Monday, 24 November 2014

Caragh Reviews - It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Published - 1st May 2007
Publisher - Disney Hyperion
Format - Paperback
Synopsis - Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life - which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself. Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety. Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.

I first heard of Ned Vizzini about 2 weeks before his tragic death just last year. After watching the movie version of this book just more than a few times, I decided to look it up online to happily discover that it was based on Vizzini’s novel. Though it took me a long time to actually get and then read the book, it had been on my mind for a long time.

Mental health is both an intriguing and familiar subject matter for me, having suffered with depression myself. However, books about mental health have always left me feeling disappointed. Not because they were badly written or because of the dissociation with the characters or anything, but because they never show an everyday normal view of the person in question. It’s not easy to write about mental health issues but I think it’s even more difficult to write a character with mental health issues without having to de-humanise the character.  The character should be a character, first and foremost. With human issues and feelings. The mental health issues are second but integrated.

The thing that I enjoyed the most about this book was that Craig’s problems weren’t judged in any way. So many teenagers out there suffer with mental health problems brought on by the stresses of school and everyday life and these should not be minimised or belittled, or compared to bigger issues. Whatever the reason for mental health problems such as depression – they are all as important and dangerous as each other.  Throughout Craig’s journey in the hospital we meet a multitude of characters with varying backgrounds, ages, problems, health issues – and they are all relatable.
Despite the perhaps dark subject matter of the book, there was a lack of heaviness that is often found in books of a similar subject and target audience. The read was enjoyable and comical throughout the book. It also felt like I was discovering a lot about myself as a person and as someone who has struggled with the effects of depression and anxiety. 

I also found it interesting how quickly the characters involved themselves with each other. Though Craig was only in the hospital for a short time, he made strong  connections to the other patients. I have seen in a couple of reviews that some people think this isn’t realistic but in actual fact – it really is. Anyone who has found themselves in a closed-up situation will more than likely have experienced this kind of ‘pack’ mentality. A group of people who are all in the same situation and only have each other for communication and daily living are more likely to bond quickly and strongly.  Especially when someone is looking for a way to escape and to feel ‘normal’. It’s not only a way to re-evaluate your place but it acts as a support group. In order to ‘survive’, you have to make yourself available, approachable and it again acts as a way to stop the dehumanising that often happens when someone is labelled with mental health problems. 

Of course we have to mention the parallels to Vizzini’s own life – who struggled with mental health problems severely and eventually took his own life. Vizzini personally spent some time in a hospitalised setting and I can really feel that through his writing. 
Overall it was an excellent book and I am anxious to read more of his writing. 5 stars.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Caragh Reviews - The Christmas Bake Off by Abby Clements

Published - 20th December 2012
Publisher - Quercus
Format - Kindle
Synopsis - With Christmas just around the corner, the residents of Skipley village are gearing up for the annual bake off, and tensions are high. Winning means a lot to everyone involved - talented cake-shop owner Katie dreams of baking stardom, Rachel wants to prove she's more than a stay-at-home mum, and John hopes his culinary skills will impress the woman he loves. But when the judges discover that some cakes have been tampered with, the villagers' loyalties are called into question - whose ambition would stretch to sabotage, and why? The Christmas Bake-Off is an exclusive short story from Abby Clements, author of Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. This ebook edition also includes bonus recipes for cinnamon cookies and vanilla and almond biscuits.

With the holidays coming (already!) I've been hunting the Kindle Store for quick festive reads. I can't remember if this one was free but even if it wasn't, it was dirt cheap! 

For a short story, it featured an array of characters, a little mystery and a burst of festive joy - which is all you really want from it. Personally I wasn't overly impressed but I always have this sense of unfinished business when I read short stories. I know that the point of them is to be brief and to the point but I always think they have so much more potential that just never gets given to us!

However, it was fun and cute, and this particular edition came with free recipes for Christmassy cookies which I genuinely am interested in trying! Also, be prepared to be absolutely craving big fancy cakes after reading this book.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Brief hello! I'm here to schedule!

I'm always afraid to check this website because I've left it abandoned and alone for so long.

23800 Views and 299 Posts...
For some reason those figures make me squirm. At least this post will make it 300!
I swear reviews are coming! I've got a few things scheduled for the near future to get this thing up and running again.

