31 October 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #5: The Colony by A.J. Colucci


Hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, Waiting on Wednesday showcases the books we're lusting after. Get ready to load up your TBR!

The Colony by A.J. Colucci

Expected Publication: 13 November 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books

Pages: 304 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Adult, Sci-Fi

Synopsis:

A series of gruesome attacks have been sweeping New York City. A teacher in Harlem and two sanitation workers on Wall Street are found dead, their swollen bodies nearly dissolved from the inside out. The predator is a deadly supercolony of ants--an army of one trillion soldiers with razor-sharp claws that pierce skin like paper and stinging venom that liquefies its prey.

The desperate mayor turns to the greatest ant expert in the world, Paul O’Keefe, a Pulitzer Prize–winning scientist in an Armani suit. But Paul is baffled by the ants. They are twice the size of any normal ant and have no recognizable DNA. They’re vicious in the field yet docile in the hand. Paul calls on the one person he knows can help destroy the colony, his ex-wife Kendra Hart, a spirited entomologist studying fire ants in the New Mexico desert. Kendra is taken to a secret underground bunker in New York City, where she finds herself working side by side with her brilliant but arrogant ex-husband and a high-ranking military officer hell-bent on stopping the insects with a nuclear bomb.

When the ants launch an all-out attack, Paul and Kendra hit the dangerous, panic-stricken streets of New York, searching for a coveted queen. It’s a race to unlock the secrets of an indestructible new species, before the president nukes Manhattan.


Killer ants take New York? Oh man this sounds like the things nightmares are made of!

What are you waiting on this week?

30 October 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. I heart lists!

This week's list is Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines!

Tatiana from The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons - after surviving the siege of Leningrad, she sets off to find her true love, Alexander through war torn Eastern Europe - what's not heroic about that?

Ellie from Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden - when Australia is invaded by an unknown enemy, Ellie gathers up her friends and fights back against the invaders.

Dez from Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry - the ultimate damaged heroine, she's a bad-ass zombie killer.

Allie from The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa - she's no vegetarian vampire.  


Ripley from Hollowland by Amanda Hocking - a zombie killing lioness?  Yep, she's definitely a heroine.  Hey, no one said heroines have to be human!

Hartley from Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday - just because she made me laugh so hard.

Katie from The First Days by Rhiannon Frater - I love her - what more can I say?

Amaliya from Pretty When She Dies by Rhiannon Frater - Yeah!  Another proper vampire, and one with more than a  few issues, but a heart of gold.

Katniss from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - need I say more?

Jenny from Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan - bullied, isolated and toxic, Jenny is my favorite paranomal heroine.

Who is your favourite book heroine?

29 October 2012

Review: Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2) by Kendare Blake

Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2) by Kendare Blake

Published: 7 August 2012 by Tor Teen

Pages: 332 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Young adult, horror, paranormal

Source: Own library

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

Warning: This review may contain spoilers if you haven't yet read Anna Dressed in Blood - click to read my review.

Synopsis

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.


Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.


My Thoughts
Anna Dressed in Blood will be one of my favourite reads of 2012, without a doubt.  Creepy and snarky, with a whole cast of unforgettable characters, the bar was set pretty high for the sequel, Girl of Nightmares, which I relentlessly stalked for months and then didn't have time to read when it was first released.  Plus it has one of the best covers ever.

Girl of Nightmares features far less of our beloved Anna, but it does delve deeper into the history of the athane and cranks the creepy factor up even higher than the first book.  However, it did take me a good 50 pages or so to really get into the story, and I was starting to wonder just when it would take off and blow me away like the first book.

What I really liked about the characters in Girl of Nightmares is that although they are the same characters as in the first book, they've grown up a little and are taking this whole ghost thing pretty damn seriously.  This is something that I quite often find missing in YA series - the characters who don't seem to learn from their experiences in the first book and just seem to be repeating the same mistakes. Cas, Thomas and Carmel have become closer and also more wary about their adventures into the underworld, not rushing blindly in but doing their research and preparation.

Once I got going, there was no stopping with this book - the tension built up gradually and then the rollercoaster started with a whole cast of freaky, creepy and downright scary ghosts and culminating in the ultimate battle of good versus evil, with some surprising revelations along the way.

The ending is perfect - again Kendare Blake has broken the 'normal' mold for Young Adult books and created a story that I both thoroughly enjoyed and is most definitely memorable.  A perfect Halloween read!

