27 June 2011

Book Review: Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
The Edge Chronicles #1
December 1, 1999; Corgi Children's
Amazon USAmazon UK

Here is a tale of fantastic lands at the edge of the world, where certain rocks float in the air and the feared Deepwoods are crowded with extraordinary trees and creatures. Paul Stewart tells the story with considerable input from Chris Riddell's copious and wonderfully detailed line drawings of fabulous creatures, often reminiscent of Tenniel's or Mervyn Peake's grotesques. Overall the narrative has a familiar shape, as the young lad Twig who's been raised by woodtrolls learns that his destiny lies elsewhere, and blunders off through the Deepwoods to find teeming horrors, unexpected friends, comic menaces, enslavement as a pet, his true parentage, and the nature of his feared nemesis the Gloamglozer. It's all told with joyously inventive relish, and the cavalcade of life never slows: sky pirates, smelly halitoads, hover worms, slaughterers, hammelhorns, caterbirds, skullpelts, bloodoaks, gyle goblins and their Grossmother, spindlebugs, milchgrubs, banderbears, wig-wigs resembling carnivorous tribbles, the very disgusting rotsucker, and more--each illustrated in loving detail. - Goodreads Page
I first read Beyond the Deepwoods when I was still in primary school. Recently I bought a new copy of the book, and thought I would have a good reread of the story I remember loving as a child. 

The main draw of the book is the world in which it is set. The novel opens with a map of The Edge, showing various different locations and landmarks, and throughout the book the reader is introduced to a variety of different creatures and places. The fantasy world that Stewart and Riddell have built is truly breathtaking; I have never read anything like it. 

Our protagonist in the novel is a young boy named Twig, who was brought up by his adoptive family of woodtrolls. Circumstances change, events happen, and Twig is sent to go and live with another family member. But along the way, he strays from the path and becomes lost in the Deepwoods. 

To me, Twig's character was nothing special. In fact, I found him irritatingly plain. Twig kept getting himself into trouble, and making the same mistakes over and over. Of course, there are several different factors involved but we don't learn of these until the end of the novel. This made the overall reading experience kind of annoying.

This book is middle grade, but the world and overall plot makes this a definite read for adults. The illustrations - by Riddell - make the book so much better. I loved reading the descriptions of the different creatures and then looking at the pictures to help me visualise and differentiate between each one.

If you're looking for a fantasy world to lose yourself in, this is the book for you!

25 June 2011

Cover Reveal: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead

What do you think? Do you like it?
Personally, I prefer this cover to the US cover, but I'm not too keen on it. I don't like white backgrounds, primarily, and also I don't like the fact that the pictures look like tattoos. 
But anyway, I will be reading this book regardless of the cover. Because, well, it's RICHELLE FREAKIN' MEAD. Whew. *deep breaths*
I am SO excited for this book, and I'm sure you all are too. If you haven't read the Vampire Academy series, then this is a perfect time to go and do so! 

24 June 2011

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday

Book Blogger Hop

When did you realize reading was your passion and a truly important part of your life?

From an early age, I think. I've always loved books and reading, and I always tried hard to find the right books for me while I was in primary school. Most of the other kids were reading books for their age group, but I wanted to read other books for slightly higher age groups, as I found most of the ones for my age too simple. I set out trying to find the best books for me, and the more I read, the more passionate I became about books and reading and literature in general. 
I can't put an exact age or time frame on it. But I can say that book blogging has made me even more passionate about reading than I was before!

In light of the Summer Solstice. Also known as Midsummer...let's talk about fairies. What is your favorite fairy tale or story that revolves around the fae?

I actually haven't read many fae novels. The one that springs to mind is The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. A lot of people have probably said this. This was the first fairy-centric book that I read, and I absolutely loved it.
As for my favourite fairytale, I love the story of Rapunzel. Does that count? :D

22 June 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: If I Die by Rachel Vincent

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

If I Die by Rachel Vincent (Soul Screamers #5)
September 20, 2011

No one wants to be this teacher’s pet . . . 
Everyone else is talking about Eastlake High’s gorgeous new math teacher, Mr. Beck, but Kaylee Cavanaugh has bigger things on her mind. Kaylee’s a banshee—her scream is a portent of death.
But the next scream might hit too close to home. Kaylee’s borrowed lifeline has almost run out.
Yeah—it’s a shock to her, too. So to distract herself from her own problems, Kaylee is determined to defend her school against the latest supernatural threat. That hot new teacher is really an incubus, who feeds from the desire of unsuspecting students. The only girls immune to his lure are Kaylee and Sabine, her boyfriend’s delinquent ex-girlfriend. Now the unlikely allies have to get rid of Mr. Beck…before he discovers they aren’t quite human either.
But Kaylee’s running out of time, and those who love her will do anything to save her life.
Soul Screamers: The last thing you hear before you die.