I'm still not reading a lot, therefore making this whole thing a little redundant, but who cares right? As long as I've got something to say, I may as well keep it going. I started this blog for me so I'm carrying on that way! I guess we'll see what happens but I'm excited to officially be back!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Caragh Reviews - My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody

Published - 7th June 2011
Publisher Farrar, Straus, Giroux (BYR)
Format - Format
Synopsis - PLEASE READ THIS! MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT! Okay, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but I’m sorry, I’m feeling a bit melodramatic at the moment.  Here’s the deal. My name is Brooklyn Pierce, I’m fifteen years old, and I am decisionally challenged. Seriously, I can’t remember the last good decision I made. I can remember plenty of crappy ones though. Including that party I threw when my parents were out of town that accidentally burned down a model home. Yeah, not my finest moment, for sure. But see, that’s why I started a blog. To enlist readers to make my decisions for me. That’s right. I gave up. Threw in the towel. I let someone else be the one to decide which book I read for English. Or whether or not I accepted an invitation to join the debate team from that cute-in-a-dorky-sort-of-way guy who gave me the Heimlich Maneuver in the cafeteria. (Note to self: Chew the melon before swallowing it.) I even let them decide who I dated! Well, it turns out there are some things in life you simply can’t choose or have chosen for you—like who you fall in love with. And now everything’s more screwed up than ever. But don’t take my word for it, read the book and decide for yourself. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scream in frustration. Or maybe that’s just me. After all, it’s my life.

I came across a short story relating to My Life Undecided and as is always the way with these things, by the time I was getting into it, it was over. Luckily Annamarie helped me out and let me read her copy of the book.

For the most part, it was as I expected; a quick, fluffy read without too much going on or taxing. I realise that makes it sound like I didn't enjoy the book but I did - it was what I was looking for. Sometimes there's nothing better than a nice simple read. My Life Undecided follows the (bad) life decisions of Brooklyn Pierce - a teenager who just can't seem to catch a break. As you can probably guess, Brooks finds herself in a position that she can't charm her way out of and that kickstarts her new idea to give the decision making to the people of the internet. That way, she can't be held accountable for whatever happens. 

Throughout the book we see Brooklyn's blog posts, poll results and see what happens when she does, or doesn't play by her own rules. Personally I was hoping that there would be more blog posts throughout the book being as that's what really got me interested. I thought the format of the book would be different from the regular words-on-a-page book. I was glad that Brooklyn eventually became the person that she wanted to be, because I was so freaking mad when she continued to make the same mistakes. I'm a pretty good judge of character and so it frustrates me endlessly when Brooklyn fails to see Shayne's toxicity. The romance in the book was pretty confusing for me too. Throughout My Life Undecided, Brooklyn is associated with Hunter and Brian and honestly, they are both pretty good guys from what I can tell. Naturally, one wins out and I'm super pleased about it but I can't help but feel bad for the other! 

If you're looking for a quick, fun read then My Life Undecided might be for you.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Caragh Reviews - City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Published - 14th April 2009
Publisher - McElderry Books
Format - Kindle
Synopsis - When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder - much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air.  It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing - not even a smear of blood - to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy? This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk.  Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know..

I know i'm way behind the rest of the world when it comes to reading The Mortal Instruments but i'd seen such mixed reviews that I wasn't sure I wanted to invest so much time into a pretty hefty series. The series is now a movie and i'm desperate to see it, but in the spirit of (the now deceased) Read It 1st, I decided now was the time. People are saying it began as Harry Potter fanfic and i'm not really into that kind of thing but it wasn't as Potter-related as i'd imagined. 

There were a lot of things that I connected to HP - I mean the series name itself is a pretty big connection to the Deathly Hallows but honestly, the book pulled me in pretty quickly and I got involved with the story so well that I stopped picking up on similarities and just went with the flow. There wasn't a huge amount of world building which is something I like. I enjoy discovering the world as it happens rather than info dump and it was pretty easy to follow. I really loved all of the characters too; they were so unique to each other and read as individuals rather than different names. I have this weird thing where I tend to love the secondary characters more than the mains and in the case of City of Bones, I am really intrigued by Alec. There seems to be a lot to him that City of Bones hasn't discovered yet and i'm hoping that as the series continues, he becomes more prominent. 

Like the rest of the female population - of course I fell in booklove with Jace. Total badass with a real sincere, loving and sensitive side? YUP. The one thing that I really wanted to talk about in this review is probably way too spoilery but ARGH! Clare certainly knows how to frustrate a girl when it comes to her ships. I shipped Jace and Clary SO HARD and then of course, if you've read the book - you know what i'm talking about. What do I do now? Can I ship it? Just one of the many reasons that i'm anxious to start reading the next book in the series. 

