Saturday, July 21, 2012

Toy Store Escape - Marcus Emerson & Ellie Alexandre

Title: Toy Store Escape
Authors: Marcus Emerson & Ellie Alexandre
Publication information: Amazon Media

This is definitely a story for younger readers but I still enjoyed it. This is only 18 pages long so was extremely quick, and reading it, I could see it making a really good comic book. It has everything that a children's story needs; humour, action and most importantly, a moral to the story.
Reading it, I couldn't help but think of Toy Story with Officer Onslaught really reminding me of Emporer Zurg just with his actions and the way he speaks.
Overall I only gave this 3 out of 5 stars on goodreads but I think younger readers would love this story and I really like the front cover of this ebook.

Behind the Mirror (Return of the Ancients 0.5) - Madison Adler

Title: Behind the Mirror
Author: Madison Adler
Publication information: Kindle Edition

"Rafael is a Fate Tracker, protecting his world and Earth from disaster, but what should he do when disaster appears in the form of love?"

This is an extremely short prequel story to the Return of the Ancients series by Madison Adler and it was a really quick read. Due to the readable writing style, this only took me about 15 minutes to get through but despite it being so short, I think that this definitely served its purpose in the way that it made me want to read this series. Sometimes prequel stories can either put you off a series or give you too much information, preventing you from wanting to read on but I think that this one was perfect. So far, from Behind the Mirror, I really like the characters and the premise of the future books, and also I like the way that the reader doesn't know exactly how this world works but has enough information to imagine it so far. I hope to get the other Return of the Ancient books at some point, but for now I would give this 5 out of 5 stars as there is nothing I could really say against this; good premise, interesting characters and brilliant writing!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Tiny Bit Marvellous - Dawn French

Title: A Tiny Bit Marvellous
Author: Dawn French
Publication information: Penguin Group

"This first novel by Dawn French is told through the eyes of a mother and her two teenage children. There's seventeen-year-old Dora, a stroppy teenager who's just come out of her first relationship (it lasted a whole six weeks) and who's longing to escape to university; her long-suffering mother, Mo, a child psychiatrist who's baffled by the antagonist behaviour of her children; and sixteen-year-old Peter, who prefers to be known as Oscar due to his obsession with Oscar Wilde. Written in diary format, with each chapter narrated by a different voice, this is a hilarious, sharp and utterly compelling novel about the ups and down of family, sibling rivalry and growing up. With each chapter told from the point of view of one character, Dawn French's witty and engaging novel offers us an honest and insightful account into the relationships between children and parents."

The plot of this book was quite confusing at first as the story is told from the point of view of three different members of the Battle family who are all going through different things. Although it took a while to get into, I began to really like certain characters and look forward to their chapters over others. The plot itself was quite simple throughout, until the end, where I was genuinely surprised. Some reviews I have read have said that they found the ending predictable but I personally found it a perfect finish to this type of book. I don't usually get drawn to books like this, and other than John Green, I haven't really read any contemporary fiction, but knowing Dawn French from her comedy and television career, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of her as an author.

The characters were all very compelling and I think that telling a story from all these different perspectives would attract different types of reader. All of the characters were very caricatured but I think that this was necessary for this kind of novel.
Mo did not interest me at all at first. I found her to be quite boring and dull and just the run-of-the-mill mother in this book, but then I realised that this is why her storyline became so interesting. I began to gradually look forward to her chapters and was genuinely interested in her story.
Dora was hilarious but slightly annoying. I found the swearing and the ridiculous insults that she came out with really funny but overall, I think she acted and sounded a lot younger than seventeen throughout this book. However, I did really like Dora and I like that she was the typical angsty teenager. 
Oscar/Peter was an interesting character, mostly because I didn't really understand his character until about half way through the book, where he became much more rounded as a person rather than just a flamboyant accessory to the rest of the story.
Husband, to me was a really interesting character. This is mostly because you don't even know his name until literally the last word of the book and he is a mystery even though you know certain things about him from the other characters. I think that overall he was the most well rounded character even though he is only ever addressed as Husband, and even in the one chapter written from his point of view, he is called Dad, which I thought was really appropriate for the content and events that take place in that particular chapter. 
Pamela was also interesting, if not unusual for a grandmother. She was very down to earth and liked baking cakes, and her nursing background was evident throughout the novel.

