Sunday, 30 June 2013

Incoming: Bumper Edition

AKA Showcase Sunday

Um, even taking into account two weeks' worth of books in, this is still a pretty bad state of affairs. A whole box of books from The Works! And um, I've been frittering away my Amazon voucher which the water company gave me for answering a survey (easiest £15 I've ever earned). And despite being really focused on getting through my NetGalley backlog, I have clicked on a few must-reads. Not to mention the normal flow of review books. All I can say in my defense, new job is on the horizon and at least I won't be popping in to Tesco every other day just to "look" at the books.

Don't forget Google Reader will be gone tomorrow! In the interest of covering all bases, I have also set up a Facebook page for the blog.


For review:
The Hurleyburley's Husband by Jean Teulé (Gallic Books)
Thomas Quick: The Making of a Serial Killer by Hannes Råstam (Canongate)
The Unquiet Grave by Steven Dunne (Headline)
His Father's Son by Tony Black (Black & White)
Fiend by Peter Stenson (William Heinemann)
The Keeper by Luke Delaney (HarperCollins)
Moon in a Dead Eye by Pascal Garnier (Gallic Books)
The Killing Game by J.A. Kerley (HarperCollins)
The Mammoth Book of Time Travel SF (Constable & Robinson)
Entwined With You by Sylvia Day (Penguin)
Let the Games Begin by Niccolò Ammaniti (Canongate)
The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce (Strange Chemistry)
Parasite by Mira Grant (Orbit)
Dark Eden by Chris Beckett - audiobook

Bought:
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Adorkable by Sarra Manning
The Kiss of Death by Marcus Sedgwick
Blood Red, Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick
Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale
Two Weeks' Notice by Rachel Caine
Night School by C.J. Daugherty
Citadel by Kate Mosse
Mr g by Alan Lightman
A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin
The Good, the Bad and the Undead by Kim Harrison
Blink of an Eye by Cath Staincliffe

Won:
Rabid by Bill Wasik + Monica Murphy (The Book Garden)

Freebies:
The State of Me by Nasim Marie Jafry




I also have had a bit of a t-shirt binge...I won't share them all, but this one's got books on it:


Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits & Tea.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Dance of the Red Death

The Dance of the Red Death is the sequel to The Masque of the Red Death and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous book.

Araby has escaped the city, leaving the Red Death and the chaos behind. Reeling from the betrayal of both Will and her father, she takes refuge in the swamp and in the arms of Elliott. But they can’t rest for long; Araby searches her father’s notebook for clues for a cure, and his innocence. She knows she must return to the city and face Malcontent if she is to have any chance of saving April.

I wish the last 100 pages of The Dance of the Red Death had been expanded upon to be the whole novel. In fact, the title suggests the dance would be the central element. Prospero is determined to hold a great ball in the face of the Red Death; his entertainments cruel and controlling. The scenes at the dance are dark and menacing, will a real threat towards the characters. The chiming of the clock and the masquerade, hark back to the original inspiration that was Poe’s story. Yet, everything seemed to be rushed over, from the starting pages, right through to the startling end. I wanted to love this book but it contained too much and not enough in depth.

There is no chemistry between Araby and Elliott. Every time she turned to him, I felt it was just so the reader would be put out on Will’s behalf. In The Masque of the Red Death, my loyalties swung between her two suitors but this time, I was just annoyed that she was stringing Elliott along and not forgiving Will.

Malcontent’s army, the people in the swamp, Elliott’s band of rebels, Araby’s father, Prospero’s kidnapping antics, the sinister ball and the constant sense of running from one life or death situation to the next, didn’t really leave space for anything to be developed in full. Ultimately, I ended up enjoying the book, mostly for Prospero’s evilness but it could have been so much more.

The Dance of the Red Death is published by Indigo, an imprint of Orion, and is now available in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive

Also reviewed @ Book Angel Booktopia | Book Chick City



Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Readers Halt


Photos taken at the weekend in Minehead, Somerset. Everywhere I turn, there are books! I loved the instruction at the station for readers to halt.

More photos of my trip will end up on Flickr eventually.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Rivers of London

Peter Grant is contemplating his future career in the Metropolitan Police when he sees a ghost. This ghost happens to also be a material witness in a beheading and leads Peter into poking around where he shouldn’t with his partner Lesley (who is destined for greater things than him). Soon Peter discovers there’s a lot more to London than meets the eye.

