Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Book Haul

As always, I bought way more books than I read which isn't helping my TBR piles at all! I'm happy with what I have though so here they are!

1. Extras - Scott Westerfeld
2. We Bought A Zoo - Benjamin Mee
3. Death Cure - James Dashner
4. The Good Guy - Dean Koontz
5. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol 1 - Alan Moore
6. Future Games - Orson, Scott, Card & Others.
7. Of Light & Darkness - Shayne Leighton
8. The Scent of Magic - Maria V Snyder
9. Lone Wolf - Jodi Picoult
10. Inheritance - Christopher Paolini
11. Twined - A.L.Collins
12. Tempestuous - Kim Askew & Amy Helmes

Some of these aren't available to buy yet but I have a feeling they're going to be great, so make sure you check out the books from this haul if you're curious.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Just a quick one to apologise for the lack of activity over here at Loaded Shelves recently.
I'm so busy with real life that I just haven't had time to immerse myself in my (preferred) fictional life.
I'm behind with author requested reviews and all other kinds of reviews (and everything else!) so please bare with me and hopefully over the next couple of weeks I can bring things up to date.
I hope you've all been reading some awesome things!
~ Cazz

Top Ten Tuesday | Kick-Ass Heroines

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is: Kick-Ass Heroines

There are so many strong female characters out there; this is going to be tricky.

1. Hazel from John Green's The Fault in Our Stars.
2. Yelena from Maria Snyder's Poison Study.
3. Katniss from Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games.
4. Anna from Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper.
5. Tris from Veronica Roth's Divergent.
6. Kahlen from Terry Goodkind's Wizard's First Rule.
7. Offred from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.
8. Claire Danvers from Rachel Caine's Morganville.
9. Hermione Granger from J.Rowling's Harry Potter.
10. Cordelia from Shakespeare's King Lear.

There are so many more that I could have added to this list. Each of these heroines are brave, courageous and loyal despite the challenges that lay ahead of them. They each show that being a young woman does not mean that you are inferior in anyway or too weak to face dangers, but instead that they are intelligent and independent and will do whatever it takes to make things right!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Review // Sherlock Holmes (3 stories) - Arthur Conan Doyle

Today's review is a 3-in-1 featuring three of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes short stories.

A Scandal in Bohemia

This was by far my favourite Sherlock Holmes story that i've read so far. It was fast reading, intriguing and had me flipping the metaphorical (kindle) pages furiously.  I loved Holmes' commentary on Watson's recent marriage though i'm a little concerned about how easy it is for Watson to take off from his life in order to accompany Holmes!

As a fan of BBC's Sherlock, I couldn't help but compare the text to the TV adaptation and I was pleasantly surprised. The two were remarkably well connected and i'm looking forward to re-watching the episode in light of reading the story. I loved the opening narrative by Watson describing Irene Adler as the woman - as that is exactly what she is. A Scandal in Bohemia reminded me a lot of Poe's The Purloined Letter which I recently reviewed so it was interesting to see how Detective Fiction grew.

The Man With the Twisted Lip

This story was probably the most surprising one out of the three. I didn't guess the outcome and like the previous story, I was interested throughout and read it in just a couple of minutes! I was intrigued by the fact that there didn't seem to be any actual crime, which in my recent readings of this type of literature is quite strange. It kind of gave me the idea that greed and wealth is just as much a crime as murder.

The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

I think this story might be one that I will need to read again because it wasn't...great. I enjoyed the others so much that after reading this I felt like it was more to do with me and my understanding of the story than the story itself.
I liked that Miss Hunter was a strong, capable woman but the mystery just didn't work for me. Although all of the stories end abruptly, this one just didn't really end for me.

