Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Caragh Reviews - Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Published - 18th October 2011
Publisher - Penguin
Format - Paperback
Synopsis - Their love has just begun. Now the end of days is coming . . .Ethan Wate is in love with a Caster girl. When he looks at Lena, it's like there's no one else in the world. But Ethan is mortal, and on her seventeenth birthday Lena made a choice that changed everything. The girl Ethan loves has broken the world with the supernatural powers she is struggling to control . . .Now, if they are to fix the chaos Lena has caused, one of them must make a terrible sacrifice. Sometimes there isn't just one answer. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

Beautiful Creatures review here
Beautiful Darkness review here

Beautiful Chaos is the 3rd book in the Caster Chronicles series. Unlike the previous two, it started a little slow and it took me a while to really get into the flow of the story. The small town of Gatlin is overrun with lubbers and the ground is dying out from lack of rain and nutrients. Beautiful Chaos is full of secrets and mysteries, much like the other books, but this time it's Amma who is holding all of the cards which is strange for both Ethan and me as a reader. The characters in the Caster Chronicles are so relate-able and loveable that it is unnerving to suddenly stop trusting people who have become your own 'family'.

It was really nice to see more of Liv. She was intriguing and different in Beautiful Darkness and i'm glad that she appeared once more. Of course I still love Link and Ridley and after the events of the previous books their relationship has taken a turn that is going to take some serious figuring out! Because initially it took me a long time to get into the book, I was concerned that the story was deflating a little and that Beautiful Chaos would be disappointing but fortunately at around the halfway point, it definitely picked up as the action really started kicking in. 

There was a real sense of danger for the characters and it was difficult to know who to trust. As the synopsis suggests, Beautiful Chaos is the darkest book of the series so far which was GREAT and really kept me reading when sometimes the plot fell a little stagnant. I'm a little reluctant to start reading the next and final book as they've been such great reads and so different from anything else!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Brianna Reviews - Strip Jack by Ian Rankin

Published:  2008 (first published 1992)
Publisher: Orion
Format: Paperback
Synopsis: What begins as a case of typical British indiscretion, when a prominent member of Parliament is caught in a police raid on an Edinburgh brothel, turns into a nasty murder investigation when his party-happy wife is soon found beaten to death. It's up to Inspector Rebus to learn whether the MP is self-destructing, or the victim of a cruel set-up at the hands of a bitter rival. An intricately plotted mystery set in the high-stakes world of British society and politics.

Strip Jack is #4 in the Inspector Rebus series and I’m not entirely sure what I thought of it. I gave it 4 stars on goodreads because ultimately I enjoyed reading it. If I could give half stars I might have given it a 3.5 to account for my confusion about what I actually thought of it (maybe by the end of this review I’ll know).

Rebus is back in Edinburgh, which isn’t really a surprise as he does live there after all, but he is not living entirely alone. The first half of the book to me seemed to focus quite heavily on Rebus’s relationships with friends (Holmes) and colleagues and it's the first time the book did not start with a murder which leaves Rebus fishing for a case more than usual. I say this but I think he was only really lacking a case in Hide & Seek.  I was very pleased to see Holmes again, and quite a bit of him. It seems I might have my wish of him being a reoccurring character. Another character to reappear is George Flight from the previous book via a phone call with Rebus. It wasn’t much but it’s nice to see they aren’t forgotten.

The case itself is quite complex and feels a little bit like Cluedo. There is a large group of old friends all with secrets and Rebus suspects that one of them did it or knows something about it; he just has to find out which one. It could get confusing unless you have no problem keeping track of quite a few characters. I didn’t see it coming but then neither did Rebus
Overall I think this book had a different feel to the previous 3 - I just can’t quite put my finger on what it is. I enjoyed the book and I guess that not every book in the 18 book series will grab me like the first 3.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Weekly Updates 12/8 - 16/8

It’s time for Weekly Updates! Which is pretty much the same as all the other weekly memes out there so we don't claim any rights or anything :) So let's get to it.

Books we got this week!

Caragh got -  
The Broken Bridge - Philip Pullman
The Blade Itself - Joe Abercrombie
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
The Children's Golden Treasure Book - Various Authors
The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli
Turned - Morgan Rice
Don Quixote - 

Brianna got -  
Aesop's Fables
Marked - Elisabeth Naughton
The Fallen Star - Jessica Sorensen
Branded - Keary Taylor
Just One Damned Thing After Another - Jodi Taylor
Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen
Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson

Books we reviewed this week!