Rivers of London started off on the right foot. Despite it being urban fantasy, I found the police aspects refreshingly realistic. So often, crime fiction glamorises policing but this is quite matter of fact; Peter is looking at a career in administration. There’s some great dry humour amongst the pages too. The London setting is crucial to the plot; from the personification of the rivers to the history behind the supernatural killings. As Peter walks the streets he takes a huge interest in the things that happened, perhaps too much as he has often spent time reading a historical plaque instead of helping his colleagues in trouble.

It surprised me quite how violent the stories behind Punch and Judy were. I always knew he was a creepy little puppet and somewhere in my head I knew he hit his wife. But the story used here it really quite extreme. Maybe we should off Punch up next time anyone criticises children’s entertainment of today (OK I don’t think the puppet show was originally intended for children).

However it lost its way a bit after the introduction of Punch. The world building of an unseen London spawned lots of interesting threads that didn’t really go anywhere. Yes, it’s the start of a series and I do hope they get picked back up again in later books, but it felt a little like the Punch storyline was getting in the way of things I wanted to know more about. It all snowballed into near farce; perhaps that was the point, Punch is rather farcical after all.

I did enjoy the writing and am definitely going to give Moon Over Soho a try.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive

Also reviewed @ Nocturnal Book Reviews | No More Grumpy Bookseller | BookThing! | Follow the Thread

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Top Ten Books So Far in 2013

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


I've read so many good books this year, it's already hard to narrow it down to ten. But here goes... (links go through to my reviews rather than me trying and failing to summarise in a sentence why I loved them).



#10 Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley

#9 Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O'Porter



#8 The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

#7 Dot, Dash by Jonathan Pinnock



#6 Among Others by Jo Walton

#5 The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes



#4 The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

#3 The Humans by Matt Haig



#2 A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

#1 The Machine by James Smythe

Monday, 24 June 2013

Red Death Saga Blog Tour

Guest post by Bethany Griffin, author of The Masque of the Red Death and The Dance of the Red Death + GIVEAWAY!


I’m pretty sure that I’m ready for a desert Island scenario- as a kid I read The Swiss Family Robinson at least 5 times….except that now that I think about it, my memory is a little hazy (did they ride on Ostriches?) and there was a scene with a big snake that gave me nightmares….maybe instead of literature I need an unlimited connection to the internet so I can google which fruit/berries are edible…Still here is my list of Desert Island Survival Essentials

1. Sunscreen- I am very quick to burn and very slow to tan.

2. My Kindle (and a way to charge it) I know! I’m totally cheating on this one because how would you charge it? And also because I rarely read on my Kindle, but it would be so hard to bring all of my favorite books with me, and what else are you going to do on a desert island?

3. One of those solar device chargers I just remembered seeing advertised- and also a nice waterproof tent to keep my electronics dry and to keep me safe from the big snake from the Swiss Family Robinson mentioned above.

4. An army of Mongooses, (mongeese?) and…whatever other things kill snakes. Is there such a thing as reptile repellant? (Also, though it would be fitting, there will be no crocodiles on my island) I have an intense horror of snakes that carries over to pretty much all other reptiles, with a focus on those that eat people.

5. Notebooks and pens or conversely my MacBook so I could write/use the word processor. But I wouldn’t mind the notebooks if that was all I had. I like writing by hand, and I’m just going to say if I was stuck on a desert island, why bother revising? I could just write stuff and believe that it was awesome, without any audience, who would know? And after being rescued, who would have the audacity to judge, even if I used the words lonely in every single sentence? Or wretched or sandy. Who would care if all my plots centered around fear of large reptiles?

6. Music- some way to access my itunes library? A stack of favorite cd’s and a player? Some headphones? Earbuds? Speakers? It doesn’t even matter because I’m going to need some music, otherwise I’ll end up like Tom Hanks, talking to a volleyball, and I really do try to avoid talking to myself, even when I’m in the middle of plotting out a news story, or working through revisions.

7. A magic lunchbox that delivers hot fresh pizza. I fantasized this in like second grade on a day when my mom sent me something unappetizing for lunch. I sat in some class, probably math, and had a complete fantasy about a lunch box that could send me delicious piping hot pizza, and an ice cold soda. I still like pizza, and I still don’t know how to do math.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop

Welcome to the 8th Literary Giveaway Blog Hop hosted by Leeswammes' Blog! There are over 40 blogs participating so make sure you hop round and see what everyone is giving away.


