31 March 2012

It's My Birthday - So YOU Get the Gifts!

(In the interests of full disclosure, it's actually my *gasp* 30th birthday!  But twenty-old sounds better....)

On April 18 it's my favouritist time of the year - My Birthday! But rather than ME getting all the gifts, I want to share the birthday love with a Giveaway!

If I was rich I'd give away a book for every year of my life. But alas, I'm not rich so I can't be THAT extravagant - instead I'm going to giveaway FIVE books of choice from The Book Depository, up to the value of EUR 15.00.

Now for the fun part - because this is a giveaway for my birthday, I want to tell you a little bit more about me. Below you will find ten statements about me, which will give you the answers for the Rafflecopter. Easy peasy!


1. I was born in Tasmania, Australia. You can call me a Tasmanian devil, I certainly haven’t heard THAT one before.

2. I'm the eldest child of four and the only girl.  Yeah, that makes me bossy!

3. I trained as a child carer and ended up working in Human Resources. Which is kind of the same, when you think about it.

4. The first time I met my boyfriend I’d been travelling for 40 hours, was wearing sweats and wasn’t wearing a spot of makeup. And he didn’t run away screaming.

5. My most favourite holiday was in Kos, Greece in August 2011.

6. The first book I remember reading (over and over again) was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

7. My favourite Dutch word is kokosnoot. Which means coconut. Kokosnoot is way funnier.

8. I am a Diet Coke addict. I have one at breakfast every day when I’m working, but I never drink Diet Coke on weekends or days off.

9. My biggest phobia is flying, but I've made progress - I can now fly long haul without descending into sobbing hysterics.


10. If I won a million dollars, the first thing I would do is buy myself a house.  I hate living in an apartment!


March RAK Wrap-Up

I only sent out one RAK this month, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight to Sam @ Falling Books and she really loved, so that's what I call a RAKcess!




If you'd like to send someone a Random Act of Kindness - skip on over to Book Soulmates and sign up!



That's a Wrap - March 2012





Wow another huge month of reading! 19 books, 4974 pages!  Dystopia, apocalypses, zombies, paranormal, horror, mystery and drama!




Stolen by Lucy Christopher (my review)
Past Lives #1: Rachel by Stephanie Abbott (my review)
Life is But a Dream by Brian James (my review)
Angel Evolution by David Estes (my review)
The Good Father by Diane Chamberlain*
The Night She Disappeared by April Henry (my review)
Catharsis by Jonathan Face (my review)
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (my review)
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (my review)
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter (my review)
Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter (my review)
The Zombie-Driven Life by David Wood (my review)
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle*
War Against the Walking Dead by Sean T. Page (my review)
Jenny Pox by J.L.Bryan*
Surviving the Angel of Death by Eva Mozes Kor*
The Zona by Nathan Yocum*
The Mistake by Wendy James*
Men Don't Matter? by Jayelle Hughes*


*reviews will be posted in April or closer to book release date.


So what's up for April?  There'll be a post tomorrow with some great books and some awesome events!

Review: War Against the Walking Dead by Sean T. Page

War Against the Walking Dead by Sean T. Page

Published: 31 August 2011 by Severed Press

Pages: 232 (paperback)

Genre/s: Zombie


Source: Author for review

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

Synopsis

More than 63% of people now believe that there will be a global zombie apocalypse before 2050...So, you've got your survival guide, you've lived through the first chaotic months of the crisis, what next?Employing real science and pioneering field work, War against the Walking Dead provides a complete blueprint for taking back your country from the rotting clutches of the dead after a zombie apocalypse.


My Thoughts


Last year I read and reviewed The Official Zombie Handbook: Australia (you can read my review HERE), which focuses on survival after the zombie apocalypse - more specifically, the first 90 days after the dead rise. So when I was given the opportunity to read War Against the Walking Dead I was really excited - there's so much focus on the actual zombie apocalypse and short-term survival, the idea of a guide focused more on long term survival and prosperity was really interesting.

