Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Month That Was...October 2013

Happy Halloween! I'm off to World Fantasy Con shortly but I thought I'd leave you with a round up of the last month. Things have been a little slow on the blog the last few weeks, I think the readathon did me in. But hopefully I will have lots to talk about next week.

Here's what made it onto the blog...

Reviews:





5 stars awarded to: Parasite by Mira Grant, Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire + Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner.

Disappointed with: Tainted by A.E. Rought

Read and awaiting review: The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, The Echo by James Smythe + Anno Dracula by Kim Newman.
Blogged about:

I did a mini Books by Numbers bookshelf tour and gave you sleep deprived waffle during Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon. Some discussions on Twitter got me thinking about love triangles.

Memes, events + challenges:
Incoming! (6th Oct)
Incoming! (20th Oct)
What a Wonderful World on (blog) Tour

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Entangled

I met Ethan the night I was planning to kill myself. Pretty Inconvenient, when you think about it.

Grace wakes up in a white room. The last thing she remembers was talking to a man named Ethan and getting into his van. Trying to work out how she got there and how she can escape, Grace recounts the events that led up to that night. The life that slowly spiralled out of control.

At the heart is Grace’s relationship with her best friend. Sal is the good girl and Grace the wild one but things start to fall apart when Grace discovers her friend is keeping a huge secret. It doesn’t help that Grace seems to drop her friend when Nat comes along, but she does seem to try and make amends. And she really is a tragic character; self-harm is a central topic to this story. As far as she is concerned it’s just something she does but it’s clear how self-destructive a life she’s led. As she goes further into her story, she becomes more honest with herself, revealing more and more things that make you want to just give her a great big hug.

Entangled is not really about what has happened with Grace and Ethan but more about her life before. Having read a few books along similar lines, I’d worked out what the scenario was quite early on but it was still a fast, page-turning book, wanting to get to the bottom of Grace’s rollercoaster life. Even though I saw the end coming, I broke a bit at the hand holding. I think there was something rather genuine about it all. Even if everything was a great big mess.

I’ve been meaning to read Cat Clarke for a while now and I think I have all her books lurking on my Kindle now (if you fancy reading this it's currently only 46p). One thing I liked was how relatable her world and the teenagers were to me. They seemed a bit more like how it was when I grew up (maybe the Scottish setting helped). Yes they do go to pubs underage (something that’s hell of a lot harder these days) and they aren’t living these perfect lives before the book starts.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive

Shelve next to: Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O'Porter



Source: Purchased

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Books by Numbers

Jumping on the bandwagon after the Other Ellie did this meme that Jess Hearts Books started. My bookcases are in complete disarray but I chose to do this on the two slightly more tidy ones (which comes out at around 350 books). Each book is chosen by a random number generator and a question answered. This can be a bit tricky when you haven't read half your books.

It's really just an excuse for a bookcase tour/book porn post.

Q1.) Have you read this book? If so what did you think of it?
11: Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

Um, nope. Great start, Ellie. Although here you get to see a shot of my shelf for books with girlie covers which may or may not be chick-lit.


Q2.) Why did you buy this book? Were you recommended it? Was it a random purchase?
89: More Than This by Patrick Ness

I bought it in Waterstones in Bournemouth on the launch day of the Books Are My Bag campaign (even though they weren't taking part). I wanted to buy something, I had heard good things and I loved the cover design (enough that I knew I wouldn't wait for the paperback). So sort of random. I sort of missed a trick by not featuring one of my bookworms in the doorway :(


Q3.) Based on what you know about this book which other book blogger would you recommend it to?
29: Devil's Bargain by Rachel Caine

Ooh tough one... I know it looks like a Morganville Vampire book (in which case, Hannah!) but it doesn't have any vampires in. It's more of a thriller with a supernatural twist, soooo, maybe Leah. Yes, there's one of my bookworms, I have trained them not to eat the books.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Chimes at Midnight

Chimes at Midnight is the 7th book in the October Daye series and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous books.

Reading Order:
#1 Rosemary and Rue
#2 A Local Habitation
#3 An Artificial Night
#4 Late Eclipses
#5 One Salt Sea
#6 Ashes of Honor
#7 Chimes at Midnight

October Daye is worried about the increase of goblin fruit on the streets of San Francisco. Harmless to the fae, it’s highly addictive to changelings leading to certain death. In her mission to do something about it, Toby instead ends up banished from the Mists, and her home city. Given three days to wrap up her affairs, she has just the tiniest chance of fixing things.