I'm giving away a copy of one of my favourite reads of this year; The Machine by James Smythe. You can read my review here. But in summary, you must read it! This giveaway is open internationally (providing The Book Depository ship to your country). You don't have to follow to enter but you will get extra entries for following/sharing. Please do not leave contact info in the comments - entry is by Rafflecopter only.



Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Pirate's Wish

The Pirate's Wish is the sequel to The Assassin's Curse and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous book.

Stranded on the Isles of the Sky, Ananna and Naji fill their days catching and eating fish and bickering over whether or not Ananna should be allowed to wander off. Naji’s curse can only be broken by three impossible tasks; true love’s kiss, to hold a princess’s starstones against skin and to create life from violence. They’re not going to happen sat around on an enchanted island waiting for a boat to rescue them…

The Pirate’s Wish is a fun, pirating adventure. They spend much more time sailing the seas than in The Assassin’s Curse and I loved all the swashbuckling. The core is their quest to break the curse, freeing Naji from the debilitating headaches he gets whenever Ananna is in danger. And she’s in danger a lot.

The real treat is the manticore. I dare you to read this without smiling at her actions. I kind of want my own manticore to cuddle up to (it’s OK they don’t eat girl-humans, only boy-humans). I kept laughing at her eagerness to eat people. I mean, in theory she should have been a scary creature but she’s just so lovable, even if no one can pronounce her name; Ongraygeeomryn.

“Sharks?” I squinted out at the horizon, light flashing up into my eyes. “Don’t let anybody fall into the water, it’ll be fine.”

The impossible tasks didn’t seem all that impossible though. By the end of the first book, I think we all know that true love’s kiss was the easy one. I absolutely loved their reluctant romance although I started to get a tiny bit annoyed with Ananna’s resistance after a certain event which wasn’t Naji’s fault but she blamed it on him. There’s a wonderfully touching scene where Ananna and Marjani have a sex chat. One of the tasks presented an impossible scenario at least but the other was rushed over. Even in the context of magic, it just didn’t seem enough time for it all to be established.

One thing I loved about The Assassin’s Curse was the evocative writing conjuring up this wonderful world in the desert. This time, it’s more about the action but there are still smatterings of beautiful, descriptive writing. Especially when it comes to Anann’s feelings towards Naji. His magic also becomes more alive and you can really tell how powerful he is. The story was full of awww moments for me, which shows how much I connected to the characters. Even when they were annoying.

The Pirate's Wish is published by Strange Chemistry and is available now in paperback and ebook formats. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | The Robot Trading Co.

Also reviewed @ Birth of a New Witch



Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Any Other Name

Any Other Name is the second book in the Split Worlds series and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous book.

Cathy has plans to escape out the window the night before her wedding to William but her family have other ideas. She wakes up trying to remember what it was she was meant to do. Meanwhile, Sam is trying to get back to normal life and patch up his marriage but he’s not even sure he’s married to the same woman any more. There’s definitely something strange about her new employer.

At least his fiancée was more interesting than he’d thought. Catherine had successfully navigated a mundane through Exilium, carried out a secret spying mission for a Sorcerer and smuggled a sorcerous artefact into the most controversial party of the season. She was clearly capable in a crisis, so why was she so inept at the easiest aspects of life in Nether Society?

It did take me a while to get into the first book, so it was great to just dive into the story, picking up the threads that were left hanging from Between Two Thorns. The gargoyle has less of a part to play this time, but he’s there alongside Max who is still trying to work out who is to blame for the destruction of his chapter. Again, there is a lot going on, but this works as part of a series.

Again, there’s a lot about the oppression of women in the Nether Society. If it were as simple as Cathy marrying her parents’ choice and having her own life, it would be easier to swallow. But her every action is monitored and controlled. The Iris family make Lord Poppy seem like a puppy (I wish there was more of Lord Poppy) and the tension rises as you can’t see how Cathy can win. However Cathy reluctantly sets up house and I loved the insight into the customs and goings on behind doors. Of course, Cathy plans to shake things up a bit.