28 October 2012

Showcase Sunday #11


Showcase Sunday is hosted by the fabulous Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea and is all about sharing our new books - beg, borrowed or bought.

I thought I was being SO GOOD the last few weeks, and then a whole lot of things that accidentally fell into my cart came through the mailbox.  Don't ya hate when that happens?!

Ebooks
The Prospect of My Arrival by Dwight Okita
Rage Within (Dark Inside #2) by Jeyn Roberts
Audiobooks
War Child by Emmanuel Jal
Nella Last's War by Nella Last
Flu by Wayne Simmons (thank you Tantor Media via Edelweiss)
Physical Books
Undead by Kirsty McKay
Unfed by Kirsty McKay
Mystic City (Mystic City #1) by Theo Lawrence
This Book Is Full of Spiders (John Dies at the End #2) by David Wong
Zom-B (Zom-B #1) by Darren Shan
The Twelve (The Passage #2) by Justin Cronin
Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

I'm being lazy this week so no weekly wrap-up, and well, all the links are in the archive anyways ;-)

So, let me know what you got this week, or if you've read any of these, what did you think?

27 October 2012

Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Published: 2 February 2010 by Crown Publishing

Pages: 370 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Non-fiction, science, medical

Source: Own library

Check it out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository ~ Audible

Synopsis

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?


My Thoughts

I quite enjoy a bit of non-fiction occasionally, but it has to be entertaining.   And honestly, going into this one, I was quite worried that it would be far too science-y for me - I hated science at school because I just wasn't interested.

But with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot has taken a subject and turned it into a far more emotional story than just the tale of how one woman's cells became the building blocks of modern medicine.  The scientific / medical parts are written in a way that are easily understandable, and dotted with interesting, well-presented facts that grabbed my attention, and actually had me wanting to know more.

Alongside the science, there is also a very human side to the story.  From diagnosis, to treatment to Henrietta's early death, Ms Skloot tells the tale with a sympathetic yet straight-forward voice.  As she becomes more and more involved with the story behind HeLa and begins the arduous task of gaining the trust of Henrietta's family in order to find out as much as possible about the mystery lady behind one of the greatest advancements in medicine, I liked her more and more.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is more than a non-fiction book.  It's a moving, and sometimes shocking investigation into the life of Henrietta, her family and the fall-out from the scientific advances made using her cells.  From the radical treatments, lack of information, complete lack of consent, through to the investigation into homes for the disabled in the 1950's, there were many times during this book that I was completely floored that parts of history have been so completely glossed over.

Even if non-fiction isn't your thing, The Immortal Life of Henrietta lacks doesn't feel like non-fiction at all - there's far too much emotion, and it's far too compelling to be considered just another non-fiction book.


26 October 2012

Audiobook Friday #4 - Review: Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel

Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel

Published: 7 August 2012 by Doubleday

Pages: 304 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Romance

Source: Own library

Audio published: 7 August 2012 by Random House Audio

Narrated by: Kirby Heyborne (narrator of Gone Girl, Cloud Atlas, Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist)

Length: 11 hours & 53 minutes

Check it out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository ~ Audible

Synopsis

Sam Elling works for an internet dating company, but he still can't get a date. So he creates an algorithm that will match you with your soul mate. Sam meets the love of his life, a coworker named Meredith, but he also gets fired when the company starts losing all their customers to Mr. and Ms. Right.

When Meredith's grandmother, Livvie, dies suddenly, Sam uses his ample free time to create a computer program that will allow Meredith to have one last conversation with her grandmother. Mining from all her correspondence—email, Facebook, Skype, texts—Sam constructs a computer simulation of Livvie who can respond to email or video chat just as if she were still alive. It's not supernatural, it's computer science.

Meredith loves it, and the couple begins to wonder if this is something that could help more people through their grief. And thus, the company RePose is born. The business takes off, but for every person who just wants to say good-bye, there is someone who can't let go.

In the meantime, Sam and Meredith's affection for one another deepens into the kind of love that once tasted, you can't live without. But what if one of them suddenly had to? This entertaining novel, delivers a charming and bittersweet romance as well as a lump in the throat exploration of the nature of love, loss, and life (both real and computer simulated). Maybe nothing was meant to last forever, but then again, sometimes love takes on a life of its own.


My Thoughts

What if you could have one last conversation with someone you loved that has passed away? Knowing that it's not 'really' that person, but just a computer stimulation built up from your previous electronic communications, would you still want to see their face again, tell them you loved them one more time?