City of Bones has a lot of soft, intimate moments between characters and there's a lot of backstory that is revealed throughout the book that creates the world Clary is finding herself in the middle of but it's also action packed and is never stale. The story flows excellently which is great as it's actually a pretty big book. I didn't realise the length as I read it on the kindle and I flew through it so fast. City of Bones isn't going to be for everyone but one book into the series and I think i'm going to like it so watch this space when I get around to reading the next one!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Caragh Reviews - Heartside Bay: The New Girl by Cathy Cole

Published - January 2014
Publisher - Scholastic
Format - Paperback
Synopsis - Life, love and everything in between...Lila Murray is determined to leave behind the drama of her old life and make a fresh start in Heartside Bay.
But when she falls for Ollie the hottest boy at Heartside High, she makes an instant enemy of Eve, the school's Queen Bee. Eve wants Ollie for herself and now she will do anything to keep them apart...

Cathy Cole is a new-to-me author and I hadn't heard anything about this book before picking it up! It's super short, barely reaching 200 pages and was super cheap too!

I had no expectations about the book as I hadn't heard of it or the author before, other than I assumed it would be a teen-romance book, which is pretty spot on! However I did find that despite the series name and the synopsis, the romance was the least thing I was interested in. The mystery surrounded Lila, who has recently moved home and changed name in order to make a new start, is what really prompted me to keep on reading. 

Though the mystery was kind of explained in the book, not in any great detail and as this is going to be a pretty big series of books, i'm hoping that gets expanded later on! Lila is a really interesting character. She's outgoing, a bit of a smart-mouth and has bundles of sass - all of which she is trying to cover up with an innocent facade. I think we all know that isn't going to last! I'll touch on the romance briefly - it's pretty generic and obvious. Though Lila falls for the Hottie i'm pretty sure that's not where this romance is heading and i'm glad about it! I'm looking forward to catching up with the teens of Heartside Bay when the next book is available.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Caragh Reviews - The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Caroline Mackler

Published - 5th January 2012
Publisher - Simon & Schuster
Format -Paperback
Synopsis - It's 1996 and very few high school students have ever used the internet. Facebook will not be invented until several years in the future. Emma just got a computer and an America Online CD. She and her best friend Josh power it up and log on - and discover themselves on Facebook in 2011. Everybody wonders what they'll be like fifteen years in the future. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

Not too long ago I read Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why and it really impressed me! So when I saw this for £1 in a local bookstore I had to have it and I read it pretty much immediately. I was born at the end of the 80's so I grew up without the internet and I remember it's impact as it started filtering into our every day lives and in peoples homes rather than at school. My first internet provider was also AOL and so this was right up my street.

The idea of not just being able to get glimpses of your future but through Facebook is terrifying and insane. I wonder what my past self would have thought if I could see the Facebook status's I post about my life now. I probably would have given up all hope! That's the beauty of this book, and it's really moralistic. Context is everything. Sure, if all I saw of my future was how I have baby food in my hair and no social life to speak of, i'd probably want to do everything I could to make my future a little bit more pleasing but in reality - I probably was happy about that. 

The Future of Us had so much potential that I scrambled to the end to get the satisfied feeling I was craving from this book. It just...sort of didn't happen. I did enjoy it! It was a fun, quick read but I felt like it really missed an opportunity to do something amazing. Instead, The Future of Us focuses on the petty romance/friendship between Josh and Emma and perhaps more infuriating - Emma's obsession with having a good husband. Somebody should inform the writers that a girl does not equate her lifetime happiness with whether she has a decent husband to make her happy. I thought that perhaps Emma would see the error of her ways and realise that she doesn't NEED that man to have a happy future - but she doesn't. The teens do learn valuable lessons of course - live for the moment and see what the future brings. It was just disappointing that both in the present and the future, these two kids are preoccupied with being in love. I'm not sure if it's a book I would really recommend to people unless they specifically wanted something like this but it was cheap and passed a couple of hours so it wasn't too bad.

January Wrap Up

I can't believe that it's February already. January just flew by. Here's a little recap of what's happened on the blog during January.

