Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

Title - The Graveyard Book
Author - Neil Gaiman
Rating - 4 Stars

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family . . .


Review

Despite having read two other Gaiman books, I was quite hesitant in reading this one. For one, it seemed to be marketed for quite a younger audience but for another ir would the first Gaiman book that I would read without having a foreknowledge of the source material, this made me rather nervous. I was not ready to dislike Gaiman just yet.

To be honest, I should not have worried. It seems the best stories might be a coming of age stories. This novel is about Nobody 'Bod' Owens who got his name due to an unfortunate incident where his parents are killed by the man Jack and is adopted by a group of ghosts a mysterious otherworldly man Sylus.
This book plays a lot on mystery, page on page you are faced with numerous mysteries like who is the man Jack, why did he kill Bod's real parents, what is Bod's real name and what type of creature is Sylus.
Gaiman in his usual style does not attempt to answer all of the question, leaving an air of mystery even after the boom is done. It had me thinking about it long after I had stopped reading it. It's one of those books where you stare at the back cover wondering why it's missing it's last few hundred pages.

I loved this book. Bod was a perfectly defiant, intelligent, loving, smart and sometimes naive perfection of a narrator. This book, having been set in a graveyard had a perfect mix of dark shadows and bright lights of childlike enthusiasm. The powers that are granted to Bod are not only unique but incredibly creative which is a wonderful change from the usual shapeshifters and blood suckers.

It seems that Gaiman also loves the Hempstocks as they have found a way to get from the Stardust to his novel. Liza Hempstock is a brilliant character with a great mix of teenage mutiny, wisdom of the dead and witchcraft. I feel like I watched a toddler seamlessly transit to a teenager and I did not feel like I saw any considerable time jumps.

This is a brilliant book that can be read by children or adults and is equally entertaining. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

P.s. Did I mention Bod dances with death, literally.



Product Detail

Paperback, 289 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2008
Language: English
Author's Website: http://www.neilgaiman.com/
Purchase: Amazon | Barns & Nobel 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Coraline - Neil Gaiman

Title - Coraline
Rating - 5 Stars
Author - Neil Gaiman

Coraline's often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.

Review

After reading Stardust, I decided that I wanted to read a lot more of Gaiman's work.  Coraline seemed like natural choice since I was a big fan of Henry Selick's very Tim Burton styled animated adaptation. 

As is the case for every book to film adaptation, there are some changed that are for the better and others that should have been left as the writer has imagined it. It is a brilliantly dark and twisted tale about a girl who feels abandoned by her very busy parents and a creature that introduces herself as the other mother and attempts to fill the void of a parental figure while she hatches her rather insidious plan. 

I'm not sure if this is intended for a younger audience since the monster that lurks in these pages could very easily scare adults. There are a lot of ambiguity about what kind of creature "the other mother" is and Gaiman makes no effort into reveling any answers.  

From a purely narrative standpoint, Coraline is an amazing character. She is smart, brave and intuitive.  Unlike the Coraline in the movie, she is not easily fooled by better food and playground. She is very suspicious of the other mother from the start and is resistant to the idea of this perfect world that she is presented with. It does however present the point that her narrative might be too smart for the age she is, not that I object to it.

On her part the other mother is much more complicated that she is seen in the movie, she doesn't just want Coraline just for the sake of it but wants to really love her in her own way, even if her form of love is very short lived and based solely on a narcissistic need to have something other than herself love her back. 
The only thing that was disappointing about Coraline is the notable absence of Wyborne 'Wybie' Lovat, while his character is not essential, he was a really fun character to have. Like Stardust before it, Coraline does not make a habit of wrapping all the lose ends into a neat bow but leaves it to the reader to imagine some of the lose ends as a potential for the reader to explore   by themselves. 

This is amazingly creative, dark and just simply amazing. The creatures and characters in this book are not only well thought out but are incredibly detailed in their existence. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars for superb story telling and brilliantly twisted imagination. 
Product Detail
Paperback: 162 Pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Language: English
Author's Website: http://www.neilgaiman.com/
Purchase: Amazon | Barns & Nobel 

  

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Stardust - Neil Gaiman

Title: Stardust
Rating: 4 Stardust
Author - Neil Gaiman

Hopelessly crossed in love, a boy of half-fairy parentage leaves his mundane Victorian-English village on a quest for a fallen star
in the magical realm. The star proves to be an attractive woman with a hot temper, who plunges with our hero into adventures featuring witches, the lion and the unicorn, plotting elf-lords, ships that sail the sky, magical transformations, curses whose effects rebound, binding conditions with hidden loopholes and all the rest


Review

I came across Gaiman a few years ago with the release of the movie Stardust and then again with Coraline and a few episodes of Doctor Who. I really enjoyed adaptations so I thought it was about time to read the source material.