This is the basic plot of Goodbye For Now, but also incorporates the love story of Sam, a computer geek who loses his job after creating the most accurate dating database program ever, and his colleague Meredith who is his perfect match.

Goodbye For Now is an interesting story, although in some places I didn't really feel the intensity of Meredith and Sam's relationship and in fact it felt more like Sam was the one willing to go to the ends of the earth for Meredith, whereas she was just enamored by the fact that he gave her the impossible. While I liked both of them, the one that really intrigued me was Meredith's cousin Dash but he just didn't appear as often as I would have liked.

Most interesting and moving of all was the secondary characters that were dotted throughout the story, whether they stayed for just a portion or in the background of the whole book. These were actually the characters that made the book come alive for me.

The plot is pretty straightforward, but as the story of Sam, Meredith and the people that used RePose progressed, it morphed into a very bittersweet story of love, loss and all the emotions that come in between. The ending was particularly touching, if a little bit predictable.

I listened to Goodbye for Now on Audiobook, but I believe I made an error in listening to two books back-to-back that had the same narrator because it did take me a while to really get into it. Otherwise, this was a good listen, that I did really enjoy.


25 October 2012

Review: Then by Julie Myerson

Then by Julie Myerson

Published: 2 June 2011 by Jonathan Cape

Pages: 304 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Post-apocalyptic, mystery

Source: Own library

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

Synopsis

It was 9.22, the moment when everything stopped. First there was the burning air, then came the darkness, the fire, and finally the frost.

Now, in a frozen, wasted London, a woman - uncertain even of her own name - is fighting to stay alive. Along with a small group of fellow survivors, she takes refuge in an abandoned skyscraper in what was once the financial centre. But spectres stalk the empty offices and endless corridors, and soon visions of a forgotten world emerge, a world of broken love and betrayal, and horrific, shocking mercies - a world more traumatic even than the desolate present.


My Thoughts

Then is not a post-apocalyptic survival story. The apocalyptic event, which is never fully explained, that led to London becoming a frozen wasteland sets the scene for the story, but this is far more a literary mystery than a story of survival.

The writing style itself is quite difficult to get used to - it's quite bleak and time shimmers between the past and the present from paragraph to paragraph - this is a book that I had to pay real attention to, otherwise I would have been constantly lost.

Isobel has survived the event, simply described only as an unseasonably hot day that after a flash of light turns the world cold, and is sheltering in an office building with a man, and three teenagers. Having lost her memory, and continuing to have some kind of amnesia, she initially has no recollection of the event, or even of what has occurred just hours before. She is not particularly likable as a character, mainly because she has no memories to form a personality, likes or dislikes, and as she cannot remember nor really even distinguish between dreams and reality, she has an almost ghost-like quality.

Other characters fade in and out as the story progresses, and the whole book has a very ethereal but disjointed feeling. The ending is particularly poignant, but this book has no real resolution, which almost makes it a little bit too clever for its own good. This is not a fun read, nor action-packed, but I did like the ghostly, discombobulated feel. Yep, I've been waiting years to use that word!



24 October 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #4 - Rootless by Chris Howard


Hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, Waiting on Wednesday showcases the books we're lusting after. Get ready to load up your TBR!

Rootless by Chris Howard

Expected Publication: 1 November 2012

Publisher: Scholastic

Pages: 336 (hardcover)

Synopsis

17-year-old Banyan is a tree builder. Using scrap metal and salvaged junk, he creates forests for rich patrons who seek a reprieve from the desolate landscape. Although Banyan's never seen a real tree—they were destroyed more than a century ago—his father used to tell him stories about the Old World. But that was before his father was taken . . .
Everything changes when Banyan meets a woman with a strange tattoo—a clue to the whereabouts of the last living trees on earth, and he sets off across a wasteland from which few return. Those who make it past the pirates and poachers can't escape the locusts—the locusts that now feed on human flesh.

But Banyan isn't the only one looking for the trees, and he's running out of time. Unsure of whom to trust, he's forced to make an uneasy alliance with Alpha, an alluring, dangerous pirate with an agenda of her own. As they race towards a promised land that might only be a myth, Banyan makes shocking discoveries about his family, his past, and how far people will go to bring back the trees.


This sounds like a fabulous YA dystopian sci-fi, and the cover has me really intrigued. Not long until this one is released!

What are you waiting on this week?

