Friday, 27 July 2012

GUEST BLOGGER // Is this a sequel?

My long time friend and fellow book enthusiast, Brianna and I were recently discussing a problem that seems to be increasing as time goes on - figuring out what goes where! Please read her guest blog below and leave comments letting us know if you've come across this and what you think about it.

I don’t know if I just lack the required common sense, or maybe I’m just not looking properly, but I find that I am increasingly finding it harder and harder when it comes to series’ to work out which book is next (yes it is customary to put the title of the next one in the back of the first.) But if you haven’t read the first one and like me you refuse to go anywhere near the back of the book before reading it, or worse still you are buying the book either online of electronically, you miss this critical sign post.

So if you haven’t read the first book or don’t want to risk spoilers by looking for the title at the back of the book, how are you supposed to know which book is next?  Well we put our faith in the publishers and hope they have left us a clue, a small number on the spine takes the gold medal, runner up prizes go to having a sub-title proclaiming that it is book # in the series, mentioning it on the back cover, and having a page on the inside proclaiming its place in the series (although slightly disappointing). Sometimes if you’re lucky, the handy list of other book by this author may shed light on the correct order, but if you don’t know if you are holding the first book and it is helpfully left off the list, then it is not much help.

All of this is just if you are buying the book from a physical shop. The process just gets harder if you are buying online or if you are buying an e-book. In these situations you would expect that the retailers would help you out, but this seems to be pot luck.

So what is it that publishers find so difficult about clearly marking series’ and their intended order? Is a number on the spine so difficult? I can understand book 1 of a series not being marked, the author may not have intended to write more than one book, but the second book has no excuse.

The end result of this lack of numbering is that a lot of time is wasted trying to hunt down the rest of the series, the wrong books are bought and finally something which I suspect is just me, is that in order to find the right book I have read a lot of descriptions and blurbs, two things which I prefer not to read especially if a book is the sequel of another.

And ultimately the more obscure a series is or its chronology is, the less likely it is to be bought.

(And let’s not get started on the on multiple versions and the covers/size of the books in a series not matching!)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Review // Demon Thief - Darren Shan

Published - 1st June 2006
Published By - HarperCollins
Format - Paperback 
Goodreads Synopsis - Kernel Fleck has always known he's weird. He sees lights. Strange, multi-colored patches of light, swirling through the air. But it's not until a window opens into a demon world, with horrific consequences, that Kernel discovers his powers. As a Disciple, his mission is to hunt vicious, powerful demons to the death...

Demon Thief is the second book in Darren Shan's 'Demonata' series. I read Lord Loss a while ago but I was looking forward to getting stuck into the next book. Some spoilers may occur as it's part of a series.

First, my personal opinions. I was disappointed to find out that the main character of Lord Loss was not featured in Demon Thief. I was expecting the series to follow successively and to follow a story told by Grubbs. It took a long time for me to get into the story because of this and so my views on the book may be skewed slightly.

I found the plot to be obvious and just by the title I could guess what was going to happen but there were parts that surprised me. Shan's writing style is still interesting to me and he immediately makes me feel like i'm part of the character's lives, even if I don't particularly want to be. The first half of the book felt a little drawn out, whereas the second half was much better and I wanted to know more about the other characters in the book. Like with Lord Loss, I found myself more interested in the 'background' characters than the one at the forefront of the book.

For me, Demon Thief really started getting interesting when Dervish appeared. Finally, I had found the link to Lord Loss that I was hoping for all along and it didn't end there. I'm glad that I learned about the changing narrators in the Demonata series early on so that I know what to expect from the rest of the books. As always with Shan, I find myself enjoying the story much more now it's finished and I have a full picture than when I was working my way through it. The next book, Slawter, is on my to-read list and I will review it as soon as i'm done!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Growing Up in Books

I just read this post and was inspired to do something like this myself!

For as long as I can remember, i've always had my nose in a book. My mum and her best friend both taught me to read and write at a young age and I remember feeling grown up because whilst other kids were being told bedtime stories, I was finding them for myself. I was definitely one of those kids that hid under the covers with a torch so I could read way past my bedtime. I feel lucky that I come from a family of readers and that books and imagination have always been encouraged and supported.

In all honesty, I don't remember many of the books that I read growing up but some have definitely stayed with me. When I talked to my mum about writing this post, the first thing she said I should mention is Roald Dahl.

I don't claim to have read all of Dahl's books, but definitely the majority of them. The mix of words and illustrations were perfect and kept me interested and the writing, even now at 24 years old, is brilliant. Roald Dahl was such a natural storyteller and of course, any young girl who loved to read immediately fell in love with Matilda.

At the time I was reading Roald Dahl, I was also discovering Enid Blyton. I genuinely wish that I had read more Blyton as a child as I fear the magic will be somewhat lost on me now. However, I particularly loved the Amelia Jane series and The Children of Cherry Tree Farm.