I have seen the movie several times and have enjoyed it each time so I had a high expectations for this book. Stardust the movie and Stardust the book are very different, it's almost like reading two parallel stories that draw upon each other but are fundamentally very different.

This book has all the makings of a wonderful play, it reminded me a little of Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Nights Dream with a lot of magical creatures and a fairytale like setting.

Unlike the movie, the book goes to great lengths to set up the story of Dunstan Thorn and the town of Wall. It is a magical place where the creatures of the other side can have a more dynamic relationship than suggested in the movie making Tristan's story much mote believable.

Gaiman also created a beautifully intriguing encounter between between the very beautiful elven princess Una and Dustan Thorn. Their relationship while brief is painted into a much more convincing and realistic relationship.

The one thing that I really love that the movie has created is Captain Shakespeare, while his character exists within the novel, he is not as flamboyant and dynamic. The Captain within the novel helps Tristan as he is part of a "fellowship" which goes otherwise unexplored.

The one thing that did disappoint me about this book is Tristan himself, he is very naive character who doesn't seem all that intelligent of curious. He seems completely unaware that Victoria Forester is not interested in a boy of his social class. He is pretty much my expectation of what an average Victorian man is like which I suppose is pretty what he is.

The novel is very Faerie orientated with Lions on crowns, unicorns, actual fairies and witch queens and many more wonderful creations rather than the explosion orientated movie creation. Gaiman had a gift with story telling, his story is extremely visual and follows with a natural ease that is hard to find in a lot of books.

I really liked reading this book and would definitely read another Gaiman book. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5 stars for a brilliant visual and dynamic story.

Product Detail
Pages: 192
Publisher: Headline Review, 2005
Language: English
Author's Website: http://www.neilgaiman.com/

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Last day of UK Giveaway!


Only one day left before giveaway closes. Make sure you've all entered for a chance to win a bunch of books and other prizes.



Wednesday, 16 July 2014

2ND Year Blogiversary Giveaway - UK EDITION



HURRRAAY!

My blog has finally hit it's two years mark. I am so proud of it. In the past there are many times when I thought this point was not going to be reached but with the help of Mercy, we have finally hit this mark. 

To celebrate my baby being a one year older, I am going to do a giveaway. This one has a few books and even a dvd. Unfortunately this give away is for UK readers only but not to worry I will run an international giveaway with plenty of ebooks very soon.

PLEDGES.
In the coming years:-
- I promise to take more care of my blog 
-  Post more
- Run more giveaways 
- Stay Awesome

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Uglied [Uglies #1] - Scott Westerfield

Title - Uglies
Rating - 3 Stars
Author - Scott Westerfield

Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that? 

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license - for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all.

The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

Review

I have been meaning to read this book since secondary school but I've never had the motivation to go out and get but this week  I decided to change that and give Scot Westerfield a chance after all he has proven that he is not terrible with his Peeps series.

It had a very descent start with fantastic world building. It is very clear that Westerfield has this word quite thought out with all the fractions of society structures quite well and their technology is also wonderfully detailed however what really struck home with me with this series is the obsession of beauty.

Tally is obsessed with beauty, obsession doesn't even begin to cover it. Everything she does is to ensure that she becomes one of the pretties and at first that goes to great lengths to make us aware of how beauty obsessed the word really is. While this is great at the beginning, it does start to wear think as Tally makes increasingly destructive decisions to insure that she does finally become a pretty. I have to say, she is one of the most annoying characters I have ever had a pleasure of meeting.

What really started to grate on my nerves was the way in which David looked at Tally, as if the sun shone and ended with her. He constantly attributed simple actions are truly heroic and fantastical. It is very Romero and Juliet-esk in the sense that it is an infatuation that leads to an entire rebellion hanging on the shoulders of an irresponsible little boy.

