29 February 2012

That's a Wrap - February 2012

Wow February just flew on by - even the addition of an extra day didn't make it seem any longer!

There was a lot going on this month here at The Aussie Zombie - loads of reviews, MeMe's, overflowing mailboxes, and some giveaways that I had SO much fun hosting.  Giving away books is definitely one of my favourite parts of blogging - knowing that I've made a fellow reader happy with a book they've been lusting after, or something that's just caught their eye is so much fun!

So, let's get down to business:

Books read: 



Z-Strain by Rutger Klamor (review HERE)
The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe (review HERE)
BadAss Zombie Road Trip by Tonia Brown (review HERE)
Yesterday's Gone: Episode 1 by Sean Platt & David Wright (review HERE)
Antarctica on a Plate by Alexa Thomson (review HERE)
The Evening Hour by A. Carter Sickels (review HERE)
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene (review HERE)
Vaempires: Revolution by Thomas Winship (review HERE)
Deadlocked by A.R. Wise (review HERE)
Vaempires: A White Christmas by Thomas Winship (review HERE)
After the Snow by S.D. Crockett
Nocturnal by Scott Sigler
Die For Me by Amy Plum

15 books and 10 reviews in 29 days - whew!  

But what's missing?  Yep, other features - interviews, guest posts, all that fun kinda stuff.  My aim for March is to have some more of these things - now if only I could get another 3 or 4 hours into each day....

How was your February??


February RAK Wrap-Up



RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) is an awesome idea from Book Soulmates that allows us to do exactly what we all love - share our love of reading by giving books to other OCD-readers!  This was my first RAK month in a while, and I decided to start slowly - but I'm definitely planning on getting stuck into March!


I received, from the amazingly awesome Kayla at Bibliophilia, Please




This is a book that I've had on my wishlist since year forever, but it never quite made it into a shopping basket.  I'm SO looking forward to this one!


I sent to the lovely Birgit from The Book Garden


Actually, I can't tell you, because Birgit hasn't received the book yet and I don't want to ruin the surprise :-D



What What What (WWW) Wednesday 29 Feb 2012



What What What Wednesday (WWW) is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. It's pretty simple - three questions:
What Are You Currently Reading?
What Did You Recently Finish Reading?
What Do You Think You'll Read Next? 

What I'm Currently Reading

Past Lives #1: Rachel by Stephanie Abbott

Published: 9 February 2012 by Lyonnesse Books

Pages: 124 (paperback)

Source: book tour for review

How many times can you die for love?

A near-fatal car crash unlocks memories from Rachel MacReady’s past life, dredging up secrets taken to the grave. And even as Rachel discovers the hidden power that is her birthright, she finds herself drawn to the reincarnates of two very different men. In that past life, both loved her. One might even have loved her to death...

Ok I haven't actually started reading this one as I write this post - but in a few hours, I will be!  Sounds mysteriously spooky!


What I've Just Finished Reading


Die for Me by Amy Plum


Published: 10 May 2011 by HarperTeen


Pages: 341 (hardback)


Source: owned


In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again. 

I admit, I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to YA paranormal romance - I'm not a fan of insta-love, I don't get why you would fall in love with a guy who has some damn creepy stuff going on, and YA isn't always my cup of tea.  But Die For Me definitely surpassed my expectations.  Review to come in a few days!

What's Up Next


Voyage of the Dead by David P. Forsyth


Published: 2011


Pages: 222


Source: author for review


Voyage of the Dead is the first book of the Sovereign Spirit Saga detailing the adventures of several groups of survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse. Most of them are aboard a ship that is well equipped to survive the end of civilization, while others struggle to survive in a world suddenly overrun by undead cannibals. This is a science fiction adventure set within a horror genre, full of blood, guts, violence and the human emotions that fuel our survival instincts.

Zombies, survivors, boats and cannibals?  Oh I'm so there!


I've just noticed a perhaps disturbing trend in my books this week....a whole lotta death!