Death Note Vol.1 by Ohba & Obata
The Clique by Lisi Harrison
Emma by Nancy Butler

Currently Reading!
Caragh – The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
Brianna – Insurgent - Veronica Roth

Caragh Reviews - Emma by Nancy Butler

Publisher - Marvel
Published - 12th October 2011
Format - Hardback
Synopsis - Award-winning author Nancy Butler, adapter of Marvel's best-selling Adaptations, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE brings you another Jane Austen classic! Joined with the beautiful illustrations of JANET LEE, Butler brings to life Austen's most precocious heroine, Emma Woodhouse. Discover what has made this story so enduring, as its re-told in the Mighty Marvel manner!

As a long time fan of both Jane Austen and Marvel, when I saw this beauty there was just no stopping me! I believe this edition collects together the 5 comic book series into this gorgeous graphic novel, adapted by Nancy Butler and illustrated by Janet Lee.

I first read Emma many years ago and it still remains the one and only time I ever read this particular Jane Austen novel. Like many others, the character of Emma made me want to tear my hair out in frustration before eventually beaming with pride at her ability to make good on her mistakes. I wasn't sure if I was going to fully appreciate the graphic novel as it had been such a long time since I read the book but no worries - Nancy Butler had me covered.

The adaptation of novel to short bite-sized chunks was wonderful. Butler really captured the story and every single one of the array of characters that we are introduced to in Emma's world. The events really came to life and the essence of Austen was still present on every page. The graphic novel still raised questions about society, marriage and even the importance of transport in just a few short pages but I didn't feel like anything was missing. 

The illustrations felt a little immature on my first impression, but I soon realised how beautiful and charming they were. They were playful and beautifully coloured with vibrant pastels and they really caught the characters personalities too. Each character was easily distinguishable both through text and illustration and I feel that the illustrations particularly matched well with Emma herself, young, playful and memorable.

I knew that I was going to enjoy this graphic novel but I didn't expect to love it. In the back of the book, other adaptations of Austen's works by Marvel were advertised and i'm SO excited for them! It was a great experience and it will definitely be joining the list of some of my favourite Austen adaptations!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Caragh Reviews - The Picture of Dorian Gray by Ian Edginton

Published - 2009
Publisher - Eye Classics
Synopsis - “Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world worth having but youth!” The Picture of Dorian Gray is a graphic adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s classic work, stunningly re-imagined by writer Ian Edginton and artist I.N.J. Culbard. This Gothic morality tale is the story of a man who, taken by his own beauty, pledges his soul in a desperate bid for eternal youth. But when his wish is granted, things go terribly wrong. A painting of Dorian begins to age in his place, while Dorian himself becomes a dangerous narcissist who destroys everyone standing in his way until the day he is forced to come face to face with the ugliness of his own conscience.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (orig: Oscar Wilde) is my all-time favourite book, and so when I spotted this I just HAD to see if it was everything I imagined.  

The text itself was great. It kept the essence of the book and the story was easy to follow and captured the characterisations of most of the characters. I was somewhat surprised and disappointed that the more gruesome and disturbing elements of Oscar Wilde's original version were left out but it didn't especially take away anything away from the graphic novel. 

The biggest problem I had with the graphic novel was the actual graphic section. The artwork just didn't work for me at all. The faces seemed distorted and it was really difficult to tell the difference between Harry and Basil. The text compensated for that but I feel like the entire thing was let down by it. The artwork is really important to a graphic novel or manga and it should flow seamlessly and compliment the text etc but honestly, I didn't feel it. 

Overall it was a fun, quick read that I did partly enjoy but I feel like perhaps most of my enjoyment came from the fact that it was an adaptation of my favourite book. On the other hand that could also be why I feel overly critical of it, too. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a good, simple overview of The Picture of Dorian Gray without actually reading the book, or to those who would like an easy way to refresh their memory.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Caragh Reviews - The Clique by Lisi Harrison

Published - 1st November 2008
Publisher - Little Brown
Format - Paperback
Synopsis - Kicking off a juicy new series, this book introduces a group of girls who are navigating the social minefields of eighth grade at New York's Westchester County's most exclusive private school.

I saw this graphic novel on the very bottom shelf, hidden behind a bunch of other graphic novels and mangas and being the slightly neurotic book lover that I am, I felt kind of sorry for it sitting there, unloved. So naturally I picked it up, sat myself on my library's extremely comfortable sofa and read it. I knew right away that it wasn't going to be a right fit for me, so it's a little unfair that i'm writing a review for it, but it's Comic Week and I haven't read that many lately! 

The writing and plot is very cutesy and adolescent. A group of spoilt rich kids flaunt their importance, popularity and money whilst degrading the only interesting character that appears in the entire graphic novel. Claire is beautiful and smart but also extremely naive and desperate to make an impression - much like all teenage girls. What really did annoy the crap out of me though was the way Claire gave up her own personality to become Massie's clone. She gossiped, lied and pulled Massie-esque pranks in order for the other girls to like and befriend her. My problem with this is that The Clique is quite obviously aimed at pre-teen/children. I think Harrison would have been much better off teaching her audience that you can make friends with smarts and a friendly attitude; you don't need to lie and cheat! Though this does come through a little, it's a little too late in my opinion.

