30 November 2012

Audiobook Friday #8 - Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Published: 30 September 2008 by HarperCollins

Pages: 320 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Paranormal, Young Adult

Source: Own library

Audiobook Version
Published: 31 October 2008 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Narrated By: Neil Gaiman

Length: 7 hrs, 48 mins

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

Synopsis

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

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

My Thoughts

I've always been a little ashamed that I haven't read a Neil Gaiman book, after all, it's hard to find someone that doesn't like his writing style and story-telling prowess. I was determined to rectify that with The Graveyard Book, even if I was a little unsure about the intended audience.

However, I'm now seriously regretting NOT reading a Neil Gaiman book earlier. Right from the beginning I was completely entranced by The Graveyard Book - the characters, the setting, the tension and the enormous creep factor.

I loved Bod - it was easy to like him, empathise with him, and travelling with him through Neil Gaiman's mind was like going on the best creepy holiday ever. The supporting characters are equally engaging or villainous and although I couldn't figure Silas out in the beginning, by the end I was almost in tears. The Man Jack is incredibly villainous (I just wanted to use that word again!) and the ghouls were fantastically creepy and macabre.

Although not all the parts of the plot are completely connected to the story, I did enjoy the sideways wanderings into other, unrealised, plot lines. For me it helped to build the world of the graveyard, the kooky spooky characters and kept me guessing as to just how things would play out.

The Graveyard Book is marketed as a young adult book, but as a reader who is quite far past that particular audience, I found it captivatingly creepy. The ending also fell into the category of unresolved plot lines, but sometimes I don't want everything to be wrapped up nicely - I want to imagine for myself how things really ended up.

The Audio Version

Books narrated by their authors are unusual, but to find one that is superbly narrated by the author is a rare chook indeed. Therefore, I hereby christen Mr. Gaiman a rare chook as The Graveyard book is one of the very few audiobooks I could just listen to - no playing Sudoku no half eye on the scene outside the window, it was an audiobook where I could just close my eyes and enjoy the storytelling.

Passion for his story and characters, great inflection and a creepy musical score made The Graveyard Book a wonderful listen.

29 November 2012

Review: The Twelve by Justin Cronin

The Twelve (The Passage #2) by Justin Cronin

Published: 16 October 2012 by Random House

Pages: 568 (hardback)

Genre/s: Post apocalyptic, Horror

Source: Own Library

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

Disclaimer: As the second book in the series, this review may contain spoilers for The Passage. You can check out my review of The Passage here.



Synopsis

At the end of The Passage, the great viral plague had left a small group of survivors clinging to life amidst a world transformed into a nightmare. In the second volume of this epic trilogy, this same group of survivors, led by the mysterious, charismatic Amy, go on the attack, leading an insurrection against the virals: the first offensives of the Second Viral War.

To do this, they must infiltrate a dozen hives, each presided over by one of the original Twelve. Their secret weapon: Alicia, transformed at the end of book one into a half human, half viral—but whose side, in the end, is she really on?

My Thoughts


The very first thing I thought when my copy of The Twelve fell through my mailbox was whether I needed to re-read The Passage before throwing myself back into Justin Cronin's world.  In the end, I did re-read it, but in hindsight it wasn't strictly necessary as I remembered far more than I thought I would, and the first part of The Twelve recaps what happened in The Passage in biblical verse.  It sounds like an odd way to recap a book, but it works pretty well from my perspective.

One feeling I had from The Passage is that the world building would be revealed bit by bit in the next book, and I'm happy to say I was right.  The fall of Denver is particularly closely examined, and the fates of survivors are spread through the first part of the book.  More on the background of characters that only flashed up in The Passage are also revealed, and although some of the character interactions have a strong feeling of familiarity, not having these connections would have lessened the tension and emotion of the story.  There's also more information on the infection, and the different strains and how they were discovered and introduced to the public.  Most of the characters from The Passage are back in The Twelve, and almost all of them have changed and matured in the intervening period.

There are also new characters introduced, which for anyone that has read The Passage is enough to sound overwhelming, but they are all quite unique and it's actually good to have a few fresh faces after the intensity of the first book.

