aid to Claire's character. Myrnin is his usual self in Black Dawn - just as you feel that he is safe and reliable, he goes and does something to prove he's just a vampire.

One of my favourite moments of Black Dawn was when Myrnin uses a lovely Welsh phrase. Being from Wales, I was very happy to see that and made me love him even more! I'm delighted that there will be more Morganville books in the future and i'll be one of those hoping that the series keeps going until there is a natural end.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Rachel Caine Book Signing

On Saturday 12th May, I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Manchester and meet Rachel Caine at a book signing for her new book, Black Dawn.
I was so excited but also a little (okay, a lot) nervous.
I've only ever met one author before (Philip Pullman) and that was...awkward.

I have an irrational fear that meeting the author of a book that I adore will somehow ruin the magic for me. Does anyone else feel like that?
Well I had nothing to worry about. Rachel was so lovely and I got to chat to her for a good few minutes. I explained to her how I had travelled from Wales and how much I loved that Myrnin used Welsh in Black Dawn. She shook my hand and thanked me for going to see her - at which point I couldn't thank her enough for writing such wonderful books.

I also had the pleasure of discussing Myrnin's slippers with her. She very kindly explained that Myrnin's slippers are from Monty Python and are available to buy on! Definitely my next blow-out purchase I think! She also said that perhaps Claire was too young to understand the reference. (NB: I apologise if I understood this information wrongly.)

Here's a little sneak peak of information too - in book 13, we will see Morganville from Myrnin's perspective! I am SO excited about that.

Well, when we got done chatting, Rachel signed my copy of Black Dawn, and also Glass Houses with little personal messages. I can't even begin to explain how happy I was when I read that 'Shane' thought I was cool. Rachel brought the Morganville experience alive and it was lovely to see so many people turn out with their copies of Morganville books.

Interested in what I thought about Black Dawn? Check back on Sunday!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Review // Dash & Lily's Book of Dares - Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Published - 11th October 2011
Published By - Ember (Random House)
Format - Paperback
Goodreads Sypnosis - Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares is the third book that Cohn and Levithan have produced together. As a fan of their work, I can happily say that this book did not disappoint. In fact, it has now become my favourite book of all-time. The journey that Dash & Lily take in the game of dares is one of sadness, joy, friendship, love and a journey of self discovery for both Dash, Lily and the reader.

Questions are raised in this book, which I have found with most YA books, about growing up, belief and what it means to be yourself. I really connected with this book on a level that is hard to explain. 

I found my nerd senses tingling at the discussion of words, and was particularly moved (if that's the right word) by Dash's hopes to own the unabridged OED. What literary nerd doesn't want that?
I stuck post it notes all over this book referring to lines that made me think and that I felt attached to. Which, by the way, is something that is mentioned in this book! There were so many things that I loved so here's just a quick few.

I loved the relationship between Lily and Mrs Basil E. It's a similar relationship that I have with my own family and it was so refreshing to see it.  It was easy and relaxed and you could feel the carefree atmosphere through the interactions.

The reference to Nick & Norah (of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist) was lovely! I loved that the little bit they put in was there and I immediately felt safe. It was written in such a great way that even those who haven't read their previous book wouldn't feel like they missed out on something.

Last but not least, was the explanation of why Dash didn't want to give his name. It was so beautiful that I have to share this line, "I'd like to remain at that one delicate remove, so you can get to know me without the distraction of other people's noise". SO GOOD.

I could write about this book forever and keep finding new things that are simply perfect but there are too many books out there waiting to be discovered :) So I will leave you with another piece of this book, which I think not only explains Dash & Lily, but explains my reading experience of Dash & Lily's Book of Dares.

I urge you to read this book!

We are reading the story of our lives
As though we were in it,
As though we had written it.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Discussion // Comic Books.

Hey Readers!

I am a fairly big comic book lover and practically swoon just at the mention of Spider-Man, and I know that comic books are becoming more and more popular with a wide range of audiences.
So since the release of the Marvel Graphic Novel collection, which I have avidly been collecting, i've been wondering something.

Do comic books count?

By this, I mean do they count on the same level as the books that make the reading charts each week, bestsellers etc. Personally, I add graphic novels to my ever slowing Goodreads Challenge counter but I know that some people don't. So what I want to know is: what makes a book, a book?

For me, a book is anything with a substantial amount of pages that contain a number of words.
Google defines a book as: A written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers.
That includes graphic novels, right?

I think what puts people off is the lack of words. There are some obviously but it is not quite the same. I don't know for sure, but I would assume that people disregard the artwork as just that, pictures. When as the old saying goes - a picture paints a thousand words.

Or is it because comic books are still seen as something nerdy 12 year old boys read whilst being socially awkward and avoiding girls? I am 24 years old and have read comic books or at least watched the animated versions for my whole life so I never did understand the stereotype. I do relate to the 'secrecy' issue though. I mean, it was just embarrassing to have to explain to my female friends why I had TMNT bed covers when my brothers had generic unisex ones and it is no less embarrassing as a 24 year old student who still uses Spider-Man bed covers, the only difference being that I don't care what they think now.

With the rise of Marvel films (particularly the smash hit Avengers that has just been released), will this put comic books and graphic novels in the spotlight in the reading world? Or will it always be our nerdy little secret?

What do you think about comic books and graphic novels? Should they be counted as books, or are they pictures that have captions? I'd love to know what you think.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

CassJayTuck: eReaders.

Hey Readers!