Book reviews -

Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton
A Princess of Mars  by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Shadow Web by N.M.Browne
Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs

Other posts -

We're really excited about all the new things we plan to do at Loaded Shelves and so we hope you'll join in with us! We hope you all have a great February and manage to get loads of reading done :)

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Brianna Reviews - Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs

First Published - July 17th 2001
Publisher - Arrow Books
Format - Paperback
Synopsis - When a plane crashes high in the mountains of North Carolina, Dr. Temperence Brennan is first on the scene. As a forensic anthropologist for the state, she serves on the disaster response team. The task that cofronts her is a sad and sickening one. A chance discovery concerns Tempe: a severed foor, away from the main crash site. A deserted house is buried so deep in the woods that locals know nothing of its existence. And her investigation throws up more questions than answers. Before she can make any progress Tempe's profesiional standing is threatened. But she fears that, air tragedy aside, another corpse lies in the woods. Pitting herself against a conspiracy of silence, Tempe vows to bring justice for her mystery victim

As you might remember from my last Tempe Brennan review I was really mad at the way it ended, so it should come as a surprise that I went out and bought the next book as soon as possible.
Tempe is driving back to Quebec when a plane crashes in North Carolina as a member of DMORT (Disaster Mortuary Response Ream) and she is redirected to the site of the crash to help with the identification process. This book however is not really about the identification of the victims of the crash. While at the crash site, she uncovers a much more disturbing mystery than how the plane came down (and that really says something for how disturbing it is!).

In short I enjoyed reading Fatal Voyage, as again with the previous books, it gives the scientific explanations for some of the techniques and evidence. They are still a little long winded for me in places but I like them. I like knowing these things and why this tiny patch in that soil sample is important. I have a small problem with Kathy Reich’s writing style though. I know this has taken until the fourth book to mention but it is only now that I’m sure it’s the books and not me, and that is sometimes in dialogue it’s a little difficult to work out who is talking and who said what. Eventually I work it out but sometimes it takes rereading the conversation a few times which really slows down the reading process. The questions of Tempe's integrity make her consider why she is in such a morbid career which she has already answered in previous books but without specifically saying "this is why I do it", so it's nice to be definitely told.
Apologies for the constant referral to past reviews but this is a kind of series so suck it up. For the past 3 books I’ve been saying that I think Tempe is too short/mean/ horrible to Ryan. Well this book tipped that on its head a little. Ryan reappears in this book (and I may have squealed slightly – thankfully I was at home and not in public) after his partial disappearance from the last book and you will also remember that I wanted more answers to what was going on. Well he comes back and doesn’t say a word about it. Not only that but he acts like a complete ass with Tempe and this time he deserves the way she has previously treated him, although this time she is actually nicer to him. It is somewhat understandable given the whole Bertrand situation but I don’t think it is excusable.  
The Bertrand situation is something about this book that I really like (not the situation itself - I’m not that evil). But the fact that it has carried part of a past case into the current book I like that touch of continuity. I guess it's what makes a series a series because I always have difficulty with how to classify these kinds of books with a recurring main character but entirely separate cases because they are the kind of book that you could read entirely independent of the rest of the series and you wouldn't really miss out on too much - except character development and history. But once you start dragging old cases into it no matter how minor a part or detail it makes it a more coherent series.
Kathy Reichs teases us at the start with the suggestion that yet another member of Tempe’s family is involved or in danger in this book, thankfully they are not, but someone Tempe knows is… seriously people,  avoid her like the plague! Tempe could also use some lessons in common sense as yet again she rushes herself off into danger, and as per every other book she has friends who are police, this time she even tries to phone some of them, gets halfway through dialling Ryan’s number  before deciding not to, maybe she actually has a death wish.
In summary I did really enjoy this book, it felt comfortable to read, and there were the times when I really didn’t want to put it down. I’m resigned to Tempe having no sense of self preservation and to always being frustrated about everything to do with Ryan… I still need that explanation for the drugs thing and is it all over now? So although I still rant about them I don’t think they take anything away from the books (although an explanation about Ryan might add a couple of pages… just saying.) I of course plan on reading the next one, but I don’t yet own it and I’m not in any rush right now.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Caragh Reviews - Shadow Web by N.M.Browne

Published - 4th February 2008
Publisher - Bloomsbury
Format - Paperback
Synopsis - Jessica Allendon is bored and Googles her name. Weirdly, she finds another girl, same age, same name, also living in London. They arrange to meet. At the designated time and place, Jess sees the girl, shock registering on both their faces as they realise they look identical. They shake hands and in that instant are catapulted into each other's worlds. Jessica finds herself somewhere which looks like the London of 50 years ago, but the year is still 2008. In this parallel London, the history is different, key war memorials are missing, and the Jessica whose life she now inhabits was involved in a dark and sinister conspiracy. Jess must convince everyone she is the same girl, at all costs, if she wants to get back to her London - alive.