After The Passage I really didn't think Justin Cronin could rachet up the horror and tension any further, but he definitely succeeds in doing so with The Twelve.  A new community is introduced, and the cruelty and deprivation of the regime that controls is in huge contrast to the community introduced in The Passage.  I don't want to give too much away, but in some ways it mirrors real events in human history that shocked and appalled the world.

Although not told in flashbacks as such, the time period shifts back to the outbreak and moves forward from there, eventually jumping past the period that the majority of The Passage was set it, to five years after the ending of The Passage.

Unfortunately, once again, there is a lull in the middle of this book, despite it being significantly shorter than The Passage.  However, because it is a shorter lull, it doesn't feel like stalling quite as much as The Passage.

Overall, I did enjoy The Twelve more than The Passage, and mostly that is due to the world-building.  However, I'm giving them both the same rating as The Passage had a more epic feel to the journey.

28 November 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #9 - Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff


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

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Expected Publication: 8 January 2013 by Razorbill

Pages: 386

Genre/s: Young Adult, Paranormal

Synopsis
The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

Why I'm Waiting

It sounds creep-tastic! And a little mystery thrown in certainly helps grab my interest. Oh, and I love the cover too (yep, I'm shallow like that!)

What are you waiting on this week?

27 November 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For 2013


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

I am SO bad at keeping track of books that are being released in the future, but these are top of my book-stalking list!


Fragments (Partials #2) by Dan Wells (26 Feb. 2013)
Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver (5 March 2013)
Taken (Taken #1) by Erin Bowman (16 April 2013)
The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) by Julie Kagawa (1 Apr. 2013) - no cover yet
The Lives We Lost (Fallen World #2) by Megan Crewe (12 Feb. 2013)
Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman (8 Jan. 2013)
Sunrise (Ashfall #3) by Mike Mullin (2013) - no cover yet
The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand by Gregory Galloway (21 Feb. 2013)
The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams (16 Apr. 2013)
Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma (2013) no cover yet

What books are you stalking in 2013?

26 November 2012

Review: Zom-B (Zom-B #1) by Darren Shan

Zom-B (Zom-B #1) by Darren Shan

Published: 27 September 2012 by Simon & Schuster

Pages: 217 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Horror, Zombies

Source: Own library

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

Synopsis

Zom-B is a radical new series about a zombie apocalypse, told in the first person by one of its victims. The series combines classic Shan action with a fiendishly twisting plot and hard-hitting and thought-provoking moral questions dealing with racism, abuse of power and more. This is challenging material, which will captivate existing Shan fans and bring in many new ones. As Darren says, "It's a big, sprawling, vicious tale...a grisly piece of escapism, and a barbed look at the world in which we live. Each book in the series is short, fast-paced and bloody. A high body-count is guaranteed!"


My Thoughts

I've never read a Darren Shan book, but everything I heard about him is positive, so as soon as I saw Zom-B, I had to buy it.  A zombie book written by an author with an excellent reputation, set in the UK?  Yep, I was hooked in.

Zom-B is a quick read, taking me just over two hours to get through, and definitely has a one-more-chapter feeling.  There are also some awesome illustrations throughout the book, which I wasn't expecting but added an extra touch to the story.

Zom-B begins with the story of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, which is initally laughed off by B, the main character of the book, and B's friends.

B is a fantastic character with a tough background.  An abusive, racist and possibly alcoholic father, a hen-pecked mother and a bunch of friends that enjoy terrorising local shop-keepers and their teachers, although there's a lot to dislike about B, I couldn't help but feeling sympathetic - Zom-B really shows just how your upbringing can shape your attitude and actions in life, and it all felt incredibly realistic.

The zombie action doesn't start until more than half-way through the book, which would normally have disappointed me, but that's not the case here - there was so much going on with B that I actually didn't mind at all, and started to suspect that maybe this was a zombie story in name only.  Rest assured, there are zombies, and when they do arrive things go to shit pretty fast, and in a very gory fashion.

I love reading books set in the UK - to me the language and setting is very familiar and I love the quirks of the English, which have come through very well in Darren Shan's writing.  The writing is perfect for a teenage and adult audience - it's fast, straightforward and yet incredibly entertaining.

Zom-B ends on a huge, and quite shocking, cliffhanger but as part of a 12 part series, the next book is scheduled for publication in 2013, so there's not a long wait to see just what Darren Shan can dream up next.


25 November 2012

Showcase Sunday #14


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.

