Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Apprentices by Malie Meloy.

Title- The Apprentices.
Author- Malie Meloy.
Publish date- June 2013.
Publisher- Text Publishing.


*If you've not read the first book in the series, this review will almost certainly contain spoilers.*
Review of book #1.


What I thought:
When I finished The Apothecary (book #1), I thought the ending was open- a little more open than I would have ultimately liked- but closed enough to not warrant another book to follow up. So I was shocked when I heard a sequel had been written; shocked, but very interested.
I was keen to see what Malie Meloy chose to do- I wasn't even sure if it would be following the same characters- and I was, for the most part, pleasantly surprised.

The characters are all a couple of years older and they've all evolved; this time around Janie is 16 and has started recieving the occasional letter from Benjamin, who she last saw two years previous when he and his father drugged her so she would lose all memory of them and the expedition they went on together, but she has gradually recovered her memory and has longed to see Benjamin ever since, feeling both a kind of love and lots of anger towards him.
I liked Janie's character growth, but did feel like she had lost a little of the sense of self I remember so admiring her for- though for the most part, I thought, she regains it as the story lands her in the middle of another adventure.

The plot was smooth and, though less addictive than I found the first, it held the mysteriousness, the agility and the "I have no clue what'll happen next" that I loved so much, all the while being written in an almost calming way, though certainly not for lack of excitement. I also really enjoyed getting a lot more background information on a secondary character, giving me more understanding for her and making her character all the more intricate and powerful.

One thing I really, really love about this series is the beautiful art throughout, never wholly depicting a character, allowing the reader to imagine faces themselves; it brings a really exhilarating touch to the book, and they're very beautiful.

The ending, as with the first book, was really quite open (though only really for the two protagonists, a fact I didn't like so much), though it was again closed enough that I don't anticipate another book. Will I be surprised to find that, in another year or two, book three is being published?
I have absolutely no idea.

Rating: Hmm.../verging onto the very edge of: Oh, very good.
Honestly, I liked the ending of the first book enough to not have needed another, and overall this book didn't really live up to the hopes I had. Still beautifully written, with a great plot, but it was all a little dull after how much I loved the first book.

Thank you to Text Publishing for this review copy!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Plotting a Takeover: Character Buys 1.

So, a new feature! There is going to be no regularity to this- don't even expect that from me any more- but I know it's going to be a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy it just as much as me. Thank you to Belle from Belle's Bookshelf for listening to my ideas and helping me out!
So, without further ado (you nor I understand why I decided to title it as I have, but there you go) about...

A not so regular feature in which I pick a book and then pick out things I think the character/s themselves would own/use or just really like. Links are to etsy/the shop's website. This week the featured book is...

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
Focusing on Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth and Jane.

This, I think, would be just the kind of thing Gigi would buy a modern day Darcy, as a birthday present or something like that. He would have it in his study, perhaps, and it would be just the perfect thing to make him smile each time he looks at it- Gigi would also love it, so he would never take it down.

Jane Bennet would certainly own these, or something similar, I think. They're so bookish and subtle- I can actually see her making something similar as a gift for Lizzie.

Another Mr. Darcy print, I think. Elizabeth might look at it and see the beauty of the work and it would make her understand/fall for Darcy a little more. He could have been left it by a family member and would probably not like it at all, but responsibilities and all...

Imagine if Lizzie decided to have this made into a mug for Darcy, as a anniversary gift or something. They could have a matching pair and it would be a bittersweet kind of perfection.

Lizzie would have this put onto a mug, joyously mocking her mother, which would be the best thing ever.

A perfect stack of books for Darcy, who would lug them around and pull them out whenever he finds himself at a tiresome ball.

Lizzie Bennet and Game of Thrones: Q. Need I say more? A. No.

Ooh, a modern day Darcy style- it could happen, or it could be something his aunt bought him and insisted he wear, but in the end he would cast it aside as he chose a more Bennet esq. path. Either way, it's awesome.

I will be featuring another set of characters soon, so stick around!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Poison by Bridgit Zinn.

Title- Poison.
Author- Bridgit Zinn.
Publish date- March 2013.
Publisher- Hyperon.


What I thought:
Poison is, without a doubt, one of the best books that I've read this year- with intrigue, an array of exciting, lovable and fantastical characters, and a plot that is constantly captivating, there is never a dull moment.
I found myself going through a lot of different emotions whilst reading, from amused to fascinated, happy to awed- the writing is consistent and addictive, and it is a story that will stick with me for a long time.

I was immediately intrigued by Kyra, the protagonist who is on the run from her Kingdom for trying to kill her best friend- the princess. She is smart and witty, desperate and lovable, and despite being in hiding she doesn't give up on the job she has to do and doesn't lose sight of what she believes in, even though she is hated and feared by all.

I loved finding out her story and whenever there was a new revelation I was full of amazement at how wonderfully, and seamlessly, it was crafted. Following Kyra's potion-er background, and present, was wonderful; I loved how deft she was at the art and the pride she felt at her skills.
Another thing I really appreciated was Kyra and another character's love/hate relationship- it really gave a natural feeling to the story, though I did (as did she) wonder at how easily she trusted him, after being on edge for so long.