Last year Brianna was working at a bookstore and so I sent her off one day with the request that she returns with 3 completely random books for me to read. This was one of them that she picked up and though it's taken me forever to actually read it, it was a good choice. The cover is so beautiful and the text and picture are slightly raised and argh just so so gorgeous. It feels a little steampunky too which is always good.

Shadow Web is set in 2008 and when Jessica Allendon googles her own name, everything changes except the year. It's a great concept, especially as so many people DO google their names and I guess in that respect it's relateable. I've always wondered if there's someone out there who shares my name (which isn't realistic I guess, my name is pretty odd!) Browne is also a new-to-me author and that's always great too. 

Strangely, I didn't find the MC very likeable and though she changes through the course of the book, I still didn't feel any kind of connection to her. However, there are other characters in the book that I really loved and their whole personas were brilliantly written. The London that Jess finds herself in is vastly different to the one that she (and we) know. Landmarks are missing, restrictions for women are in place and an abnormal amount of people are German speakers. It doesn't take much to figure out why the world is so different but the intrigue for me was how it happened in the first place. How the two Jessicas managed to swap places. Unfortunately that was the only downfall of the book, too. Though it is commented on, it's never really explained in depth and I would have loved to have known more about it. A few times in the book Jessica just glazes over things rather than explain them. 

The actual plot was great though and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I went into the book blind and came out having a great reading experience. The romance in the book isn't in your face and it develops at a good enough pace and it most definitely isn't the focus of the book, or even relevant to the plot at all. Just a nice little extra. Shadow Web adds a lot of mystery, intrigue and questions throughout the plot which kept me interested. There are a couple of good lines that comment on society but nothing so big that it feels like you're reading a great masterpiece. It's a great book and is super quick to read and doesn't really require any effort on behalf of the reader. A straightforward and enjoyable read!

WBN 2014 - Apply to be a Giver!

WBN stands for World Book Night and it's an organisation that is dedicated to sharing the power of books!
All over the country, people are signing up to be given the chance to give BACK. Taken from the WBN website:

Being a World Book Night edition book giver is how people have traditionally taken part in World Book Night. It involves applying (via an online form) to be able to receive a set of 18 copies of a book of your choice (from our list of 20 titles) to give to people who don't regularly read on April 23.
  • We’re looking for volunteers who can demonstrably give to the 35% of the population who don’t regularly read
  • You can apply as an individual or on behalf of an organisation or institution
  • Anyone can apply but you must be able to clearly demonstrate how you’ll be able to reach those who don’t regularly read
  • You must choose books from our World Book Night list and state on the application form how you intend to give your books away including where and to whom
  • Any applications to give books to regular readers will be rejected.
  • As a volunteer giver you commit to collecting your books from a local bookshop or library (exceptions are made for large institutions such as prisons where we will make direct deliveries) in the week before World Book Night and to giving them to people who don’t read to encourage them to do so on or around April 23
  • Application is now open and closes on January 23.
  • You can also register as a Community book giver
If this sounds like you then why not sign up? Last year I gave away a ton of copies of Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman and it actually turned out to be pretty fun.
You can follow the link to the website for more information about how you can help with WBN or even become a Giver. Applications close TOMORROW at MIDNIGHT so get there fast!

World Book Night Website

Monday, 20 January 2014

Caragh Reviews - Percy Jackson & The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Published - 1st August 2010
Publisher - Puffin
Format - Paperback
Synopsis - Freshman orientation is about mastering new things, but this is ridiculous. Percy didn't expect that in his first week at school, he would have to face a squad of demon cheerleaders. And the dangers are far more than scholastic: Kronos's armies are threatening even the relative safety of Camp Half-Blood. The fourth installment of Percy Jackson and the Olympians deals out action, surprises, suspense, and gripping characters.

I've been reading the Percy Jackson series on and off for a while now and i'm finally nearing the end! I absolutely ADORE these books and Battle of the Labyrinth was no exception. From the opening line until the book ended I was completely hooked, on the edge of my seat and in love with the characters and the world that Riordan has created.