It's been a slooooowww week for me in both reading and book hoarding, and I apologise for my serious lack of replying and commenting in the last week, I've had dodgy internet AGAIN :(

New Books

Want To Go Private by Sarah Darer Littman, which I purchased after reading Lori at Pure Imagination's review.
The Endearment by LaVyrle Spencer which I purchased in a fit of nostalgia - I loved her books as a teenager.

Books Read
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (audio)

Currently Reading
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
The Testimony by James Smythe
Caribou Island by David Vann

Last Week On the Blog

I reviewed The Passage by Justin Cronin, Barely Alive by Bonnie R. Paulson and Latter Day of the Dead by Kevin Krohn. I Waited on Wednesday for one of the rare contemporary YA titles that I'm stalking, and Top Ten Tuesday was my list of authors I'm thankful for.

Next Week On the Blog

Reviews of The Twelve by Justin Cronin and Zom-B by Darren Shan, audiobook Friday is back and the usual Top Ten Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday and my November wrap-up.

Oh, and of course, my blog is now one year old, and to celebrate there's a giveaway - don't forget to enter ;-)

How was your week?  Any exciting new books?

24 November 2012

Review: The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Passage (The Passage #1) by Justin Cronin


Published: 8 June 2010 by Ballantine Books

Pages: 784 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Post apocalyptic, Horror

Source: Own library

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

Synopsis

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.


My Thoughts

I first read The Passage at the end of 2010, and with the release of the second book, The Twelve, in October I had an urge to go back and re-read it. And re-reading it was no small undertaking - at nearly 800 pages, this is not a quick whip through kind of read. In hindsight, I remembered far more than I thought, but I'm still very glad I did revisit it again.

The Passage is a mixture of post-apocalyptic and paranormal horror. There's a massive cast of characters, ranging from good to evil, outgoing to wallflower, and the span of the plot covers more than 100 years.

Starting with the story of Amy, the main protagonist of the story, whose very birth and upbringing is just another sad tale of life dealing a difficult hand, from the very beginning The Passage had me intrigued. Relating to Amy is easy for the first part of the book - a small child caught up in a conspiracy that threatens to swallow her up, she balances childlike innocence with a maturity only found in children with a tough start in life.

My other favourite character was Waldgren, whose own difficult past, caring attitude, strong sense of right and wrong and calm, cool demeanor made him incredible likable while keeping that 'real-guy' feeling.

The middle part of the book was the only disappointment for me. From a tension-filled and intriguing beginning, it seemed to stall a little as the story moved into the second-phase - and introducing a very large cast of main and supporting characters in a short period of time made it difficult to feel 'settled-in'. Luckily the pace and tension increases in the last third of the book as things spiral out of control, and more of the world is revealed.

Justin Cronin can definitely write a scary book. It's not overwhelming in its blood and gore, but tension is high, the writing is lyrically hypnotic and the characters begin to emerge as individuals the more the book progresses. There are some gaps in the world building, but it's not a sense of the author skipping over things that comes through, it's more a feeling that there is a lot to reveal, and Mr. Cronin is going to do it bit by tantalising bit.


23 November 2012

First Blogoversary Giveaway

So it's been (more) than a whole year since I sat down one weekend and wrote my very first blog post.  In that year I've learnt a lot, met some amazing people and read some absolutely amazing (and not so amazing *wink*) books.

I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who has joined me on my journey through book blogging this past year, and as I lack the creativity to think up any other way to celebrate, I'm just going to GIVE STUFF AWAY.

Want to win €50.00 worth of books, shipped from The Book Depository?  Then you know what to do!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

22 November 2012

Review: Barely Alive by Bonnie R. Paulson

Barely Alive (Barely Alive #1) by Bonnie R. Paulson

Published: 26 March 2012

Pages: 290 (paperback)

Genre/s: YA, Zombie

Source: Author for review

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis

In twelve weeks, seventeen-year-old Paul Ledger will be dead. At least he hopes so.

Paul is trapped in the worst cult the United States has ever seen. Infected with a zombie virus, symptoms culminate in a dead body but thriving mind over a course of twelve weeks. If he doesn’t earn the final death he longs for, he’ll be chained in a basement facility, moaning for human flesh for eternity.