Two huge collections of books that to this day remain some of my favourites are The Babysitter's Club and Nancy Drew. Nancy Drew paved the way for my actual love of reading. As much as I loved Dahl and Blyton, the Nancy Drew books were real page turners and the mystery was so exciting. I loved them dearly and one day I hope to get them all again... :)

As I grew up, I was still much the same; reading anything I could get my hands on. I read Julius Caesar at the age of 7 and quickly learned to love Shakespeare's sonnets before finding Macbeth and loving it every bit as much as I do now. Shakespeare taught me to love the words and the language in equal parts to the story itself.

I couldn't imagine a childhood without the adventures, mysteries and magical moments that I have experienced because of literature. Even the simplest of books have taught me valuable lessons and more importantly, have taught me that imagination is one of the greatest things that we have. For as long as there are words to read, I will be reading them!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Review // Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick

Published - 13th October 2009
Published By - Simon & Schuster
Format - Paperback 
Goodreads Synopsis - For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. At least, not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and probing eyes, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure who to trust—she can’t decide whether she should fall into Patch’s arms or run and hide from him. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth more unsettling than any feeling Patch evokes. For Nora stands amid an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen—and choosing the wrong side will cost her life.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick has been sitting on my loaded shelves, and after reading a fair amount of mixed reviews I decided that it was time to just pick it up and dive in to form my own conclusions. I'm glad I did.

It took a few chapters for me to really immerse myself in the book but the concept of the novel drew me in. This was my first time reading about fallen angels and it was enjoyable! I particularly liked the suspense throughout Hush, Hush. Admittedly, the plot (more often than not) was obvious and easy to figure out where it was heading/who was behind the events but even so, the suspense kept me interested and I ended up finishing the book in just a couple of hours.

My biggest problem with Hush, Hush was the relationship between Nora and Patch. I understand that she was drawn to him despite his portrayed image but I didn't find it very realistic. I also had issues with Nora's mother. Nora loses her father before the book begins and the reader is told that Nora sees a councillor to deal with her loss, yet her mother leaves Nora home alone for days at a time. The explanation given for this just isn't good enough in my opinion. Vee's character also wasn't great. At first, I thought she was a breath of fresh air and a great contrast to Nora's personality but as the book progressed, her character became less interesting and I found myself wanting to go back to another plot line.

As a whole, I enjoyed the book and the scenes at the arcade/fairground were excellent. I loved the way the Archangel ride played out and particularly the explanation given by Patch that the higher up an angel is, the further it is to fall. This obviously plays a bigger role later on in the book but even standing alone it was a great line.

The prologue was confusing at first but Fitzpatrick cleverly explained herself later on and it was actually quite refreshing to see them link up. Most importantly, Hush, Hush made me want to read more. The next book in the series Crescendo will be on my TBR over the next few weeks i'm sure and i'm looking forward to seeing what is next for the characters involved.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Review // The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson

Published - 29th September 2011
Published By - HarperCollins
Format - Paperback 
Goodreads Synopsis - "New York Times" bestseller Maureen Johnson takes on Jack the Ripper in this captivating paranormal thriller
The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree of more than a century ago. Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him--the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target. In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

I found Maureen Johnson through nerdfighteria and John Green so I knew that this book was going to be right up my street. I had no preconceived ideas of Johnson's writing styles as this is the first book by her that I have read (with the exception of a short story in Let it Snow). I'm pleased to say that The Name of the Star gets a big thumbs up from me!

I was pulled in instantly as the POV comes from the main character, Rory, and she was just so likeable from the start. In fact, all of the characters were well written, new, sassy and had their own personalities rather than just being back burner characters.

There were a lot of twists throughout, too. I'm usually quite good at guessing where a story is going to go but surprisingly enough, I was wrong more than once! I loved that Rory's 'abilities' as the blurb says, come from a simple incident that I at least, paid little attention to and thought nothing of it. Definitely one of the best bits for me. 

I am so looking forward to the next Shades of London book from Johnson, especially after that shocking revelation at the end! Recommended.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Review // The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

Published - 18th December 2007
Published By - Ballantine Books
Format - Kindle
Goodreads Synopsis - Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox--the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years. Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don't forget to bring a towel!

LOVED this book! The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has been on my to-read list for a long time now and recently I was fortunate enough to get my hands on the 'trilogy' of five for my kindle, thanks to a friend. Because i'd waited so long to actually read it, I was worried that my expectations would be too high, but there was no need.

From the first few pages, Adams had me laughing out loud and I immediately fell in love with Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect. The interaction between them was pure genius and it just got better as the book progressed.

Originally, I had planned to read these books physically  and not electronically, but after the description of the Hitchhiker's Guide, I felt more happier about it and it added to the experience in a way that would be hard to explain! The concept of this book and (with little spoilers) the events involving the mice and computers especially were brilliant. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fun read with fantastic characters and an absolute crazy plot!