Top Ten Tuesday | Halloween

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is: Books for Halloween
I thnk most people are doing their Top Ten Halloween related books they love but I haven't actually read many that would fit under here! So here's my Top Ten Halloween related books that I *want* to read.
1. Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead
2. The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
3. The Diviners - Libba Bray
4.  The Vampire Lestat - Anne Rice
5. The Woman in Black - Susan Hill
6. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies - Seth Grahame-Smith
7. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
8. Dracula - Bram Stoker
9. The Madness Underneath - Maureen Johnson
10. The Demonata Series - Darren Shan

Monday, 22 October 2012

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays, as the name suggests, is a weekly book related Q&A held by Should Be Reading.

Do you ever get crushes on fictional characters? Name one (or a few), and tell what you liked…

Oh all the time! It happens less often now but I definitely have crushes on fictional characters. There's Valek from Maria Snyder's 'Study Series', who is protective, strong, intriguing and more importantly I think, mysterious.  
Damon Salvatore from L.J.Smith's The Vampire Diaries. who is not your typical bad boy. He's dark and dangerous but there's also a side to him that is sweet and caring and wants the best for the people he cares about, even if he doesn't act like it!
Dash from Levithan & Cohn's Dash & Lily's Book of Dares. He loves language and words and again is just a wonderful character and every aspect of him is likeable.
Tobias/Four from Roth's Divergent (and Insurgent). I don't even think this one needs an explanation!
Shane Collins from Caine's Morganville series though is probably my biggest fictional crush. Again, he's really strong and confident on the front but he's actually a sensitive, torn up man. I absolutely love his characterisation and will be devastated when the series is over.

Also, I got to meet the author who gave me Shane she very kindly signed my book with this:

Needless to say my obsession only got worse after this ;)

There are so many well written characters out there that it's hard not to fall for them. The beauty of a written character rather than a real life person is that you get to see the parts of them that they wouldn't usually share; their thoughts, emotions and real attitudes towards people.

I'm sure that for as long as i'm reading, I will find new fictional crushes, and i'm okay with that.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Top Ten Tuesday | Books Read In 2011

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is: Top Ten Books I Read In 2011

(I may be cheating a little by lumping series' together :P)

1. Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine
2. Wintercraft - Jenna Burtenshaw
3. Paper Towns - John Green
4. Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green
5. Evermore - Alyson Noel
6. Beastly - Alex Flinn
7. North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell
8. Good Morning, Midnight - Jean Rhys
9. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
10. Let It Snow - Green, Johnson & Myracle

I'm in no way disrespecting any of these authors as I love them ALL, but 2011 wasn't a great year for my reading pile! I pretty just much read series' of books rather than stand-a-lones so it was difficult to choose. I read ELEVEN of Caine's books in 2011! Hopefully when it comes to posting my 2012 reading list, it will be a little more varied :)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Review // The Purloined Letter - Edgar Allan Poe

Published - 23rd December 2010
Format - Kindle
Goodreads Synopsis - The Purloined Letter is the third of the three stories featuring the detective C. Auguste Dupin, the other two being The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Mystery of Marie Roget. These stories are considered important forerunners of the modern detective story. The method Poe's detective, Dupin, uses to solve the crime was quite innovative. He tried to identify with the criminal and to "think like he would." In May of 1844 Poe wrote to James Russell Lowell that he considered it "perhaps the best of my tales of ratiocination."

 (Not the actual cover of my version)

I originally gave this short story a low star rating of 2/5 but on reflection i've bumped it up to a much more suitable 4/5. I rarely change my mind on books but this one had me thinking long past the last page. 

Having recently reviewed The Murders in Rue Morgue as a guest post (which you can read here), I jumped straight into The Purloined Letter. For those interested - I have intentionally missed out the middle story in this collection but I intend to go back at a later date to read it! This review will vaguely come in two parts as I talk about my first impressions and then the reasons why I changed my rating.

Unlike The Murders in Rue Morgue, this story was more plot driven than explanation of Dupin's analysis process. The Purloined Letter was shorter and easy to read and I strangely enough, I think this was partly why I found myself enjoying it less. Don't get me wrong, I DID like it - I just felt like I was missing something. Everything seemed easy and straightforward. I'm new to detective fiction but even I know that there needs to be a twist of some kind. So I finished it, rated it and moved on.