War Against the Walking Dead is broken up into several sections - Know Your Enemy, From Survival to Fightback, Lessons from History, War Against the Walking Dead, Weapons, Tactics, Victory and some great references to websites and further reading.

With sarcasm that would make me proud, Mr. Page also uses an element of humour that prevents the book being a dry, tactical manual but instead makes it serious with moments of light relief. Some of the section headings in particular made me snicker: Transmorphers - Zombies in Disguise (yeah, I heard the Transformers theme in my head when I read that!) is my favourite example.

Particularly interesting for me were the sections on dealing with other survivor groups - religious nuts, power-crazy barons, cannibals - the ideas on how to best interact and deal with these groups are reflected in so many zombie books, but War Against the Walking Dead offers far more practical advice than just 'run awayyyyyyyy'. There is also a mention of roving 'entertainers', court-jester style - an interesting way to boost morale or make a living!

War Against the Walking Dead is a great book if you are interested in the practical side of surviving after the zombie apocalypse, with some excellent ideas on how to fight zombies tactically, find great locations to rebuild humanity, and how to best utilise your survivor community for both prosperity and fighting. So if you want to be prepared, grab a copy and read up, and then keep it close by - this should be one of the first books you have on hand when the dead rise!


30 March 2012

Review: The Zombie-Driven Life by David Wood

The Zombie-Driven Life by David Wood

Published: 20 June 2011

Pages: 120 (paperback)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Zombie


Source: Author for review

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis

High school nobody Kenan is doing just fine in the midst of the zombie apocalypse, thank you very much, but when his dream girl Katy comes stumbling around the corner, she turns his world upside-down.


My Thoughts

There is a slightly religious tone to The Zombie-Driven life, which manifests itself through a group of survivors that Kenan meets whilst escaping the city with Katy. Through conversations with the survivor group, Kenan learns that the bug was created and distributed by a power-hungry Reverend and he sets out to exact his own revenge.

Novella's are a hard kind of story for me to get into. I love short stories but my preference is for full-length novels, so The Zombie-Driven life, whilst a quick read was also the type of story I would love to read in the full, fleshed-out version.

Mr. Wood writes clearly and succinctly - the dialogue is realistic and despite the opportunity to have some pretty cheesy moments, it wasn't difficult to take the characters seriously. I particularly liked Kenan as the slightly geeky boy who comes to realise some pretty awesome things about himself and gains confidence throughout the story.

I like the original name for the zombies used in this story (you want to know, read it and find out!) and the characters are surprisingly well fleshed-out (pun intended) for a novella. If you haven't read a zombie book before, and aren't really sure if it's for you, give The Zombie-Driven Life a try - it may just set you on the road to obsession!


29 March 2012

The Time Will Come #9

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!


This week's neglected book is:

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

Published: 1 September 2011 by Scholastic

Pages: 288 (hardcover)

The wars that followed The Collapse nearly destroyed civilization. Now, twenty years later, the world is faced with a choice—rebuild what was or make something new.

Stephen Quinn, a quiet and dutiful fifteen-year-old scavenger, travels Post-Collapse America with his Dad and stern ex-Marine Grandfather. They travel light. They keep to themselves. Nothing ever changes. But when his Grandfather passes suddenly and Stephen and his Dad decide to risk it all to save the lives of two strangers, Stephen's life is turned upside down. With his father terribly injured, Stephen is left alone to make his own choices for the first time.

Stephen’s choices lead him to Settler's Landing, a lost slice of the Pre-Collapse world where he encounters a seemingly benign world of barbecues, baseball games and days spent in a one-room schoolhouse. Distrustful of such tranquility, Stephen quickly falls in with Jenny Tan, the beautiful town outcast. As his relationship with Jenny grows it brings him into violent conflict with the leaders of Settler's Landing who are determined to remake the world they grew up in, no matter what the cost.

