31 May 2012

Review: Fracture by Megan Miranda

Fracture by Megan Miranda

Published: 17 January 2012 by Walker Children's

Pages: 262 (hardback)

Genre/s: YA, Paranormal

Source: Own library

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

More Info: Megan Miranda's website ~ Megan Miranda's blog

Synopsis (Goodreads)


Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?
Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?


My Thoughts

I started reading Fracture at hour 21 of a 24-hour read-a-thon that I participated in in April, and if I'm completely honest, I picked it up because I was looking for an easy read. The idea of the book is a good one, and although I'm not the biggest paranormal fan out there, I liked that it wasn't about vampires, or werewolves or paranormal creatures as such, but more psychological paranormal.

Delaney is a likeable character- she's not overly popular or drop-dead-gorgeous, instead she's just a normal girl who finds herself in an increasingly disturbing situation, and I really liked Decker, who stuck with her through everything. I didn't find Troy as intriguing as I think he was intended to be.

I loved Ms. Miranda's writing style - clean and well balanced with good dialogue, and the whole story is well-paced.

Parts of Fracture are intense and emotional and the climax had me flipping furiously through the pages, but I really wish there had been more focus on the paranormal element (yeah, I just said that. Really!) which would have taken it from a good book to a great book.


30 May 2012

The World Ends on Wednesday #7 - Being an International Book Blogger

This post was inspired by Books, Biscuits and Tea's post 'Is Blogging Becoming a Popularity Contest'.

I'm proud to be an International book blogger, and I'll always be one, whether in the Netherlands or in Australia. But being an International book blogger, while having some positives, also has a whole lot of negatives. If you are an International book blogger, or thinking of starting a book blog and you live outside the US, I hope this post will be interesting and relevant to you.

Firstly, I have to say that this post is in no way intended to be derogatory towards US bloggers. It is more to give a greater understanding of the challenges we face being from outside the US, and to encourage people that think you can only be a successful book blogger if you are located in the US.


I'm the kind of person that likes to get the bad stuff out of the way first, so I'm starting with the negatives:


To Most Publishers, You Don't Exist

- Getting physical review copies if you live internationally are next to impossible. Firstly, the cost of international postage pretty much kills any motivation a publisher (and some authors) has to send you a physical book. Secondly, geographic rights mean that most books cannot be sent to you as they are only available for distribution by that publisher in the country where they will be published.



Giveaways Are Restricted

- Although this is not always the case, I estimate about 70% of book giveaways I see (for physical copies & swag) are restricted to US or US/Canada. If it is a blogger paying for the giveaway themselves (from their personal book collection), I totally get this. If I was going to do a giveaway for a book out of my own library, I'd be restricting it to Europe myself.

- Publisher sponsored giveaways are restricted by the same things that publisher ARCs/Review copies are.



You Can't Go to BEA, ALA, Book Signings, Conferences, Blogger Meet-Ups.

- Almost all book events are held in the US. And this is something I don't imagine would change much any time in the future.

- There are a lot of international book bloggers, but they are spread out all over the world, so planning a blogger meet-up is difficult (and expensive). For example, I know 4 other book bloggers in the Netherlands but as far as I am aware, none of us live in the same cities, so there'd still be travel involved for a blogger meet-up.

- Only BIG authors (think Lauren Oliver) do international book signings. Even then, they can't visit every major city in the world, and if you don't live near a major city, local authors are the only ones you're probably ever going to get the opportunity to meet - not that is necessarily a BAD thing!!!


Now, we need some positives!


You Stand Out From the Crowd

- Some of the bloggers I know the best are international bloggers. We are unique - it's much easier to remember the two bloggers you know from Germany, or the one you know from Tasmania than the 200 bloggers you follow in the US (and I can't discern them by state!).

- You can talk about unique bookish things - not so much in the Netherlands, but in Germany a lot of books are released with completely different covers than US/UK books which is a great talking point! There are also the titles of books that are completely changed to fit in locally - the story is the same but the only similarity on the cover is the author name.

- If you live in a country where English is not the native language (and unlike me, you can READ the local language), you can read books that other people can't!



You Can Get Some Review Books - But Do You Really Want Them All?

- E-books - there are some geographic restrictions on e-books for review, but as far as I've seen, this only affects a handful of local publishers. Macmillan, HarlequinTeen, HarperTeen, Crown, Egmont, Flux don't care I'm not from the US when I'm requesting review copies through NetGalley! (I know we don't love ebooks as much as paperbooks, but if you love a book enough, it's not about which medium you read it on!)


- You read what you want - do you really want dozens of books arriving unsolicited that you don't want to read? Sure your library would look prettier, but wouldn't you feel guilty about having all those books that you are probably never going to read that could have gone to someone that actually wanted them?

