31 August 2013

August Wrap Up and DNFs

I had a feeling that in August I would read far less than usual and it looks like I was right.  Sadly this means I'm also nearly 1500 pages behind on my 60,000 pages challange - BOO!  Time to roll out the thick books with big font methinks.

On the upside, I read some really awesome books this month - Shadow and Bone was my favourite, closely followed by Not a Drop to Drink (AWESOME YA post-apoc) and Fighting to Survive (yay, zombies!).  I also finished a series, GO ME.

Books Read

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche 
Apocalypse (Rapture Trilogy #3) by Phillip W. Simpson 
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen 
Fighting to Survive (As the World Dies #2) by Rhiannon Frater 
Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes 
Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes 
Shadow & Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo
But I Love Him by Amanda Grace 

August DNFs

The Kept by James Scott - 180 pages read.  Started off super-creepy and different and then I kinda started falling asleep every time I picked it back up.   I'm still undecided whether to permanently DNF this one - or maybe I'm just kidding myself.







Right, time for September!  How are you doing with your goals for the year??

30 August 2013

Review: Shadow of the Titanic by Andrew Wilson

Shadow of the Titanic by Andrew Wilson

Published: 2011 by Simon & Schuster

Pages: 391 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Non Fiction, History

Source: Own library

Synopsis

April 14, 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. While much has been written about the great ship, her shocking demise, and those who perished, very little has been devoted to the hundreds of survivors. In Shadow of the Titanic, Andrew Wilson offers a moving look at how their lives were affected by living through this catastrophic event.

For the first time ever, those who lived to tell the tale reveal how they coped in the aftermath. Using archival research and interviews with family members, Wilson offers a unique take on this fascinating story. He shows how some survivors used their experience to propel themselves on to fame and how others were wracked with guilt and refused to acknowledge they had been there. Some reputations were destroyed, and some survivors were so psychologically damaged that they took their own lives years later. 

My Thoughts

Oh, look, another Titanic book!  But my attraction to this one was a little bit different than my usual fascination with the sinking of the Titanic - Shadows of the Titanic focuses far more on the aftermath of the sinking - what happened to the passengers, and how their experiences on the Titanic influenced the rest of their lives.

Each chapter focuses on one survivor - from the high profile Madeleine Astor and the controversial Duff-Gordon's through to lesser-known survivors - and examines their lives before and after the Titanic.  There was a little touching base as to what happened during the sinking and in the immediate aftermath, but the majority of the focus was on their lives after the Titanic - whether happy, sad or even controversial.

Although there were several people that I didn't really feel much empathy with, there were other stories that I found incredibly heartbreaking, and Andrew Wilson brings their stories alive without resorting to a whole lot of dry facts which are the common danger in non-fiction.

Shadows of the Titanic also touches on the public reaction to the Titanic and the attention that the last survivors received in their public lives which really helped reiterate just how many people are fascinated by Titanic and the survivors themselves.

One thing that I found slightly lacking was the focus on the 'average' passengers, and that may be simply because their stories were either not as accessible, or not as glamorous, but I would have loved to know a little less about some of the more famous survivors, and more about the people that are rarely discussed - the people that lost everything and had to start again from scratch.

I'll probably never completely get over my fascination with Titanic, but Shadows of the Titanic left me feeling that I knew much more about the passengers and how the disaster changed their lives.  If you have an interest in the passengers of the Titanic and how it affected them in the long term, Shadows of the Titanic is definitely a great choice.

29 August 2013

Review: Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

Published: 27 February 2013 by Penguin Australia

Pages: 352 (paperback)

Genre/s: Memoir, Travel, Romance

Source: Own library

Synopsis

Love can make a person do crazy things. . .

A city girl with a morbid fear of deep water, Torre DeRoche is not someone you would ordinarily find adrift in the middle of the stormy Pacific aboard a leaky sailboat – total crew of two – struggling to keep an old boat, a new relationship and her floundering sanity afloat.