The conclusion to the story was brilliant, I thought, and I know that I will revisit it many more times.

Review: Big explosion MIND BLOWN/Excellent.
I loved this story so much and really appreciated the wonderful, intricate storyline and the ease I had entering the world. I cannot wait to share the book with many others!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Acid by Emma Pass.

Title- Acid.
Author- Emma Pass.
Publish date- May 2013.
Publisher- Corgi Childrens.


What I thought:
The thing that first struck me about Acid is the feel, going into it, of it being for te older sphere/spectrum of YA- with a "not suitable for younger readers" stamp on the back and a description of a crude tattoo on the protagonist's neck in the first pages, I was concerned about the content I would later be coming across; but, for all I anticipated things getting graphic, dark or just pretty piraty, nothing much happened until a small section at the latter half of the book. Indeed, apart from those instances, there was possibly less of the content that would warrant it to be an older YA book, verging on "New Adult" (a genre I'm still adjusting to) than a lot of other books I've read- books that didn't have the same initial feel of darkness and assumption that, if you'll pardon my language, sh*t was gonna get down. (I censor my own swear words. Only for you, blog. Only for you.)

The characters, particularly the protagonist Jenna Strong, are complicated- I was beginning to understand her and... not warm, but get used to her when her whole being was changed.
It's difficult to explain without giving away the plot too much, but suffice to say that almost every time I felt steady with her there would be a change and I would have to start all over again, getting reacquainted with her.
I felt these changes were, I suppose, a way to keep the plot feelnig fresh and keep the reader engaged, but after so many times I felt it was unnecessary- it gave the feeling of a lot of different stories all being mushed together and altered so that they kind of fit the plot, and I didn't like it. 
Yes, it did give that good pacing to the plot, but, I felt, at the price of unreliability and, eventually, a difficulty following it.

Jenna, otherwise, was a pretty standard character, though with a diverse backstory; she is, I guess, kick-ass, but at the same time annoyingly reckless- two characteristics that seem to follow each other- and also just a teenager. Also, Jenna is on the run and still falls for someone, an amusing circimstance that I did see a blogger comment on not that long ago, though I can't remember where- it didn't feel entirely needed, but was unsprising.
She takes an idiotic risk at one point and, though I'd felt pretty neutral to her before then, it made me really dislike her- she was rash and acted like she was the only one who could fix the problems (her own and much larger-scale ones) and by taking that upon herself she almost lost more than one life.

Another small thing I noticed was that, a couple of times, Jenna would say something like, "I don't need to ask what they mean by saying that thing, because I know," before proceeding to tell in detail just what they're talking about- also, the cover... is that Chloe Moretz?

Rating- oh noooo/poor.
I made it through Acid and that surprises me- there wasn't anything that really grasped me and it wasn't a particularly light read, but I didn't stop. It had plenty of problems, but I was semi-interested enough to pull through and that might just be the best thing about Acid for me.

Thank you to Random House for this review copy!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Books for when you're... (10)

Each fortnight I will showcase 1-2 books that I think would be fantastic reading if you're going through a  certian emotion/stage in your life.

Wanting to experience a particular season that may not coincide with your current one- 
Winter Edition.
There are times when, perhaps in the middle of summer, you just want it to be a different season. Now, I have no idea how to magically make it autumn when it is in fact spring, but I know that a book is the perfect thing to make it seem like it is in fact a little chillier than the weather is letting on.

Neversink - Barry Wolverton.
Why I chose this book:
Neversink is such a wonderful, fun story and being set in the Arctic means that it's a pretty cooling one, too- though look at that cover, there's green and a hummingbird, so don't for a moment think you're in for ice, ice, ice. Also, there is a Walrus called Egbert who is excellent, and funny. I think everyone should get to know him.

Northern Lights - Philip Pullman.

Why I chose this book:
This, the first book, is set in a very icy landscape and has such a wintery feel to it that is was, for me, a no brainer. I read the series last year and found it so incredible, and I love that it doesn't have this cold weather feeling constantly throughout the series. The last book, in particular, is pretty summery for example.
If you haven't read it, this is a beautiful and intricately told book- it's hefty, but so engaging that you don't notice it.

Alaska - Sue Saliba.
Why I chose this book:
Set during an Alaskan winter, this is really one of the most perfect books to read when you're wanting it to seem nice and cold. Sometimes I worry that the season, if it's winter in particular, will overwhelm the story, but at least with these three it doesn't- it's just a beautiful addition.
Alaska is a really beautiful story, written in such a delicate way- it is for a slightly older YA audience, if I remember correctly, but it's such a wonderful quick read and has such an astonishing cover (it's slightly shiney and white like that all round) and would be a high recommendation- winter or not.

Stay tuned for some more bookish suggestions for the good times, and the bad.
So far I've covered-

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Just One Day by Gayle Forman.