What are you reading?  Do you have any weird patterns in your reading developing?  Let me know or leave me a link!

28 February 2012

Review: Vaempires: A White Christmas (Prelude to the Evolutionary War) by Thomas Winship

Vaempires: A White Christmas by Thomas Winship

Published: 14 December 2011

Pages: 104 (paperback)


Genre/s: Vampire

Source: Author for review


Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis

It's almost Christmas. With the global holiday days away, the people of the world should be turning their attention toward celebrating peace and goodwill, but tension between humans, vampires, and væmpires is at an all-time high. Desperate for solutions, King Brant schedules a secret summit deep in North America's Northern Forest. Along with Queen Anne, Princess Cassandra, Daniel's family, and the human president and First Lady, the vampire leader seeks to reaffirm the ties between humans and vampires, while brainstorming ways to respond to the growing hostility among væmpires.

Meanwhile, Daniel and Cassie's relationship is at an all-time low. The princess is still reeling from her breakup with Vielyn, and Daniel doesn't know what he should or shouldn't do to help. Little does he know that the summit will be flooded with surprises--guests, allegations, accusations, proposals, and even Christmas Eve revelations--but not all of the surprises will be pleasant. 


My thoughts

A prelude to Vaempires: Revolution (The Evolutionary Wars #1), Vaempires: A White Christmas tells the back-story of Daniel and Cassandra, and delves more deeply into the politics of the human/vampire/vaempire world, and the scientific community’s attempt to help the vaempires adapt to the human and vampire way of life.

Last week I reviewed Vaempires: Revolution (The Evolutionary War #1) HERE – and my review of Vaempires: A White Christmas is connected to that review, in a way.

As a prelude whilst I don’t recommend reading Vaempires: A White Christmas before Vaempires: Revolution, I do recommend reading it pretty soon after you finish Revolution. Reading in this order helps to answer some questions from Revolution, without giving away key parts of the plot.

Personally, I also found White Christmas a great way to get to know Daniel a little better – his insecurities and his long history with Cassandra, as well as his jealousy over her relationship with Vielyn, and by the end I liked him much more as a character. I also enjoyed learning more about the politics and science behind the conceived segregation of the vaempires from vampires and humans. This book made me even more curious about the next book in the series.

And once again Mr. Winship had me totally enthralled in the story and the world of Vaempires!


27 February 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (8)



It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey and is a great way for others to find out what you are planning to read this week and, best of all, see what others are reading.
  How many of my planned books did I read in the last week?  0. Yep, nada, zero, zip, zilch, nil.  Oh well!  But I did read some other GREAT books:


What I Read Last Week




After the Snow by S.D. Crockett (review to come closer to release)
Deadlocked by A.R. Wise (review HERE)
Wool #1 by Hugh Howey (review to come when I have finished the whole series)
Mountain Man by Keith C. Blackmore (review to come this week)


What I'm Reading This Week


Because I'm so bad at planning my reading, this what I'm currently reading, or need to read this week (maybe this will work out better!)




Die for Me by Amy Plum
The Mistake by Wendy James
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey (book 1 complete, nearly finished with book 2)


What are you reading this week?  What was your favourite read last week?

26 February 2012

In My Mailbox #14 - The Quick & Dirty Edition


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren where bloggers and readers can talk about the books and booky things they have received in the last week - paper-books, e-books, library loans, swaps, wins, anything!




OK I had magnificent plans for IMM 14 - it was going to attempt a v-log for the first time.  And then I got sick - my Internet video debut will NOT be me sniffing, coughing and generally sounding like death warmed up. So it's going to be the quick and dirty picture version this week!







Paperbooks
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
The Dangerous Book of Heroes by Conn Iggulden and David Iggulden


E-books 
Die for Me by Amy Plum
Deadlocked 2 by A.R. Wise
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Dearly Departed by Lia Habel


I know there are others but I'm incredibly unorganised this week - sorry!  Anything I've forgotten will be in my next mailbox!