So I guess it didn't take long for me to miss a post..sorry.
I had my Victorian Lit exam this morning, watched Avengers this afternoon and then met my baby niece for the first time!
My *real* Wednesday post will be up tomorrow but until then, enjoy this video from CassJayTuck on YouTube. It follows on from last weeks e-Reader discussion!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Review // Insurgent - Veronica Roth (Divergent #2)

Published - 1st May 2012
Published By - HarperTeen
Format - Kindle
Goodreads Sypnosis - One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Insurgent is the second installment to Veronica Roth's dystopian series Divergent. Almost every sequel to a book brings with it copious amounts of expectations and even more criticism. Luckily, I escaped the hype of Insurgent and only had my own expectations to fulfil.

The five factions, Abnegation, Candor, Amity, Erudite and Dauntless are all coping with the events that unfolded in Divergent, and they all have their own ways of doing so. We follow Tris on her quest for truth in this book and encounter all of her adventures too. It isn't often that I find a book where I feel like one of the characters myself. Insurgent was not just another dystopian fiction book for me, it became my world for the two days in which I was reading.

The book was beautifully written and there is honestly not a single sentence, paragraph, page or chapter in which I wasn't captivated by what was happening. There are so many revelations in Insurgent that it was an emotional rollercoaster for the reader as well as the characters in the book. If, like me, you were hoping for more Tris and Four action then you will not be disappointed. However, I must warn you that the trials and tribulations the lovestruck couple experience in Insurgent is not always fun. I will let you find out yourself if their relationship survives this book...!

The end of Insurgent had me shouting from my seat! Naturally, as the middle book of a trilogy, it ends on a cliffhanger. This put me off a little as I'm an impatient reader and like to get down to business and complete an adventure. However, it does its job and I am officially part of the Divergent Nation and eagerly await the release of the next book to find out just what is going to happen to the world of Beatrice Prior.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

April Wrap-Up

Hello Readers!

This is the first "Wrap-Up" post i've done! So to explain it a little bit, it's basically where I post a list of the books I read throughout the month. This one is a late going up and i'm behind on the actual reviews - but if I do it this month then it will run smoother in May (i've said that before i'm sure). Any book with a * next to it means I have reviewed it, or will be reviewing in the near future :) Also, if i've read a book that you want me to review, just leave a comment and I will!

Books I read in April:

Girl Meets Boys – Louise Gibney
Bloodlust – L.J.Smith
The Crystal Ship – CJ Carter-Stephenson
The Amazing Spider-Man: Coming Home – Michael J Straczynski
Forsaken – Jana Oliver*
Holes – Louis Sachar
Lord Loss – Darren Shan*

What books did you read last month?

Physical or Electronic?

Hello Readers!
Today I want to ask a question that has no doubt crossed every book lovers mind over the past few years: Physical or Electronic?

E-readers have become increasingly popular since their release a few years back. Personally, I was not a happy Reader. The idea of giving up my beloved books, the scent of musty pages, the feeling of eagerly flipping pages to live an adventure, was just something that I did not want to be a part of.
One of my favourite things about reading is sharing. The whole point of a story to me is to share the life of the people on the pages so naturally after reading a book that I love, the first thing that I do is pass it on. I love to tell my friends about these incredible stories!  It is a great feeling when you introduce a friend to a book and it becomes just as much a part of their lives as it was/is yours.
Another thing I love is exploring second-hand book stores. In my corner of the world, there are so many quaint little shops that dedicate themselves to the sharing of adventures, romance, personal experiences or whatever you’re into. Earlier I talked about the scent of musty pages – well the kinds of places that I am talking about, has this smell as a natural aroma – and I adore it. Sometimes, you flick through a few pages and if you’re lucky enough there’s a hand-written dedication to someone who loved the book for many years before passing it on for others to enjoy. There may be annotations scrawled between the lines or down the sides of the page. Personal touches. It is all of these things, and many more that had me questioning not only why people would want to trade this, but who.
I was close-minded.
Since the release of e-Readers, Kindles, iPads and every other possible type of electronic reading devices, things have changed.
I was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease and in short, holding books has become more difficult than putting one down. Still, I battled on and carried my books around as always and as an English Literature student, I can tell you that was a task worthy of a medal.

Then, earlier this year, a family friend took pity on me and bought me a Kindle as a Christmas present. I wasn’t sure how to take it. I was still against reading books electronically but it was getting to the point where I couldn’t physically carry around books such as Vanity Fair, Middlemarch and The Mayor of Casterbridge at the same time as well as textbooks and a laptop. I picked up my Kindle, bought the Sherlock Holmes collection, and tried it out. Now I’m not going to say that I was instantly won over, but I think you see where this blog is going.

I have since read a number of books on my Kindle and I truly do love it. My reading experience has improved now that I can get through a book without having to put it down every 30 minutes to give my hands a rest but most importantly – reading electronically does not take anything away from the overall feel of a book. Packing to go to classes or for a weekend trip home has become a lot lighter too! I read fairly fast when I am in the mood so going home for a weekend usually meant packing around 6 books (including university ones) as well as everything else I would need. Now I just pick up my laptop bag and my Kindle and I am good to go. Anywhere. It is so light and easily transportable that I literally find myself carrying it my every day bag. I once took it out to a nightclub by accident as I had forgotten it was in there…oops.

I can hear yourself asking, what happened to all of those reasons why I was against electronic reading. Well! I was being silly. Yes, I love my Kindle and have used it many, many times but I have also bought more physical books than e-books since. I will never stop buying physical books and my house will always be overrun with them but now I’m just a little bit pickier about what format I want for which particular book.  I think it is important to remember that the most important thing about reading is the story itself and not the format that it exists in. As long as there are words, I will be reading them.

I would love to know your opinions on book formats.
Have you switched to e-books? Still a dedicated physical book lover? Or, like me, do you dabble in both? Let me know!
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