This one hasn't actually been on my shelves all that long - I think it arrived in January.  But it's post-apocalyptic - they don't often stay on my shelf unread!  Hopefully I'll get to this one over the summer!

28 March 2012

The World Ends on Wednesday #2 - Oldies but Goodies

Apocalypses, zombies, dystopias are all hot property right now and cross all genres - romance, YA, horror, literature. But some of my favourite TEOTWAWKI books weren't written recently - in fact the 1950s and 1960s inspired dozen of books based on the nuclear threats of the Cold War and still have relevance in post-apocalyptic fiction today.
The first post-apocalyptic stories I read were some of those modern classics, and today I'm going to share with you two of my personal favourites:

Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

Originally published: 1949 (63 years ago)

Pages: 345

A disease of unparalleled destructive force has sprung up almost simultaneously in every corner of the globe, all but destroying the human race. One survivor, strangely immune to the effects of the epidemic, ventures forward to experience a world without man. What he ultimately discovers will prove far more astonishing than anything he'd either dreaded or hoped for.

Imagine coming back from your relaxing weekend away and finding out that pretty much everyone has died from a nasty disease....which is exactly what happens to the main character in Earth Abides. More focused on the 'after' than the 'during', the main character, Ish, eventually gathers together a few survivors and sets out rebuilding his own little society. With some topics that would be more controversial today than at the time of publication, this book also poses some interesting questions about humanity.

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

Original Publication: 1959 (53 years old!)

Pages: 312

The classic apocalyptic novel that stunned the nation with its vivid portrayal of a small town's survival after nuclear holocaust devastates the country.

Alas, Babylon reads like a 1950's serial drama - and feels like it too - which I don't mean in a negative way at all, because it adds to the realism of the story. Told partly before and partly after a nuclear war, a small town struggles to survive when the rest of the world, apparently, no longer exists.
What's your favourite classic? Recommend something!

27 March 2012

Review: Nocturnal by Scott Sigler

Nocturnal by Scott Sigler

Expected publication: 3 April 2012 by Crown Publishing

Pages: 576 (hardcover)


Genre/s: Horror

Source: publisher for review


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

Synopsis

NOCTURNAL is an epic story of mayhem set in the heart of San Francisco, where a group of people live in the city's unknown, underground ruins. They come out at night to prey on the "won't-bees," the dregs of society that won't be missed.

They've existed for hundreds of years, but are about to run headlong into Homicide detectives Bryan Clauser and Pookie Chang. It's a fight for existence as the police fight to stop a string of brutal, ritualistic occult murders. 


My Thoughts

When I first saw this book was available on NetGalley I was SO excited. I loved Scott Sigler's Infected and Contagious when I read them in 2011, and Infected was the first book I can ever recall making me feel physically ill with some very gory passages (and I read hard-core zombie books, I'm not easily rattled!!).

Nocturnal is a fast-paced, edge of your chair, peek between your fingers story – the characters are incredibly well-developed, the monsters are the stuff nightmares are made of and the story is enough to make your skin crawl (and check under the bed before you go to sleep!). The writing is intense and has the perfect balance of detail – descriptive enough to get lost in, not bogged down.

Bryan Chaucer ‘The Terminator’ and Pookie Chang are partners on the San Francisco beat who become involved in the investigation of a series of grisly, unexplainable murders. After Bryan comes down with an unexplainable illness and suffers from a series of nightmares, questions are raised and both Bryan and Pookie find themselves off the case and in the Chief of Police’s bad books. Taking matters into their own hands, they gradually close in on the secret that lurks beneath the streets of sunny San Fran.

Nocturnal is a fast-paced, edge of your chair, peek between your fingers story – the characters are incredibly well-developed, the monsters are the stuff nightmares are made of and the story is enough to make your skin crawl (and check under the bed before you go to sleep!). The writing is intense and has the perfect balance of detail – descriptive enough to get lost in, not bogged down.