What did you get in your mailbox this week?  Leave me a link!

25 February 2012

Winner: Random Acts of Kindness Giveaway Hop

Drumroll please!  And a big thank you to everyone who entered!


The winner of the Random Acts of Kindness Giveaway Hop:


Mary
Congratulations!

Now Mary had a choice of books, but she did a very cool thing - she gave me the power honor of choosing which book she won.  Mary's choices were: 

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi











Or

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare











I won't tell you what I chose because that would spoil the fun - but I want to thank Mary for allowing me to choose, and I really hope she enjoys her book!

24 February 2012

Review: Deadlocked by A.R. Wise

Deadlocked by A.R. Wise

Published: December 2011

Source: own library


Synopsis

David was caught in the middle of the city when the zombie outbreak started. His wife and daughters were at home, stranded on the roof as zombies waited below. He would have to fight through hordes of undead, merciless other survivors, and a series of death defying stunts to get home. However, even if he makes it there, how can he be sure they're safe?

Deadlocked puts you into David's head as he struggles to get home. Then a final confrontation occurs that could guarantee his family's survival, but at what cost? 


My Thoughts

David is your average kinda guy, salesman with a young family who finds himself thrust into the zombie apocalypse with no warning, and no easy escape. Watching events unfolding with horrifying speed at work, he begins his pilgrimage home to find his wife and daughters.

There’s no ‘down-time’ in Deadlocked. It’s fast paced action from the opening scenes right to the very end, making for a quick and enthralling read.

David is a good main character, there’s nothing unlikable about him, and his desire and determination to make it home to the ‘burbs and his family is nothing short of admirable. But what will stay with me the most is the incredible imagination of Wise in creating a realistic, scary storyline with some ideas that I’ve not read before in zombie-book-land.  The writing is excellent – believable, well-structured and captivating.

The ending completely surprised me – it didn’t turn out at all how I expected which made it an even more memorable read.

If you do read this, you should also read the author’s comments at the end – there are some truly fascinating ideas about zombie writing and why so many of us enjoy these type of books. I’m really looking forward to Deadlocked 2! 

23 February 2012

Giveaway: YA Paranormal Blog Hop



It's the YA Paranormal Giveaway!  Hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and vvb32reads it's a angel/zombie/vampire/ghost/werewolf-fest!  Once you're done here, make sure to go and hop like crazy through the other blogs!


So, what's up for grabs here?


Any ONE of these YA Zombie books (it will be the cheapest version available, so please keep this in mind - I know we all love hardbacks but me saving money means more giveaways!)




Rot & Ruin or Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry
Die for Me by Amy Plum
Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Time Will Come #6


The Time Will Come is a fantastic meme hosted by Books For Company where we can feature those poor books that we brought, put on the shelf, and haven't (yet!) read.

All you have to do is:
- Pick a book you have been meaning to read
- Do a post to tell us about the book
- Link the post in the linky
- Visit the other blogs!

Dressed to Kill by Charlotte Madison

Published: 1 January 2010

Pages: 

'My fingers close around the trigger. I pause for a split second to think about the bullets I am about to spray across the ground. After today, I'll no longer be the new girl.'Captain Charlotte Madison is blonde, beautiful and flies Apache helicopters for a living. She has completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan and is currently fighting on the frontline in her third. DRESSED TO KILL shows us what life is like for a girl in a resolutely male-dominated environment. But she isn't just a woman in a man's world, she's a woman women aspire to be - glamorous as well as brave, and beating the men at their own game. Only a tiny percentage of people can multi-task to the extreme level the aircraft demands, and most airmen who try to qualify as an Apache pilot fail.

This book sounds so interesting - I love true stories about war, and a tough chick to boot?  I will get to this one in 2012 as it's on my ATW challenge!

Do you have a dust gatherer that you're determined to read in 2012?

