30 May 2013

New series and sequels of June 2013

This month turned out to be a relatively small month in terms of YA and MG releases, though there are a few long-awaited releases this month! Which ones are you most excited for?

June 1st
Zom-B Angels (Zom-B #4) by Darren Shan
Insomnia (The Night Walkers #1) by J.R. Johansson

June 4th
Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Phoenix (Black City #2) by Elizabeth Richards
The Oathbreaker's Shadow (The Knots Sequence #1) by Amy McCulloch
The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse #2) by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Crushed (Pretty Little Liars #13) by Sara Shepard

June 11th
Rush (The Game #1) by Eve Silver
Dance of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death #2) by Bethany Griffins

June 18th
Star Cursed (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2) by Jessica Spotswood

June 25th
Ink (Paper Gods #1) by Amanda Sun

28 May 2013

REVIEW: Maus by Art Spiegleman

Title: Maus I: My Father Bleeds History / Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began
Author: Art Spiegleman
Publication Date: November 1st 1991 (first published 1986)/ October 19th 1993 (first published 1991)
Publisher: Pantheon

Format: Paperback
Pages: 160/136
Rating: 5/5
Blurb: Acclaimed as a quiet triumph and a brutally moving work of art, the first volume of Art Spiegleman's Maus introduced readers to Vladek Spiegleman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and his son, a cartoonist trying to come to terms with his father, his father's terrifying story, and History itself. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), succeeds perfectly in shocking us out of any lingering sense of familiarity with the events described, approaching, as it does, the unspeakable through the diminutive.

This second volume, subtitled And Here My Troubles Began, moves us from the barracks of Auschwitz to the bungalows of the Catskills. Genuinely tragic and comic by turns, it attains a complexity of theme and a precision of thought new to comics and rare in any medium. Maus ties together two powerful stories: Vladek's harrowing tale of survival against all odds, delineating the paradox of daily life in the death camps, and the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. At every level this is the ultimate survivor's tale - and that too of the children who somehow survive even the survivors.
Review: Before I actually start this review I’d like to clarify one thing- I read Maus in two separate volumes, though there is a complete ‘collection’ also available, hence the two publication dates and etc.

Before starting Maus, I’d never read a graphic novel or even a comic ever, and I never really planned on doing either. I know it might seem a bit pre-judgmental, but I honestly never thought that it would be something that I would enjoy. I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong. This being said, if I’d read a different graphic novel for the first time I might not have been so enthusiastic. World War Two is my thing you see, my ultimate go-to genre/era in books and movies and so where would be a better place to start my graphic novel journey than with one about WWII.

From the first time I’d heard of this book, the premise interested me. A graphic novel about the Holocaust where the Jewish people are represented by mice and the Nazi’s by cats- it sounds almost ridiculous, and so I knew I had to read it. It wasn’t what I expected though. I didn’t expect such as direct relation to WWII as having Art Spiegleman’s father tell his own personal story. It was so much more haunting this way, especially as it was clear to see the pain that having these memories dragged back to the surface caused.  

The cartoons themselves were also different to what I expected. I thought there would be some colour in there- admittedly I expected mainly reds and blues, but the entire thing is actually in black and white- another aspect which makes this even more meaningful. It was amazing how detailed everything was.

Honestly, I do not regret one little bit of my decision to pick up these graphic novels and give them ago. I don’t think I’ve read anything this powerful in a little while and I regret not picking them up sooner.

27 May 2013

REVIEW: The Farm by Emily McKay

Title: The Farm (The Farm #1)
Author: Emily McKay
Publication Date: December 4th 2012
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Format: Paperback
Pages: 420
Rating: 5/5
Blurb: Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race...
Review: ‘The Farm’ might seem like one of those typical YA Vampire novels that have been just absolutely everywhere for the last few years. To be quite honest, I’m not really into those vampire books anymore, in fact I try to avoid them if I can, so I honestly have no idea why I picked this book up in the first place but I’m glad that I did. The focus of ‘The Farm’ does not rest solely on the vampires- there are vampire/human forbidden romances, but instead there are these creepy things, and those descriptions of what they look like- they actually sound terrifying, called Ticks. They are sort of like the more extreme type of Vampires that you’d see in a horror movie- they aren’t human whatsoever, they are literally beasts. I actually really liked the Ticks, for the sole reason that they took away the focus from the vampires which made this book stand out from all those other vampire books.

This being said, I found that the biggest focus of the book wasn’t about the vampires, or the Ticks or even the romance- the two biggest things for me were the escape and the importance of family for the main character Lily. I liked how protective of her twin sister, Mel, that Lily was and how this protectiveness sometimes blindsided her. Lily definitely come across as the ‘perfect’ heroine, she definitely screwed things up, she was stubborn and that was what made me like her. The book is told in three perspectives, sort of, Lily’s is the main perspective and is in first person, but Mel’s voice is also heard- usually very short and in a jumbled sort of narrative, and Carter’s was also heard in third person. Usually I’m not a fan of multi perspectives but I liked how this one was done- it didn’t constantly flip between the three and when it did, it was clear to tell whose mind it was.