The girls in the clique are vicious and nasty, and if it wasn't for the fact that i'm a stickler for finishing what I start, I wouldn't have finished this one. That being said, I think young girls probably would enjoy this. The artwork is great and not only adds to the story, it actually kind of makes it worth it. I think i'll be skipping other books like this in future.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Caragh's Top Ten Favourite Books Set In The South! (USA)

Hosted by Broke & The Bookish

This weeks Top Ten is pretty open! The description is: Top Ten Favorite Books With X Setting (ie: futuristic world, set mostly in schools, during World War II, books set in California  etc. etc. So many possibilities!) 

I picked The Deep South because not only do I LOVE that region of America, but a lot of books I love just so happen to be set in and around that area too. So with that, here is my list!

1. Morganville by Rachel Caine
It's been a while since I shamelessly talked about this book series. It's my absolute favourite and as if it was done especialy for me, Morganville is set in the state of Texas. Great books, insanely loveable characters and badass storylines plus Texas? Hell yeah!

2. Harper Connolly by Charlaine Harris
I'm actually a much bigger fan of the Southern Vampire series (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood) but for this instance i'm using Harris's somewhat lesser known Harper Connolly series as to be it feels more 'Southern'. Harper is a young woman who just so happens to communicate with the dead and help them rest in peace...or at least help their families. The books are really interesting and have a little mystery/crime about them.

3. Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Maybe cheating a little here as I haven't read Beautiful Redemption yet, but the Caster Chronicles series is fast becoming one of my favourites. Set in the fictional (or at least I believe it is!) Gatlin County, South Carolina, an average student in an extraordinarily boring town is about to find out that in the South, nothing is as it seems! So much tension, action and adventure in these books, great character building and some beautiful Southern accents!

4. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I'm not entirely sure if this is the real South, but I love it all the same. Huckleberry Finn was one of my favourite books growing up. I used to steal my brother's copy of the book all the time until he eventually gave in and gave it to me permanently. I went on to study my beloved Huck in an American Lit class and my interest in the book only grew.

5. Demon Trappers by Jana Oliver
Demon Trappers is set in Atlanta/Georgia and even though it's just words on the page, Beck really brings the Southern feel to the books. His frequent slips into his Georgian accent melts my heart. I've always had a fascination with Southern accents so it serves as just one more reason to love Denver Beck! Swoon.

6. Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice
I'm picking this book rather than the whole series because it's the only one i've finished! The film version of this is possibly my favourite of all time and when I finally read the book a few years ago, I loved that too! Unlike today's vampire books, IWTV feels dark, mysterious and dangerous. And Southern! In my mind I always connect vampires with the South because of this book. A great read and a must-have for any vampire lover.

7. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Another one set in Georgia, The Color Purple is a wonderful, heartfelt and award-winning novel that focuses on the life of black women in America in 1930's. Well worthy of it's success, The Color Purple is definitely a must read. It's rich in character and history. Despite having read it a fairly long time ago, the story has stuck with me and is a favourite.

8. Holes by Louis Sachar
I shamefully only read Holes last year! So many people said wonderful things about this book that I just had to get it read. A quick and easy read full of adventure and really awesome kids! Holes is set in Texas which adds a lot to the story. Hours and hours a day digging holes in the desert with no chance of escape...ouch! 

9. Ruby Landry series by Virginia Andrews
Not many people know this about me but I really enjoy Virginia Andrews! The first series of books I read by her were the Ruby Landry series, set in Louisiana. Thinking back, this is probably the book that really got me interested in the South. At one point, Ruby attends the Mardi Gras and it was so interesting to read about. It also makes me hungry for Cajun food.

10. Shades of London by Maureen Johnson
Though the Shades of London books are set in London (duh!), protagonist Rory hails from Louisiana and throughout the current 2 books, she often makes references to her home in Louisiana and her food choices (oh she loves her food!). The books are incredible and i'm super excited for the release of book three!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Brianna Reviews - Death Note Vol.1 by Ohba & Obata

Published: 10th October 2005
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
Format: Manga, Paperback
Synopsis: Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects - and he's bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal...or his life?