Giveaways Are Changing

- I participate in a lot of giveaway hops, and over the last six months I've seen a lot more bloggers choose to host International giveaways rather than US only. The Book Depository has opened up a whole new option to bloggers, and Amazon giftcards can be used by Kindle users worldwide (unless the book has geo-restrictions).

- Small swag giveaways are often open internationally - bookmarks can be put in a standard sized envelope and sent worldwide for only a couple of bucks.

And Then There's the Funny Stuff
- If you like to post about non-book related things, funny stories, strange local customs, you've got loads of material. One of things I got the most comments about was saying my favourite Dutch word (kokosnoot), on one of my giveaways. Kokosnoot revolution!

There you have it, my personal negatives and positives about being an International book blogger.  Are you international and have any positives to add?  Are you a US book blogger - what do you think about your international counterparts?

29 May 2012

Book Blog Survey and Giveaways!

I love book blogging - I love blogging myself, reading other blogs, interacting with other bloggers, readers and authors. And that love means that I'm also intrigued by how bloggers, readers and authors feel about book blogs - what we like, what we don't like, our following habits, our reading habits, everything!

So, for a series of posts I'm planning in August, I need your help - in order to get some material, I've created a book blog survey, for bloggers, readers and authors to give me YOUR opinion on blogs and reading habits.


All information collected is strictly confidential and anonymous and will only be used to create summary information. The only contact details I'm asking for is your email address, because as an added incentive, I'm going to incorporate a giveaway! Giveaway entries will close at 12:01am GMT 1 August 2012.

The first giveaway will be ONE book of choice (up to the value of EUR 15.00) from The Book Depository. If I receive more than 100 responses, I'll draw an additional prize. If I receive more than 500 responses I'll make it three prizes, and if I receive more than 1000 responses I'll make it FOUR prizes. The giveaways winners will be drawn using random.org on 1 August 2012.

Below is the survey - it's 24 questions for which I need you to provide an answer to all questions - don't worry, there are options to provide alternate answers, or not provide a response to the demographic questions.

Remember, I will share the summary of this information, so it can help us all get a better understanding of blogging, reading and hopefully help bloggers become better at what we do!



Review: Meat by Joseph D'Lacey

Meat by Joseph D'Lacey

Published: 1 February 2008

Pages: 346 (paperback)

Genre/s: Horror, post-apocalyptic

Source: Own library

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

More Info: Joseph D'Lacey's blog

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Abyrne is a decaying town, trapped by an advancing wilderness. Its people depend on meat for survival, meat supplied by the processing plant on the edge of town. Meat is sanctified and precious in Abyrne, eaten with devout solemnity by everyone. A feud smolders between the town's religious and secular powers—whoever controls the food supply controls everything, and conflict is imminent. But a handful of people suspect Abyrne is evil, rotten to its religious heart, and they are prepared to sacrifice everything for the truth. What goes on in the meat processing plant? Where does meat really come from? The townsfolk are hungry. The townsfolk must be fed.


My Thoughts

I first listened to Meat as audiobook in January 2011. I love audiobooks but I'm pretty particular about them - the narrator has to make me feel part of the book, and the story needs to capture my attention enough that I'm not distracted by things around me. And the audiobook version certainly met my requirements on both, but it didn't feel quite 'enough' - I wanted to read it for myself. So although I rarely re-read books, I decided this one was good enough to get me to read it again.

Let me be completely honest - this book is grim, disturbing, gory and intense. There's not a spot of happiness to be found in its pages, perhaps with the exception of the closing pages.

Abyrne is a town that appears to be built out of the ruins of an apocalyptic event, which is never expanded upon. The town is now run by the Welfare, who are responsible for the moral purity of the townsfolk and a megalomaniac meat baron who controls the food supply with an iron fist. With the exception of rare few, the characters have no redeeming features - they are mindless, ruthless and slaves to their lust for meat.

The writing is intense and the pacing is non-stop - as the story unfolds and more and more disturbing events take place, I couldn't stop reading, just to see what happened next. And there were more than a few stomach-churning, brain-stretching moments. The 'baddies' are infinitely evil, and the characters that are fighting against them are down-trodden and outcast, but as they start to awaken to the true evils of Abyrne, they realise that there is only one thing that can be done - resist.

There is a deeper 'meaning' to this book - one of how we, as top of the food chain, treat our food sources. I wouldn't recommend this book to vegetarians unless they have a strong stomach- it's incredibly intense and disturbing, and it shows that Mr D'Lacey's inspiration came from the current and past practices of meat 'cultivation'. But if you can get past the horrific images that this book conjures up in the mind, it's definitely worth reading - Meat is a book that has stuck with me for a long time, and will continue to do so!

I originally rated this book 4 stars, but the written version was even better than the audiobook, so my revised rating is:


28 May 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading #20


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.