At 576 pages, Nocturnal is a big book with a big story, big characters and big monsters. There were a few parts in the early stages of the book where the action could have moved a little more quickly, and the revealing of the monsters is a gradual, teasing process, but when they do come out, be prepared….


26 March 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (12)



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.


What I Read This Week
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter (my review)
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle (review to come) 
War Against the Walking Dead by Sean Page (review to come) 
The Zombie-Driven Life by David Wood (review to come) 
Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter (my review)


What I'm Reading This Week
The Mistake by Wendy James
The Poet's Wife by Judith Allnatt
Jenny Pox (The Paranormals #1) by J.L. Bryan
Men Don't Matter by Jayelle Hughes 


What are you reading this week?  Leave me a link!

25 March 2012

IMM #18 - It Really IS Tiny


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!


Last week I said it was a small mailbox and then I kept finding new things lurking on my Kindle.  But this week it really IS a small mailbox.  Just two books!

For Review

Wanted: Dead or Undead by Angela Scott












Ebooks

Half Past Midnight by Jeff Brackett











So, mark this week down in history - TWO books!  Leave me a link so I can sneak through your mailbox!

24 March 2012

Review: Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test #2) by Aimee Carter

Expected Publication: 27 March 2012 by HarlequinTeen

Pages: 304 (paperback)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Paranormal


Source: Publisher for review

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

Synopsis

Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she'll have to fight for it.
Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.Henry's first wife, Persephone.

My Thoughts


I enjoyed The Goddess Test, despite a few niggles with the story-line and characters.  As a story the idea had many merits and the writing was top class, so I moved straight onto Goddess Interrupted ready for some more of those crazy Greeks.


Goddess Interrupted is darker and has a lot more action than The Goddess Test.  There is more world building, more of the characters personalities are
revealed, and there are some seriously freaky things going down in Goddess-town.

But......for most of the book, I wanted to smack Kate upside the head. Hard.  It seemed like her every waking moment was lamenting how unloved she was, how Henry didn't pay her enough attention, how unsure she was of her place in the Underworld.  And while I could understand that being married at 18, and suddenly finding yourself living in an Underworld under attack is going to cause a few cracks in your sunny persona, it was all a little bit too much for me.  Henry just pissed me off for the most part - why Kate was so determined that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Henry just completely flew over my head, and even when I got to the end of the book I still didn't get it.

OK, rant over. I have to say again that Ms. Carter is a very talented writer - the story flows exceptionally well and the dialogue isn't in the least bit cheesy or stilted. I really enjoyed the tension between Persephone and Kate and Ava, and the friendship between James and Kate added some normality to the story.

In short, if you loved The Goddess Test, I think you will like Goddess Interrupted. But for me, the main characters being a whiny love-struck girl and a gruff, un-loveable Greek god just turned me completely off. I'll have to seriously think about whether I'll devote the time to finish reading the trilogy - not even a cliffhanger had me hungering for the next book.


Giving in a Different Way

I was going to host a giveaway this weekend - another follower blow-out.


But I've spent the last four hours watching Sport-Relief on the BBC and it made me think about how lucky we all are.  We have access to clean water, we have vaccinations for our children, and we have all have access to the most basic healthcare.  Our children suffer from illnesses and we take them to the doctor, or the emergency room and they are given saline drips, antibiotics and top of the range medical care.


I don't want to diminish the sad moments we all live with at all.  My mother died of breast cancer 18 months ago at the age of 49.  I arrived back in Australia on the morning of her funeral - I never had the chance to say goodbye or to hug her one last time.  My mum will never see me get married and if I ever have children the only stories they will have of their grandmother will come from me, they will never get to go to Nanny's house, curl up on her lap, tell her about their day or complain about how mean their Mum was to them.


We have so much to be grateful for......and we shouldn't forget just how lucky we are.  So instead of book giveaways, I've donated my money to those who are far less fortunate than those of us curled up on the sofa with a good book.  So if you are planning on a giveaway, please do the same.  We all love books, but saving the life of a child is surely far more rewarding.