-Warning this review might contain minor spoilers… Sorry.-
Death Note is a graphic novel/manga and it has also been adapted into an anime and a film. It was originally written in Japanese and the publishers have not flipped Death Note when they translated it (so the novel reads right to left) which means that all of the artwork is exactly as intended.  I liked the artwork, it was half of the reason I picked it up to read (the other half being the plot). The characters were instantly identifiable and unique from the other characters; I particularly like Ryuk and his facial expressions.
On to the characters, I don’t know if it is just because they are the main characters, or maybe just because the other characters didn’t get much page time; but the only characters I really feel anything for are Light, Ryuk and L. I don’t like Light. I may have liked Light had he not found the death note, but he did. Light went from being a dedicated hard working student with some sort of moral compass. When he finds the death note this changes almost immediately, the first person he killed he could be excused slightly as he did not believe the death note was real. As soon as he does know it is real he changes and develops a god complex which obliterates what was his moral compass. L is also morally ambiguous as shown in the way that he tests Light’s ability. Despite Ryuk being a death god I think he is actually quite moral if you ignore that fact that he dropped the death note as an experiment because he was bored.

The plot really interests me and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. The concept is intriguing and it raises good moral and social questions in nice bite-sized chunks. Although the plot line is quite serious and raises these moral type questions, it’s still light and not at all difficult to read or follow. I’m also interested to see what, if anything, has been changed in the transition between manga and anime.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Weekly Updates 5/8 - 9/8

It’s time for Weekly Updates! Which is pretty much the same as all the other weekly memes out there so we don't claim any rights or anything :) So let's get to it.

Books we got this week!

Caragh got -  
Forsaken - Jana Oliver 
The Reapers are the Angels - Alden Bell
Emma: The Graphic Novel - Butler & Lee 
The False Prince - Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Heir of Night - Helen Lowe
The Gathering of the Lost - Helen Lowe

Library books -
Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones
Are We There Yet? - David Levithan

Brianna got -  
The Complete Short Stories - Ian Rankin
Let It Bleed - Ian Rankin
The Hanging Garden - Ian Rankin
Eric - Terry Pratchett

Library books -
Strange Angels - Lili St.Crow
Torchwood: Everyone Says Hello - Dan Abnett (Audiobook)

Books we reviewed this week!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
Ravaged  - David Wellington

Currently Reading!
Caragh – Are We There Yet? - David Levithan
Brianna – TimeRiders - Alex Scarrow

Brianna Reviews - Ravaged by David Wellington

Published:  2010
Publisher: Piatkus Books
Format: Paperback
Synopsis: The days grow colder.  The nights grow longer.  And every time the moon rises, the wolf inside her grows a little stronger.Cheyenne Clark—a woman whose hatred for werewolves has turned her into the very beast she most despises—prowls the Arctic Circle on the trail of an ancient secret, hunting for the one thing that could remove the lycanthropic curse and make her human again.    
Yet standing between Chey and her goal are a werewolf hunter armed with a diabolically brilliant weapon, a centuries-old werewolf with her own mysterious agenda…and Chey’s own complicated feelings for the man who doomed her to this existence but on whom her life now depends. 
Worse, with every hour that passes, the wolf inside Chey becomes more powerful.  It won’t be long before the woman disappears completely, and only the beast is left.  

Ravaged is the sequel to Cursed which I read sometime last year. It took me a while to work out which book did come next because when I originally googled the series, I came across 4 different titles: Cursed, Frostbite, Ravaged and Overwinter. Turns out Cursed was either originally titled Frostbite and Ravaged originally Overwinter. Or they are titled Frostbite & Overwinter in America and Cursed & Ravaged in the UK, so there is in fact only the two books Cursed/Frostbite and Ravaged/Overwinter.  

Cursed left off with Chey and Powell leaving Port Radium together. Ravaged picks up shortly after this. I found that the first half of this book dragged. The plot didn’t really seem to be moving and was just a lot of ‘Oh look here are Powell and Chey dancing through the wilderness’ – cute but not great story material. In hindsight the driving plot line for this book is the search for the ‘cure’ but this is not apparent at first. I mean, Powell mentions the cure but in the same sentence seems to dismiss it – after all he has been searching for it for the last hundred years.  The plot does pick up momentum eventually and it sticks around until the end, so maybe the book could have benefited from getting rid of the first 100 pages or so. For those who like Dzo he is back again in Ravaged and this time we learn a lot more about him than the vagarities that we learn in Cursed. We also discover a little more about Powell’s past and the time he spent in Europe.  We don’t however learn any more about Chey, Cursed clearly told us enough.

It’s been a while since I read Cursed but I think the eventual plot line and action of Ravaged might have been better. I know so far this review sound like a comparison of the two books, this is because I’m not entirely sure what I did think of Ravaged. I enjoyed reading it, but then I like reading so I enjoy most things I read. There might have been moments when I didn’t want to stop reading but I didn’t put the book down and think wow that was a good book it was more of a “meh, there’s a series finished”. I also was not satisfied by the ending, it was the kind of ending I don’t read much of these days so in that respect I liked it, but ultimately I found the end unsatisfying.
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