She’d said with such bitterness that women didn’t have any choices, but she didn’t realise that so few of the men did either.

This line stuck out for me because I was feeling a little bit sorry for William. He doesn’t have a choice in the marriage either and is in love with another woman. He brings forward the date to rescue Cathy from the abuse at the hands of her father and she throws it in his face. He is kind, and OK he has a bit on the side, but I found Cathy to be blinded by her own anger and couldn’t see that he was trying to make the most of a bad situation. He doesn’t even mind her reading books! I hope she is kinder to him in the next instalment as she seems to become aware of her selfishness.

“But we watched the telly. There were proper lights and a kettle that worked. So it couldn’t have been in the Nether.”

I love the world and I love the little bits of humour. The best part is, I don’t have to wait another year for the final instalment which is due out in October. You can also read weekly shorts stories set in the same world for free at Split Worlds.

Any Other Name is published by Angry Robot and is now available in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | The Robot Trading Co.

Also reviewed @ Vicky Thinks | Uncorked Thoughts



Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Are you reading this in Google Reader?

If so, the time for procrastination is over! You only have until the end of this month to find a new way to follow RSS and, mostly importantly, blogs. Personally I have switched to Feedly who have done huge amounts of work to prepare for the shutdown. Make sure any extensions and apps are updated in order to be migrated over.

You can also follow Curiosity Killed the Bookworm on BlogLovin, NetworkedBlogs or via email subscription.

Still in a panic over what to choose? At least make sure you export your Google Reader data (this is wise to do as a back-up anyway). Gone with another option? Share in the comments so we can all be prepared.

UPDATED: The easy way to tell if you're migrated on Feedly is to check your unread total against both GR and Feedly. If they're different, you're done, if they are the same (after reading some posts) you're still synching to GR.

There Be Pirates Here

A visual representation of life without a way to follow blogs.

Monday, 17 June 2013

ACID

Jenna Strong has been imprisoned for the murder of her parents. The year is 2113 and the Independent Republic of Britain is ruled by ACID; the Agency for Crime Investigation and Defence. After two years of surviving as the only girl in maximum security prison, Mileway, she has learned how to look after herself but when she is given the chance to escape she must learn to live a different life. A life that is monitored closely by the very people who put her behind bars.

ACID sets the scene in a not too distant future, where Britain was crippled by financial collapse and an incompetent government. ACID took over to save the country, creating a police state with strict rules. Surveillance, ID cards, segregation of the rich and poor, arranged marriage, privatisation of core services and terrorism; this sound like anything you’ve heard in the news lately? Because ACID is an example of dystopian fiction done right. The politics and world that Jenna lives in drives the story and her actions are the vehicle to explore the different aspects of a society that’s not too hard to imagine.

Come back! I want to shout. Then I realize how ridiculous I'm being. I've just spent the last two years in prison, for God's sake. I can take on men four times my size and reduce them to a bloody, blubbering pulp. And now I'm nervous about being left alone with an ordinary seventeen-year-old guy?

So there’s a teeny tiny bit of romance, but importantly, it is not central to the book but something that gives the motivation for certain aspects of the story to happen (which aren’t mushy at all). I liked the subtly of it, although some readers may not find it a strong enough relationship. Instead, Jenna spends time with different life partners, highlighting the lack of choice in her world. You are paired up with someone by ACID and that’s that.

Another thing I loved about ACID; adults! Jenna is not some miracle teenager who manages to bring down civilisation by herself. At each stage in her journey, there are adults around who make things possible and therefore more believable. She is tough and she’d like to think independent but it’s clear that her successes have been helped along.

I take one of the boxes from the nearest shelf, brushing away dust and cobwebs, and realize it isn't a box at all. It's a book - a real book, made of board and paper and glue, like the ones my father used to have locked away in a glass cabinet in his study, which were far too old and valuable even to touch, never mind read.

I did start to worry about Jenna’s face by the end of it. I know there have meant to have been great advances in cosmetic surgery but it seemed to happen a bit too often. Whilst I did work out what happened with the murder of her parents early on, I still found the whole thing gripping and there were plenty of other elements to keep me turning the page.

This is YA dystopia finally returning to its Orwellian roots. Huzzah!

ACID is published by Random House and is now available in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive

Also reviewed @ Serendipity Reviews | Uncorked Thoughts | Readaraptor



Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.