Although I didn't really move on. I had a class about Poe's work and then I spent some time googling, as you do, and I think I finally got what i'd been missing. Revenge.
The Purloined Letter, though seemingly easy and simplistic is actually darker and more mysterious than The Murders of  Rue Morgue, or even anything that i've read lately. It plays heavily on revenge and deceit. Looking back, I have no idea how I missed it in the first place, but I re-read the last few pages to make sense of it in this new light. With this in mind, I enjoyed the story much more and I felt I needed to adjust my star rating accordingly.  When I have more time, I plan on reading all three Dupin stories again as it seems to me that more is hidden underneath just waiting to be discovered!

If you've read either The Murders of Rue Morgue or The Purloined Letter, i'd love to know what your thoughts are! Also if there are any other short stories by Poe you recommend, let me know those too.

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays, as the name suggests, is a weekly book related Q&A held by Should Be Reading.
I discovered this meme through Escape Into Fiction so don't forget to stop by there as well :)

This week's question:
Do you have a system as to which books to read from your “requested review pile? What is it? What about when there are too many to read in a certain time frame? {apologies to those who don’t review}

At the moment, I don't get that many requested reviews so I tend to review them in the order that I get them. I'm also a full-time lit student and I work part-time so my time is limited! However, if i'm contacted by an author who has an upcoming release then i'll make every effort to read theirs first to coincide with release dates. So far I haven't had too many to read in a short space of time (averaging 1-3 requested reviews a month) so I don't have to worry about not being able to get them all done in time.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Cover Release Fractured - Teri Terry!

Back in June I wrote a review for Teri Terry's novel Slated which you can read here - Slated Review.
I absolutely adored this book and have been keeping a watchful eye out for news of the second book in the series Fractured.Well...

The cover art for Fractured is released!

I am so pleased that the style of the cover art matches perfectly with Slated. It's beautiful and I love the splash of colour which fits in with how I imagine the book becoming more colourful with the release of more memories and Kyla's story. I am SO excited to read this book.

Fractured is released May 2013.

50 Book Challenge - Completed!

*happy dance!*
I managed to finish the 50 Book Challenge by October which is pretty good going! I'm not going to change my target, but I am setting myself a mini goal of another 15 books by new year. If you're interested in knowing what books i've read so far then either add me on goodreads or wait until 1st January 2012 to find out what books I read this year.

How are you doing on YOUR challenge?

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Top Ten Tuesday | Series I Want To Read

I got this from Annamarie's Book Blog :)

Top 10 series I want to read before I'm 30.

  1. The Vampire Chronicles - Anne Rice
  2. The Sword of Truth - Terry Goodkind
  3. Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
  4. Weather Warden - Rachel Caine
  5. Percy Jackson - Rick Riordan
  6. Maze Runner - James Dashner
  7. Demon Trappers - Jana Oliver
  8. Millennium Trilogy - Stieg Larsson
  9. Gone - Michael Grant
  10. Chaos Walking - Patrick Ness
Phew, they're just the ones i've been meaning to get round to starting/finishing for a long time! I'm pretty sure I can get these read over the next 6 years. If you have any other recommendations for series then i'd love to hear them!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Review // The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1) - Lemony Snicket

Published - 30th September1999
Published By - Scholastic
Format - Hardback
Goodreads Synopsis - Dear Reader,
I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.
It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing. 
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket is a well loved collection of stories for (I imagine) a younger audience. Honestly, it was never a series that I was very interested in reading. I was 11 when The Bad Beginning was published and in the 13 years since then I had completely forgotten about it. However, I've just moved into a shared house and thanks to my housemate the collection is now partly mine and I have reconsidered. (Mostly because they are short and I wanted some 'light' reading inbetween university books)

As seems to be the case just lately - I was pleasantly surprised by The Bad Beginning! (I'm on a great streak of 'good' books.) Though not really 'light-hearted', the book was fun, uncomplicated and a really quick and interesting read. Throughout the book, the narrator Lemony Snicket, explains various words that have been used and gives their meaning in this particular instance. Granted, at the age of 24 it's a little patronising but considering the target audience, I think it's great!