One of the main faults about this book is the fact that setting is so well thought out but it seems like the characters are more of an after thought and a bad after thought they are. The friendship between Shay and Tally is full of holes at best, why would Shay tell Tally about the Smokies after knowing her just few month especially considering it is THE closest guarded secret in the country. How is it that a lone teenage girl can find this place but a mighty civilisation with enhanced super beings can't seem to find it.

The only redeeming character was Shay. She started out as an independent, smart and fiery character who wrote one hell of a riddle. She would have made a brilliant narrative point but very soon into the Smokes, she pretty much turned into a whiny little girl whose entire being involved being jealous of Tally and David's relationship.

The character just didn't cut it for me but I suppose if you happen to have patience for whiny teenage girls then this should not be too hard to read. Overall I give this 3 out of 5, just because I just about got through the whole thing.

Product Detail
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books (29 Mar 2012)
Language: English
Author's Website: http://www.scottwesterfeld.com/
Purchase: Amazon | Barns & Nobel 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Faults in Our Stars - John Green

 Title - The Fault in Our Stars
Rating - 4 Stars
Author - John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

I have always loved John Green, not his books, I have been warned off of those years ago but I loved him and Hank on their many forms of internet presence. Yesterday I decided to break my ban on John Green books and announced to everyone that I might need emotional support and delved into The Fault in Our Stars.

The verdict is  - I hate John Green! 

I hate his odd narrative that's too smart for a sixteen year old but still manages to have that sulky teenage touch.  I hate the fact that one moment I am laughing and the next thing I know I am crying into my pillow. I hated the clever humor and characters that made me feel I was part of their lives.

I hate John Green but as I read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once [see what I did there!].

I have read better books, books with better characters or better narratives but I have never read a book that made me sit up and think about love, friendship, and mortality. At my age, it is very rare for me to think about death and the implication of knowing that you are going to die and for a brief moment in time,  I really understood what it was like to look at your own mortality in the face at the very grand age of 16. It makes you value your own life through the look at those who might lose it at any moment. This is an amazing feat for a YA book.

This book is thoughtful, clever, heart wrenchingly painful and beautiful. Although it made me cry harder than that incident with Noughts and Crosses a few years ago, I still appreciate it's existence.

In light of everything, I give it four out of 5 stars.  

p.s. I still hate you John Green.

Product Detail 
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Penguin (3 Jan 2013)
Language: English
Author's Website: http://johngreenbooks.com/
Purchase: Amazon | Barns & Noble 
Extra Detail: COMES WITH A SIDE OF EMOTIONAL PAIN

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Silent Blade & Silver Shark [Kinsmen #1 & 2] - Ilona Andrews

Title - Silent Blade & Silver Shark
Rating - 2.5 Stars & 3 Stars [Respectively]
Series - Kinsmen
Author - Ilona Andrews 

Ilona Andrews has been one of those big names in the urban fantasy genre that I have been meaning to read for years so when I got my hands on the Kinsmen series, I pretty much devoured them in one sitting.

The world of the Kinsmen is not entirely unique as such but was different enough to keep me interested. The characters were descent and I had no major issues that made me want to stop reading but the one reoccurring thought I had while reading both books was that, these stories could have been so much more than just a short distraction. They had a relatively good premise and if Ms Andrews put a little more effort into them, they had the substance to be a full scale novel rather than a long anthology.

Silent Blade [Kinsmen #1]


ld hatreds die hard. Old love dies harder.
On Meli Galdes' home planet, the struggle for power is a bloody, full-contact sport--in business and on the battlefield. For years her lethal skills have been a valuable asset in advancing her family's interests. She's more than earned her right to retire, but her kinsmen have one last favor to ask.
Kill the man who ruined her life. 
And when she's sure he belongs to her, she will finally repay a decade's worth of pain--in a single, brutal dose of reality
Celino Carvanna's razor-sharp business acumen--and skills with a blade--won him the freedom to do as he pleases. There's only one thing he can't seem to control--his reaction to the mysterious woman who tantalizes his senses. Her eyes alone set his blood simmering, stirring ridiculous adolescent fantasies about breasts and honey. With a few words she dissects his soul. Who is she? And how does she slide so easily under his well-guarded skin? 
It's almost too easy to draw Celino within the kill zone. Meli plans to revel in him. Drink him in. Wring every drop of pleasure out of every moment.

Review

A deadly female assassin failing to assassinate her target because they had passed history, not exactly the premise of a very original story but there was other aspects of fantasy and sci-fi elements that it made it readable. I especially loved the new take on powers, there was quite a brilliant merge of sci-fi elements with very human cultures which flowed quite well.