Another thing I really liked was the fact that while this book could be quite serious and even a little bit creepy, there were still moments of humour within the book. One of my favourite references was a sentence which talked about both Edward Cullen and Stefan Salvatore (Vampire Diaries fangirl right here). Anyway, I liked how the characters mocked the ‘modern definition’ of vampires- the sparkling etc.

All in all, I’d definitely recommend this book to all of you, especially if you’re looking for a different kind of vampire novel.

26 May 2013

REVIEW: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

Title: Sweet Tooth
Author: Ian McEwan
Publication Date: August 21st 2012
Publisher: Jonathon Cape Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Rating: 5/5
Blurb: Serena Frome, the beautiful daughter of an Anglican bishop, has a brief affair with an older man during her final year at Cambridge, and finds herself being groomed for the intelligence services. The year is 1972. Britain, confronting economic disaster, is being torn apart by industrial unrest and terrorism and faces its fifth state of emergency. The Cold War has entered a moribund phase, but the fight goes on, especially in the cultural sphere. Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is sent on a 'secret mission' which brings her into the literary world of Tom Haley, a promising young writer. First she loves his stories, then she begins to love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? And who is inventing whom? To answer these questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage - trust no one. McEwan's mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love, and the invented self.
Review: OH. MY. GOD. That was my first reaction when I finished reading Sweet Tooth- now I’ve read six of Ian McEwan’s other novels, I’ve studied ‘Atonement’ in extreme detail, but every single time he still manages to absolutely blow my mind into smithereens. Every. Single. Time.

From the first page, I was drawn into the world of Serena, and having been told a little about the book by a friend, I was absolutely ready for anything that McEwan could throw at me. I’d read six of his books already- I knew how his slightly twisted mind worked, didn’t I? Short answer- No.

As usual, McEwan has done so much research into every aspect of his book that everything seemed to just fit in perfectly despite how strange some of the aspects actually were. Serena was an amazing character- I really enjoyed being able to see the world through her eyes. I definitely liked her character more than I liked that of Briony Tallis from ‘Atonement’, but then again that is exactly how McEwan wanted it to be. (He’s a crafty one, you see). The story itself is amazing- what kind of person doesn’t want to read about spies, especially spies mixed in with Literature- how could you possibly get better than that.

One little thing I really liked were the subtle references to his other books- I managed to pick up on some words and situations he used in his other books and I even happened to notice the word ‘atone’ once or twice (cue fangirling). Knowing McEwan, this was probably done on purpose, but it made me feel incredibly intelligent for having noticed these things, like I was in a secret ‘McEwan inner circle’ or something.

If you haven’t read anything of McEwan’s- which I’ve noticed seems to be some sort of trend or something, you really should. I assure you that the books will eat away at your mind and you’ll probably hate him and all of his cleverness all the way through the book until you reach the last page at which point he will probably smash you heart into such little pieces that you’ll vow to never touch another one of his books, but then you’ll end going back for more. Do yourself a favour, read McEwan.

25 May 2013

REVIEW: Champions of Power by Samuel Odunsi Jr

Title: Champions of Power (Age of the Aura #1)
Author: Samuel Odunsi Jr
Publication Date: June 5th 2012
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Format: E-book
Pages: 137
Rating: 3.5/5
 The Blessed Galaxy has no other name. After being gifted with the Auras—five great powerhouses of celestial creation—the title was a suitable fit. For millennia, the governing bodies have ruled their respective reaches of the Galaxy while harnessing the might of the Auras. But now they face the threat of a calamity, from an unlikely source, that could shake the lives of all.

Lowen Sars, a devout man of science, decides to take on the burden of saving the Galaxy’s people once he learns of the calamity. But he soon realizes that the role of a hero was a calling not meant for him, even with his sudden promotion. In his process of self-discovery, Lowen begins the fateful saga of not only the Blessed Galaxy, but also the kingdom in possession of the corrupt Aura.
Review: Champions of Power is not the type of book I would usually pick up- as much as I’d like to say that I’m a Sci-Fi fan, I’m not very widely read in the genre. This being said, I really quite enjoyed the book, especially as something different to the books I’ve read recently.

The book starts with action, while it’s also quite vague about some of the things that are happening and why they are happening, which creates a sense of mystery which draws you into the story. The world itself is exceptionally detailed, which I found was really great in the sense that it created a clear picture of the world which the characters live in. The writing was constructed very well- at sometimes it was a bit formal or distant from the characters, but I believe that this actually adds to the complexity of the novel.

I only wish that this book was a little longer- I loved how the book started and ended but I thought there were parts in the middle that could have been fleshed out a little more. However, I believe that this was a wonderful start to a new series that I’m sure will be enjoyed by many readers, myself included. 

Thank you to Samuel for sending us a copy of this book to review!