I kinda just want to say EVIL PIE and leave this review at that. An event that is essentially something horrific is given slapstick status and then carries on as a running gag. I loved it. I won’t spoil the details of the actual evil pie. The best books manage to include humour as part of everyday life. People make jokes or laugh at stupid things others do in real life; I never quite understand why fictional characters have to be serious all the time. Even if the story is serious, it’s OK for your characters to let off steam now and then. This is a huge part of why I love Seanan’s writing.

It was the first instalment that had October and Tybalt as an established couple and I’m glad that Seanan didn’t engineer something to break them up straight away. The relationship doesn’t become boring either and I think Tybalt really starts to show his sweet side. Also there is the dog version of the fae. Just as the Cait Sidhe act in a feline manner, the Cu Sidhe that is featured is hilarious in a doggy way.

There’s plenty of action and I think the invention of goblin fruit is despicable. The route of addiction follows that of most human drugs but there is no hope for changelings to recover and all it takes is one bite. It’s pretty cruel. If I’m completely honest, this book by itself probably isn’t five stars but I love this series so much, I’m happy just to read about the characters. I never got around to reviewing the last one on the blog, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it!

British fans of Seanan McGuire may be happy to hear that her InCryptid series is due to be published by Constable & Robinson next year. Hopefully that will pave the way for October Daye too!

Goodreads | Amazon

Shelve next to: Cassie Palmer series by Karen Chance



Source: Purchased

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Incoming!

AKA Showcase Sunday

I was too tired last week (post readathon) to do a new books post last week, so it's another fortnighter that makes me look like I gone off the rails. I am sending Payback off to Lainy as I don't think I'll read it and Kimberley Chambers is one of her favourite writers. The Lie of You sounds a bit like the increasingly popular breed of domestic psychological thriller that really doesn't grab me...so I'll probably pass that one on too. The rest however look blimmin' marvelous, even if I need wrist supports to help me lift The Time Traveller's Almanac. I think almanacs are supposed to be huge...

I have read The Echo already. It's the sequel to the fantastic The Explorer; rather bleak and lots of questions going through my head...more on that closer to publication. Rags & Bones is a collection of retold fairy tales including one by someone called Neil Gaiman. Am excited to get my paws on The Falconer too, it sounds a bit like Gail Carriger's stuff but Scottish.


There's a couple of books on the end that are American editions. Harper360 is a fantastic new imprint dedicated to making sure HarperCollins books are available in as many countries as possible. So we'll be seeing more of their US and Australian titles here and vice versa. I know the internet makes it easier to get foreign editions but it's great news that we'll have our own copies. I believe a lot of them will be straight to paperback too.

I may have also had a tiny Kindle hiccup. I mean Quercus have books from 46p! And a new sale, I'm surprised I only bought three.

For review:
The Echo by James Smythe (Harper Voyager)
The Time Traveller's Almanac (Head of Zeus)
Rags & Bones (Headline)
The Dark Inside by Rupert Wallis (Simon & Schuster)
Payback by Kimberley Chambers (HarperCollins)
The People in the Photo by Hélène Gestern (Gallic Books)
The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh (Tinder Press)
The Lie of You by Jane Lythell (Head of Zeus)
The Falconer by Elizabeth May (Gollancz)
Pivot Point by Kasie West (Harper360)
Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum (Harper360)
Roomies by Sara Zarr + Tara Altebrando (Little, Brown)

Bought:
Undone by Cat Clarke
Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente



Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits & Tea.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Sad Monsters

Did you know that nearly half of all werewolf attacks start as misguided hugs?

There are hits and misses in this collection of woeful tales of sad and misunderstood monsters. The Joy of Unicorns had me snorting with laughter and I loved the human/zombie role reversal in Night of the Living. Other hits included the diary of a teenage banshee, a guide to looking after your gremlin (impossible) and a living dead will to cover all possibilities.