Overall it wasn't a terrible story but it failed to execute a very good ending, in fact I can go so far as to say the ending felt like Ms Andrews got bored of the story half way through and just decided to end it.

So I give this 2 stars.


Product Detail 
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (2 Jun 2009)
Language: English
Author's Website: http://www.ilona-andrews.com/
Purchas: Amazon | Barns & Nobel

Silver Shark [Kinsmen #2]


Claire Shannon is a killer. She uses no weapons, only her mind.
Born on a planet locked in a long war, Claire is a psycher, a woman with the ability to attack minds and infiltrate a biological computer network where psychers battle to the death. But when the war abruptly ends, Claire must hide her psycher's ability to survive. She is deported to a new planet, a vivid beautiful place, where she meets Venturo Escana, a powerful psycher, whose presence overwhelms both her mind and her body.
She thought she had left war and death behind, but now she must fight for her new life and this battle might just cost her everything...


I gotta say this one had a decidedly better plot line, characters, setting and basic readability. I really loved the heroin in this book. She was strong, powerful, resourceful and risked herself for others. She was not bent on some weirdly nonsensical revenge plot unlike her counterpart from the previous book.

I'm not saying this book was prefect, far from it really since it fell for very cliched character descriptions such as 'she wasn't classically beautiful but she set his veins on fire', paraphrased of course but if I had a penny for every time I've read things along those lines, I might just have enough to buy a Sherrilyn Kenyon box set. It also suffered the same bad ending as Silent Blade, making me think that perhaps Ms Andrews just has a very short attention span when it comes to her stories and finishes them half way through a writers block.

Overall a better book than the first so I will give it 3 stars but I can't say that I am blown away by Ilona Andrew's writing skills. I will however give her other series ago and see if they are any better.


Product Detail 
Publisher: NYLA (14 Sep 2011)
Language: English
Author's Website: http://www.ilona-andrews.com/
Purchas: Amazon | Barns & Nobel


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Turning [Blood Ties #1] Jennifer Armintrout

The Turning (Blood Ties, #1) 
Title - The Turning
Series - Blood ties
Author - Jennifer Armintrout



"I'm no coward. I want to make that perfectly clear. But after my life turned into a horror movie, I take fear a lot more seriously now. I finally became Dr. Carrie Ames just eight months ago. Then I was attacked in the hospital morgue by a vampire. Just my luck.
So now I'm a vampire, and it turns out I have a blood tie to the monster who sired me. The tie works like an invisible leash and I'm bound to him no matter what I do. And of course he's one of the most evil vampires on earth. With my sire hell-bent on turning me into a soulless killer and his sworn enemy set to exterminate me, things couldn't get much worse--except I'm attracted to them both.
Drinking blood, living as an immortal demon and being a pawn between two warring vampire factions isn't exactly how I'd imagined my future. But as my father used to say, the only way to conquer fear is to face it. So that's what I'll do. Fangs bared"
So it's been a while since I have actually reviewed anything and to ease my way back into this I decided to dive into my favourite genre.

This book had a promising beginning. I liked the way vampires were re-imagined to be more monstrous, very Buffy-esk which I really liked. I loved the writing style too, it's very quick and witty. Heck I even actually really liked Ziggy as a character but my problem begins the moment Carrie meets Cyrus. It's like all the charm and smart drains out of her and she begins to act like a cat in heat. She watches him drink from a dead body that he was more than willing to admit that he has killed, actually killed one of her colleagues and nearly killed her but the moment Cyrus walks in she is acts like her libido is on fire and knowing that he is a murdering rapist vampire does not stop her.

I mean I can get past her daddy issues and uncertain love triangle if the main good guys in this world are vampires who want to voluntarily go extinct for humans. I mean who is going to believe that most vampires want to make sure that they all die off. I don't think Ms Armintrout has ever heard of nature's most primal urge self preservation and something as predatory as vampires are not all going to want to die out even is pop culture paints them as brooding tormented men.

All in all I was rather disappointing seeing as I was recommended this book with a high praise. 