23 October 2012

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Stitch by Samantha Durante

Stitch (Stitch Trilogy #1) by Samantha Durante

Published: 1 August 2012

Pages: 314 (paperback)

Genre/s: YA, Dystopia

Source: Blog tour

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Smashwords ~ Barnes & Noble

Synopsis:

Her heart races, her muscles coil, and every impulse in Alessa's body screams at her to run... but yet she's powerless to move.

Still struggling to find her footing after the sudden death of her parents, the last thing college freshman Alessa has the strength to deal with is the inexplicable visceral pull drawing her to a handsome ghostly presence. In between grappling with exams and sorority soirees - and disturbing recurring dreams of being captive in a futuristic prison hell - Alessa is determined to unravel the mystery of the apparition who leaves her breathless. But the terrifying secret she uncovers will find her groping desperately through her nightmares for answers.

Because what Alessa hasn't figured out yet is that she's not really a student, the object of her obsession is no ghost, and her sneaking suspicions that something sinister is lurking behind the walls of her university's idyllic campus are only just scratching the surface...

The opening installment in a twist-laden trilogy, Stitch spans the genres of paranormal romance and dystopian sci-fi to explore the challenges of a society in transition, where morality, vision, and pragmatism collide leaving the average citizen to suffer the results.

My Thoughts

WOW was the first thing I thought when I finished Stitch.  There's a whole bunch of genre's going on here - it starts out contemporary, moves to paranormal and then BAM!, right into dystopia.

I thought Alessa was a fantastic main character - she was easy to relate to, likable, down-to-earth and a pretty tough little cookie.  Her friendship with Janie, her attraction to Isaac and her interactions with other characters all felt very real.  She is definitely a character I want to know more.

The connection between Alessa and Isaac was very realistic - I could see their passion and attraction for each other, despite the evil Paragon's attempts to thwart their relationship.

The plot is full of seamless twists and turns, and just when I thought I had things figured out, I was completely knocked for six when things took a turn that I couldn't even have imagined.  The world-building was great for the first half, and only improved when the book took its first big twist and secrets started to be revealed, both to me and to Alessa.  In fact, I even had to stop a few times to gather my thoughts and process exactly what had just happened.  The pacing is spot on - it builds gradually and then reaches an action-packed climax at just the right time.  Although there are a few small gaps in the history of how the Paragon came to be, I'm sure they will be expanded upon in the following books - I can't imagine that Samantha Durante won't flesh these out a little more as she has done such an excellent job of convincing me of the world thus far.

Despite the fact that Stitch is part of a trilogy, the ending is a perfect balance of cliffhanger and a resolution to book one - and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Samantha Durante has written a fantastic Young Adult Paranormal/Dystopia in Stitch - all the elements come together perfectly to create a thrilling, real story with incredibly likable characters that feel just like friends.

About the Author

Samantha Durante lives in New York City with her husband, Sudeep, and her cat, Gio. Formerly an engineer at Microsoft, Samantha left the world of software in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and a lifelong love of writing. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, Samantha is currently working full time for her company Medley Media Associates as a freelance business writer and communications consultant. Stitch is her first novel. Learn more about Samantha at www.samanthadurante.com.

Stalk Samantha on Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ LibraryThing ~ Shelfari

And thanks to Samantha for providing an e-book copy for giveaway!
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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books To Get In The Halloween Spirit


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. I heart lists!


Although Halloween isn't huge in Australia, or Europe, I still love the whole spooky vibe that happens in the month of October.  As I had a bit of a zombie fest last week, my list this week is pretty much Zombie-free.


Dark Inside (Dark Inside #1) by Jeyn Roberts - I finished reading this one the night before I scheduled this post - a-m-a-z-i-n-g.  And oh-so-creepy.

High Moor by Graeme Reynolds - My first ever werewolf read, and it's absolutely terrifying.

Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon - Yep, here is is again.  You know I love this one, right?

The Passage (The Passage #1) by Justin Cronin - Probably not a book you can read in one night, but it's deliciously creepy.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson - If you've seen the movie, but haven't read the book, Halloween is the perfect opportunity - it's haunting and far more psychological than the movie.


Prodigal Son (Dead Koontz's Frankenstein #1) by Dean Koontz - I loved this series on Audio - Frankenstein re-imagined?  Can it get any spookier?

Trapped (Afraid #2) by Jack Kilborn - one of my favourite 'Old School' horror writers, no one pushes the boundaries quite like Jack Kilborn, aka J.A. Konrath

Horns by Joe Hill - He's the son of Stephen King, but he has a creepy writing style all of his own.  Imagine if you woke up with Horns!