I finished reading My Soul to Steal (book #4) earlier this week, and now I am DYING to read the next book in the series. I can't wait to see what becomes of Kaylee (if you read the above synopsis, then I'm sure you can tell why!) and I am very, VERY interested in reading more about Tod. And Tod and Kaylee. If you've read the most recent book in this series, then I'm sure you are aware of the brewing feelings going on between them *wink*. 
Alas, September is so far away.

17 June 2011

Follow Friday!

Q. Genre Wars! What's your favorite genre and which book in that genre made it your favorite?

Come on, just one favourite? Really? I don't know how to choose. 
I really love dystopian novels. Really really love them. But at the same time, I feel that some books can get a bit repetitive if they aren't done well. A lot of dystopians have the same sort of theme. But I guess that can be true with any genre. 
I also LOVE paranormal, of course. There are so many different things that can be done with paranormal - and fantasy, let's throw fantasy in there too - and I have read so, so many books within these genres. It hasn't become boring in the slightest. 
Another genre I enjoy is historical fiction, but I haven't read many of those. To be honest, I can count the number I've read recently on one hand. 

Overall, my greatest loves are dystopian and paranormal/fantasy novels. I'm cheating, you say? I don't care; I can't choose. I love all sorts of books! *grin*

16 June 2011

Book Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Rating: 2 out of 5
Recommended? Nope.

From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island. 
Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count. - Goodreads Page

The plot kicks off with the plane crashing on the island, and throughout the first half of the book, we see the girls struggle to live on the island, learning to fish and to build huts. However, we didn't actually see a lot of this; all of a sudden the huts were there. I would have loved to have seen the girls do this, as I mainly picked up this book for the island survival part of it – which is a huge interest of mine.

Beauty Queens is very character-driven. I wouldn’t recommend picking this book up for the action, as there wasn’t much of that. A lot of time is spent telling the reader about each of the characters’ backstories, and about their different personalities and traits. That said, there is little character development going on. 

The pirates... don’t even get me started on the pirates. I didn’t feel they were necessary at all, and they only seemed to be thrown in so that the girls could get some male attention in an otherwise completely female setting. At the same time, it also contradicted the whole feminism theme of the plot.

I found this book to be very preachy without needing to be. Lots of different themes were thrown into the book, such as lesbianism, transgendered characters, feminism... And while that was all well and good, it became very in-your-face after a while. I felt that Bray was trying too hard to make this book appealing to everyone.

To be completely honest, I only really liked one of the girls – Petra. She was the most developed out of all of them, and she seemed the most true to life. All of the other characters seemed very shallow in comparison, and they only seemed to be there so that those different themes mentioned above - among others - were included.

This is the first book of Libba Bray’s I have read, and I have to say I’m not a fan of her writing style. I usually love satire, but Bray’s was a bit too much for me. I think she took it too far with the whole tongue-in-cheek thing.

I know this is not Bray’s fault, but the editing of this novel was very poor. I noticed a great deal of simple mistakes, such as the misuse of “too” and a character talking in a scene and then entering the same scene two pages later.

The numerous footnotes that appeared every couple of pages were also very annoying, as they distracted from the flow of the book. Towards the end, I just ended up ignoring them completely.

I don’t recommend this novel unless you are a fan of Bray’s other books. I can’t say how Beauty Queens fares in comparison to those, however, as I haven’t read them. Honestly, the plot and the dialogue were all over the place and this book really was a struggle to get through.

15 June 2011

Top Ten Wednesday: Aww Moments in Books

Yes, I know it's Wednesday. I'm just really behind on blog posts, and am super
disorganised at the moment, as I'm running around like crazy as I try to get everything sorted for my holiday - 
which is less than twenty days away, just FYI! So forgive me.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten AWW Moments in Books 
There are obviously going to be spoilers this week!