23 March 2012

Review: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Test (Goddess Test #1) by Aimee Carter

Published: 19 April 2011 by Harlequin

Pages: 293 (paperback)

Genre/s: Paranormal, Young Adult

Source: Own library

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

Synopsis

It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.



My Thoughts

Mythology and fairy-tale re-tellings are hot property right now in the YA-literary world, and understandably so.   There are thousands of inspirations out there, just ripe for conversion, or revision into a new, shiny tale, and The Goddess Test takes Greek mythology and spins it into a modern(ish) tale.

Kate is 18 years old and has a lot on her shoulders - her mother is dying and she is leaving her home in New York to spend some quality time with her mother in the small town of Eden.  After making a deal with Henry to keep one of her new 'friends' in the land of the living, she finds herself plunged into a world of myth, intrigue and possibly deadly consequences.

I have to start by saying that Ms. Carter is an excellent writer - the story flows freely and the character dialogue is completely in sync with their characteristics and personalities, ensuring the majority of characters are fully imaginable and believable.

However, there were a few holes in the story - Kate forms friendships incredibly quickly for someone who has spent several years being socially isolated, and is also pretty accepting and easily believes the situations she finds herself in, where the rest of us would be shouting 'you CANNOT be serious' from the rooftops.  And Henry?  Well I get that he's attractive (although I struggled to understand exactly what made him so supposedly attractive), and obviously as god of the Underworld there's a whole sense of power and control thing, but personality-wise....I really didn't find him that attractive. 

The twists in this story aren't really twists, as one of the big ones is actually indirectly revealed in the 'prologue' at the beginning, and some of the others are easily guessable.  

BUT I actually did enjoy this book - I liked the references to Greek mythology (if they are accurate or not I've no idea) as a basis to the story, I liked Kate as a character despite her overly-gullible nature, and as I said earlier, the writing is engaging and the 'one more chapter' feeling is definitely present.

I will read the rest of the series (in fact I've already started reading book two) and I'm hoping it will get a little darker as the story delves deeper into the Underworld, and that Kate develops into a more mature, strong character.

22 March 2012

The Time Will Come #8

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!


Bicycling to Amersfoort by Robert Graef


Published: 2005


Pages: 220

A boy and his family learn to survive after German forces destroy and occupy Rotterdam. An uncle reveals traitorous Nazi ties that lead to a commission as a Waffen SS officer and his sister takes up with a German soldier and defects to Germany. Meanwhile, teen-aged Jan Makkreel lives by his wits as he is drawn into illegal transport of food, assisting Jews, and smuggling resistance information and false documents.

Jan is wrongly labeled a traitor at war's end. Charged with collaboration and betraying Jews, he is imprisoned with true Nazis where he comes of age in gritty prison situations that test him as a man. After eighteen months, the police clear him of wrongdoing and release him into a society that receives him only as an ex-convict. Jan Makkreel's account reveals how the burden of war and occupation leaves wounds and divisions that in some cases can be neither forgotten nor healed.

I've had a fascination with WWII history for as long as I can remember, but unfortunately in the last few months I haven't had the time to pick up one of my many WWII books and read one.  This particular book I chose because it's set in the Netherlands and therefore the area is familiar to me.

Do you have a time period that you find fascinating, and a whole lot of books about it hiding on your shelves?

21 March 2012

The World Ends on Wednesdays #1

If you've been following me for a while, you'll know I love apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, zombies and all those horrible diseases and disasters that would either cause the end of the world, or change it pretty radically from what we know today.


I also have about a bajillion books about it, and I've sadly come to the realisation that it's going to take me about forever to read them all.  Instead, I'm going to use them to make a regular Wednesday feature (genius, huh?!) and every week I'll tell you a little bit more about them - I may have read, reviewed, heard awesome things or just liked the sound of them -it's all completely random!


(Yeah I need to make a button/picture but I don't have my other laptop with me - I'll have one for next week!)