What surprised me most were the snippets of information that genuinely felt like I was learning something or reading something truly meaningful. Just a few things I picked up on were:-

  • "First impressions are often entirely wrong. You can look at a painting for the first time, for example, and not like it at all, but looking at it a little longer  you may find it very pleasing."
  • "It is a sad truth in life that when someone has lost a loved one, friends sometimes avoid the person, just when the presence of friends is most needed."
  • "By immersing themselves in their favourite reading topics, they felt far away from their predicament, as if they had escaped."

Snicket's writing style is brilliant and the first book is both funny and thoughtful. The Baudelaire children are brave and intelligent and a pleasure to read. I feel terrible about not reading these books sooner but now i've started...keep an eye out :)

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Book Haul | University Edition #2

This is the second (but shorter) University haul! These are for my kindle. This is the first year i'll really be using kindle files for my degree rather than physical books due to travelling this time around and not living nearby. I hope it works out!

1. Selected Tales - Edgar Allan Poe
2. The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Agatha Christie
3. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie

I haven't read anything by Agatha Christie so i'm looking forward to those. My Detective Fiction module is shaping up to be quite a nice one!

October TBR

October brings the start of my final year at university and another pile of books to read.
So what do we have? :)

1. The Murders in the Rue Morgue - Edgar Allan Poe
2. The Purloined Letter - Edgar Allan Poe
3. The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
4. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

Let me know what you're reading!

Review // The Casual Vacancy - J.K.Rowling

Published - 27th September 2012
Published By - Little, Brown & Company
Format - Hardback
Goodreads Synopsis - When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war.
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems.
And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

A little nervous about reviewing such a huge book! But J.K.Rowling's new book and first adult novel as a must-read as soon as I had it in my hands and I have a few thoughts I wanted to share.

I picked up The Casual Vacancy when it was released. I had it pre-ordered but it actually worked out cheaper to buy it somewhere else! I honestly could not wait to see what the infamous Jo Rowling had in-store for us.

Starting with the cover - i'm still not sure about it. Now that i've finished the book, I understand the relevance of the cover art but i'm still not taken with it. This book contains a LOT of themes and intense plot lines that could have been focused on for the cover. Having said that, I do appreciate that the simple cover hides the content in much the same way Pagford hides.

Being an adult book, there are obviously adult topics that are dealt with in The Casual Vacancy. Death, puberty, marital issues, families, parent/child relationships, self discovery, addiction...the list goes on. I was shocked by the amount of swearing in the book at first but it was so frequent that I didn't even notice by the end!

What I did find interesting, and I kept thinking about it throughout the novel, was the comparisons to Harry Potter. I was hoping I could get through this review without needing to make reference to Rowling's previous works but I couldn't help myself.
The people of Pagford/Yarvil are facing real life, disturbing problems with serious consequences, much like the people of Harry's world only this time there is no safety of magic to help them out. I've always felt like Harry Potter was an adult novel dressed in children's clothing. Rowling has a wonderful way of weaving plotlines and characters that mirror real life problems going on and The Casual Vacancy is no different.

A troubling story matched with troubling characters that you genuinely care for (mostly). I'm excited to see what else comes from Rowling in the future :)

Monday, 1 October 2012

September Wrap-Up

September was a bit of a disappointment as I didn't make it through my TBR due to moving house, but here goes.

Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind
Crescendo - Becca Fitzpatrick
Jack's Outpost - Elizabeth Braun
Assassin Study - Maria V Snyder

With the exception of Snyder's short story, the reviews are up so please do go and see what I thought about them.

I'm working on an interview with Elizabeth Braun to talk a little about Jack's Outpost and herself so keep an eye out for that - hopefully coming in October!
Hopefully October is a little bit more successful. Let me know in the comments what books you read during September :)
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