But when she meets Ivan, a handsome Argentinean man with a humble sailboat and a dream to set off exploring the world, Torre has to face a hard decision: watch the man she's in love with sail away forever, or head off on the watery journey with him. Suddenly the choice seems simple. She gives up her sophisticated city life, faces her fear of water (and tendency towards seasickness) and joins her lover on a year-long voyage across the Pacific. 

Set against a backdrop of the world's most beautiful and remote destinations, Love with a Chance of Drowning is a sometimes hilarious, often moving and always breathtakingly brave memoir that proves there are some risks worth taking.

My Thoughts

Love With a Chance of Drowning grabbed my attention for two reasons: Firstly, doing a crazy thing for love isn't exactly unfamiliar to me (hello moving to the other side of the world for someone I'd never met in person), and secondly, sailing around the world sounds like one of the worst possible kinds of torture I could ever imagine.

And for both of those reasons I immediately felt a kind of affinity with Torre DeRoche.  With a morbid fear of deep water and an extreme worrier, I could completely relate to everything she went through - if not the same situations but instead the same kinds of feelings that doing something so far outside your comfort zone can evoke.

Her boyfriend, Ivan, is hell-bent on sailing acrross the Pacific, but Torre kind of falls into the whole thing, almost blinded by love, but still stressing to the max, and that makes her story feel so much more realistic.  There's no moment where she wakes up and realises she has overcome all of her fears, and although it could have become a little bit grating as she continues to stress out while Ivan's attitude is very laid-back, it actually makes both of them far more likeable.

The writing style is very easy to read - the story flows from one event to the next, and even the sailing, equipment and navigation terminology is written in a way that even though it's not something I'm particularly interested in, it was understandable and wasn't info-dumped.  

Torre and Ivan have some quite funny, and some quite serious parts of their story, and it's incredible readable - from jellyfish attacks to accidentally shooting a native islander with a spear gun, it's all done with a sense of respect towards the people and the places they encounter on their travels.  

Could I have done what Torre did?  Um, hell no. And for that she has all of my admiration, as she pushed herself through situations that would have had me demanding a rescue fleet.  She came out of her adventure a little braver, but also embracing her own limitations and realising that although love can pull you outside your comfort zone, it shouldn't change who you fundamentally are.

28 August 2013

Review: Apocalypse by Phillip W. Simpson

Apocalypse (Rapture Triology #3) by Phillip W. Simpson

Published: 15 February 2013

Pages: 480 (ebook)

Genre/s: Post-apocalyptic, Young Adult

Source: Author for review

My previous reviews for the series: Rapture & Tribulation

Synopsis

The seven years of the Tribulation are almost over. The Apocalypse- the final battle between good and evil - is almost upon us and with it, the end of the world as we know it.

For the last seven years, the half-demon Samael has battled his inner demons as well as the very real demons that inhabit the desolate, ash-shrouded Earth. Betrayed by Heaven and Hell, cursed by the surviving humans that he strives to protect, separated from all those he loves – Sam’s existence is filled with death and despair. 

Now he must make a choice. Continue to fight for those he swore to protect or leave them to their fate and join his father in Hell. The Apocalypse is coming and it isn’t going to wait for Sam to make up his mind.


My Thoughts

I've been putting off reading Apolcalypse for quite some time.  Not that I didn't want to read it, but because I enjoyed the first two books in the series so much and I really didn't want to say goodbye to the characters and world that Phillip Simpson created in the Rapture Trilogy.

Apocalypse takes place during the final three years or so of the Tribulation, follow on directly from the book of the same name.  Whereas Tribulation focused mainly on Sam's journey across post-apocalypic America, Apocalypse begins with Sam recovering from the injuries he sustained at the end of the last book and once again being cast out of a group of survivors.