22 February 2012

Review: Vaempires: Revolution by Thomas Winship

Vaempires: Revolution (The Evolutionary War #1) by Thomas Winship

Published: 31 October 2011

Pages: 216 (paperback)


Genre/s: Vampires

Source: Author for review


Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis

It is the morning of Princess Cassandra’s sixteenth birthday. Everyone’s attention is focused on the heir to the vampire throne. World leaders, the rich and famous, and VIPs from every corner of the globe have gathered in the nation’s capital to celebrate the momentous event.

Cassandra’s boyfriend, Daniel, is late for the party. He’s still outside the city when all hell breaks loose. What he believes is an act of terrorism proves to be a full-fledged revolution. Væmpires—former vampires who mutated into warm-blooded creatures with an insatiable hunger for cold blood—have launched coordinated attacks across the globe, with three goals: the eradication of humanity, the enslavement of vampires, and the ascension of væmpires as the dominant species on the planet.

The vampire and human leaders are killed. Cassandra is missing. Daniel is the acting king. Desperate to find the princess, Daniel and his friends fight their way across the besieged city. With the hopes of the free world resting on the shoulders of four vampire teenagers, væmpires unleash their secret weapons—væmpires with special powers.

What can four teens do against an enemy that can shape-shift, fly, or walk through walls?


My Thoughts


Yeah I know. Vampires – I don’t like vampires and I say it often enough. There are a few exceptions, ‘real’ vampires (aka The Strain-style), bad-boy vampires (aka Thicker than Blood), or funny vampires (aka Christopher Moore) and now one new exception – vampires vs. vaempires.

From the first page, Vaempires: Revolution jumps straight into action with Daniel, son of the head of the Royal Guard fighting some scary-ar$e vaempires on the streets of Orion, capital of the vampire territories and home to his true love Princess Cassandra. The vampires are the good guys, working with the remaining human population, and with advances in science are no longer dependent on real blood for sustenance and don’t get burnt to a crisp by daylight.

Mr. Winship adds a new twist to the age-old vampire story with vaempires, vampires who have mutated and feel ostracised from the world and let-down by science, who cannot help them adapt and live as the vampires do alongside humans.

Daniel and Cassandra are strong characters, who read much older and wiser than their 15 years, shaped by their royal duties and involvement in the politics of the changed world. As the vaempires stage their revolution, both characters are involved in intense battles in their attempt to be reunited and escape the royal palace.

I would have liked some more world building between the action, but the story of how the world came to be this way is well-worked into the story. And I warn you, the ending climaxes with a MASSIVE cliffhanger!

For a self-published book, the writing is very good, and the spelling and grammar is very almost flawless. I did move straight onto reading the prequel, Vaempires: A White Christmas, which I will be reviewing later this week, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.


WWW (What What What) Wednesday 22 February 2012



What What What Wednesday (WWW) is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. It's pretty simple - three questions:
What Are You Currently Reading?
What Did You Recently Finish Reading?
What Do You Think You'll Read Next?


What I'm Currently Reading
Mountain Man by Keith C. Blackmore

Published: 15 December 2011

Source: author

Augustus Berry lives a day-to-day existence comprised of waking up, getting drunk, and preparing for the inevitable day when “they” will come up the side of his mountain and penetrate his fortress. Living on the outskirts of a city and scavenging for whatever supplies remain after civilization died two years ago, Gus knows that every time he goes down into undead suburbia could be his last.


I've read a little of this one and I like the characterisation and the scene is set for....ZOMBIES!!!!  It's been ages since I read a zombie book (ok, like three books ago!).


What I Recently Finished Reading
After the Snow by S.D. Crockett

Expected publication: 27 March 2012 by Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 304 (hardcover)

Source: publisher via NetGalley


Fifteen-year-old Willo was out hunting when the trucks came and took his family away. Left alone in the snow, Willo becomes determined to find and rescue his family, and he knows just who to talk with to learn where they are. He plans to head across the mountains and make Farmer Geraint tell him where his family has gone.