So without further rambling, here are the first two books to be featured:


Infected (Infected #1) by Scott Sigler


Published: 1 April 2008 by Crown Publishing


Pages: 342 (hardcover)


Status: Read in 2010


Three words: virus, gruesome, action


Across America a mysterious disease is turning ordinary people into raving, paranoid murderers who inflict brutal horrors on strangers, themselves, and even their own families.


Working under the government’s shroud of secrecy, CIA operative Dew Phillips crisscrosses the country trying in vain to capture a live victim. With only decomposing corpses for clues, CDC epidemiologist Margaret Montoya races to analyze the science behind this deadly contagion. She discovers that these killers all have one thing in common – they’ve been contaminated by a bioengineered parasite, shaped by a complexity far beyond the limits of known science.


Meanwhile Perry Dawsey – a hulking former football star now resigned to life as a cubicle-bound desk jockey – awakens one morning to find several mysterious welts growing on his body. Soon Perry finds himself acting and thinking strangely, hearing voices . . . he is infected.


The fate of the human race may well depend on the bloody war Perry must wage with his own body, because the parasites want something from him, something that goes beyond mere murder.


The first ever book to have the honour of making me feel physically ill while reading it (and I read a lot of gory books, so be warned!), Infected is intense, shocking and un-put-downable!
Contagious (Infected #2) by Scott Sigler


Published: 30 December 2008 by Crown Publishing


Pages: 438 (hardcover)


Status: Read in 2010


Three words: aliens, here-we-go-again, horror


Across America, a mysterious pathogen transforms ordinary people into raging killers, psychopaths driven by a terrifying, alien agenda. The human race fights back, yet after every battle the disease responds, adapts, using sophisticated strategies and brilliant ruses to fool its pursuers. The only possible explanation: the epidemic is driven not by evolution but by some malevolent intelligence.


Standing against this unimaginable threat is a small group, assembled under the strictest secrecy. Their best weapon is hulking former football star Perry Dawsey, left psychologically shattered by his own struggles with this terrible enemy, who possesses an unexplainable ability to locate the disease’s hosts. Violent and unpredictable, Perry is both the nation’s best hope and a terrifying liability. Hardened CIA veteran Dew Phillips must somehow forge a connection with him if they’re going to stand a chance against this maddeningly adaptable opponent. Alongside them is Margaret Montoya, a brilliant epidemiologist who fights for a cure even as she reels under the weight of endless horrors.


These three and their team have kept humanity in the game, but that’s not good enough anymore, not when the disease turns contagious, triggering a fast countdown to Armageddon. Meanwhile, other enemies join the battle, and a new threat — one that comes from a most unexpected source — may ultimately prove the most dangerous of all.


The follow up to Infected, I remember I jumped straight into reading this because I HAD to find out what happened!

20 March 2012

Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver

Published: 28 February 2012 by HarperTeen

Pages: 375 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Dystopia


Source: Own library

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

Synopsis

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.



My Thoughts
Disclaimer: If you haven't read Delirium yet, you probably don't want to read this - just sayin ;-)

36 hours ago I finished Delirium (my review)- and after restraining myself from throwing the book out the window in frustration, I moved immediately onto Pandemonium.  I don't often move straight to the next book, I like to let the one I've just finished 'settle' a little, but in this case I just couldn't help myself - I HAD to know what happened next.

I tore through Pandemonium in less than 24 hours - partly because it was a good book but also because I started with a sneaking suspicion that I knew what was going to happen at the end - and I was right.  Anyway, enough of my gloating about my guessing prowess, here are my thoughts on Pandemonium.

Told in alternating 'Then' and 'Now' chapters, Pandemonium focuses on Lena just after escaping to the wilds, and six months later.  I'm not the biggest fan of alternating time-frames by chapter, but it's done pretty well through Pandemonium - it's clearly delineated so there's no confusion, although towards the end of the book the chapters do get quite short for while as the story starts to really heat up.