My rollercoaster of reading continues!  Last week I read two books:



Necropolis Rising by Dave Jeffrey
The First Days by Rhiannon Frater

What I'm Reading This Week
Wormwood by Michael McFarland
Gone by Michael Grant
Big Frog by Rob Badcock


What are you reading?  Read anything amazing lately??

27 May 2012

Join The Aussie Zombie's Army! I Need You!


Boys and girls, bloggers, readers, authors - I'm in need of some help!  Over the past weeks I've noticed I'm lacking something here at The Aussie Zombie - features!  I have reviews coming out the wazoo, memes for every occassion, but I don't have any of the other fun stuff - interviews and guest posts!


So I've set a goal for myself for the second half of 2012 to have more of that fun stuff - but for that I need your help.


Last year I started a series of Blogger/Reader Interviews, but I'm all out of victims volunteers!  I had an absolute blast last time around, so I'm looking for some more bloggers to participate.  Interviews will consist of what interviews normally consist of, a short series of questions, and the opportunity to include other information about yourself, your blog, things you love (or hate) about blogging, resources and anything else that you think is helpful for others.


Authors - I've got review books up to my eyeballs, but I want more interviews and guest posts - plus it's an opportunity to get the spotlight on your books, your blogs, other projects you have going on - anything you can think of.


And then the last, and biggest request *gulp* - I'm looking for Associate Reviewers.  Now, I've always been pretty damn proud that all the reviews here are mine, but with my promotion at work came extra responsibility, and therefore I can't guarantee that I will be able to read and review as often as I would like.


There's lots of variations on 'guest reviewers', so instead of a long list of requirements, I've drawn up a Q&A (fancy, huh!).


Do I need a blog to be an Associate Reviewer?  Nope!  And unlike some guest reviewer requirements, I don't mind if you DO have a blog and you cross post, just that your review is scheduled for posting on the same day, not earlier than here.  And of course, each review will link back to your blog if you are a blogger.


Do I need to know fancy-schmantzy HTML or anything?  Not at all - the whole idea is that you will send me the text of the review and I will create the post in line with my normal formatting.


Are you only looking for certain genres for reviews?  Although my passion is zombie/horror/PA, you'll notice there's a lot of variety in what I read and review - therefore anything is fair game, as long as it's a book I'd be interested in reading myself!


Will you provide the books for review?  No.  It might be that I'm asked to review a book and I may then ask if you are interested in reviewing it (with the author/publicists consent), but books won't be provided for you to read.


Do I need to write a certain amount of reviews a week/month?  No - this is why I'm looking for a couple of Associate Reviewers - whenever you want to contribute you can, but there's no obligation or deadlines.


Join The Aussie Zombie's Army today - help me bring more books to the brains by clicking here to apply!

The Sunday Session #5





Welcome to The Sunday Session! A Sunday Session is an Australian tradition usually held in pubs on a Sunday afternoon where people feeling a bit 'fragile' from a big weekend can listen to some chilled out music, have a late lunch, catch up with friends and maybe indulge in a little hair-of-the-dog. Usually on a Sunday I mooch about, read blogs, check out new releases and book news and just generally do SFA - so what better opportunity to look back at the past week's reading, posts and the new books I've picked up and see what's coming up this week!


A small change this week - I'm not going to include the book that I've read this week as they are included in my It's Monday! What Are You Reading? post.

And this week I'm on holidays - yayy!!!

Last Weeks Happenings

It was a very review-y kind of week last week - I didn't have time (or to be honest, the motivation) to do many features posts, and I have a huge amount of reviews still to be posted, so it was great to catch up on some of them

Author Interview & Review: 77 Days in September by Ray Gorham


New Books



See that blank space?  Yep, I have NO NEW BOOKS this week.  No kindle freebies, no cheap deals.  Nada.  

Coming Up Next Week

Review: Meat by Joseph D'Lacey
Review: Fracture by Megan Miranda
Review: Outside by Shalini Boland
Feature: The World Ends on Wednesday

But most excitingly, on June 1:





So that's everything for me this week - leave me your links to your new books, weekly wrap-ups, whatever.  I want to see!


26 May 2012

Review: Dead City by Joe McKinney

Dead City (Dead World #1) by Joe McKinney

Published: 1 November 2006

Pages: 288 (paperback)

Genre/s: Zombie


Source: Own library

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

Synopsis


Texas? Toast.

Battered by five cataclysmic hurricanes in three weeks, the Texas Gulf Coast and half of the Lone Star State is reeling from the worst devastation in history. Thousands are dead or dying—but the worst is only beginning. Amid the wreckage, something unimaginable is happening: a deadly virus has broken out, returning the dead to life—with an insatiable hunger for human flesh...