But on the way across the mountain, he finds Mary, a refugee from the city, whose father is lost and who is starving to death. The smart thing to do would be to leave her alone -- he doesn't have enough supplies for two or the time to take care of a girl -- but Willo just can't do it. However, with the world trapped in an ice age, the odds of them surviving on their own are not good. And even if he does manage to keep Mary safe, what about finding his family?

Written in dialect (which I normally HATE), I really enjoyed this book - the character of Willo is so well-drawn it's easily imaginable to see him in the situations he finds himself in, and the writing and story are beautifully bleak.

What I'm Reading Next

The Mistake by Wendy James

Published: 2 February 2012 by Penguin Australia

Pages: 256 (paperback)

Source: publisher via NetGalley

The past isn't dead. It isn't even past …

Jodie Garrow is a teenager from the wrong side of the tracks when she falls pregnant. Scared, alone and desperate to make something of her life, she makes the decision to adopt out her baby – and tells nobody.

Twenty-five years on, Jodie has built a whole new life and a whole new family. But when a chance meeting brings the illegal adoption to the notice of the authorities, Jodie becomes embroiled in a nationwide police investigation for the missing child, and the centre of a media witch hunt.

Did something sinister happen to Jodie's baby the night it was born? The fallout from Jodie's past puts her whole family under the microscope, and her husband and daughter must re-examine everything they believed to be true.

An utterly engrossing exploration of what happens to an Australian family, seemingly just like any other, when a long-buried secret surfaces and a mother's dirty laundry is aired in front of the entire nation. The Mistake brilliantly explores the media's powerful role in shaping public perceptions and asks the haunting question: can we ever truly know another person?


It's time for a bit of adult contemporary drama - particularly as it is set in Australia.  Looking forward to curling up with this one on the weekend!

What are you reading?  Anything outside your normal genre, or something you're liking far more than you thought you would?

21 February 2012

Review: Summer of My German Solider by Bette Greene

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

Originally published: 1 November 1974

Republished: 27 September 2011 by OpenRoad

Pages: 240 (e-book)


Genre/s: Young Adult, WWII

Source: publisher via NetGalley

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository


Synopsis

Minutes before the train pulled into the station in Jenkinsville, Arkansas, Patty Bergen knew something exciting was going to happen. But she never could have imagined that her summer would be so memorable. German prisoners of war have arrived to make their new home in the prison camp in Jenkinsville. To the rest of her town, these prisoners are only Nazis. But to Patty, a young Jewish girl with a turbulent home life, one boy in particular becomes an unlikely friend. Anton relates to Patty in ways that her mother and father never can. But when their forbidden relationship is discovered, will Patty risk her family and town for the understanding and love of one boy?

My Thoughts


Patty Bergen is the eldest daughter of the Bergen family, who run the department store in the small town of Jenkinsville, Arkansas. For reasons known only to themselves, the Bergen’s’ treat Patty as more of a nuisance than a daughter, bestowing all their love and affection on their younger daughter, Sharon. Patty isn’t the most popular girl in town, and being Jewish sets her even further apart from her peers. After watching German prisoners of war being transported to the nearby POW camp, a chance meeting with one young soldier sets the scene for Patty’s story.

Summer of My German Soldier explores themes of 1940’s America and the effect of the war on ordinary Americans who, naturally, view the Germans as the enemy and have no tolerance, nor understanding for young soldiers who have ended up in a country where they do not speak the language, far from their homes.

Although I enjoyed the story, I was slightly disappointed with the ending, which was quite abrupt. I would also have liked to know more about what happened to Patty and some more insight into her family and the reasons behind their behaviour.

Written simplistically, yet emotionally it is hard not to feel sympathy for Patty and the situations in which she finds herself. It is also hard not to like Patty, who despite her difficult family life dreams of a future where she can be free and independent, at a time when children were expected to be seen and not heard. Shocking in parts and touching in others, Summer of My German Soldier is a book in which most of us could find things in common with our younger selves.