Meat by Joseph D'Lacey - Horror with a message?  I really liked this one on audio, I loved it even more in print.

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake - definitely my favourite spooky YA read of 2012.

What are your favourite Halloween reads?

22 October 2012

Review: Wave by Wil Mara

Wave by Wil Mara

Published: 28 January 2005

Pages: 295 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Thriller, Natural Disaster

Source: Own library

Check It Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis (Goodreads)

It s a beautiful day on the New Jersey shore. The residents of Long Beach Island a narrow strip of land connected to the mainland by a single bridge are going about their daily routines, enjoying the lovely weather.

They have no idea that far out to sea, a plane carrying a nuclear device has crashed. The resultant explosion triggers a massive underwater landslide . . . and a massive tsunami forms, heading straight for Long Beach Island.

By the time anyone realizes the water is coming, it s almost too late. The National Guard is deployed on the mainland, since the fast-approaching thirty-foot-high wall of water will flatten everything on the island. Terrified residents stream toward the slender lifeline of the bridge, causing the island s first and last major traffic jam.

In the frantic struggle to reach safety, strangers offer help to people they ve never seen before and neighbors turn against neighbors. Some cannot decide which precious possessions must be saved, and so take nothing or refuse to leave. Others attempt to profit from the panic, looting abandoned homes and businesses.

Time is running out. The first wave will hit in less than three hours.


My Thoughts


I love me a good disaster novel - terror, destruction, action - yes please! So when I picked up Wave, I was pretty excited to get reading. 

However, although Wave is a quick read, it wasn't exactly what I expected. Yes, there was the varied cast of characters, the build up to the tsunami was well thought out, some science gave the plot a backbone, but I found that I didn't actually LIKE any of the characters - and in any kind of disaster novel, if you don't care about the characters as a reader, the tension just isn't there.

Firstly, a large part of the character story-line revolved around the corrupt mayor of Long Beach Island, and the political aspect is just not my thing. I found myself skimming over large parts of the narrative focusing on these characters, because I simply wasn't interested in what was happening to them.

The young lovers were sweet but the boyfriend was infuriating - reading about his emotional issues meant that he came across as a whining, insecure boy rather than a man that I cared about. Probably the only character that I actually found interesting was the slobby trailer trash girl who had an addiction to junk food and Jerry Springer, and pretty much did every stupid thing possible in the face of impending doom.

And the actual tsunami itself doesn't actually happen until the very end of the book - and although I appreciated that the author was trying to build tension, in the end it actually made the pivotal part of the story, the tsunami and the aftermath feel incredibly rushed.

I don't want to say that Wave is a bad book, because it certainly isn't. The writing is good, the science is well-balanced and the scenario is pretty plausible. It just wasn't what I was expecting, nor what I look for in a good disaster novel - ultimately this just wasn't the book for me.


21 October 2012

Showcase Sunday #10



Showcase Sunday is hosted by the fabulous Vicky of Books, Biscuits and Tea and it's all about sharing the books we've received in the last week - bought, begged or borrowed!

It's been one of those weeks for me - after having a flu bug, and being in the middle of a week-long read-a-thon for a Goodreads group, I haven't even had time to peruse books and accidentally have them fall into my cart!



Purchased
Last Days by Adam Nevill
Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne
Purple by Graham J. Sharpe
For review
The Road to Nowhere by Lee Argus (via BookRooster)

Last Week on the Blog

Ashley and I reviewed Sundered by Shannon Meyer, I listed my Top Ten Zombie Authors and waited on Blind Spot by Laura Ellen, gave four stars to David Moody's Hater, and for Audiobook Friday I reviewed one of my teen favourites, Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

And don't forget to enter my October New Release Giveaway!

What did you get this week? Link me up!

19 October 2012

Audiobook Friday #3 - Review: Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow #1) by John Marsden

Originally published: 1993

Pages: 277 (paperback)

Audio published by: Bolinda Publishing, 16 March 2006

Narrated by: Suzi Dougherty


Length: 7 hours & 20 minutes

Genre/s: YA, post-apocalyptic/dystopia

Source: own library

Check it out (in print): Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

Check it out (Audio): Audible ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis:

When Ellie and her friends return from a camping trip in the Australian bush, they find things hideously wrong--their families are gone. Gradually they begin to comprehend that their country has been invaded and everyone in their town has been taken prisoner. As the reality of the situation hits them, they must make a decision--run and hide, give themselves up and be with their families, or fight back.