The Nightmare Begins

Within hours, the plague has spread all over Texas. San Antonio police officer Eddie Hudson finds his city overrun by a voracious army of the living dead. Along with a small group of survivors, Eddie must fight off the savage horde in a race to save his family...

Hell On Earth

There's no place to run. No place to hide. The zombie horde is growing as the virus runs rampant. Eddie knows he has to find a way to destroy these walking horrors...but he doesn't know the price he will have to pay...

My Thoughts

You know how clothing addicts have those 'I've nothing to wear!!!' tantrums whilst standing in front of an overflowing wardrobe? Well the other day I had a similar moment, replacing the wardrobe with my bookshelf, stamping my feet and saying 'I've nothing to read - I want zombies!!!!'. So I picked up my trusty e-reader and Dead City caught my eye.

Dead City is what I call a proper zombie book. Why? Because its action packed, gory, scary and creepy, the main characters are tough but flawed and people die. A lot.

Eddie is a cop, and whilst trying to deal with some problems at home, receives a call to investigate a disturbance in a local neighbourhood. When arriving he finds a whole bunch of people acting strangely....but within minutes the true cause of the disturbance becomes apparent - it's zombie time!

While he struggles to survive and move through the city he meets a bunch of different people who are also trying to ride out the zomb-apocalypse and get the hell out of town - but the zombies obviously have other things on their mind, and his journey is fraught with intense, life-or-death situations.

This is an action-packed book, there's very little 'down time' or intense dialogue - most conversations take place on the fly, whilst dodging zombies but the relationship building between the characters is done well considering the circumstances. I liked that Eddie wasn't super-cop, he screwed up and got scared, wasn't a crack shot with a pistol and had to rely on hard work and guts to get himself out of trouble.  There is some information on the zombie-virus itself, but it's more the catalyst to the story than a part of it.

There are some slightly sexist connotations - the vast majority of the characters are male, and have some badly-disguised condescension for women, but it didn't bother me. There's also one slightly stereotypical moment involving a group of survivors that Eddie meets along the way, but again it was quite mild.

Did Dead City satisfy my zombie craving? Totally! It was everything I was hanging out for, but now that I've got a taste for it, I can't wait to read the next book in the series.


Favourite Quote: 



''I refuse to let a bunch of zombies ruin the end of the world for me.''

25 May 2012

Review and Author Interview: 77 Days in September by Ray Gorham

77 Days in September by Ray Gorham

Published: 25 May 2011


Pages: 283 (e-book)

Genre/s: Post-apocalyptic

Source: Own library*


Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis (Goodreads)

On a Friday afternoon before Labor Day, Americans are getting ready for the holiday weekend, completely unaware of a long-planned terrorist plot about to be launched against the country. Kyle Tait is settling in for his return flight home when a single nuclear bomb is detonated 300 miles above the heart of America. The blast, an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP), destroys every electrical device in the country, and results in the crippling of the power grid, the shutting down of modern communications, and bringing to a halt most forms of transportation.

Kyle narrowly escapes when his airplane crashes on take-off, only to find himself stranded 2,000 miles from home in a country that has been forced, from a technological standpoint, back to the 19th Century. Confused, hurt, scared, and alone, Kyle must make his way across a hostile continent to a family he’s not even sure has survived the effects of the attack. As Kyle forges his way home, his frightened family faces their own struggles for survival in a community trying to halt its own slow spiral into chaos and anarchy.


Why I Read It


EMP is one of those things that endlessly fascinates me - imagine that we are suddenly thrown back 200+ years in terms of technology?

My Thoughts


I first read 77 Days in September in 2011 and I was incredibly impressed by the book - although it's PA, the focus is heavily on the emotions of the characters.

As a main character I found Kyle to be believable and likeable (although what's not to like about a guy that is prepared to walk thousands of miles to make it home to his family?!), and although conflicted by his need to get home as quickly as possible, didn't loose his humanity and compassion even when it was sorely tested. In particular I found his journal entries on his trip to be incredibly moving and real.

I also liked his wife, Jennifer, who works hard to do the right thing whilst protecting her children, coupled with her belief in and loyalty to Kyle, she is a strong but self-aware lady. Neither character is perfect, and as Kyle reflects on their past, he comes to realise just how lucky he really is.

The pacing of 77 Days in September is well maintained, and even when Kyle is not on the road, this is an unputdownable book. Well written, with good characterization, world-building and a healthy dose of realism, 77 Days in September was well worth re-reading, and I was just as immersed in the story the second time around.
*Although this is a book tour, I did already own a copy of this book.  

Meet The Man Behind the Book

When did you first realise that you wanted to write a book?