Review // Fifty Shades of Grey - E.L. James

Published - 26th May 2011
Published By -Vintage
Format - Paperback
Goodreads Synopsis - When literature student Anastasia Steele is drafted to interview the successful young entrepreneur Christian Grey for her campus magazine, she finds him attractive, enigmatic and intimidating. Convinced their meeting went badly, she tries to put Grey out of her mind - until he happens to turn up at the out-of-town hardware store where she works part-time. he unworldly, innocent Ana is shocked to realize she wants this man, and when he warns her to keep her distance it only makes her more desperate to get close to him. Unable to resist Ana’s quiet beauty, wit, and independent spirit, Grey admits he wants her - but on his own terms.

Shocked yet thrilled by Grey's singular erotic tastes, Ana hesitates. For all the trappings of success – his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving adoptive family – Grey is a man tormented by demons and consumed by the need to control. When the couple embarks on a passionate, physical and daring affair, Ana learns more about her own dark desires, as well as the Christian Grey hidden away from public scrutiny.

Can their relationship transcend physical passion? Will Ana find it in herself to submit to the self-indulgent Master? And if she does, will she still love what she finds?

Where do I start with this book? Fifty Shades of Grey was given to me by my sister-in-law who insisted I should read it as she really enjoyed it. I didn't enjoy it. At all.

I knew what the book was about before going into it and although I wasn't interested, I hoped for an underlying story to emerge, maybe a fascinating love story between Ana and Christian. Unfortunately that just never came through. The only time E L James seemed to care about writing was during the sexual scenes. There was no character development; it barely felt like there even were characters. 

For a short period towards the end of the book, I held some hope in the fact that a plot might emerge regarding Christian's life but again, I was disappointed. I assume these things are revealed in the next two books but I was so put off by this one that it will be a long time before I consider moving on to those. I can't even recommend it for mind-numbing easy reading because I was so infuriated by the repetition of complete sentences throughout the book that it was actually challenging to finish. If I ever hear the words 'inner goddess' again, I can't be held responsible for my actions!

Please let me know what you thought about Fifty Shades of Grey, whether good or bad, and feel free to convince me to read the next one or it may never happen!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

June Wrap-Up

Hello Readers!

June was disappointing reading wise as I was moving out of university and countless other things that cropped up. I only managed to read 2 books and I have posted reviews of them both so be sure to check!

Books Read in June

Slated - Teri Terry
Grave Sight - Charlaine Harris

As well as the two books I read, I am also still trying to finish The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and 50 Shades of Grey by E.L.James. I'm hoping to be done with them both this week so I can move on to my July TBR! Lots of catching up to do ;)

What books did you read in June?

Discussion // Finishing a read

Hey Readers!

Today's discussion comes from a problem that i've always had and i'm definitely having it now!

What to do when a book you're reading just doesn't interest you?

So i'm reading two books right now as highlighted in another post and one of them is just SO DIFFICULT for me to read. I'm not interested in the plot, the characterisation, the story-telling, anything! I can imagine that you're asking why am I still reading it then. The answer is simple: I don't know how to stop.

I have read and finished so many books that just haven't interested me purely because I feel the need to finish what i've started. Usually that's a good thing but in this case, it isn't. So i'm asking for your help!

What do you do when the book you're reading just isn't for you? Do you have any special tips you can give on how you bring yourself to put it down and walk away? Please leave comments and i'll post the best tips - should I get any! Until then, I best go and finish this book or my July TBR will never happen ;)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Book Haul

I've acquired a few books recently as gifts so I thought i'd share my haul with you :)

1. 50 Shades of Grey - E.L.James
2. 50 Shades Darker - E.L.James
3. 50 Shades Freed - E.L.James
4. The Radleys - Matt Haig
5. Dylan Thomas Poetry

As every reader knows, the 50 Shades Trilogy is taking over the sellers chart and honestly, it's not something i'm interested in. However, they were given to me as a gift and so i'm currently working my way through the first installment and I will be posting my review as soon as i'm done! Whether i'll get around to reading the other two books remains to be seen - we'll see what happens.

I haven't actually heard of The Radleys but again, it was given to me as a gift and the blurb sounds interesting so I will be sure to check out some reviews on Goodreads and no doubt i'll throw myself into it maybe next month.

The poetry of Dylan Thomas is my attempt at getting prepared for my next year at university and i'm looking forward to reading some! Probably wont review this one on here, but if anyone can recommend some specific poems of his that you enjoyed, i'll definitely look at them!

Happy reading :)

Sunday, 1 July 2012

July TBR

Hey Readers!

I don't usually make TBR's because i'm indecisive and forever changing my mind about what books I want to read during the month. I usually just head to the book shelves and see what takes my fancy.
This month though i've been looking over at the books that I have and I feel bad for owning so many that I just haven't read yet! Doing a TBR should help get at least a few books off the ever growing list :)
So the books I plan to read in July are:

The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson
Demon Thief - Darren Shan
Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick
Redemption in Indigo - Karen Lord

Let me know in the comments if you've read any of these and what you thought or if you plan to read them :)
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