Sent out to kidnap girls for food, toys, or whatever the boss wants, Paul nabs Heather McCain. He’s not a fan of humans as a general rule, but even his graying skin and insatiable hunger for her flesh don’t stop her from reaching out to him. Give him the second chance he doesn’t know he needs.

Overcome by his cravings, Paul bites her delectable skin. Amazingly, she doesn’t develop the zombie-like side effects. When the boss discovers Heather’s immunity, he gives Paul an ultimatum – deliver up Heather and her family to continue the research or watch as Paul’s brother suffers the zombie fate.

Paul has a chance to endure his short zombie existence knowing his brother is safe. But he’ll have to sacrifice Heather to do it.


My Thoughts

With the deluge of zombie books out there, one kind of book particularly grabs my attention, and that's the story told from the zombie perspective.   There a few of those books out there, but I believe this is the first one I've read from the perspective of a teenage boy, which makes it even more unique.

Barely Alive is the story of Paul - a typical teenage boy who also happens to be a zombie.  And this particular zombie virus isn't your normal quick-turn-into-brain-muncher virus - it's been engineered by a particularly shady scientist, Dominic, who is using the virus to create an army of the nearly-undead to capture teenage girls for his own creepy needs.  The hunger is preset from the beginning, but gradually their bodies waste away, leaving just their mind trapped inside the shell of a zombie.

It did take me a little while to get into the story, and also to feel connected to the characters.  I liked Paul straight away, and Ms Paulson did an excellent job in writing a realistic teenage boy - after he meets Heather he struggles with keeping his need for flesh from driving him to eat humans and to keep his lust for Heather from distracting him on their attempt to escape the clutches of Dominic.   After gathering up a few more zombies and the good-guy scientist that Dominic used to work with, they set off to find the remnants of their families and to try and find a cure.

Barely Alive is a mixture of zombie apocalypse survival, zombie perspective and road-trip as Paul and his gang attempt to get from Vegas to Idaho, all the while with Dominic on their tail. Ms. Paulson does a fantastic job of balancing the science behind the virus with a good post-apocalyptic story, right down to the effects of the virus on the infected.  

Although it took a while for the story to really pull me in, Barely Alive was so unique and interesting that I tore through the second half of the story within a couple of hours, and I'm looking forward to reading more of the series, and finding out more about the virus and if the characters can actually find a cure.


21 November 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #8 - Just One Day by Gayle Forman


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

Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman

Expected publication: 8 January 2013 by Dutton Juvenile

Pages: 320

Genre/s: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Why I'm Waiting

Honestly, if it wasn't by Gayle Forman, I probably wouldn't be desperately stalking this book. But I loved If I Stay and Where She Went so much, I can't wait to get my hot little hands on this one!

What are you waiting for this week?

20 November 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books/Authors I'm Thankful For

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


If I think back on my reading habits over the past few years, they have changed dramatically.  In 2009 I read maybe a dozen books, and already in 2012 I've read over 150.  E-books helped changed that, but mostly it was going outside my comfort zone and reading books I would never have picked up three years ago.

So my list today is the Top Ten Books or Authors who have re-ignited my love of reading, those that have helped me push my boundaries and those that have contributed to the life of my blog.

1) Jonathan Maberry for introducing me to zombies.
2) Rhiannon Frater for helping me overcome my vampire allergy.
3) Tabitha Suzuma for showing me that contemporary YA doesn't have to be all cheesy love triangles and happy endings.
4) Suzanne Collins for introducing me to YA dystopias.
5) John Marsden for writing books that got me reading as a teen.
6) Phillip W. Simpson for sending me my first ever physical review book, and endlessly plugging my blog everywhere he goes.
7) Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne for being my first audiobook, and the reason for my audio addiction.
8) Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank for introducing me to the Post-Apocalyptic genre.
9) The Flu by Jacqueline Druga for being the first book I ever reviewed on my blog.
10) Not a book, nor an author but it's my list so I can bend the rules - I'm thankful for every single follower, commentor and anyone who has stopped by my blog.  You guys are awesome!

What books or authors are you thankful for?  Is there an author that has introduced you to a new genre, or re-ignited your love of reading?