There is a lot more world-building in Pandemonium, expanding upon some parts of society and introducing some that were not even mentioned in Delirium and making the Wilds a more tangible, imaginable place with kick-ass new characters (loved Raven - that girl scared me!).

Lena has certainly toughened up as a character in the 'Now', and the 'Then' explains the situations she has been through in the Wilds that have caused her to grow some serious balls.  There is a new male character (of course), but he came across to me as a bit of a whingy little boy  - I didn't find him nearly as solid or likeable as Alex.

The second book in a trilogy is always a toughie - the first book has a lot to tell and the final book wraps everything up, but the second book is sometimes considered 'filler' - and Pandemonium, for the most part, manages to avoid the 'filler' tag. Lauren Oliver, as always, writes well and builds excellent tension, with some heartbreaking, heart-stopping moments thrown in for good measure.

As I said earlier, I'd already guessed the 'cliffhanger' well before I got there, so I didn't have book murdering thoughts when I got there, but if you aren't expecting it I can certainly see why you would want to drop-kick that bad boy into next week!  I will be anticipating the third book (in 2013!), but it's not going to kill me waiting for it.

Overall, I really enjoyed Pandemonium, even more so than Delirium.  The world-building is stronger, the action is more, well, action-ey and I loved the transformation of Lena.  If you were a little disappointed by Delirium because it moved slowly or Lena wasn't the most likeable character, you should still give Pandemonium a try - it might surprise you!

19 March 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (11)


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.



What I Read This Week


Four books again this week - which is pretty good considering I was ill and had a two day work function that sucked the life out of me!  And two of the books were ones I listed to read last week!


The Night She Disappeared by April Henry (review)
Catharsis by Jonathan Face (review)
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (review)
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (review to come this week!)


What I'm Reading This Week
War Against the Walking Dead by Sean T. Page (will finish this week, you can hold me to that!)
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
The Poet's Wife by Judith Allnatt
The Coward's Tale by Vanessa Gebbie


What are you reading this week?  Let me know or leave me a link!

Book Blogger Confessions #6


Book Blogger Confessions is a meme hosted by Tiger's All Consuming Books and For What It's Worth - every second Monday book bloggers can spill the beans on some juicy book blogging questions!

Everyone LOVES that book! Why don't I? How do you handle being the one reviewer who doesn't like a book that's taking the blogosphere by storm? Do you write a review? Pretend you didn't read the book?

If you're a follower of my blog, you'll know my tastes are kinda, well, eclectic.  Zombies, YA contemporary romance, non-fiction, historical fiction.  I'll read nearly anything, and because of that I quite often don't hear about, or get the chance to read THOSE books that everyone else is reading.  And when I do, I quite often don't understand the hype.

By nature I'm a sarcastic (no, really!), cynical person and that means that sometimes that 'cute, sweet' book that everyone else has fallen in love with, that male lead character that spans a plethora of fan sites, and  choosing their 'team' in a love triangle just doesn't enthrall me.  In fact, it's more likely to spawn a whole bunch of eye rolling and snarky comments.

If I don't like the sound of a book, I'm unlikely to even read it.  I have waaaaaaaaaayyyyyy too many books already without pushing myself to read something that I'm going to go into with a negative attitude and probably not enjoy.

Having said that, I've read a few books that are exceedingly popular and thought I would also like, and I haven't really understood why everyone is falling madly, crazily in love with it.  I'm not going to name and shame, sorry ;-)

But I'm not ashamed, or scared, to admit that I don't like something that everyone else is gushing uncontrollably over.  I know that by criticizing a popular book I'm potentially opening myself up to some negative comments and I'm OK with that because I know what I like and what I don't like.

One of the reasons I started book blogging, and the reason I follow so many blogs myself is that I love the variety of reviews available - I want to have well-rounded information on a book before I decide if I want to read it or not, so I also really appreciate the honesty of other bloggers.  And if they don't like a book I loved, I'm not going to take them out the back and give them a good slapping!