The writing in this book was really interesting. Each of the main characters, Mo, Dora and Oscar, spoke in a completely different fashion; Dora was erratic with her language, speaking with a lot of swearing and slang, with some sections being scripts of instant messaging, Mo was more correct but still a believable character, and Oscar, through his obsession with Oscar Wilde and his flamboyancy, spoke in a more poetic way. I think that this helped differentiate between the characters and helped you, as the reader, to not confuse them at all.

Overall, I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars as I think it was a very interesting read but it took me a while to get into. I really loved the ending and the way that it was written, paired with the bright characters.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Selling My Soul: A Paranormal Short Story - Rae Northlight

Title: Selling My Soul (A Paranormal Short Story)
Author: Rae Northlight
Publishing information: Amazon Media

"Ginny Petersen is in love with vampires. She writes about them, she lives and breathes them, she wants to be one. So, when the opportunity arises for her to become a blood-surrogate for vampires, she jumps right in, in the hopes that one of the vamps will want to change her. What she doesn’t expect is the power it will give the vampires over her."
This is the synopsis provided on Amazon Kindle Store and I feel like it is completely misleading. 

This short story is only 7 pages long and has a lot of spacing so there isn't really any character development and also very little plot. Ginny is the protagonist and despite the way that the synopsis describes her as an avid writer obsessed by vampires, I didn't get anything about her really from the story itself. This story felt like one chapter of a very cliched vampire novel. I found the writing style very standard and easy to read so this was extremely quick to read and despite the interesting synopsis, I was thoroughly disappointed with this so gave it 1 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Paper Towns - John Green

Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Publication information: Bloomsbury Publishing (2010)

When childhood crush, Margo Roth Spiegelman, turns up at Quentin's window late at night summoning to be part of her revenge plan, he follows. Soon when Margo disappears, he must solve the mystery and follow the clues left by her.

From the beginning, I found the plot very engaging despite it being quite slow to begin with. I think that although the premise is quite simple, I found myself hooked into the lives of these characters and I was just wanting to know how the whole mystery would be resolved. I really liked that some of the major revelations come from works of literature, which in some ways, even though I haven't read the works mentioned, give the novel more depth and make you want to read these connected texts too. 

The characters were amazing in this. I have read reviews of Paper Towns saying that John Green made Margo too perfect and I think that at first this is correct but I think that this is one of the major lessons of this book; Margo isn't perfect, that's just the way Quentin sees her to begin with. I think that this adds to Margo's character and all of the aspects of her personality really make her a rounded character. In some ways she reminds me of Alaska from Looking for Alaska because of her rebellious nature and the way she is idolised, but I think that the difference with Margo is that there were definite answers by the end of the book. Personally, I found Quentin to be a very endearing protagonist. As this is from first person perspective, I found it easy to empathise with him and I liked the way that he would do anything for his friends yet he was still an intelligent individual. The side characters also helped me to enjoy this novel. I really like Ben and his wittiness and arrogance. I also liked Radar and his back story as I found the black Santa collection quite funny.

The writing, as ever with John Green, was witty, intelligent and humourous, with a dash of seriousness, which kept me hooked. The pacing was really good and I felt that Part 3 with the road trip was especially fast paced but this fit the plot perfectly.

Overall, I would give Paper Towns by John Green 5 out of 5 stars as I really can't fault any of it. I loved the characters and the writing style and the plot was really captivating. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Fault In Our Stars - John Green

Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Publication information: Penguin (2012)

John Green once said in one of his Youtube vlogs that to be a great author was to make a reader "feel all of the things" and this novel definitely does this.