Title- Just One Day.
Author- Gayle Forman.
Publish date- 2013.
Publisher- Definitions.


What I thought:
I went into this decided that I wouldn't like it as much as the If I Stay series, but that I would like it- it seemed like that was the general consensus, and I felt that it would be like that for me, too, and was reasonably happy with that.

You can just tell how it's going to end, can't you?

I started it and was a little surprised that I had trouble being sucked in, didn't feel an interest or a pull to know the people and their story.
Surely this is just me, I thought, a slow beginning isn't unheard of and maybe I'm just not in the right frame of mind to be reading, but I'll press on.
Unfortunately, nothing changed as I went on and by the end it wasn't a book that I liked, if less so than the other series, or that I had really enjoyed/connected with at all.

The characters, to begin with, frustrated me; Willem, who played a far bigger (on screen) character than I expected, didn't come across as charming or even very likable- I didn't like how he couldn't even focus on Allyson if another girl (as often as not mentioned in skimpy outfits) made eyes at him; I didn't like how he so obviously avoided questions and did things to suit himself, manipulated situations so subtly and acted suprem, refused, even, to see Allyson as who she really was and not just who she pretended/he wanted her to be.
Allyson really frustrared me, too- I know a lot of people have said that they connected with her really well because they are similar, but for me it was the opposite- though it might be a truthful depiction, her nature and characteristics niggled at me and kept me from getting close to her, in any way, throughout. She is very dependant and hates to feel as if she's let anyone down, and her virtually instant infatuation with Willem nearly drove me insane. And yet, I suppose, with her mother it would be hard not to be dependant- her mother is a character I literally hated. She is so manipulative of Allysosn and makes out to seem as if she's mortally hurt whenever Allyson tries to do something for herself, just so she can have it her way. At one point she basically gives the lecture on how "we've given you so many choices and this is how you repay us" about the littlest thing and blantantly ignores her own daughters wishes is she doesn't agree with them.

There were surprises to the story in the end, and the only character I really liked (Dee) was incredible, but hardly featured in the story at all.

Review: Oh nooo.
A rhyme-
The story continues in Just One Year, but for me it ended here.

Thank you to Random House for this review copy!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (7) Books I Wish Had Sequels.

Top ten tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish where the people of the blogverse do some spotlighting in groups of ten, ocassionally (*ahem* often *ahem*) pushing the rules to the limits. In the best ways.

This week I'm bounding back into the business (do I sound like I have no idea what I'm talking about? If not, all is going well) with a Top Ten I knew I couldn't miss- Boo

ks I Wish Could Have Had Sequels. I've often felt it, and now it's time to share it! (Note that I basically never have any order to these lists.)

I love the world Poison is set in so, so much- I love the characters, especially Kyra, and would love to have been able to read more about them, and more from this stunning author.

I really would have been interested to see what happened to Pudge and The Colonel- I don't know about the others, but I believe firmly that those two would never have forgotten each other.

Long one of my favourite books, I would so love to meet Aubrey at a later stage and see what choices she made (if they're the same as the ones in my mind) and what her relationship with Gram and her Mother is like.

Quite possibly my favourite classic of all time, this is such an amazing book which I will never cease to speak of- Cassandra is an incredible heroine, whom I really connected with. I loved the openness of the ending, but wouldn't say no to a little (or a lot) more.

Similar to my reasoning with Aubrey- I would love to see what Coraline is like when she is a little older, how things have changed with her parents and if that Cat is still around. Coraline at university!

Not necessarily with the same characters, but a book set in the same world would be something that I would be VERY interested in- it's a dystopian society that was terrifying, especially in it's complete normality for those who lived there, and to see if it became altered after what happened in this book... that would be incredible.

This, I think, would be one of the most moving sequels, though at the same time I think I, and probably many others, would be very hard to please with it. How changed would Jessie have been? What did he go on to do?

I know that there's technically a sequel in Buttercup's Baby, and I haven't read that- if it even eventuated- but without Mr. Goldsmith's touch I don't know how well it could ever pull off with me. This is a once in a lifetime book, and maybe this was the only one we got.

I know this is the third book in a series, but one of my wishes was for just a little more... just another book with Howl and Sophie and Cal.

Both so I could read it and so I could watch the old actors come back and revisit their old roles from the film with Daniel Day Lewis and Helena Bonham Carter. IMAGINE IT.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Songs that inspire my current writing project.

So almost a week ago I did a post talking about Camp NaNo and shared some pictures that I found inspiring for the particular piece I'm writing, and said I might share some inspiring songs. Well here ye go. (There are quite a few songs, so if you listen to even one I would really appreciate hearing your thoughts on it.)

Home- Philip Phillips.

A Fine Frenzy- You Picked Me.

Marina and the Diamonds- Mowgli's Road.

Yuna- Mermaid.

Sia- Breathe Me.

Daughter- Candles.

The Civil Wars- Falling. 
(Basically, this is a song that I find always inspires me, no matter what.)