20 February 2012

Book Blogger Confessions #4




Book Blogger Confessions is a twice-monthly MeMe co-hosted by For What It's Worth and Tiger's All Consuming Books. It's a great way to find out more about your favourite bloggers, and pick up some useful hints and tips along the way! 

Social networking with authors: Do you interact on Twitter/Facebook etc. with authors? Does it affect how you review their work or do you look at their books differently because you are on friendly terms with them?

I love social networking with authors, in particular on Twitter. I only really started using Twitter when I started blogging, and there are only two people I know outside of my blogging life that I am connected with on Twitter - it's my blogging/reading social network.

I'm working on Facebook - I follow authors but I'm still playing around with my Facebook page. My personal Facebook account is primarily for my friends and family back home in Australia and here in the Netherlands and the UK. I try to keep a little bit of separation between the two - so I can escape from both when necessary :-)

I do put a little bit more thought into reviews when I have previously interacted with the author. It doesn't influence my review as such, but I always want to be a little bit more constructive in my review. I've interacted with some awesome authors and I know that the day will come when I just don't like one of their books - I'm dreading it, but I'm also certain that my honesty and constructive comments are more helpful than glossing over my true feelings.

If I have interacted with an author (or even seen them having a positive, friendly interaction with other bloggers), I'm more likely to be interested in their work as knowing a little bit more about the person behind the words gives the book a little more meaning to me.

I always appreciate when an author takes the time to contact me, interact with me, or just like one of my reviews, posts or even re-Tweets me, we all need a little love sometimes! Of course I understand that some readers don't like author comments on their reviews - I can imagine it creates additional pressure and we already have enough of that :-)

What are your thoughts?  Do you love talking to authors or does it give you added pressure you don't want?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (7)


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey and is a great way for others to find out what you are planning to read this week and, best of all, see what others are reading. 


Last week I promised myself I would finish some of those 'monkey' reads, that I have been working on for a while but kept getting distracted by other pretty, shiny things.  I'm happy to say that I did finish them, and both were really great books!


Nocturnal by Scott Sigler (review to come)
The Evening Hour by A. Carter Sickels (review HERE)
Summer of My German Solider by Bette Greene (review to come)
Vaempires: Evolution by Thomas Winship (review to come)
Vaempires: A White Christmas by Thomas Winship (review to come)


What I'm Reading This Week:




If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley
Crater Lake: The Battle for Wizard Island by Steve Westover
War Against the Walking Dead by Sean T. Page


What are you reading this week?  Did you have a 'monkey' read that you've finished, or plan on finishing?

19 February 2012

Review: The Evening Hour by A. Carter Sickels

The Evening Hour by A. Carter Sickels

Published: 17 January 2012 by Bloomsbury USA

Pages: 336 (paperback)

Genre/s: Contemporary fiction

Source: publisher via NetGalley*

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis


Most of the wealth in Dove Creek, West Virginia, is in the earth-in the coal seams that have provided generations with a way of life. Born and raised here, twenty-seven-year-old Cole Freeman has sidestepped work as a miner to become an aide in a nursing home. He's got a shock of bleached blond hair and a gentle touch well suited to the job. He's also a drug dealer, reselling the prescription drugs his older patients give him to a younger crowd looking for different kinds of escape.

In this economically depressed, shifting landscape, Cole is floundering. The mining corporation is angling to buy the Freeman family's property, and Cole's protests only feel like stalling. Although he has often dreamed of leaving, he has a sense of duty to this land, especially after the death of his grandfather. His grandfather is not the only loss: Cole's one close friend, Terry Rose, has also slipped away from him, first to marriage, then to drugs. While Cole alternately attempts romance with two troubled women, he spends most of his time with the elderly patients at the home, desperately trying to ignore the decay of everything and everyone around him. Only when a disaster befalls these mountains is Cole forced to confront his fears and, finally, take decisive action-if not to save his world, to at least save himself.