What I really love about this series is the main character, Sam.  Along with being noble and brave, he is completely human in his characteristics - he has compassion and empathy with the humans he is trying to save.  In all three books, Sam does have quite a bit of self-doubt, although it's understandable considering that he finds acceptance from others very rarely, through no fault of his own.  In Apocalypse it becomes completely overwhelming for him however, and he spends another portion of time alone, and although I like him immensely as a character, there were a few occassions where I wished he would just snap out of it and kick some arse.

As in all three books, the world building is great, and the fight scenes are fabulous - I'm not usually the biggest fan of fight scenes (I tend to skim them most of the time), in Apocalypse, and in fact the whole series, they are detailed enough to get the feeling of action without being too drawn-out.  The amount of work in terms of research and plotting that have been put into the book are very much obvious and makes it incredibly readable.

I was looking forward to the ending at the same time I was wishing it wouldn't come, and one of my pet peeves are endings that are either too quick, or leave questions unanswered, but in Apocalypse there is a perfect balance of build up and climax, followed by an ending that fit completely with the feel of the series.


While I'm sad to say goodbye to Sam and the other characters of the Rapture Trilogy, I've loved reading this series so much, and I can definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoys a good post-apocalyptic story that also has a mix of paranormal elements, great pacing and a main character that although flawed, is incredibly easy to like.

27 August 2013

Amsterdam Book Blogger Meet Up/Picnic and Book Haul

Yesterday I got back from three days in Amsterdam where I met some awesome book bloggers in person, and tried not to go overboard with book shopping!

Unfortunately, Karin from My Life was unable to join us, but on Friday morning I met up with Vicky from Books, Biscuits and Tea and Daisy from Between the Pages in Amsterdam.  After successfully finding our hotel (only getting off the tram one stop too late), we decided to go and explore the city.

After a very glamourous McDonalds lunch, we did find (by accident rather than design) the Amsterdam Waterstones store, but the prices are absolutely insane - paying 16 or 17 euros for a paperback I can get for nearly half the price online just isn't justifiable!

We then had the most hilarious dinner in an Italian restaurant where the waiter dropped food at least twice, had to wait 15 minutes for the cheque and when it finally came, they tried to charge us for five meals between three people....

On Saturday the sun was shining and ready for our Book Blogger picnic in the Vondelpark with Celine from Nyx Book Reviews, Lauren from Lauren Reads YA, Judith from PaperRiot and Debby from Snuggly Oranges.  We spent a couple of hours getting over our stranger-awkwardness, talking about books we loved, books we hated and book blogging, before we went to hit the shops ;-). 


From left to right, Daisy, Celine, Vicky, Lauren, Judith and Debby.


From left to right, Celine, Vicky, Lauren, Judith, Debby and myself. (pic courtesy of Daisy).

We visited the American Book Centre (I NEED to go there more often, although it could be very dangerous), and Waterstones again, before Daisy, Judith and Debby went to see a movie, and being the old lady that I am, I went back to the hotel and fell asleep.  Party on!

It was great fun meeting everyone, and it was hilarious that we spent most of our time in ABC talking about which books we DISLIKED the most, but that's bookish passion for you ;-)  

Oh yes, and I came home with new books, of course!

Purchased
Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo - which I have already read and it is AMAZING.
The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
The Night is For Hunting (Tomorrow #6) by John Marsden
World War Z by Max Brooks - I've read this before but I wanted a paperback copy for a re-read
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine #1) by Ransom Riggs
Beyond by Graham McNamee

Swapped
Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo - thanks Daisy!
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith - thanks Vicky!

I'm now spending a day in my pyjamas letting my feet recover, but it was a super fun weekend - talking with other passionate book readers is awesome and we should all do it more often!

26 August 2013

Review: Keeping Her by Cora Carmack

Keeping Her (Losing It #1.5) by Cora Carmack

Published: 13 August 2013 by William Morrow

Pages: 100 (ebook)

Genre/s: New Adult, Romance

Source: Publisher for review

Synopsis:

Garrick Taylor and Bliss Edwards managed to find their happily-ever-after despite a rather . . . ahem . . . complicated start. By comparison, meeting the parents should be an absolute breeze, right?