It was probably about 12 years ago. We were having dinner with my father-in-law, and he mentioned he’d like to write a book. It was something I hadn’t thought about previously, but it planted a seed. I attempted to write a book about 8 years ago, but got too busy to complete it, this time I managed to get the job done.

Where did the inspiration come from to write a book about EMP?

I actually wanted to write a book about a guy who stays loyal to his family, no matter how difficult that loyalty might prove. The EMP turned out to be the vehicle I needed to put him in a difficult situation. It ended up that the EMP aspect became just as important as the loyalty/devotion part of the story.

77 Days in September has a solid fact background but an intensely character-driven perspective - why did you decide to write more from the emotional rather than factual side?

Probably the previous answer explains a lot of that. It was a frustration that so many lead characters in books are guys that sleep around, have no commitment to anything, don’t value life, and have such super-human skills that I can never relate to them. I thought an average joe who is in love with his wife would be a pleasant change.

What was the most challenging aspect of the story to write?

As a first time novelist, I had to learn it all as I went. There was a lot of re-writing, as well as finding my voice, so to speak. Add to that the grammar and editing, which my wife did an amazing job on, and it was a full time job for about 8 months.

Who is your favourite character?

Of all the characters, probably Elijah from Texas was my favorite. He and his family were real easy to write. I would have liked to lengthen that section out, but Kyle had to keep moving and not linger anywhere.

Any of the characters based on, or inspired by someone you know in 'real life'?

Maybe personalities or characteristics, but not actual characters. The closest would be Kyle’s kids, there are likely compilations of my own children.

If you could change anything about 77 Days in September, what would it be and why?

I wrote it not knowing anything about self-publishing on a digital platform, so I worked real hard to keep word count down to what would be feasible for a first time author to maybe get a book deal. I ended up at 108,000 words, which is a little more than what they want, but I couldn’t eliminate any more without impacting the story. If I had written specifically to self-publish, it probably would have been 15-20% longer, but I do think condensing it was good experience in learning to write concisely.

Sell me 77 Days in September in 25 words or less?

It is a story of love, dedication and survival, that may end up saving your life.

What is your favourite genre and why?

I like techno-thrillers. Something that will teach me something, as long as it’s written in a way that isn’t all about the techno.

How do you balance writing with the rest of your life? Is there anything you have sacrificed in order to write?

At this point it’s writing that is getting sacrificed. My day job is real busy, and with 5 kids and a wife, writing is taking a back seat. I build log homes, and in 2008-09 business was real slow, so I had the time to devote to it. I’m trying to make the time to be able to write again, but not sure when that will happen.

24 May 2012

Review: Torn by Stephanie Guerra

Torn by Stephanie Guerra

Published: 15 May 2012 by Marshall Cavendish

Pages: 263 (hardcover)


Genre/s: Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Publisher for review

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

Synopsis

Stella Chavez is your classic good girl: straight As, clean-cut boyfriends, and soccer trophies . You’d never guess that Stella’s dad was a drug addict who walked out when she was a kid. Or that inside, Stella wishes for something more.

New girl Ruby Caroline seems like Stella’s polar opposite: cursing, smoking, and teetering in sky-high heels . But with Ruby, Stella gets a taste of another world—a world in which parents act like roommates, college men are way more interesting than high school boys, and there is nothing that shouldn’t be tried once.

It’s not long before Stella finds herself torn: between the best friend she’s ever had and the friends she’s known forever, between her family and her own independence, between who she was and who she wants to be.

But Ruby has a darker side, a side she doesn’t show anyone—not even Stella. As Stella watches her friend slowly unravel, she will have to search deep inside herself for the strength to be a true friend, even if it means committing the ultimate betrayal.


My Thoughts

Oh contemporary YA.  I wish I could say ''it's not you, it's me'', but that would be a lie.  We are both equally to blame.

Now that I've finished my kinda crazy inner dialogue, let me tell you why Torn has neither improved nor damaged the relationship I have with contemporary YA.

Positives - this is a YA story without romance.  Sure, there are boys but they are not the focus of the story, the friendship between two girls, Stella and Ruby, is the main focus, with some asides into family relationships, self-esteem, high school bitchiness and some other of the 'harder-hitting' YA subjects.

I liked Stella for the most part, although at times I just wanted to give her a good shake and tell her to woman-up a little, and Ruby was certainly the firecracker.  I also liked Stella's sister, Jackie.

Then there are the negatives.  Not really negatives as such, more disappointments on my part.  Firstly, there could have been a lot more background on Ruby's family, which would have helped to paint the picture of why she behaved the way she did.  Secondly, and probably my biggest issue with Torn is the ending.  Too neat, too perfect, too many bows - it's nice to leave a book open-ended, but it shouldn't necessarily be an easy ending.

I think I'm sounding a bit more down on this book than I really should - even though for me it was flawed, Torn touches on some pretty sensitive subjects and does so with a fair amount of grace.