My Thoughts

Personally, one of the scariest reading experiences is going back as an adult to read a book I loved as a teenager. What if my 'growing up' has changed my opinion of the book - will I ruin a good memory, or reinforce just why I loved that book so much that the paperback I had eventually fell apart from so many re-reads?

These were exactly the worries I had when I started listening to the audio of Tomorrow, When the War Began. I read the first book a few years after it was first published, when I was 8 or so (ok ok! So when I was about 14.....whatever) and I read all the available books one after the other. Each time a new one was released, I re-read the whole series again and then the new one - so I've read Tomorrow at least 5 or 6 times over the years. I've also own the movie adaptation on DVD, and although it does cut out some parts of the story, it's actually very well done.

Now I'm done with reminiscing, down to the serious business of reviewing a beloved teen favourite. The setting of Tomorrow, When the War Began is infinitely familiar to me - it literally smacks of Australia in a way that few other books I've read does. It evokes feelings of being a teenager, trying to be independent, first loves, the whole nine yards. It has always amazed me, and has done so again, how John Marsden can write books that resonate with both the teenage and adult audiences.

The plot is pretty straightforward - a bunch of teenagers go camping in an isolated part of the outback/forest and emerge to find that their country has been invaded, their parents and friends taken captive and suddenly they are thrust into a very adult situation, with very real, and scary consequences. Despite the fact they could quite easily hole up and hope for the best, they decide to take matters into their own hands and fight back.

All the characters are so well known to me, it's a little difficult for me to take a step back and see how they would come across to a new reader, but I'm certain they could definitely stand up. Ellie will always be one of my favourite teen characters - outwardly tough and brave, inwardly kind, caring and fiercely loyal. Homer, Fi, Robyn, Lee, Chris, Corrie and Kevin are all unique and lovable in their own ways, and together they make a strong, almost unified team. (I didn't even have to look all those names up, I remember them so well!).

Everything about Tomorrow, When the War Began is plausible, imaginable and well-considered. There's no sudden appearance of weapons and unexplained natural ability to kick arse, it's just simple, believable situations and reactions, both positive and negative.

I loved this book on audio - the narrator is a fantastic voice for Ellie, and the whole story holds up just as I remembered it. This is YA as it should be - it has the appeal for any reader of any age and despite the fact that next year it is 20 years old, it's not at all dated.

18 October 2012

Review: Hater by David Moody

Hater (Hater #1) by David Moody

Published: 17 July 2006

Pages: 244 (paperback)

Genre/s: Horror, Apocalyptic

Source: Own Library

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


Synopsis (Goodreads)

Society is rocked by a sudden increase in the number of violent assaults on individuals. Christened 'Haters' by the media, the attackers strike without warning, killing all who cross their path. The assaults are brutal, remorseless and extreme: within seconds, normally rational, self-controlled people become frenzied, vicious killers. There are no apparent links as a hundred random attacks become a thousand, then hundreds of thousands. Everyone, irrespective of gender, age, race or any other difference, has the potential to become a victim - or a Hater. People are afraid to go to work, afraid to leave their homes and, increasingly, afraid that at any moment their friends, even their closest family, could turn on them with ultra violent intent.  Waking up each morning, no matter how well defended, everyone must now consider the fact that by the end of the day, they might be dead.  Or perhaps worse, become a killer themselves.  As the status quo shifts, ATTACK FIRST, ASK QUESTIONS LATER becomes the order of the day...  only, the answers might be much different than what you expect....

My Thoughts

Hater has been on my TBR list for a long time, and as a fan of David Moody's Autumn series, I was looking forward to getting into this one and reading something a little different, and despite my assumptions, is not a zombie novel.

Essentially Hater is the story of one average guy, Danny, who has a job he hates and lives in a flat on a dodgy council estate with his partner and three children.  As a series of seemingly random attacks take place in the city where he lives and works, he takes the step of barricading his family in their flat for their safety, only venturing out reluctantly in search of supplies.

The tension builds slowly, and the first half of the book is full of flash scenes of the virus attacking at random, which I love in any apocalyptic book and in Hater it's pretty confronting - school girls, policemen, the elderly - no one is immune to the random impact of the virus.  The Haters themselves are initially uncontrollable, but after the initial outburst become more subdued and cannot be easily distinguished from other non-infected people.