24 May 2013

REVIEW: They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer

Title: They Found Him Dead (Inspectors Hannasyde and Hemingway #3)
Author: Georgette Heyer
Publication Date: April 26th 2006 (originally published 1936)
Publisher: Arrow
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Rating: 4/5
Blurb: The sixtieth birthday party of Silas Kane was marred by argument and dissension amongst his family. And then, the morning after the celebrations, Kane is found dead at the foot of a cliff. The theory that Silas accidentally lost his way in the fog is confirmed when the coroner returns a verdict of death by misadventure.

But then Kane's nephew and heir is murdered and threats are made on the next in line to the fortune, throwing a new and sinister light on Silas Kane's death. All clues point to an elderly lady of eighty as the killer. But as the redoubtable Superintendent Hannasyde delves further into the case he discovers that nothing is quite as it seems...
Review: I feel like Georgette Heyer is one of those authors that really isn’t as popular as she should be. Most of her books (of which there are about fifty five or so) are regency romances a la Jane Austen, twelve of them, however, are crime/mystery novels. I love murder mystery novels, I honestly do- so it’s no surprise to me that I adored this book.

Characters play a massive role in mystery novels, as does the plot- you may think this is the same for every genre of book, but I believe the emphasis is put on these two aspects in mystery novels more than any other genre. The characters within ‘They Found Him Dead’ were all brilliantly constructed- there are of course the characters you are made to love, the ones you hate and the ones you just can’t seem to figure out.

The plot was also brilliant- the actual summary of this book does absolutely no justice to the actual plot. There are so many twists and turns and little details that make you wonder who the murderer is and whether other people might be protecting them. One of my favourite things about mystery novels is trying to work out who the murderer is going to be, and I especially enjoy it when I pick the completely wrong person. I admit, the murderer was not who I thought it was, but that just made the book even more interesting for me.

If you’re a big fan of Agatha Christie like me or if you just like mystery novels, you should definitely give Georgette Heyer a go. And if mystery aren’t your thing but romances are, I would definitely suggest checking out of her regency novels.

You can buy They Found Him Dead on The Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide): http://www.bookdepository.com/ They-Found-Him-Dead-Georgette-Heyer/9780099493631/a_aid=ABookSoFathomless

23 May 2013

UPDATE: Ely's Computer Woes

Hi Guys!

I'm sorry that the posts have been non-existent around here lately- unfortunately, my laptop has died and I'm currently working on getting a new one, though it's taking long than I had originally hoped! I should be back by next week, hopefully! But until then I'll only be posting things when I get time to sneak onto my mum's computer (like now). I hope to see you all when I get back properly and I hope you all have a wonderful week!

xxx Ely

20 May 2013

Bout of Books Read-a-thon Day #7

Last day, and the best day? Possibly. Before I actually post my stats for today I just want to say how much I enjoyed doing this read-a-thon despite the fact that I didn't get nearly as many books read as I wanted to. At the moment, I am planning to take part in Bout of Books 8.0 in August this year so hopefully I'll do a little better then!

1. The Farm by Emily McKay- pg 0
2. They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer
3. Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
4. The Collected Short Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald - pg 342
5. The Gatekeeper's Daughter by Eva Pohler - pg 80
6. Age of the Aura, Phase 1: Champions of Power by Samuel Odunsi Jr - pg 35
7. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote - pg 0
8. Heaven by Alexandra Adornetto - pg 25
9. The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie - pg 0
10. Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price (new addition) pg 32

Pages read today:  244
Books finished today: 1
Pages read overall: 835
Books read overall: 2

19 May 2013

Bout of Books Read-a-thon Day #6

Yesterday I was determined that I'd be able to do lots of reading this weekend, however it turned out that Day 6 was much busier than I thought it would be. In fact, I think that it's actually the day where I got the least amount of reading done! I'm still holding to hope that I'll be able to finish at least one book tomorrow!

1. The Farm by Emily McKay- pg 0
2. They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer
3. Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan - pg  102
4. The Collected Short Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald - pg 316
5. The Gatekeeper's Daughter by Eva Pohler - pg 80
6. Age of the Aura, Phase 1: Champions of Power by Samuel Odunsi Jr - pg 35
7. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote - pg 0
8. Heaven by Alexandra Adornetto - pg 25
9. The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie - pg 0
10. Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price (new addition) pg 32

Pages read today: 68
Books finished today: 0
Pages read overall: 591
Books read overall: 1

18 May 2013

Bout of Books Read-a-thon Day #5

Day number five turned out quite well for me actually, while I didn't technically manage to finish a second books- I did actually manage to get a bit of reading done, at least in comparison to the last couple of days. Usually I'm quite a fast reader, but this week has just been insane, hopefully I'll be able to finish a few more books this weekend.

1. The Farm by Emily McKay- pg 0
2. They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer
3. Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan - pg 34
4. The Collected Short Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald - pg 316
5. The Gatekeeper's Daughter by Eva Pohler - pg 80
6. Age of the Aura, Phase 1: Champions of Power by Samuel Odunsi Jr - pg 35
7. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote - pg 0
8. Heaven by Alexandra Adornetto - pg 25
9. The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie - pg 0
10. Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price (new addition) pg 32

Pages read today: 156
Books finished today: 1
Pages read overall: 523
Books read overall: 1