My Thoughts


I won’t re-summarise the story of The Evening Hour as the synopsis says it all. This is an often bleak, sometimes depressing story with some shocking insights into the dramatics and politics of a small town, ravaged by poverty, drugs and the mining industry.

I found it easy to sympathise, in some ways, with Cole and the way he cared for the elderly and isolated residents of the nursing home where he works and the areas surrounding the town, despite the fact that he was buying their prescription medication and selling it on to local drug addicts at a higher price than he paid.

The writing is beautifully bleak and the story holds little hope for the majority of characters, some of whom have tried to escape the town only to find themselves drawn back into the lives they were so desperate to escape and the emotion of the story and the characters, struggling to keep or find their places in the world, leak through onto every page.

What was missing for me was a little more information on the mining company and the actual disaster itself – it felt like it was skimmed over a little with not enough detail or follow up on the characters whose lives had been devastated, and what happened to them afterwards.

I can’t say this was an enjoyable read, because it’s not that kind of book. But it is an emotional, dramatic, haunting and incredibly well-written debut.



18 February 2012

In My Mailbox #13 - A Not-So Unlucky Number



In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren where bloggers and readers can talk about the books and booky things they have received in the last week - paper-books, e-books, library loans, swaps, wins, anything!

So I thought I was being all clever this week and read more books that I received.  I'd made a dent in my TBR!  Then I started scrolling through Kindle and found all these things......


Purchased ebooks
Legend by Marie Lu
Yesterday's Gone Season 1 (Episodes 1-6) by Sean Platt & David Wright
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Half Way Home by Hugh Howey
Wool Omnibus (Wool 1-5) by Hugh Howey
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies by Matt Mogk


Kindle Freebies
Wolf Tickets by Ray Banks
Vamplayers by Rusty Fischer


Net Galley
Lies Beneath by Ann Greenwood Brown
Lightning Tree by Sarah Dunster
Swipe by Evan Angler
Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace by Kate Summerscale
Last Stop (Watchers 1) by Peter Lerangis


For Review from the Authors (thank you!)
Lakewood Memorial & Ashton Memorial by Robert R. Best
Cold Faith and Zombies by Sean Thomas Fisher


See, I got a little more carried away than I thought!  What did you get in your mailbox this week? Oh, and don't forget to enter my 500 follower giveaway (click here) - currently there are 6 books of choice up for grabs (international!)

Review: Antarctica on a Plate by Alexa Thomson

Antarctica on a Plate by Alexa Thomson

Published: 7 November 2005 by Summersdale

Pages: 320 (paperback)


Genre/s: Travel, Non-Fiction

Source: Own library

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis

She came. She saw. She burnt the toast. A young woman with a stellar city career but an increasing dissatisfaction with life, Alexa applies for the position of cook with a private company which organises Antarctic operations. Armed with an old cookbook, she attempts to create three-course meals with no electricity or running water and struggles to defrost meat in the coldest place on Earth. Life in a thin nylon tent in the company of scientists, explorers and eccentrics soon begins to take on extraordinary dimensions. As 75-mile-an-hour winds blow and tensions rise, friendships - and love - are forged in this frozen neighbourhood. Alexa Thomson has been a web designer for an investment bank and a writer for Salon.com. She divides her time between Sydney and San Francisco.

My Thoughts

Suffering from something like an early mid-life crisis, Alexa Thomson makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to apply for a job as a cook at an Antarctic base camp for a summer season. Having no previous polar experience, and having worked in mass-catering for a few years, she is unprepared and understandably anxious when she finally lands the job and preparations begin for her journey to the south.

The first real problem for me with this book was the lead up to reaching Antarctica - sure, it was interesting to read about the preparations, Alexa's nervousness and meeting other polar adventurers, but it was the main reason it took me so long to get into the swing of the book.