23 May 2012

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

Published: 3 May 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 487 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Dystopia

Source: Own library


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

Synopsis (Goodreads)

In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

My Thoughts

I love dystopias, and I loved the idea of 'factions' based on personality traits and actions. Plus, the hype surrounding the release of the second book, Insurgent, had me curious.....

Divergent is a page turner, no doubt about it. By about page 5 I just couldn't put this book down - fascinated by the idea of factions, of making choices about where you belong in the world, and Tris's initiation into Dauntless had me gripping the sides of my sofa (figuratively, not literally, I can't read without my hands!).

I really liked Tris - although she made a choice based on a spur-of-the-moment decision, she threw herself wholeheartedly into Dauntless, despite her own misgivings about whether she had made the right choice and whether she could actually cut it in that faction. And I can completely see how so many readers fell in love with Four - tough and mysterious, all the while trying to help Tris succeed in Dauntless in his own unique, tough-love kinda way. The supporting characters, particularly Christina, also had me intrigued.

The world of Divergent is enthralling, but that's also where I found something missing - although the world-building is good for the time in which the story is set, unless I was so caught up in the story that I missed it, there wasn't enough 'why' and 'how' for me. I wanted to know the how and why the world came to be divided into factions.

Divergent is action packed and Ms. Roth's writing style is highly addictive - there's no putting this bad boy down to watch the evening news that's for sure. I will definitely be reading Insurgent and hoping for a little more history of the factions along the way.

22 May 2012

Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Published: 1936

Pages: 112 (paperback)


Genre/s: Classics

Source: Own library

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

Synopsis

The tragic story of the complex bond between two migrant laborers in Central California. They are George Milton and Lennie Small, itinerant ranch hands who dream of one day owning a small farm. George acts as a father figure to Lennie, who is a very large, simple-minded man, calming him and helping to rein in his immense physical strength.

My Thoughts


I debated about whether to write a review of Of Mice and Men here on the blog. After all, it's been reviewed and dissected about 7 gajillion times, right? But then I got to thinking - if I hadn't read it because I was a little scared of reading Steinbeck, maybe others feel the same?

Required reading wasn't big in Australian schools when I was a teenager, and if there was a required reading it was almost always an Australian author (Nevil Shute for example), so it's a slightly sad state of affairs that I was 30 years old before I read my first Steinbeck. I'm not a fan of 'classics' as it goes - I always thought if I read one I'd have to say lots of really meaningful, intellectual-type things about it. So I'm just going to say exactly what I thought - no delving into themes, discussions or dissections.

Of Mice and Men evokes perfectly the era, the characters and the lives of roving farm workers - the writing is lyrical yet simplistic and the dialogue is liberally peppered with accent, which makes it all the more realistic.

The story itself is short and simple in the telling - two friends bound by circumstance and loyalty, in a situation that is never going to end well. George is a down-to-earth kinda guy, and empathizing with Lennie is easy - after all, a gentle giant would never hurt anyone, right?

There's nothing to be scared about here - it's a simple, quick story that's rich with atmosphere and characterisation. My only criticism is that it is a little too short - I wanted more!


21 May 2012

Book Blogger Confessions #10 - Memes


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

Today's Question: Memes. Love em or hate em? How many do you participate in? Which kinds do you like best? Do you feel like there are too many?

When I first started blogging, I thought I HAD to do memes - if that's what everyone else was doing, surely I had to do it too, otherwise no one would be interested in what I had to say. So I joined a few, tried them out for a while, and then I realised there was no hard and fast rule about participating, so I stopped doing almost all of them.

Let's be honest, they are a great way to get more page views, particularly if you participate in bigger memes, however when THAT THING happened a few weeks ago, I had a good long think about why I was actually participating in that particular meme. And when I started thinking about it, I realised that although it bumped up my page views, doing it didn't actually make me happy at all - in fact it completely stressed me out! Now that I'm no longer participating I feel far more 'free' - I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, without the added pressure - and people STILL read and comment on my blog!

On a more positive note, there are memes that I love and don't feel pressured about - the smaller ones are more my style - they are more intimate and friendly and if I skip a week for whatever reason, I don't feel like I'm not keeping up with the rest of the world. I also prefer the ones that I can schedule in advance.

I don't tend to read the meme posts of memes that I'm not participating in. And the ones that are very genre-specific just don't work for me, because as a reader/blogger I'm definitely NOT genre-specific.

My preference is definitely for 'discussion' memes - I love reading other people's opinions and being able to discuss my opinion with those bloggers (such as this meme!) in a fun and open way. I've met some amazing awesome bloggers this way that I probably wouldn't have come across otherwise, and read some books that I would never have even known about if it wasn't for other bloggers telling me about them.