18 March 2012

Winner! Lunar Love Giveaway Hop

Thank you to everyone who entered my stop on the Lunar Love Giveaway Hop last week.


I'm a bit late on the notification due to work things (boo!), but the winner is........




Michele O


who choose Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley


Congratulations Michele, I hope you enjoy it!

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium (Delirium #1) by Lauren Oliver

Published: 1 February 2011 by HarperTeen

Pages: 441 (hardcover)


Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia

Source: Own library


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

Synopsis


Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.


My Thoughts

I'm going to start with a disclaimer - I didn't want to read Delirium.  Why?  A variety of reasons, but mostly because I'd heard there's a BIG cliffhanger at the end.  I hate cliffhangers with a passion.  And the idea of the story sounded so good, that I was scared I wouldn't enjoy it and I hate being disappointed!  But when I won a copy of the book it stared at me from the table beside my sofa for weeks, taunting me.  So with my cynical eye wide open, I started reading.....

I found the beginning of the book, in fact, the first half was OK - I liked Lena as a character but I wasn't enamoured with her - she seemed a little, well, blah.  There wasn't anything about her that really made me sit up and take notice.  The world building in the first half of the book was OK, not great and left me feeling a little like there was something fundamentally missing.  When Lena met Alex I had that 'oh, that's kinda sweet' feeling, and it wasn't until much later in the book that I really started to warm up to him as a character.

As the book progressed, the world building did get better and I felt that I knew more about the world, the conspiracies and secrets and the way that the government was manipulating the residents of Portland with veiled threats and bullying.  

The idea of the book, that of love being 'curable' is quite disturbing.  Imagine not loving your children, or your family and friends, even the person you share your life with - not having the urge to laugh, cry, sing or dance is a depressing idea!

The writing is great - that 'one more chapter' feeling was definitely there, but I think the time that it took me to read the book is a direct reflection of how the pacing worked for me - I read the first 200 pages over the space of 5 days, and the last 240 pages in an evening.

Yes, the cliffhanger is massive (my quote on Goodreads 'Dude.  You did NOT just do that. Seriously'.) and I immediately started reading Pandemonium (which is going to mess with my head so much.  I know there's a cliffhanger there too!) otherwise the physical safety of the book would have been in serious doubt.

In summary, Delirium is a great idea, good execution and the characters and dialogue are realistic and likeable, if not a little bit crush-able.  The pacing builds gradually, but 200 pages is a long lead in, so if you need action from page one and cliffhangers make you want to punch a wall, proceed with caution.

This all sounds a little negative, but that's not my intention at all.  I really enjoyed Delirium and I'd recommend it to most readers of dystopian YA.

17 March 2012

IMM 17 1/2 - Teeny tiny 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!

Last week I got a little excited and thought it was my 17th IMM.  It was actually the 16th, so to bring myself back in line, and due to the teeny tiny size of my mailbox this week, welcome to IMM 17 1/2!  I'm also not doing a v-log because I have a cold AGAIN.  One negative about spring :( (the ONLY negative!).

On Monday I did something I haven't done for nearly two years - I went to a bookstore.  I don't go to bookstores here much because there's usually only a piddly little English section that consists of military or political thrillers and murder mysteries.  But as I was working in the center of Amsterdam, I could go to Waterstones in my lunch-break - hurrah!

Paperbooks

Watching the English by Kate Fox 
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (published in the US as Someone Knows My Name)
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas 

E-books


The Secret of Lies by Barbara Forte Abate

E-books for review

The Dishonored Dead by Robert Swartwood (thank you to the author)
Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb by MJA Ware (thank you to the author)
Railroad! 1-3 by Tonia Brown (thank you to the author)
Burn by Heath Gibson (thank you to Flux Books via NetGalley)

Oh, it wasn't that teeny after all.  Well, compared to last week it is ;-)

Leave me a link so I can see your mailbox!



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