But from the moment the pair lands in London, new snags just keep cropping up: a disapproving mother-in-law-to-be, more than one (mostly) minor mishap, and the realization that perhaps they aren't quite as ready for their future as they thought.

As it turns out, the only thing harder than finding love is keeping it.


My Thoughts

Losing It was one of those books that I wasn't completely convinced about - I liked Bliss, I liked her relationship with Garrett, but it didn't blow me away, although I completely understand the appeal for other readers - maybe I'm just old and cynical, or particularly hard to please.  Therefore I didn't really intend to continue with this series, until I saw that Keeping Her involved Bliss meeting Garrick's family.

Personally I had a pretty dodgy record with meeting parents.  My first ever 'real' boyfriend's mother took me to court after I split up with her son, the second ones mother scared the absolute crap out of me, and my current mother-in-law got me so drunk the first time I met her that I had to be carried up the stairs - at a wedding reception.  Luckily, June is also a lady who likes a tipple, so we are cool now ;)

Therefore I could completely relate to how Bliss felt about meeting Garrick's mother.  And because Keeping Her is told in alternate POV between Bliss and Garrick, there was the added dimension of how Garrick felt about introducing the woman he loves to his rather scary mother.

Losing It was a quick read, and being a novella, Keeping Her was quicker again.  Even though a lot happens, I didn't feel like it was rushed, or that certain topics were glossed over.  It was fun revisiting Bliss and Garrick as characters, and although I wished it had been longer, Keeping Her was a perfect follow-up to their story.  

Definitely read Losing It first - and even if you don't love it, the continuation of the story in Keeping Her really brings everything together.   Bliss and Garrick are much the same as they were in Losing It, there are new characters in the form of Garrick's childhood friends, a scary mother-in-law and a rather ambivalent, but ambitious father-in-law.  Cora Carmack now has a new fan in me - Keeping Her really helped me see just how talented she is in creating realistic new adult characters.

25 August 2013

Bout of Books 8.0 - The Wrap Up


Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.

Earlier today I got back from a weekend in Amsterdam where I met up with a bunch of awesome book bloggers, and remembered that Bout of Books was still going on!  And I'm happy to say, I managed to get another book read today too, huzzah!

Considering everything that was going on this week, I didn't do nearly as badly as I thought I would.  Three books finished and another two underway!


Books Finished
Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes (346 pages)
Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes (416 pages)
Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo (356 pages)

Books In Progress
The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LaZebnik (91 pages)
World War Z by Max Brooks (27 pages)

Total pages read 1236.  Yay me!

Did you participate in Bout of Books?

24 August 2013

Review: Hospital Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones

Hospital Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones

Published: 28 April 2011 by Bantam

Pages: 320 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Non-Fiction, Medical

Source: Own library

Synopsis

Hospital Babylon is an in-depth, amusing and highly insightful expose of the extraordinary world of modern medicine. It will take the reader on a journey through the various departments and wards where babies are made, thighs are reduced, noses straightened and spare kidneys are flown in from the Indian subcontinent.

We will meet doctors who sleep with nurses. Doctors who sleep with patients. Doctors who fiddle their insurance forms. Doctors who suck fat, pump up breasts, plump lips and lengthen penises. The doctor who specialises in flatulence. The doctor who shoots up before he operates. Doctor Feelgood who will give you anything and everything you need. As well as the doctor who makes a fortune doing buttock enlargements in the Caribbean. En route, we will discover what touches them, what amuses them and quite how obsessively insane you have to be to make it to the top.

Why does a private room cost over £1000 a night? Who are the people changing your bedpan? Holding your hand as you go to sleep? What do they do to you while you’re out cold? Why are drugs so expensive? How easy is it for the pharmaceutical companies to grease the good doctor’s palm? Who exactly is profiting from your illness, embarrassing affliction or brand new nose? And, of course, what happens when it all goes wrong?