19 November 2012

Review: Latter-Day of the Dead by Kevin Krohn

Latter-Day of the Dead by Kevin Krohn

Published: 10 March 2012

Pages: 182 (paperback)

Genre/s: Zombie

Source: Own library

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Synopsis

Harrowing cries escaped the contorted faces of our flock. End of Days was a known truth but never a faced reality. Once the madness broke...we feared it would never subside.

My Thoughts

I picked up Latter-Day of the Dead after reading a fantastic review by Kayla at Bibliophilia, Please. Plus, it's a zombie story set in a polygamist community - two things that really grab my interest - zombies and religious cults.

As well as being a zombie story, Latter-Day of the Dead is an intimiate, intricate look into the world of a radical Mormon community. Opening with a scene in a local strip-joint, the story quickly moves back to the community and as the virus takes hold, the community leaders at first refuse to believe what is happening and quickly turn to believing the virus is a sign of the devil possessing their families.

Elias is the community doctor, and one of the few members of the community who has allowed to study in the big, bad outside world. He's an intriguing character that despite his exposure to the rest of the world has remained true to his communities beliefs. There was only one thing I didn't really like about him, and that was his habit of expressing strong emotions by saying something along the lines of ''If I could use two words to describe it, it would be 'really' and 'annoying'''.

The other members of the community are incredibly believable in their words and actions, particularly the head of the family who treated his wives as nothing more than human shields when the shit really hit the fan.

The language used by the characters, and in the writing itself, was incredibly realistic and a perfect fit for the old-fashioned and radical ideas of the community. The spread of the virus through the community realistically used all the 'normal' emotions from denial through to radical ideas on how to deal with the infected. One thing that I particularly liked was the way that townspeople dealt with patient zero - the method they used to stop him from biting others was unique as well as being pretty effective. I'm marking that one down in my zombie survival list!

Latter-Day of the Dead has a great balance of story-telling, characterisation and world-building along with the pre-requisite zombie gore.

Although it's a short book, I really enjoyed Latter-Day of the Dead with it's unique story-line, kooky characters and well-researched setting.


18 November 2012

Showcase Sunday #13


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.

After all the excitement of moving, trying to get everything unpacked and organised, it appears I've forgotten about buying books!  Plus the fact that moving is so freaking expensive....

New Books
What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1) by Kat Zhang
Darklandia by T.S. Welti

Books read last week
Tommy Nightmare (The Paranormals #2) by J.L. Bryan
Day by Day Armageddon (Day by Day Armageddon #1) by J.L. Bourne
Blood Fugue by Joseph D'Lacey
Enclave (Razorland #1) by Ann Aguirre

Currently Reading
Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura #1) by Jonathan Maberry
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (audio)
The Testimony by James Smythe

Last Week
I reviewed Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts, Blood Fugue by Joseph D'Lacey, Carnivorous Nights by Margaret Mittelbach and the audiobook of Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne, I waited on The Dead and the Buried, listed my Top Ten Books I'd take with me to a deserted island and I'm hosting a giveaway for the Gratitude Giveaways Hop.

Next Week
Reviews of Latter Day of the Dead by Kevin Krohn, Barely Alive by Bonnie Paulson and The Passage by Justin Cronin, Top Ten Tuesday is all about gratitude and Waiting on Wednesday will be my most anticipated YA Contemporary of 2013.

What bookish goodies did you get this week?

17 November 2012

Review: Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

Dark Inside (Dark Inside #1) by Jeyn Roberts

Published: 2 September 2011 by Macmillan

Pages: 368 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Young Adult, Post-Apocalyptic

Source: Own library

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


Synopsis

Since the beginning of mankind, civilizations have fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs...and now us. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening: An ancient evil has been unleashed, and it's turning everyday people into hunters, killers, and crazies. This is the world Mason, Aries, Clementine, and Michael are living in--or rather, trying to survive. Each is fleeing unspeakable horror, from murderous chaos to brutal natural disasters, and each is traveling the same road in a world gone mad. Amid the throes of the apocalypse and clinging to love and meaning wherever it can be found, these four teens are on a journey into the heart of darkness--and to find each other and a place of safety.

My Thoughts


It took me about three hours to read Dark Inside - although I was tired, grumpy and a little hungover, I couldn't stop. This is the ultimate in 'one more chapter' reading.