What are your meme habits?  Are you a regular or sporadic participant?

Bout of Books 4.0 - Final Results



Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

After a week of reading, tweeting and challenges, Bout of Books 4.0 is finished! 

I had an awesome time, discovered some new blogs, got to know some bloggers better AND read a whole heap of books! 

Here's the final results!

Books Started Before BoB That I Completed
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Judas Syndrome by Michael Poeltl

Books Started and Completed During BoB
Zombie Night in Canada by Jamie Friesen
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
Zombie Fallout 2 by Mark Tufo
Silver: Acheron by Keira Michelle Telford
A Note of Madness by Tabitha Suzuma

Books Started but Not Completed
Gone by Michael Grant (254 pages)



Goals: I wanted to finish 4 books and read two others in full.  I finished 3 of the books I was already reading, and 5 more in full (only one of the ones I had planned to read!).  So although I didn't meet my specific book goal, I surpassed my general one!
Total pages read: 2010
Average pages per day: 287
Other fun stuff
I only participated in the last 10 minutes of a Twitter chat - time zones and other distractions meant I just couldn't get online at the right moment!

I had so much fun with Bout of Books and I would DEFINITELY participate again!  Thanks for everyone who made it so much fun, and to the amazing ladies who put it all together AND managed to stay sane, thank you and congratulations!

20 May 2012

The Sunday Session #4



Welcome to The Sunday Session! A Sunday Session is an Australian tradition usually held in pubs on a Sunday afternoon where people feeling a bit 'fragile' from a big weekend can listen to some chilled out music, have a late lunch, catch up with friends and maybe indulge in a little hair-of-the-dog. Usually on a Sunday I mooch about, read blogs, check out new releases and book news and just generally do SFA - so what better opportunity to look back at the past week's reading, posts and the new books I've picked up and see what's coming up this week?!

It was a three day work week for me last week, and coupled with the extra initiative of Bout of Books 4.0 I am back in the reading groove!

Books read
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
Zombie Night in Canada by Jamie Friesen
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Judas Syndrome by Michael Poeltl
Zombie Fallout 2 by Mark Tufo
The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters by Rhiannon Frater
Silver: Acheron by Keira Michelle Telford


New Books
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
The Killing Floor by Craig DiLouie
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Breakers by Edward W. Robertson

Last weeks happenings
Review: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Review: Four Freedoms by John Crowley
Feature: Bout of Books 4.0
Feature: The World Ends on Wednesday #5
Feature: Winners, Winners and More Winners

Giveaways
Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop
1000 Followers Celebration Giveaway

Coming Up This Week
Book Blogger Confessions - Memes
Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
The World Ends of Wednesday #6
Review: Torn by Stephanie Guerra
TGIF @ GReads
Review: Dead City by Joe McKinney

So what have you been up to this week? Leave me a link so I can check it out - I love being nosy :-D

19 May 2012

Winners winners and more winners!

I'm SO behind in announcing these winners, but over the last month or so I have had a total of 9 winners from 5 different giveaways!

But firstly I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who entered my birthday giveaway - you all helped make my birthday one of the best birthdays I've had in years :-D.

Now, onto the winners:

The winner of the Lunar Love Giveaway Hop was Carolina, who chose The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

The winner of the Showers of Books Giveaway hop was Maryoom who chose The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

The winner of the Fairytale Giveaway Hop was Katie who chose Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

The winner of the Spring Fling Giveaway Hop was Jewel who chose Night Embrace by Sherrilyn Kenyon

And the winners of my birthday giveaway were:

Karin chose Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullogh

Kimberly chose Lover Reborn by J.R.Ward

Rebecca chose The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Cathy chose Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Nina chose Divergent by Veronica Roth

One thing I love about giveaways is the international entries, and this batch had some incredible variety - with winners from Bahrain, Mexico, the US, New Zealand, Canada, Indonesia, Germany, Australia and Ireland. I love thinking about all those books winging their way to the corners of the world!





18 May 2012

TGIF - A Book Blogger is Born



It's FRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY! AND a four day weekend, which I desperately need! I even slept until 12:30pm yesterday!

TGIF is hosted by GReads and poses a fun, book-related question each week:


A Book Blogger is Born: What made you decide to start your very own book blog?


In September 2011 I was posting about some books in a Goodreads group and someone asked me why didn't I write reviews of the books I read.  I hadn't actually considered it before, but I realised it was a great way to track what I had read and what I thought about those books.  And so, I started a blog pretty much just for myself - I never expected that anyone would be particularly interested in what I had to say, especially as my taste tends to run to the eclectic.

Then people started following and leaving comments and I realised that people DID care about what I had to say, that even though I don't read what everyone else is reading they were interested in finding out about new books or new genres, and I started venturing to other blogs and making some awesome blogging and reading friends.