My Thoughts

Hospital Babylon is the fourth book of Imogen Edwards-Jones' eight "Babylon" books that I have read in the past few years.  Offering an insight into the world of situations and occupations that are glamorous and yet often ridiculed, these are pretty light reads, with input from anonymous insiders.

Probably the most famous of these books is Hotel Babylon, upon which a television series in the UK was based a few years ago.  Hotel Babylon is also the first of the books I read (after seeing the TV series), followed by Beach Babylon (the story of a glamorous resort) and Air Babylon (the adventures of an airline steward which really freaked me out when it discussed what happens when people die on planes).  

Hospital Babylon is the last of the "Babylon" books I will probably read, although I'm tempted by Restaurant Babylon that was only released a couple of weeks ago, and that's because it's the last one that I find particularly interesting.  I'm always drawn to non-fiction books set in hospitals, as after working in one for more than three years (my favourite job ever), what I saw was enough to make your toes curl, let alone what the medical staff endure.

Based on twenty-four hours in a UK emergency room, seen through the eyes of one of the doctors in training, Hospital Babylon is both a look behind the scenes and at the front line of emergency medicine.  Funny, sad, shocking and frustrating, the stories of the patients, doctors, nurses and other medical staff kept me turning the pages, and in between was an intimate look at the NHS itself, and the impact that standards of care, staffing requirements and middle management have had on changing how an emergency room in the UK operates - with some pretty frightening results.  

However, unlike other non-fiction medical memoirs I've read in recent years, the main character resists the opportunity to really take a pop at the National Health Service - instead he highlights the impact of the changes, rather than railing against them, and how patients and their outcomes are ultimately affected - either for better or worse.

At times this book is very funny - some of the situations that people find themselves in would be hilarious to anyone except the person in the midst of it, and at other times it's very sad - how quickly someone who appears to have only a minor medical problem can deteriorate, how the staff are pushed to the edges of physical and mental limits and how they actually are real people too - something that is easy to forget when you are waiting for medical attention.

Hospital Babylon is probably the least funny of the "Babylon" books that I've read, but probably the one that I enjoyed the most.  To be honest, the writing isn't mind blowing, but the insight with which the story of one emergency room, on one night, was told was enough to keep me entertained.

23 August 2013

Review: Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young

Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young

Expected Publication: 27 August 2013 by Simon Pulse

Pages: 304 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Source: Publisher for review

Synopsis


Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life.

The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two seperate paths--and she's about to live them both.

Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted.

Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending...

My Thoughts

I liked Cat Patrick's Revived when I read it earlier this year, and I was intrigued by the synopsis for Just Like Fate - although I'm not a huge believer in the whole 'destiny' thing, I do think there is some things that are fated to happen.

The initial part of the story was a little hard to swallow - Caroline is faced with a choice between spending another night in the hospital with her seriously ill grandmother who she has lived with for the past few years, or attend a party with her best friend.  Maybe to most of us it's an obvious choice, but Caroline does everything she possibly can to avoid confrontation so it's a decision she finds impossible to make.

Despite her aversion to confrontation, and therefore tagged by her family and friends as a 'runner', Caroline is easy to like.  She genuinely suffers through the consequences of all of her actions and I could understand why she had such difficulty making choices.  And as the synopsis obviously states, there's a love triangle, but it's made infinitely more palatable by the fact that they separated by the paths Caroline travels.

What really made this book for me, however, was Chris.  He charmed me, as he charmed Caroline, right from the moment they met.  Despite all the issues that Caroline had going on in her personal life, he was sweet, low-pressure and there for her whenever she needed it.   Unlike the other douche-bag boy in her life, her supposed childhood friend and teenage crush, Joel who had almost no redeeming features that I could find.