Firstly, and most importantly, Dark Inside is not a zombie novel. It's a wonderful mix of paranormal post-apocalyptic action - from the first chapter I was completely hooked. Focused on four main characters with a cast of unforgettable secondary characters, it begins with a bang and just doesn't slow down, all the way through.

All four characters are incredibly different, but all either likable or easy to sympathise with. Aries is a strong female character with brains, Mason is the guilt-ridden survivor, Clementine is the ditz who survives despite her naive ideas and action and Michael is thrust into a world that grows increasingly dark by the minute but manages to keep his head above water. And then there's Nothing - the character that knows all about the dark, but doesn't reveal more than small glimpses of him, or her, self whilst keeping up with our un-merry little band of survivors.

Of the secondary characters I particularly loved Chickadee with her infectious energy and I loved to hate Colin. It takes a special character for me to hate them so much I'm hoping for their downfall.

The world-building grabbed me immediately - with terrifyingly real earthquakes, attacks on schools and small towns are just the beginning, as those people infected with 'the darkness' begin to hunt in packs, terrorising the few remaining humans who are are not infected. The descriptions of the earthquake and several other events are so terrifying in their reality I was literally on the edge of my sofa.

There's no faulting the pacing of Dark Inside. It is literally a rollercoaster that I didn't want to get off - so much that I went and bought the second book, Rage Within, when I was only halfway through Dark Inside, because I knew I wanted to have the next book ready.

If you love fast-paced books with excellent characterisation, where the secrets of the apocalypse are tantalisingly dangled in front of you, read Dark Inside. I can't believe I waited this long to read it!

16 November 2012

Audiobook Friday #7 - Review: Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne

Day by Day Armageddon (Day by Day Armageddon #1) by J.L. Bourne

Self-published: 11 June 2004, republished by Permuted Press 1 November 2007

Pages: 224 (paperback)

Genre/s: Apocalyptic, Zombie, Horror

Audio Version
Released: 5 January 2010
Length: 6 hours and 38 minutes
Narrated By: Jay Snyder

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

Synopsis

START INTERCEPT_ Sporadic news reports indicate chaos and violence spreading through U.S. cities. An unknown evil is sweeping the planet. The dead are rising to claim the Earth as the new dominant species in the food chain. INTERCEPT COMPLETE_ Survivor, In your hands is the handwritten journal depicting one man's struggle for survival. Trapped in the midst of global disaster, he must make decisions; choices that ultimately mean life, or the eternal curse to walk as one of them. Enter if you will into his world. -The world of the undead.

My Thoughts

Day by Day Armageddon was the first ever audiobook I listed to, so it will always have a special place in my heart. I was so enthralled I would stand outside in the snow on my breaks at work so I could squeeze in another few minutes of listening. So when I saw it still queued up in my audiobook list, I thought I'd give it another whirl.

Day by Day Armageddon is written in journal style, which can be a pretty tricky medium. There's a lot of insight into the main character, but the other characters tend to suffer as there is little dialogue and as a reader you never really get to know them. Day by Day Armageddon, for the most part, pulls this off pretty well although at times it felt like the other characters were just there for padding (or zombie food?!).

The plot is the old zombie favourite of outbreak, death and destruction, but with the main character being a US Navy officer, there's more than a little weapons, survival and airplane-speak, but it's written in a way that made it both interesting and relevant to a non-militarist like me. This does spill over into the main character as well, as at times his snarky sense of humour made me grin, at others it felt quite cold and detached, but certainly matched the persona of the character well.

Being in journal-style, there's little insight into what has happened to the rest of the world apart from what the MC witnesses, reads or hears himself, but the descriptions made up for the narrow view. One of the characters that he picks up along his travels, Tara, is almost certain to become a love interest in a future book, but her particular survival story really gave me chills - I won't give it away but it's one of the most horrendous ideas I've ever come across in a zombie novel.

The audio version is very well done as Jay Snyder narrates the story perfectly giving me the feeling that the journal was being read to me by the person who wrote it very soon after the actual events.

15 November 2012

Review: Blood Fugue by Joseph D'Lacey

Blood Fugue by Joseph D'Lacey

Expected Publication: 16 November 2012 by Proxima Books / Salt Publishing

Pages: 272 (paperback)

Genre/s: Horror

Source: Publisher for review

Check it Out: Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ Audible

Synopsis

Reclusive outdoorsman, Jimmy Kerrigan, finds himself battling a vampiric plague which threatens to destroy Hobson’s Valley, the isolated mountain community he calls home. When his family, friends and neighbours fall prey to the ‘Fugue’, Kerrigan is the only one who can save them and prevent the disease spreading beyond the remote town’s boundaries.