The one constant in Percy's life since finding out his true parentage has been Camp Half-Blood. It's a home, he has friends, loved ones and a purpose but this time, it is far from safe. Percy & co must save Camp Half-Blood and stop Kronos from rising, no matter what it takes. I found this book was a lot faster paced because of the threat to the Camp and to those Percy loves. It also introduced more Gods and their children which is just one of the things that I love about this series - I'm actually learning something. I know next to nothing about mythology but I can definitely hold my own now! I'm actually looking at getting some non-fiction books about mythology soon thanks to Percy. 

One problem I have with the series, which isn't a problem at all really, is that I love Luke. He is so well written (though cryptically). I harboured grand ideas that somehow, Luke would redeem himself and return to Camp Half-Blood as family and not as an enemy. For anyone who has read the book, you'll understand why my certainty about Luke is waivering. I am SO anxious to find out what the hell is going on that it takes up a lot of my time! I've invested way too much into the Percy Jackson series lol! Though i've been spreading out the books hugely, I plan on reading the final book this week and so with that in mind, this isn't an overly insightful review as I feel i'd just repeat myself with the next review! 

As a little side note - if anyone has read the second Olympian series by Rick Riordan - do you recommend it?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Caragh Reviews - A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Published - 30th January 2007
Publisher - Penguin
Format - Kindle
Synopsis - John Carter, a Civil War veteran, inexplicably finds himself held prisoner on the planet Mars by the Green Men of Thark. With Dejah Thoris, the princess of another clan on Mars, John Carter must fight for their freedom and save the entire planet from destruction, as the life-sustaining Atmosphere Factory slowly grinds to a halt. The first of eleven in the series.

I'm not entirely sure how i've spent my whole life being unaware of Edgar Rice Burroughs, but when a friend suggest that I read this I figured it could be fun to try out a new author.

When I started reading, I was quite skeptical. Though there were no faults with Burrough's writing style, the content was definitely questionable to me. The first problem I had was that John Carter just wasn't likeable! It's not a necessity to like the main character but it sure helps. Carter seemed arrogant and full of himself. Sentences like "My mind is evidently so constituted that I am subconsciously forced into the path of duty without recourse to tiresome mental processes. However that may be, I have never regretted that cowardice is not optional for me" - are obviously beautifully written but are so damn frustrating! I am happy to say though that once you get half way through, Carter's self indulgences are barely even noticeable and I found myself actually liking him. 

It was really interesting seeing how Carter, a man of Earth, interacted and integrated himself into the community of Barsoom. Though they are two very different cultures there were many similiarities. Carter learned a lot from the people of Barsoom and vice versa. The subject of laughter and humour was one point of interest; how the same action can mean a variety of things. As I was reading there was a feeling of vague familiarity and eventually it dawned on me that it felt a lot like Gulliver's Travels and honestly - once I realised that I enjoyed the book a lot more. It was easier to really understand what I was reading. 

Burrough's uses long and intensive descriptions and you have to read a significant portion of the book before there is even any dialogue. Part of this is obviously due to the language barriers between the characters but I think it's really the staple of the book. No speech allows for these lengthy descriptions which fully develop the world that Burroughs is creating and also allows a deeper look at Carter himself and the culture that he belongs to. I also feel that Burroughs uses sections of A Princess to Mars to discuss political beliefs (such as Communism). I'm not aware of his personal beliefs but it was interesting to read nonetheless. 

A Princess of Mars has a LOT of action and drama. Carter is never safe or content and one adventure immediately leads to the next. The book ended on a major cliffhanger too which makes you want to read more no matter how you found the story! Though for the majority of the book I wasn't really feeling it, by the end I enjoyed the whole thing and i'm looking forward to seeing what is next for John Carter.

Monday, 13 January 2014


I'm here introducing another new segment for Loaded Shelves today! A lot of bloggers and booktuber's are doing these and we had a discussion about the book/film adaptations that we've seen and have things to comment on. If you'll remember, Brianna did one of these a while ago for Casino Royale.

We have a few ideas floating around for the book/film's that we want to do but as always, if there are any recommendations you have then please send them our way! The first one will be up before the end of the month so keep an eye out for that.

Let us know: What are your best and worse adaptations?

Also - We're on Bloglovin now!
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Thursday, 9 January 2014

INTRODUCING: Shakespeare Made Simple

The two of us here at Loaded Shelves often have really nerdy and lengthy talks about Shakespeare, his plays and his relevance in today's society. Caragh is a self-professed Shakespeare fanatic and wrote her Undergraduate dissertation on the Big Man and Brianna has never read a word. I know, I know - how can we have a conversation about Shakespeare if Brianna has never read his work? Well, there are other ways and over the year we are going to explore different mediums to access the plays without reading them but still gain the understanding of each one.