The story follows the main protagonist, Hazel, who has been struggling through cancer for three years, and a boy called Augustus Waters. The story basically follows the development of their relationship and their journey to find out the real ending to Hazel's favourite book, An Imperial Affliction, from fictional author Peter van Houten.

The characters in this novel were phenomenol. Hazel, although I obviously do not know how she is feeling throughout the book, is strangely relateable and Augustus is the best male love interest that I have ever read about. The personalities of all the characters really shine through the writing and their own personal stories evokes a myriad of emotions in the reader as you read about their struggles. Isaac is often said to be people's favourite character in this book but to be honest, I could not get over how perfectly unperfect Hazel and Augustus were as a couple and individually.

The plot was, as always with John Green novels, enchanting, keeping you gripped from the start and wanting more, even through the tears. I think that this novel is by far the best of his works that I have read so far and this is the most emotionally involved I have ever been with a book before. The plot was interesting and kept you reading whole-heartedly through the good and the bad.

The writing, as ever, was amazing. The pacing was perfect, the writing style matched Hazel's bright personality and the tone never contrasted with the story, everything just matched perfectly. This book has a brilliant balance of humour, happiness, romance, despair and grief to keep you hooked, even after the final words.

Overall, I would definitely give The Fault In Our Stars by John Green 5 out of 5 stars. I have never been this affected by a fictional novel before and I am sure that, although most reviews say something similar, I have never been more emotional by the end of a book than I am now with this one. Truly a work of artistic genius by John Green and I just wish more young adult books were written to this standard.

I just thought I'd show as well my copy of this book; the signing more specifically. I found this book in a local Waterstones store and I never expected it to be signed but I got a JScribble and a Hanklerfish so I just had to give it a home! There was also this note in it so I was so happy! 
Overall this is definitely my favourite book of 2012 so far, if not of all time, and I highly recommend it to any reader of any age... this is just a must read.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Chosen - Ted Dekker

Title: Chosen
Author:  Ted Dekker
Publication information: Thomas Nelson (2007)

This was another book that I picked up at the library the other day just because the cover was so intriguing and also the tagline, "think with your heart and prepare to die for you have been chosen" really drew me in. Chosen is the first in the Lost Book series, so the first of four.
"The chosen four are sent on a quest to prove their character, but their mission takes a drawmatic turn when they are intercepted, sworn to secrecy, and redirected to a different endgame. Now they must find the seven lost Books of History. Books that have power over the past, present and future. Books whose words are alive. Books sought by the Dark One that control not only the destiny of their world.....but that of ours as well". 
This just sounded great from the get-go so I was really excited to read it.

The characters in this book were amongst some of the best that I have read about recently. The main protagonist, Johnis, was an interesting character which is always good since he is the main focus of the novel. Without giving too much away about the story, I found Johnis a likeable character that grew on me as the other characters seemed to warm to him. The other three main characters were also very relatable in some ways and even when they were being horrible to Johnis, you as the reader could understand why this was happening. My favourite character ended up being Gabil who was one of the Roush. I just thought that he was a very funny character that lightened up the novel and added a bit of humour.

The plot was also really good! It drew me in from the start and developed at a good pace, not too quickly and not to slow either. However, this was obviously going to be the beginning of a series because of the way it ended, but on reflection, I think that even if you weren't interested or able to read the rest of the series, this would still be a great read with a really interesting and multifaceted plot with great characters.

The writing made this novel really easy and quick to read. With only 260 words in the hardback addition that I read, this isn't a long novel, but the way it reads made it very quick and it flowed well. I read it only in one day! I think that this book has the right amount of description that shows you enough about this world to make it believable and easy to imagine, without taking over from the narrative.

Overall I would definitely give this book 5 out of 5 stars as I think that it would be a great read for people of any age, female or male. I really do love all of the characters and the world that Ted Dekker has created and having not heard about this book before, I was surprised how much I actually enjoyed this. Chosen has the right balance of humour, suspense, action and romance to keep you hooked from the beginning and ends leaving you wanting more.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Gone at Zero Hundred 00:00 by C.R.Hiatt (Excerpt)

Here I have an excerpt from C.R.Hiatt's brilliant novel, Gone at Zero Hundred 00:00.