I really liked that Hater is about an average guy - he's certainly no hero, and as the story progresses, his family become increasingly paranoid even of each other - snapped words and sharp looks caused by living in such a stressful environment begin to push them closer to turning on each other.
Hater is an addictive read and certainly has the one-more-chapter feel, right up until the twist and climax which went in a direction that I certainly wasn't expecting.  It's fabulously unpredictable and I'd love to tell you more about it, but it's difficult without giving important parts of the story away.

My only reason for not giving it a full five star rating is that the characters can be a little unlikable and there are a few periods of what I can only call repetitive whinging.  But otherwise Hater is an intense and extremely tense read, and David Moody holds absolutely nothing back.

17 October 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #3 - Blind Spot by Laura Ellen



Hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, Waiting on Wednesday showcases the books we're lusting after. Get ready to load up your TBR!


Blind Spot by Laura Ellen

Expected Publication: 23 October 2012 by Harcourt Children's Books

Pages: 336 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Contemporary, Mystery

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Seventeen-year-old Tricia Farni’s body floated to the surface of Alaska’s Birch River six months after the night she disappeared. The night Roz Hart had a fight with her. The night Roz can’t remember. Roz, who struggles with macular degeneration, is used to assembling fragments to make sense of the world around her. But this time it’s her memory that needs piecing together—to clear her name . . . to find a murderer.

I love mysteries, and this one sounds really intriguing - not just your average murder mystery. Want!

16 October 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: My Top Ten Favorite Zombie Authors



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. I heart lists!

Yeah, who guessed this would be my list ;-) My Top Ten Zombie Authors, and their zombie books that I've read.

Mark Tufo
With books that manage to make me laugh out loud in the middle of the zombie apocalypse and awesome characters, Mark is also an incredibly accessible author, and a huge proponent of self-publishing.
Books Read: Zombie Fallout 1, Zombie Fallout 2, Zombie Fallout 3
Reviews: Zombie Fallout 1, Zombie Fallout 2

Jonathan Maberry 
With more zombie books than you can poke a stick at, Jonathan Maberry also manages to write books that appeal to an incredibly wide audience.  And he once commented on my blog *squee*
Books Read: Patient Zero, The Dragon Factory, Dead of Night.
Review: Dead of Night

Rhiannon Frater
I dare anyone to not love Rhiannon's books - along with zombies she also writes awesome vampire novels.  Her female characters are some of the best, most realistic I've read in any zombie book.
Books Read: The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters, The First Days
Reviews: The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters, The First Days

A.R. Wise
I love this series - although short, they're moving and very very scary.
Books Read: Deadlocked 1, Deadlocked 2
Reviews: Deadlocked 1, Deadlocked 2

Ian Woodhead
I've loved the setting of all Ian Woodhead's books that I've read - they're so gritty and very definitely English.
Books Read: The Unwashed Dead, ZombieDead, Walking With Zombies
Reviews: The Unwashed DeadZombieDeadWalking With Zombies

Craig DiLouie
Intense and gritty, I loved both these books, and there's a NEW ONE.  Yay!
Books Read: The Infection, Tooth and Nail

J.L. Bourne
Apart from the fact that the series is written in the always difficult diary form, the author's knowledge of warfare really come through.
Books Read: Day by Day Armageddon, Beyond Exile

David Moody
One of the first zombie series that I've read, I love David Moody's writing style.
Books Read: Autumn, Autumn: The City, Autumn: Purification

Joseph Talluto
My favourite part of the White Flag of the Dead series is definitely the fact that the main character is also trying to bring up his young son in the middle of the madness.
Books Read: White Flag of the Dead, Taking it Back, America the Dead

Joe McKinney
Classic old school zombie apocalypse?  Joe McKinney has them in spades.
Books Read: Dead City
Review: Dead City

T.W. Brown
Despite the fact I didn't like his first book, Zomblog II was a completely different experience for me. 
Books Read: Zomblog, Zomblog II
Reviews: Zomblog, Zomblog II

Who are your favourite authors?  Link me up to your Top Ten lists too!

15 October 2012

Ashley & Kat review: Sundered by Shannon Meyer

Sundered (Nevermore Trilogy #1) by Shannon Meyer

Published: 1 September 2011

Pages: 122 (kindle)

Genre/s: Zombies/Paranormal

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis

A miracle drug, Nevermore, spreads like wildfire throughout the world allowing people to eat what they want, no matter how unhealthy it is and yet still lose weight. It is everything the human population has ever dreamed of and Mara is no different. Only a simple twist of fate stops her from taking the drug.