We hope that by sharing the things we find, it will encourage you (and Brianna) to pick up the play afterwards, once you have grasped a basic understanding of what's going on!

Every month we will share with you what we are looking at pertaining to one Shakespeare play and at the end of the third month, we'll combine everything together into one big post where Brianna will reveal whether she was interested enough to read the real play, whether she will pick it up in the future, or whether regardless of the easy accessible versions she just isn't interested.
So in a nutshell: 3 months, 3 new ways of discovering a specific Shakespeare play!

First up is Macbeth so look out for our first new material later on this month.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

INTRODUCING: Classics Decoded

How many times have you sat there thinking, "I'm going to read that classic!" If you're anything like me, that is only ever when i'm forced to (pushy parents/teachers). So what is it that puts you off?
Length? Outdated? Stuffy? Irrelevant? Complicated language?

That's what I think too, but you know what? It's actually not true! Many of the books  we consider as "classic lit" are still very much relevant and worth a read - or so Caragh tells me. Over the course of the year we are going to try to decode 6 classics - 2 of which YOU can choose! We will read the books for you and break it down, try to make it more accessible and tell you why it actually is relevant. Whatever your reasons are for avoiding the classics, we hope we can inspire you (and ourselves!) to finally pick up that classic that you've always wondered about without getting your brain in a muddle.

The first book we're going to look at is Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. Our post about Dracula will be up in February so feel free to read along with us before we reveal what we've found next month!

Leave comments with suggestions for the 2 classic lit books YOU want US to read and decode!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Caragh's 2013 Reads

2013 has been the best reading year for me in such a long time! I'm really pleased with the books that I got through and some of these became favourites. 2013 is when I also started making use of the local library so the different types of books are more varied!

1. Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris
2. Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Cohn & Levithan
3. In A New York Minute by Eleanor Moran
4. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap by Paulette Mahurin
5. Geek Girl by Holly Smale
6. The Fallen Star by Jessica Sorensen
7. A Witch Alone by Ruth Warburton
8. A Dark Kiss of Rapture by Sylvia Day
9. Cwmardy by Lewis Jones
10. Speechless by Hannah Harrington
11. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
12. The Underworld by Jessica Sorensen
13. Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas
14. Unremembered by Jessica Brody
15. The Scarlet Plague by Jack London
16. Time Riders by Alex Scarrow
17. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
18. Pretty Girl Thirteen by Liz Coley
19. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
20. The Vision by Jessica Sorensen
21. The Promise by Jessica Sorensen
22. Paris, I've Grown Accustomed To Your Ways by Ruth Yunker
23. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
24. Forgiven by Jana Oliver
25. Summer Falls (DW) by Amelia Williams
26. The Hero of 1000 Years by Christine E Schulze
27. Blood, Sweat and Tea by Tom Reynolds
28. Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
29. Fall of Night by Rachel Caine
30. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson
31. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
32. Twerp by Mark Goldblatt
33. Twitterature by Alexander Aciman
34. Code of the Krillitanes by Justin Richards
35. Matilda by Roald Dahl
36. The Disillusioned by D.J Williams
37. Fractured by Teri Terry
38. Beautiful Creatures by Garcia & Stohl
39. Jane Eyre Graphic Novel by Amy Corzine
40. Beautiful Darkness by Garcia & Stohl
41. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
42. Cursed by David Wellington
43. Foretold by Jana Oliver
44. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
45. Death Note Vol. 8 by Ohba & Obata
46. The Clique by Lisi Harrison
47. Beautiful Chaos by Garcia & Stohl
48. The Picture of Dorian Gray Graphic Novel by Ian Edginton
49. Are We There Yet? by David Levithan
50. Carniepunk Anthology
51. An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris
52. Inside Out by Maria V Snyder
53. Emma Graphic Novel by Nancy Butler
54. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
55. More Blood, More Sweat & Even More Tea by Tom Reynolds
56. Working Stiff by Rachel Caine
57. DEADish by Naomi Kramer
58. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
59. The Transfer by Veronica Roth
60. Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
61. Severed Heads, Broken Hearts by Robyn Schneider
62. Everyone Says Hello by Dan Abnett
63. The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
64. Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
65. Death Note Vol 2 by Ohba & Obata
66. Death Note Vol 3 by Ohba & Obata
67. Death Note Vol 4 by Ohba & Obata
68. Briar Rose by Jana Oliver
69. The War for Banks Island by John Green
70. Model Misfit by Holly Smale
71. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
72. Free Four by Veronica Roth
73. Beautiful Redemption by Garcia & Stohl
74. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
75. The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding
76. He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt
77. Anyone But You by Askew & Helmes
78. Freak of Nature by Julia Crane
79. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
80. Death Note Vol. 5 by Ohba & Obata
81. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
82. The Hanging Tree by Michael Phillip Cash
83. Doll Bones by Holly Black
84. Daylighters by Rachel Caine
85. Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
86. Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton
87. Death Note Vol 6 by Ohba & Obata
88. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
89. Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris
90. Diary of A Mall Santa by Stewart Scott
91. Junk by Melvin Burgess
92. Death Note Vol 7 by Ohba & Obata
93. The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
94. The Hit by Melvin Burgess
95. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
96. The Story of My Life by Anne Cassidy
97. Have Yourself A Curvy Little Christmas by Sugar Jamison
98. Death Note Vol 8 by Ohba & Obata
99. My Funny Major Medical by Linton Robinson
100. William Shakespeare's Star Wars; Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher

So, how did I do in my challenges?

Goodreads: 100/62
Ebook Challenge: 37/25

Pretty good!! Fingers crossed 2014 will be equally as good, if not better :)

Friday, 3 January 2014

Brianna's 2013 Reads!

This year was a little hit and miss with reading I seemed to flick between reading loads of books in the space of a week to going a month without reading a single thing. I seem to have read a lot of books from series this year, most notably being The Morganville Vampires, Inspector Rebus and the Temperance Brennan series.

1. Bite Club by Rachel Caine
2. Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin
3. Hide & Seek by Ian Rankin
4. Last Breath by Rachel Caine
5. Tooth & Nail by Ian Rankin
6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
7. Forbidden by Jana Oliver
8. Forgiven by Jana Oliver
9. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
10. Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
11. Black Dawn by Rachel Caine
12. Blood Sweat + Tea by Tom Reynolds
13. Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
14. Death Note Vol. 1 by Ohba and Obata
15. Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs
16. Strip Jack by Ian Rankin
17. Ravaged by David Wellington
18. Wolverine: Logan by Brian K. Vaughan
19. Death du Jour by Kathy Reichs
20. Divergent by Veronica Roth
21. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
22. Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
23. Dead(ish) by Naomi Kramer
24. Foretold by Jana Oliver
25. The Tranfer by Veronica Roth
26. First Grave on the Right by Darynda
27. Bitter Blood by Rachel Caine
28. Torchwood: Everyone Says Hello by Dan Abnett
29. Free Four by Veronica Roth
30. Fall of Night by Rachel Caine
31. Death Note Vol. 2 by Ohba and Obata
32. Death Note Vol. 3 by Ohba and Obata
33. Deadly Decisions by Kathy Reichs
34. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
35. Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy
36. Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Caragh Reviews - Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton

Published - 2nd January 2014
Publisher - Hodder
Format - Kindle
Synopsis - London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches. Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.

I was a big fan of Ruth Warburton's Winter Trilogy and was getting increasingly excited for her new release, Witch Finder. I received this book to review in early November.

Witch Finder started off well and was really intrguing. Luke's life seems simple enough until we see him taking part in a ritual for the Malleus Malefictorum - a secret brotherhood of witch hunters. Luke has his personal reasons for joining and is completely dedicated to following in the footsteps of those around him - that is until he meets his initiation target, Rosa Greenwood. 

Throughout the book Luke has many trials to face and he even learns about himself - as every good protagonist does. I love that Warburton carried over some of the same ideas she put forth in the Winter Trilogy and still used words such as 'outwith'. It made it seem more realistic after having read about them previously. Witch Finder wasn't what I expected at all - I thought it would be a similar style to her previous books but surprisingly it was very different. It clearly isn't set in a modern time period (which I LOVE!) and the whole thing felt both new and fresh but homely and comforting. It's quite a dark book actually. Of course it features romance, coming of age, family matters as almost all YA books do but it takes it to a darker place.

Admittedly, I thought the pacing was a bit slow. I'm not sure whether it's just the format of the e-copy I received or whether the printed book is the same but there were really long chapters! It was a while ago that I read it now but I think there may not have been real specific chapters at all, though the ending of the book totally made up for the occasional lack of action/intrigue. I believe i'm right in saying this is going to be a series and if so it has great potential. I'll be looking forward to seeing what the consequences are.
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