Some of the humour was a bit obvious and it’s best read in short doses. I do wonder if it is more American humour than British; Frank Lesser writes for The Colbert Report (which I have never seen). Although the crypto-racist Bigfoot could have been a Daily Mail columnist. The prose addresses the reader a lot too, which gets a bit tiresome after a while. Still, it’s a cute little stocking filler for anyone who ever feels a bit sorry for monsters.

Some of the illustrations are rather cute too (Willie Real is a Google Doodler) although I kind of wish they were in colour. I especially like the sad, haunted bath tub and Medusa’s hairdos. Not to forget the heartbreaking monster on the cover (he has a flower behind his back).

Sad Monsters is published by Souvenir Press and is available now in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive

Shelve next to: Coveted by Shawntelle Madison and The Radleys by Matt Haig



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, 17 October 2013

Maggot Moon

What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall.
What if Hector had never gone looking for it.
What if he hadn’t kept the dark secret to himself.
What if…
Then I suppose I would be telling myself another story.

Maggot Moon is a short but powerful little story that can’t fail to move you. What if the Nazi’s won the war? The ruling party is never defined nor the Motherland named, but every injustice in Standish Treadwell’s world will remind you of the horrors of the Nazi regime. Standish is an odd boy, with two different coloured eyes and he can’t read or write. He himself is surprised he’s not been sent to the maggot farms and his teachers certainly wonder how he is in their school.

I don’t want to tell you too much about his story. He befriends Hector, the boy from next door, who makes his life a little easier. But Hector finds out a secret and in their world, secrets are everything. There is a horrifying scene in the schoolyard; something we can only be grateful isn’t allowed to happen. But what if… Just like the first words of the story, it will fill your brain with what ifs.

The moon of the title is the Motherland’s mission to conquer the moon. It must be assumed this is a world before 1969 or one in which America never made it. The Motherland believe landing on the moon will secure their supremacy in the eyes of their enemy.

There are illustrations too, skirting the edges of the pages. They have an almost flick book quality and tie in quite subtly with the events. Read this book, it will leave you with a lump in your throat but it is worth it.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive

Also reviewed @ prettybooks | Lovely Treez Reads

Shelve next to: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak



Source: newbooks magazine

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Vampyre Family: The Curse of Byron

Byron, a celebrity in his own lifetime, flees London to escape gambling debts and the rumours his ex-wife has been spreading. He takes with him a young doctor, John Polidori, who has literary ambitions of his own. The young Claire Clairmont’s obsession with the poet, makes her convince her step sister, Mary Godwin, to accompany on a wild goose chase round Europe. Mary and her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley, are unwelcome at home and take the opportunity. From that summer, a part of literary history was written, but it also had a huge impact on the lives of those involved.

You couldn’t make this stuff up. Well you could, but then it would be written off as some torrid, historical romance. As a group of writers, they wrote many letters to each other, kept journals and were written about in the press. Byron’s celebrity status at the time, must have helped the preservation of these documents. There is little speculation here, it’s a story woven together from the words left behind. Readers may find it a little dry in places, but this is more than made up for in the snippets taken from their accounts.

Polidori was strikingly handsome, though he smiled only rarely, possessed of a remarkable profile that teenaged girls sketched dreamily on the back of letters. Like so many of his peers, Polidori adopted the Byronic style, dressing mostly in black and going about bare-necked with his shirt collars down in a study of artistic dishevelment. Indeed, he looked more Byronic tham Byron, who, it was said, 'barely escaped being short and thick'.

The book focuses a lot on Claire and John, two people I knew very little about but really had a tough time of it. There are plenty of passages dedicated to the more literary leanings of the group, but these two were the ones most damaged by the cult of Byron. It’s also quite shocking how young they were. John, taking employment as a doctor, was only 20, Byron 24 and Claire younger still. I think they were the first of the live fast, die young generations. But they were very forward thinking for the time, and they could easily be transplanted into the present day. Perhaps they’d be a bit odd, but writers are allowed that.

Anyone wishing to write Byron into their novel as a character should pay attention. He wasn’t romantic, he was snarky. I found his level of snark quite amusing, but John wasn’t thick skinned enough to hang around with him. His words were taken badly and verge on bullying when Byron doesn’t take heed of John’s distress.