Six months later I've had so much fun, met so many awesome people and read so many amazing books I can't imagine my life without my little corner of the internet!


17 May 2012

Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop



Welcome to my stop on the Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Portrait of a Book.  The theme is this giveaway is young love, and in celebration, I'm giving away one YA-contemporary romance from the list below!


The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Originally published: 1954

Pages: 160 (hardback)


Genre/s: Post-Apocalyptic

Source: Own library

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

Synopsis

Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth...but he is not alone. Every other man, woman, and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville's blood.

By day, he is the hunter, stalking the sleeping undead through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn.

How long can one man survive in a world of vampires? 


My Thoughts

I've seen the movie version of I Am Legend at least twice, probably three times. And up until maybe a year ago, I didn't realise that it was actually a book, and a sci-fi classic to boot. Which also made me think - how many movies are based on, or inspired by a book we don't even know about?

I'm also not a fan of reading a book after seeing the movie - I always find movie versions are either a) completely different or b) a big fat let-down, so I was a little wary when I started reading. I really thought I wouldn't be able to get Will Smith's face out of my mind.....

However, right from the beginning I realised that the book version of I Am Legend is different in several ways to the movie, and not once did I imagine Neville as Will Smith. The book is more personal and intimate than the movie, and the hopelessness and isolation Neville experiences comes through strongly. There is less action and less vampire spookiness, but their presence was always in the back of my mind the whole way through.

I'm really glad I put my habits aside and decided to read I Am Legend - and I will definitely be recommending it to anyone that interested in reading a sci-fi classic. There's not a lot I can say that hasn't been said a thousand times and a hundred different ways before, but I found I Am Legend to be far more character-focused and emotionally intense than I imagined it would be.



16 May 2012

The World Ends on Wednesday #5 - But I Forgot

I was going to do a post about cross-genre's for this week's World Ends on Wednesday.  But then I got distracted, and now, on Tuesday evening I realise I have nothing prepared.


So I'm going to be quick and dirty and give you a random selection from my 5-star PA reads of the last three years that I haven't featured before:

Afterlight by Alex Scarrow

Published: 2010

Pages: 455 (paperback)

The second book in the Last Light series this is the story of 'what if we ran out of oil', which is a scarily possible scenario.  Whilst the first book focused more on the actual breakdown of society, Afterlight is more focused on a group of survivors trying to create a long-term home on one of the safest places I've ever read about - an oil rig.  When warring factions come together, the outcome is going to be messy....




OK next week I promise I will have something more prepared, but I can certainly recommend the Last Light series (2 books), which I randomly stumbled upon but loved!




15 May 2012

Review: Four Freedoms by John Crowley

Four Freedoms by John Crowley

Published: 1 June 2009 by William Morrow & Company

Pages: 400 (paperback)


Genre/s: Historical Fiction

Source: Own library

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

Synopsis

In the early years of the 1940s, as the nation's young men ship off to war, the call goes out for builders of the machinery necessary to defeat the enemy. To this purpose, a city has sprung up seemingly overnight in the windswept fields of Oklahoma: the Van Damme airplane factory, a gargantuan complex dedicated to the construction of the B-30 Pax, the largest bomber ever built. Laborers--some men, but mostly women, many of whom have never operated a rivet gun or held a screwdriver--flock to this place, eager to earn, to grow, to do their part. Many are away from home for the very first time, enticed by the opportunity to be something more than wife and homemaker. In the middle of nowhere they will live, work, and earn their own money, fearing for the safety of their absent fighting men as the world around them changes forever.

My Thoughts


Four Freedoms was one of the first books I purchased when I was given my first e-reader, erm, 2 1/2 years ago. I looked at it and contemplated reading it several times and each time found something slightly more appealing on my towering TBR.

It was only when I participated in a themed read-a-thon last month and one of the challenges was to read a book that has been on your TBR the longest, it was the perfect opportunity to read it - after all, historical fiction has long been one of my favourite genres.

Four Freedoms is the story of one man, Prosper Olander. Disabled from birth he has an easy personality and through his disability is considered more of a friend than a potential lover to the women he encounters whilst working at the Van Damme airplane factory through the course of WWII. As the story progresses, Prospers at times sad, at times uplifting childhood and adolescence is revealed and gives an insight into what made him the man he became.

The female characters are strong in their own ways, either through words or actions, and their own stories are told in a series of flashbacks to the 1920's and 1930's.

Although the start was a little slow and dry, once I was in the flow I really enjoyed this book. The writing is lyrical and descriptive without being cloying and the characters seem like real people, with strong emotions, sad stories and an entrancing dialogue.

Four Freedoms is an intriguing, character-driven book that tells a unique story from the perspective of the 'home front' in WWII.


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