Kerrigan is challenged beyond his limits when an innocent family of outsiders hikes straight into a wilderness crawling with Fugues – a wilderness he is responsible for. Can he really save them and protect the town? Can he defeat the creature who has caused the Fugue to mutate? And, most crucially, when he learns the horrifying truth about his own infection, will he even have the strength to try?


My Thoughts

My first introduction to Joseph D'Lacey was his eco-horror novel, Meat. I listened to it on audiobook the first time around, and I was so entranced by it that I ended up purchasing and reading the print version a year or so later. So when I was given an opportunity via Joseph and his publisher, Salt Publishing, to read and review his latest book, Blood Fugue, I was so keen to get started I pushed all my other reading aside and read it immediately.

Blood Fugue is definitely not for the faint hearted. Although it appears the idea came from vapiric lore, this is vampires on crack - they're big, bad, and very very ugly. I've always loved a good horror novel - the gorier and more shocking the better - and Blood Fugue delivered on every single level. This is not a novel for the faint hearted or easily squeamish, but it's certainly one for readers who love to scare the absolute crap out of themselves.

One issue I've found in the past with horror novels set around a small town is that there is so much going on with the plot that character development tends to fall a little to the side. But in Blood Fugue, Joseph D'Lacey has created characters that are believable and very easily identifiable. From the main character, Jimmy, whose reclusive yet caring nature makes him a natural lead for the story, through to his on and off girlfriend Amy, his parents and the few townspeople that have more than a cameo appearance, every single character stands out in their own right.

The plot itself seems straightforward, but there are quite a few twists that I didn't see coming, and Mr. D'Lacey isn't afraid to kill characters off which makes the story even more creepy and unpredictable. The tension runs high and the pace makes for a real page turner. The ending wasn't rushed at all, and I really was on the edge of my seat through the final chapters and ended on that perfect note of an almost completed story with just the right amount of teaser that made me a little more afraid of what lurks in the dark.

If you love horror that doesn't hold anything back with great, three-dimensional characters, unique plots and some scary-arse monsters, pick up a book by Joseph D'Lacey - his stories are inventive, terrifying and oh-so-good - horror at its very best.


14 November 2012

Gratitude Giveaway Hop


Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, it's time for the Gratitude Giveaway Hop!  I'm incredible grateful for every person who stops by my blog, so I'm going to make this one really simple. Don't forget to hop through the other participating blogs!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Waiting on Wednesday #7 - The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington


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 Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington

Expected Publication: 1 January 2013 by Scholastic

Pages: 304 (hardcover)

Synopsis:
Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school — until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?

A ghostie murder mystery?  Oh yes!

What are you waiting on this week?

13 November 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I'd Want On A Deserted Island



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. I heart lists!
I've put a lot of thought into this list.  If I was stuck on a deserted island, I want BIG books.  And series, because they count as one book, right? (Mwhahaha, I've found a loophole!)


The Tatiana and Alexander Series by Paullina Simons
(The Bronze Horseman, The Bridge to Holy Cross & The Summer Garden)
The Winds of War & War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon
The Zombie Fallout series by Mark Tufo
(Zombie Fallout 1, Zombie Fallout 2, Zombie Fallout 3, Zombie Fallout 4, Zombie Fallout 5 & Zombie Fallout 6)
The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden
(Tomorrow, When the War Began, The Dead of Night, A Killing Frost, Darkness, Be My Friend, Burning for Revenge, The Night is For Hunting, The Other Side of Dawn)
Under the Dome by Stephen King
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
(The Hunger Games, Catching Fire & Mockingjay)

(hehehehe, 26 books!)

It was only when I finished writing this list that I realised how dark most of my list is - zombies, horror and dystopians.  But maybe I can get some good survival tips from a few of them!

What books would you take with you to a deserted island?