1. When Rose and Dimitri "make up". (Last Sacrifice)
"I don't belong with anyone. I make my own choices" "And you're with Adrian." "But I was meant for you." Yeah. Don't even try to deny squealing as you read this line. I just about died. And then I came back again to weep vast waterfalls of joy.

2. When St. Claire climbs the steps to talk to Anna. (Anna and the French Kiss)
If you've read the book, I'm sure you all know what I mean. So. Adorable.

3. When Faythe is thinking about Jace, and how much she loves him. (Alpha)
She talks about why she loves him. So "AW" worthy. They totally got screwed over, by the way. 

4. When Kent talks to Sam about being a hero (Before I Fall)
Heartbreaking, plain and simple.

5. When St. Claire gets drunk. (Anna and the French Kiss)
Probably my favourite scene out of the whole book. I loved it! 

6. When Harry sees his family in the Mirror of Erised (HP1)
Need I say more?

7. When the whole school puts up their wands as a farewell salute for Dumbledore (HP6)

It's much more than awe-worthy, but I felt I had to include it. This scene had me in tears for hours. 

8. When the seventh years join together with the teachers to fight Voldemort. (HP7)
*Cries some more*

9. When Darcy admits his love for Elizabeth. Twice. (Pride & Prejudice)
I mean, FINALLY!

10. "If I let myself love you I won't throw myself in front of her. I'll throw myself in front of you." (Vampire Academy)
Enough said. Actually, no. SQUEE!

14 June 2011

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: December 2, 2010
Publisher: Dutton
Rating: 5 out of 5 
Recommended? Highly!
Buy the Book: Amazon US

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited? - Goodreads Page
This. Was. AWESOME! That is all you really need to know, but I will go into more detail. 

AatFK starts out with Anna, our main character, being shipped off to a boarding school in Paris, very much against her will. Straight away, she meets new friends - one of those being a certain √Čtienne St. Claire. After this, the book pretty much follows that standard new school storyline, with Anna settling into her classes and going out with her friends. 

There are so many different things that I loved about this book, and I am trying my hardest to keep from gushing and giving away spoilers. Let's just say that this book had me laughing out loud, and it had me crying as a certain subject hits very close to home. 

That being said, however much I loved this book, Anna frustrated me. I know, I know. I don't really get along with female characters, but I had to mention this anyway. I can't say much without spoiling you all, but I will say that Anna was selfish, and very immature at times. So. Frustrating. Luckily, with Perkins' amazing writing skills, I was able to overlook it! 

I cannot believe that this book was a debut for Ms. Perkins. I was left SPEECHLESS by the writing, and this is definitely the main draw of the book. I love how much research went into the setting, Paris, and all of the fantastic descriptions of the city. I haven't been to Paris, but I felt like I was there along with Anna and St. Claire.

Overall, I highly recommend this book! I know most of you have probably read this already, but if you haven't then go and pick it up! Anna and the French Kiss definitely deserves the hype.

10 June 2011

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday

Q. The magic book fairy pops out of your cereal box and says "you and your favorite character (from a book of course) can switch places!" Who are you going to switch with?
Rose Hathaway, without a doubt! Her life is action packed, she is incredibly strong and knows how to fight, AND she has a hot mentor/boyfriend/person around her 90% of the time. I'd definitely swap with her! When can we arrange a date?

Book Blogger Hop
Q. Who is the one author that you are dying to meet?
Just one? Aw, man. Erm... I'm gonna have to go with J K Rowling. I've been a fan of hers since 1999; I think she definitely comes first! Funnily enough, I did almost meet her. I went to the HP6 premiere in London two years ago and she stood literally three metres away from me. Unfortunately, it was pouring with rain - as usual - and she had to get inside quickly. So I never got a chance to talk to her/ask her to sign my book.

07 June 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Settings In Books

These are in no particular order, just what came to mind first! 

1. Ixia from the Study Series by Maria V Snyder
I was going to include Sitia in my list as well, but I personally prefer Ixia. I guess it's because the Commander and Valek are there, but also because it was a place that I fell in love with during Poison Study - despite the rules and the harsh weather - and I was craving to go back there throughout the rest of the trilogy.

2. Inside from the Inside Series by Maria V Snyder
Another fantastic setting by the wonderful Ms. Snyder. I love how it was described, the Upper and Lower divide was so interesting, as were the pipes that Trella has to go through. I loved the structure of it.