As the weeks roll by, it becomes apparent that Nevermore is not the miracle it claimed. A true to life nightmare, the drug steals the very essence that makes up humanity and unleashes a new and deadly species on the world, a species bent on filling its belly. Locked down within their small farm home, Mara and her husband Sebastian struggle against increasingly bad odds, fighting off marauders and monsters alike.

But Sebastian carries a dark secret, one that more than threatens to tear them apart, it threatens to destroy them both and the love they have for each other.

The secret forces Mara to make the ultimate choice. Will she live for love, or will she live to survive?


Our Thoughts


The Characters

Ashley: The characters, Mara and Sebastian, were honestly not my favorite couple to keep up with in a novel. In fact, when writing this review, I had to get on Goodreads to remember their names. I honestly couldn't remember much about them. Mara and Sebastian obviously love each other very much. Their romance was a little unbelievable to me, especially in the second half of the book. I am very interested in how the rest of the trilogy goes.

Kat: One of the main issues I had with Sundered is the length. Whilst some novels can get away with packing a lot into so few pages, in Sundered it simply hampered how much attachment I could form to the characters. I liked Mara - she isn't an awesome bad-arse heroine, she's just an average, slightly overweight and quite insecure woman who wants to have a nice, quiet life with her hubby. And that does make her more likable in terms of what she overcomes.

Sebastian, however, was far harder to like. Yes, he loves his wife, but at times the way he spoke to her was actually quite degrading (if a man ever called me 'wifey' he'd get a wet slap!) and he was all over the place in terms of his emotions.

The Plot

Ashley: This was a very short book and I have to say, I honestly don't remember a lot of this book. I remember the introduction of the Nevermore shot, the turning of the zombie-type people, the survival of Mara, and her husband's secret. So far as this secret goes, I figured it out really soon.

The action was not as intense as I would have liked. In fact, I mostly remember Mara staying inside of her house and not leaving. Oh, well until persons more dangerous threatened Mara. From that point onward, I really liked the book.

Kat: The basic idea of the plot, that a miracle weight-loss drug goes awry and everyone who takes it ends up going nuts is a good one. The idea of a woman who cannot take the drug being barricaded in her home screams post-apocalyptic and pretty much ticks all of my boxes. BUT (and yes, it's a but in caps!), the actual book itself is a little all-over-the-place - some parts move too quickly, others too slowly and some of it is just plain wierd, including a love story of sorts that just made me cringe. It's hard to determine exactly how much time passes, as there are no obvious indications and instead it's left up to the reader to work it out, which was slightly confusing.

World-Building

Ashley: I will say, the zombies in this one are by far one of my favorite. Aside from real zombies, of course. I like the Nevermore zombies because it sounds like this could actually happen. I speak without any medical and scientific training, but my goodness.

Kat: There's some investigation of the science behind the drug, but as Mara is barricaded in her home with no access to the outside world, her knowledge is limited only to what she sees on the TV before things really go south. There's not much discussion of the lengths she has to go to to survive, and apart from a period where she takes to her bed in despair, it all seems a little bit too easy.

Final Thoughts

Ashley
: I really wish I would have like this one more. I really do. Aside from the Nevermore zombies, I just didn't have much of an interest in anything else. I absolutely think that Shannon Meyer did well in coming up with unique zombie-ish characters though. And for that, I give it a 2 out of 5. I can't decide if I will read the next two books, but since they are short, I may give them a try later on.

Kat: Sundered is a good attempt at the current post-apocalyptic, kinda-zombie trend, but overall it was just too inconsistent in terms of characters and pacing to really grab me.

Ashley's Rating: 2 Stars
Kat's Rating: 2 stars

You can read more of Ashley's reviews on her blog The Bibliophile's Corner, or stalk her on Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter.

14 October 2012

October New Release Giveaway Hop



Yep, it's time already for the October New Release Giveaway Hop, hosted by Book Twirps and Refracted Light Reviews.  One lucky winner will be able to choose a book from those listed below, to be shipped from The Book Depository.


Ashen Winter (Ashfall #2) by Mike Mullin
Crewel (Crewel World #1) by Gennifer Albin
Zom-B (Zom-B #1) by Darren Shan
Beta (Annex #1) by Rachel Cohn
Mystic City (Mystic City #1)by Theo Lawrence
Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragonslayer #1) by Jasper Fforde
This Book Is Full of Spiders (John Dies at the End #2) by David Wong


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Don't forget to hop to the other blogs!


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