12 November 2012

Review: Carnivorous Nights by Margaret Mittelbach

Carnivorous Nights by Margaret Mittelbach

Published: 5 April 2005 by Villard

Pages: 336 (paperback)

Genre/s: Non-Fiction, Nature

Source: Own library

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

Synopsis

Packing an off-kilter sense of humor and keen scientific minds, Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson, along with renowned artist Alexis Rockman, take off on a postmodern safari. Their mission? Tracking down the elusive Tasmanian tiger. Tragically, this mysterious, striped predator was hunted into extinction in the early part of the twentieth century. Or was it? 

Journeying first to the Australian mainland and then south to the wild island of Tasmania, these young naturalists brave a series of bizarre misadventures and uproarious wildlife encounters in their obsessive search for the long-lost beast. Filled with Rockman’s stunning drawings of flora and fauna originally crafted from river mud, wombat scat, and even the artist’s own blood, Carnivorous Nights is a hip and hilarious account of an unhinged safari, as well as a fascinating portrayal of a wildly unique part of the world.

My Thoughts

As soon as I saw the cover of this book, I knew I had to read it - as a native Tasmanian I love reading books that have a familiar setting as they are sadly few and far between.  Add the bonus of finding out more about one of Tasmania's icons, the Tasmanian Tiger and I was really looking forward to this.

Strangely, the book is written in first person plural - which wouldn't have been so bad but for the references to things that 'we' did such as 'we dreamed'  and 'we imagined'.  In fact, it's so vague that it's only by doing some research outside the book that I managed to find out who the 'we' actually were.  Unfortunately this strange narrative wasn't the only issue I had - the other characters were actually quite wanky - their jokes and attempts at being clever were quite flat, and their idea that they would actually 'rediscover' a species that vanished nearly 80 years ago in a few short weeks was just plain weird   Sure, I understand that they wanted to be positive, but it was just a bit too much.

What I did enjoy was the investigation into Tasmanian wildlife, the story of the demise of the Tasmanian Tiger and the very Tasmanian people that they met along the way.  The author did an excellent job of portraying truthfully the openness and strange habits of the people of Tasmania, without being condescending.  The book also contains pictures created by Alexis, which he made with various organic materials he picked up along the way which was an added bonus.

Although this book had some faults, and did start to drag a little in the middle, I think what made it for me was the familiarity of the places, the people, and the overall relaxed atmosphere of Tasmania.  I think it would also make an interesting read for non-natives - after all, where else in the world would you find an animal with a duck bill, that lives underwater, lays eggs in it's pouch and has poisonous spurs on its hind legs, for which there is no anti-venom?

11 November 2012

Showcase Sunday #12


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.
After a semi-hiatus due to moving and my internet connection taking ELEVEN days to be transferred to my new house, I didn't do a Showcase Sunday last week, so this is two weeks worth of books!


Rot & Ruin (Benny Imura #1) by Jonathan Maberry
Dust & Decay (Benny Imura #2) by Jonathan Maberry
Ghost Road Blues (Pine Deep #1) by Jonathan Maberry
Last Days by Adam Nevill
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggarch
Love Lies Bleeding by Meghan Ciana Doidge
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
Blood Fugue by Joseph D'Lacey (huge thank you to Salt Publishing)

Because I didn't have Internet, I haven't visited and commented on nearly as many blogs as normal, plus I've got more than a few comments here to reply to - my apologies!

Books read in the past two weeks:
The Passage (The Passage #1) by Justin Cronin
The Twelve (The Passage #2) by Justin Cronin
Zom-B (Zom-B #1) by Darren Shan
Ten by Gretchen McNeil
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggarch

Currently Reading:
Day by Day Armageddon (Day by Day Armageddon #1) by J.L. Bourne
Enclave (Razorland #1) by Ann Aguirre
Tommy Nightmare (The Paranormals #2) by J.L. Bryan

Last Week
I listed my Top Ten YA Contemporary books that changed my mind about the genre, I waited on Black City by Elizabeth Richards, talked about when I listen to audiobooks for Audiobook Friday, revealed the cover of Pieces by Michelle Davidson Argyle and I reviewed Mockingbird by Walter Tevis and Carrie by Stephen King.

Next Week
I'll be posting reviews of Carnivorous Nights by Margaret Mittelbach, When the Storm Passes by Julie Jett and Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts, Top Ten Tuesday'ing and Waiting on Wednesday, and there's a very special giveaway starting!

What books landed in your hands last week?  Link me up!

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