For the most part, I could understand how Alexa felt and coped with the situations that she found herself in, such as needing the toilet in your tent during a blizzard, or finding 20 hungry men in your dining tent at 5:30am demanding a full English breakfast, but at other times I found her to be quite negative about her experiences and if she was the chef in my camp I would have had a few choice words to say to her!

The most controversial part of Alexa's story is towards the end of the book, when she makes a very questionable moral choice which some readers simply won't like - and it's not expounded on enough to make readers at least understand the choice that she made.

Overall I enjoyed this book - Alexa isn't an intrepid, brave explorer - she is an average woman who finds herself in an extraordinary situation and copes admirably for the most part.

My favourite line from the book: ''I am toiling through War and Peace. I am reading it with relish and satisfaction. Tolstoy is so dense and encompassing that Antarctica's blankness is the perfect place to immerse myself in such Russian intrigue.'' I'm certain there's a lot of quality reading time to be had in Antarctica - after all, what else is there to distract you except loads of ice!

17 February 2012

Mini Review: Yesterday's Gone: Episode 1 by Sean Platt and David Wright

Yesterday's Gone: Episode 1 by Sean Platt & David Wright

Published: 31 July 2011

Pages: 80 (Kindle)

Genre/s: Post-Apocalyptic

Source: Own library

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon 
UK

Synopsis


On October 15 at 2:15 a.m. everyone on Earth vanished.
Well, almost everyone.
A scattered few woke alone in a world where there are no rules other than survival... at any cost.

A journalist wanders the horrible reality of an empty New York in search of his wife and son.
A serial killer must hunt in a land where prey is now an endangered species.
A mother shields her young daughter from danger, though every breath fills her with terror.
A bullied teen is thrilled to find everyone gone. Until the knock at the door.
A fugitive survives a fiery plane crash. Will he be redeemed, or return to what he’s best at: the kill?
An eight year old boy sets out on a journey to find his missing family. What he finds will change him forever.

These survivors aren’t alone...
Someone or something is watching them.
And waiting...

Strangers unite.
Sides are chosen.
Will humanity survive what it never saw coming?
The only certainty is that Yesterday’s Gone.

My Thoughts


What would you do if you woke up one morning to find your family had disappeared? Assume they have gone out to hit the shops, visit the neighbours, take the dog for a walk? And then you realise that your whole apartment building is empty…

This is the situation that faces a bunch of ‘survivors’ in Yesterday’s Gone: Episode 1. What do you do, where do you go, how do you find out what happened?

Yesterday’s Gone: Episode 1 reads like the first episode of ‘Lost’, and although there is some action, the main focus is on introducing the varied characters and setting the scene, both of which are done very well. There is some freaky kinda stuff going on, but it’s written in a way that kept me reading rather than scratching my head in confusion.

Yesterday’s Gone: Episode 1 is part of a serial that has been gradually released by the authors, and is also available in a ‘Series’ format. I will be reading the rest of Series One (Episodes 1:6) over the next few weeks.  Therefore my rating will only be at the end of Series One - but I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to reading more!

16 February 2012

The Time Will Come #5


The Time Will Come is a fantastic meme hosted by Books For Company where we can feature those poor books that we brought, put on the shelf, and haven't (yet!) read.

All you have to do is:
- Pick a book you have been meaning to read
- Do a post to tell us about the book
- Link the post in the linky
- Visit the other blogs!



Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood


Published: 1 February 1996


Pages: 636 (paperback)


Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? Is Grace a female fiend? A bloodthirsty femme fatale? Or is she the victim of circumstances?


I own six (yes, six) Margaret Atwood novels and I've never read a single one.  Shocking Kat, shocking!  I've heard so many mixed things that maybe it's subconsciously putting me off....one day Margaret, one day!

Are you one of those people who buys a whole bunch of works by the same author and hasn't read a single one?  Or is it just me? ....

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