Product Detail
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Mira (June 1st 2006)
Language: English
Author's Website: www.jenniferarmintrout.com
Purchas: Amazon | Barns & Nobel

Friday, 7 March 2014

Pushed (Sequel to Held) - Kimberly A. Bettes

Cover rating: 4 out of 5
Review rating: 5 out of 5


Synopsis:

Ron Redwine is an up-and-coming author, a man whose lifelong dream of achieving celebrity status in the literary world is finally becoming a reality. But Ron isn't only a writer. He's also a sadistic serial killer who kidnaps, tortures, and murders women in his basement.

Nicole Lee is a beloved wife and mother. She's also the only woman who has ever escaped Ron's clutches. After being held in captivity for nearly a year, she found a way out, a way to be free once again and go back to her life. Only she can't. The life she knew before her abduction is gone. Separated from her husband and son, Nicole is psychologically broken. She spends months in a mental health facility trying to put the past behind her so she can return to her family.

Upon her release, Nicole hides herself away in a fleabag motel where she wrestles with her demons alone. When an interview on the local news advertises the last two stops on Ron's latest book tour, she becomes enraged. Furious that he's able to live his life happily while she's reduced to an existence filled with guilt and despair, she decides to take matters into her own hands.

Pushed too far, Nicole seeks her revenge, using Ron's own devices against him.

For mature audiences only.


Review:

 If you dance with the devil then you are a fool, for you think you'll change the devil but the devil changes you - unknown

I want to start by saying since I read Held I have been anxiously awaiting the sequel. This was not how I expected it to but damn was it thrilling.

If you read Held in tears, mouth open and hoping to hell that Nicole would survive then you'll love this sequel. This is everything you were begging to happen in Held that we never got to see. I don't want to give too much away.

Nicole's life has taken a turn for the worse, she is not only having mental issues including nightmares and at points almost hallucinations but she is now distant from her family until her health is to improve. She holds guilt in her heart from not killing or stopping Ron and knowing that he is still out there haunts her.

Ron's life has suddenly became everything he ever hoped. He is a best selling author with over fifteen books under his belt and lives in a perfect home with a purpose built basement for his book research, we are given a glimpse into his latest victims showing how Ron has not changed.

Now this may contain minor spoiler so be warned if you continue reading.

Ron's past has never been divulged however at the start he does agree when a victim calls him a son of a bitch, to which it appears evident that his mother has something to do with his need for control. He believes with every fibre of his being that he loves Nicole, that he did right by her and that she should be grateful to him.

Nicole wants closure and although her version of events are not even a patch as gruesome as Ron's she does formulate a plan and her vengeance is blissful to read. Instead of reading with panic, I read with a smile as she fed him dog food and hosed him down like Nicole endured.

Pushed gives the reader closer, gives you your own revenge on Ron. If Held managed to scar you and you felt you needed a brain bleach after reading it, after this you'll feel content however slightly uneasy it sits.

although I did notice sole minor plot holes or inconsistencies it was nothing to write home about.

I shouldn't love this mini series or maybe this author but - I am a little demented so I do.


Monday, 10 February 2014

The Forgotten Sister: Mary Bennet's Pride and Prejudice - Jennifer Paynter

Cover Rating: 4 out of 5
Review Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

'I prayed for a brother every night. My two older sisters also prayed. They felt the want of a brother equally keenly, for our father's estate was entailed upon a male heir, and without a brother to provide for us or a rich husband to rescue us, we would all be destitute.'

Mary Bennet has been long overshadowed by the beauty and charm of her older sisters, Jane and Elizabeth, and by the forwardness and cheek of her younger sisters, Kitty and Lydia. From her post in the wings of the Bennet family, Mary now watches as Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy – and Mr Wickham – glide into her sisters' lives. While she can view these three gentlemen quite dispassionately (and, as it turns out, accurately), can she be equally clear-sighted when she finally falls in love herself?

In this elegant retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Mary at last learns – with a little help from the man she loves – to question her family's values and overcome her own brand of 'pride and prejudice'.


Review:

I always found a like for Mary - many claim she was unlikable and forgotten but her role I found the most relatable, for she was somewhat forgotten and held the intelligence of Elizabeth - she always held the ability to be a protagonist in a story.

I enjoyed this adaptation, Paynter worked hard to include mentions of Austen's classic and cleverly made sure to give a clear understanding of Mary and her situation.

Paynter gave Mary Bennet the voice and story she longed for, she did not romanticise circumstances regarding Mary's sisters. Mary was jealous, and almost rightly so, she was home sick and she was questioning herself.

I adore Pride and Prejudice and I am glad I took the time to read this version of Mary's story.