3. SOAP from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I would have LOVED to have gone to a boarding school like this one. Why didn't my parents have enough money to send me there? *sad face* I love books about boarding schools, and SOAP is honestly the best one I have read about. It has hot people, fantastic 'rules' and it's in Paris!

4. Perdido Beach from the Gone Series by Michael Grant
A place in which all adults disappear? A place which no one can escape from due to the dome that is surrounding it? A place where the youngsters have to learn to fend for themselves? Tell me this doesn't sound interesting.

5. Diagon Alley from Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Most people will have picked Hogwarts, but I LOVE Diagon Alley. I love all of the different shops, and the general vibe there is fantastic. In the first few books, that is. I also love Hogsmeade, but I decided to only pick one setting from each book.

6. St Vladimir's Academy from the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
Another boarding school, but this one trains students to fight evil beings, as well as teaching some students to use certain powers. Gah, I cannot stress how much I want to go there. I want to learn to fight Strigoi!

7. Gallagher Academy from the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter
Again, a boarding school! But this one is for spies, with hundreds of different gadgets, and a different language spoken at mealtimes each day. I would have loved to have gone there! I am determined to be a spy when I grow up! (I know I'm an adult now, but  I'm not a grown up just yet!)

8. Vampire Mountain from The Saga of Darren Shan by Darren Shan
This is the place where all the vampires meet every few years. I love the way Darren and Mr Crepsley (*heart*) get there, and I love everything that happens when they do. I love the different halls and caves and waterfalls... *Sigh* It's just amazing and very, very beautiful. To me, at least.

9. Chicago from Divergent by Veronica Roth
Now, I wouldn't want to live there myself - okay, maybe I would for a day or two - but this place was FANTASTIC. I love how Roth described it, and I love the vast amount of development and thought that has gone into this place. 

10. The Glade from The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Again, another fantastic place that would be interesting to visit. A place that there is seemingly no escape from? Sounds fantastic! I'd love to go there and see how the teenagers had set up their lives there, and I'd love to go into the Maze for a short while. As long as I found my way back before night fall!

What are your top ten settings in books? Leave your links below!

06 June 2011

Book Review: Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
Release Date: May 16, 2008 (UK)
Publisher: MIRA (UK)
Series: Study #2
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommended? Yes!
Buy the Book: Amazon US

Yelena is a survivor. Kidnapped as a child, held prisoner as a teen, then released to act as a poison taster, she is now a student of magic. But these magic skills place her in imminent danger, and with an execution order on her head, she has no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth.
But nothing in Sitia is familiar. As she struggles to understand where she belongs and how to control her powers, a rogue magician emerges—;and Yelena catches his eye. Suddenly she is embroiled in a situation not of her making. And once again her magical abilities will either save her life…or be her downfall.
With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she'd been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can't help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways—and her new-found friends and relatives don't think it's for the better.
Despite the turmoil, she's eager to start her magic training—especially as she's been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia's throne for a lost prince—and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.

If that wasn't bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with all her new enemies. - Goodreads page
Okay, warnings. More heavy gushing (obviously, did you expect anything else?) and spoilers from book 1. If you want to read my spoiler-free review of Poison Study, then go and do so!

Magic Study picks up a few weeks after Poison Study ended, with Irys taking all of the kidnapped children home to Sitia. Yelena is the next one to be reintroduced to her family, and she’s worried. She’s been away for fourteen years – what if they don’t want her? Or, what if she’s not really a Zaltana? Luckily, she is.

Meeting Yelena’s family was, in a word, strange. I had expected them to be like Yelena, but they were nothing of the sort. Although, it is explained how Yelena’s love of walking amongst the treetops came about. Hint: It’s in her blood. Anyway...

After a few major events, and Yelena getting into even more trouble, she makes her way to the Keep, where she studies magic with Irys. She’s not very good, but her mind reading skills are incredible. It’s obvious she has a lot of power stuffed in there. But will she tap into it?