"I was busy typing in the terms: private clubs, underground clubs and secret societies on my
Blackberry, and reading through the links when something else caught my attention. A black
Hummer with three men inside, drove past me and turned into the alley behind the club, and
parked. A Hummer was a popular vehicle in Sutter Beach because of the military and naval
bases, so it wasn't the car that got my attention. It was the suspicious way the occupants
surveyed the surroundings.
The driver was the first to exit the vehicle. He stood with his back to the car and did a cursory
glance of the area. He was over six-­feet-­tall with a wide-­barreled chest and a thick neck. Once he
made sure the area was cleared, he sent a signal to the front seat passenger. Then, the front-­seat
passenger exited in the same fashion. He searched the area for anything suspicious. At the same
time, his right hand reached inside his jacket and rested on his hip. He was packing heat -­ a gun.
Both men were dressed in black jeans, black leather jackets and black jump boots. When he, too,
concluded the area was clear, he opened the back-seat door. I couldn't help but laugh.
On instinct, I looked around for cameras. This had to be a movie scene. The guy that stepped
out was early twenties, and looked like Angel in a scene from Buffy and the Vampire Slayer. He
was wearing a black leather trench coat -­ it was eighty-­something degrees outside. He had thick-­
black hair, slicked back, not a strand out of place and his skin was perfectly bronzed. It looked
like it was spray-­painted on.
I zoomed in with the camera to get a close up. All three of them walked into the back door of The Devil's Door, looking like they were ready for a shakedown. I pegged the two muscle men as bodyguards. But, who were they protecting? And why did he need protecting? I took a look at
the license plate, and was somewhat surprised to see they were from Mexico. It was about a two-­
hour drive to San Diego, where you could cross the border into Mexico. I wrote down the plate
number, and added the other sports cars to the list. I may not have much information on David Klein, yet, but the guests at the Devil's Door were sure drawing my attention. What the heck kind of club was this place?

Author Links

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ash - Malinda Lo

Title: Ash
Author: Malinda Lo
Publication information: Little Brown & Company, 2009

This is a modern fairytale retelling of Cinderella. "With her parents both gone, Ash finds herself a servant in the house of her ruthless stepmother and there seems no hope of finding happiness again. But Ash is unaware of her mother's legacy, and that it will lead her to a magical place. A place where love, identity and belonging are all waiting....". After reading this synopsis on the back of the book in the library I thought that this would be an interesting take on the original story, and since I have never really read a book about fairies I thought that this might be a nice change, however, after reading it, I was very disappointed.

The plot was very slow and boring. I don't like being too negative about books through respect for the author but I found that the plot in Ash dragged a lot and I found it really hard to get through and finish. I found that despite it being just under 300 pages, not a lot happened and everything ended really abruptly, even though all of the plot points were tied up at the end. I quite like the twist of Ash falling in love with a female, but I found that this was predictable from quite early on in the book.

I found the characters quite dull too. Sidhean, the fairy boy, seemed a lot like an Edward Cullen type character, dangerous yet somehow irresistable, which irritated me a lot. I couldn't really connect to Ash very much because I found that I hit a point where I just started getting annoyed with her for making silly mistakes and decisions all the way through this narrative. On the other hand, I did like some of the side characters including Ana and Clara, the two stepsisters. Although these were negative characters, I found that these had the best dialogue throughout. 

One thing that was good about this book was the writing. I think that it suits the teen age range that it is aimed at and tells the story in a readable way but in my opinion the plot let it down.

Overall I would give Ash by Malinda Lo 2 out of 5 stars as I found it difficult to get through and despite the promising premise, it was disappointing. I think this is an example where I am drawn in by a pretty cover and vaguely appealling blurb and the words inside just don't stand up to the plate. This may be more suitable for younger readers though.