I found the history of the publication of The Vampyre fascinating. It’s considered as the first example of the modern day vampire (yes, before Dracula) and it also was born out of that rainy day game that gave us Frankenstein. The Vampyre was originally a vague outline that Byron wrote and discarded, and John picked it up and made it his own. Clearly inspired by his treatment at the hands of Byron himself. But what happens later shows that piracy, plagiarism and copyright battles are not a new thing. If they were alive today, Byron and Polidori would be at the centre of author meltdowns I’m sure!

Overall a fascinating book for anyone interested in gothic fiction or the lives of literary heroes. It’s not a fictionalised account, so if you’re after a page turning novel, it may not be for you.

The Vampyre Family is published by Canongate and will be available in an attractive hardback or ebook editions from 7th November 2013. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive

Shelve next to: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Vampyre by John Polidori.



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.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

#Readathon Over

The end: local time 13:00
Total pages read: 1125
Hours spent reading: 21
Books finished: 3
Coffee count: 5

Pages read since last update: 61
Snacks eaten: buttered crumpets and honey loops
Drinks drunk: coffee


Wooho, we made it! Huge kudos to anyone who has been awake AND reading for 24 hours. I had a nap but my concentration in the last few hours has gone, and The Echo has a lot about sleep in it so far, reminding me that I haven't had much! Though it does help put me in the character's frame of mind... Looking forward to returning to it once I've recuperated. I think I might watch some TV for a bit and see if I fall asleep (but not too long, need to not be awake all night).

Thank you for all your effort on the Book Jenga challenge. I will peruse all your towers and select a winner or two later today. I think we all need a little rest.


#Readathon Hour 22: Good Morning!

Hour 22: local time 10:00
Total pages read: 1064
Hours spent reading: 18
Books finished: 3
Coffee count: 4
Books: Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire + Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner + The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Pages read since last update: 274
Snacks eaten: nothing
Drinks drunk: coffee


I turned the lights off just after 3am and then magically didn't fall asleep straight away. Typical! Was pretty tough waking up at 6am but I knew I had to check on my mini challenge (which is still running). It was fantastic to see so many people saying it helped wake them up.

I had a good cry at The One Plus One (mostly good crying but some sad crying too). About to make a start on The Echo and eat breakfast.

#Readathon Hour 18: Book Jenga

Dewey's Readathon Mini-Challenge

WAKE UP!

Awake? Are you ready? Go on, get that cup of coffee. It's time to stretch some of those muscles and test your motor skills, it's Book Jenga time!

What on earth is Book Jenga, I hear you mumble sleepily. You know the game, which is normally played with wooden blocks, well I want to see your Jenga towers built with books!

You can try and stack them in the same way as Jenga, or create a house of cards books, or just create a really impressive pile. It's the taking part that counts (oh OK, if anyone creates a really impressive construction, they will get a bonus prize). Just take a photo and leave a comment or tweet it to me.


#Readathon Hour 14

Hour 14: local time 02:00
Total pages read: 790
Hours spent reading: 13
Books finished: 2
Coffee count: 3
Books: Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire + Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner + The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Pages read since last update: 162
Snacks eaten: nothing
Drinks drunk: cola


Yay! I won something whilst I wasn't looking! This will be my last update until morning. I'm getting sucked into The One Plus One so may read a little longer...but sleep is starting to beckon.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

#Readathon Hour 11: Sniff Sniff

Hour 11: local time 23:00
Total pages read: 628
Hours spent reading: 10
Books finished: 2
Coffee count: 3
Books: Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire + Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Pages read since last update: 279
Snacks eaten: wasabi peanut crackers
Drinks drunk: coffee


Wow Maggot Moon was a powerful little book. Not sure what I was expecting, but not that. Also loved the little illustrations. I'm feeling rather emotional now, so Jojo Moyes may break me. At least I am fully awake! Hoping to get another 3 hours in before I nap... if you don't hear from me, I will be back at hour 18 with my mini challenge.

#Readathon Hour 9: One Book Down!

Hour 9: local time 21:00
Total pages read: 349
Hours spent reading: 8
Books finished: 1
Coffee count: 2
Books: Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire

Pages read since last update: 203
Snacks eaten: sushi
Drinks drunk: coffee


It's dark outside now however I did finish a book! My short review is "EVIL PIE". Very entertaining but I think I need to read something with less words on each page next. Definitely not looking like I'll get through four books but I'll plod on until I nod off.