Magic Study was fast paced, emotional and – in some places – very mysterious. It felt very different to Poison Study, but it also felt the same. I’m not making much sense. But I think the whole “feeling different, but feeling the same” thing was intentional, as Sitia is a very different place to Ixia. For one, no one wore uniforms in Sitia. Secondly, there were no beggars in Ixia. Which did I prefer? To be honest, I love Ixia a little bit more, and I’d prefer to live there. As long as the Commander and Valek liked me, of course ;)

Which brings me onto my next point. Valek?! Where were you? Sure, he’s in this book, but not as much as I’d hoped. He shows up over 250 pages in, and we hardly see him! And when we do see him, we don’t see him being the intelligent self he was in PS, we just hear about his ventures. And whenever Yelena and Valek are together, all they seem to be doing is having sex. Sure, this may be realistic, but can’t they do something else? Like go on a proper adventure, or have Valek save Yelena... not that she needed it anymore, because she was badass with her magic skills. But anyway, when he was in a few of the scenes, he was HOT. And the way he showed up was just... *swoons some more* Hilarious!

I did love Magic Study, but just not as much as Poison Study. I can’t wait to read the next book, and I hope Valek, Ari and Janco are in it a lot more! I love them all. Best. Cast. Ever. Oh, and Kiki was the best horse in the world. I want her <3

04 June 2011

In My Mailbox - (24)


Not many books for me this week, I guess I should be thankful that I didn't give in and buy a bunch! In other news, I am almost caught up with my emails, and so I will be emailing the people who are wanting to do a guest post on my blog tomorrow at the earliest *cheers*. If you want to do a guest post for my blog, then please visit this post and you'll find more information there. I'll also be announcing the winner of the Divergent giveaway next week. Thank you for putting up with me, even if I have taken ridiculously long!

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend, and that you continue to have a brilliant week! Happy reading! Leave your links below!

02 June 2011

Book Review: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter
Release Date: May 1, 2006
Publisher: Hyperion
Series: Gallagher Girls #1
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommended? Yes!
Buy the Book: Amazon US

The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women lives up to its name. Not only does this exclusive boarding school teach advanced language skills and correct deportment; its students also master the arts of tapping phones, hacking into computers, and spying in public places. At school, second-generation Gallagher Girl Cammie Morgan has impeccable credentials: She is fluent in 14 languages and able to kill an assailant in seven different ways. But recently life has dealt Cammie a card that she never anticipated: She has fallen in love with an ordinary boy who knows nothing about her exotic double life. A truly covert romance. - Goodreads page
This book is hilarious. I loved reading about all of the spy gadgets that the Gallagher Girls have, and what goes on in Gallagher Academy! I’ve always loved books and movies about spies and assassins, and this book is exactly what I was looking for! The girls of the Academy study different kinds of subjects – all spy-related, of course – and they have to speak a different language at lunch every day. Each girl speaks over thirteen different languages, and can take down a fully grown man (probably).

The book focuses on Cammie Morgan, the headmistress’s daughter, as she decides that she wants to get to know Josh – an ordinary townie – better. This is obviously a big no-no, and could jeopardise both Cammie and the school’s cover. But, she goes along with it anyway!

I loved Cammie, although we don’t really get to see that much of her own personality, as she is constantly surrounded by her group of friends and/or Josh and/or teachers. There are other books in this series (I don’t think it’s ended yet, right?) and so I hope to see more of her character as the series progresses.

I loved this book, and thought it was such a fun, and light read – I definitely recommend it if you are looking for something that will make you laugh!

01 June 2011

May Wrap Up

This month hasn't been a great one for me. I've had so much stuff going on in my personal life, and I've had exams, so I haven't been able to do much blogging or reading! I still haven't caught up with all of my emails, so if you're waiting for a reply from me please know that I am sorry, and I will get to you soon! I have the winner for my Divergent giveaway ready to be announced, but that will probably have to wait until Saturday or so. Again, I apologise! I've been a rubbish book blogger. Anyway, on with the wrap up.

Books Read and Reviewed:
1. Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready Review
2. Looking for Alaska by John Green Review
3. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys Review
4. Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin Review
5. Poison Study by Maria V Snyder Review
6. Magic Study by Maria V Snyder Review to come
7. Before I Die by Jenny Downham Review
8. Flawless by Lara Chapman Review

Total: 8

Books Bought:
IMM#22 IMM#23

So I read one more book than I read in April. Go me! *rolls eyes* In other news, I have almost completed the Debut Author Challenge! I've read a total of 11 books out of 12. This calls for a happy dance! So much for me worrying about not getting it done by the end of the year - I should have it completed by August!

I hope you all had a fantastic May, and I hope everyone has a brilliant June! I certainly will, as I'm meeting some friends in London and also preparing for my holiday to Crete! Which I'm vlogging about, by the way, so feel free to check out my Youtube channel later in the month for an update on that.