Caroline's family also play a part in her story, and particularly her changing relationship with her older sister was an important part of the story-line  and with her parents being divorced and both remarried, there was a lot of family involvement where other authors would have just focused on the relationships that Caroline built with the two boys.

All the way through I was curious to see how Cat Patrick would resolve the story, and without spoiling anything, the ending fit perfectly and I was left feeling incredibly satisfied.


22 August 2013

Review: The Returned by Jason Mott

The Returned (The Returned #1) by Jason Mott

Expected Publication: 27 August 2013 by Harlequin MIRA

Pages: 352 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Fantasy

Source: Publisher for review

Synopsis

Harold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time…. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old. 

All over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human. 

My Thoughts

Reading the synopsis of The Returned, you could be tempted to call this a zombie novel.  After all, people returning from the dead are the essence of zombies, but even if there is that similarity, The Returned is definitely not what I would call a zombie story - and I'm completely OK with that.

Instead, The Returned is more of a study of humanity - biases and bigotry, but also love, memory and connection.  The central characters, Harold and Lucille, aren't easy to get to know, but they are intensely familiar because they are so ordinary and could be anyones parents, grandparents or neighbours.  When their son, Jacob, returns after dying nearly 40 years ago, Harold and Lucille have very different reactions but welcome their son back into their lives as if no time has passed at all.

And although neither of them are particularly unique, as characters they are easy to like and to understand.  Their actions and reactions feel right, and match their personalities and beliefs, and because they are so ordinary they are easy to relate to (as much as you can relate to someone whose son has come back from the dead).

There are also flashes of what happens to other 'returned' and their experiences on re-entering the world, and I found these infinitely fascinating, although at times confusing and they did seem to become less and less as the book progressed.

The plot is actually fairly slow-moving, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but there were times when my attention started to waiver - I enjoyed getting to know the characters and the situation in their town intimately but there were occaisonal lulls which I found difficult to adapt to.  There are also a lot of unexplained plot lines, things that seem to just fade into the distance and I was left with quite a few unanswered questions, however there are some prequels being released shortly which should hopefully give a little more insight into the world.

What The Returned does do exceedingly well is raise a lot of moral and ethical questions - how would you react if someone you loved came back from the dead?  Many of the characters in The Returned find that their reactions are not exactly what they would have expected, or that their reactions cement the type of person they are deep down, and also made me question what my own reaction would have been.

As a debut, The Returned is impressively written, moving and intricate, and I'm excited to read more of Jason Mott's work in the future.

21 August 2013

I Am (Going to Be) a Series Killer

I know I'm not alone in this, but I am great at buying series and TERRIBLE at finishing them.

So I'm setting myself a six month challenge to finish nine series that I already own but have only read the first and / or second book.  I'm going to keep myself honest by updating them on my Series Madness page, and giving an update on the first Sunday of each month. 

Here are the series on my hit list:

1) As the World Dies by Rhiannon Frater
Read
The First Days (27 May 2012)
Fighting to Survive (17 Aug 2013)
To Read
Siege

2) Ashes Trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick
Read
Ashes (6 December 2011)
To Read
Shadows
Monsters

3) Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Read
Delirium (16-3-2012)
Pandemonium (17-3-2012)
To Read
Requiem

4) Eve by Anna Carey
Read
Eve (1-2-2013)
To Read
Once
Rise

5) Generation Dead by Daniel Waters
Read
Generation Dead (23-3-2013)
To Read
Kiss of Life
Passing Strange

6) Losing It by Cora Carmack
Read
Losing It (14-4-2013)
Keeping Her (29-7-13)
To Read
Faking It
Finding It

7) Matched by Ally Condie
Read
Matched (23-9-12)
To Read
Crossed
Reached

8) The Paranormals by J.L. Bryan
Read
Jenny Pox (25-3-2012)
Tommy Nightmare (12-11-2012)
To Read
Alexander Death
Jenny Plague-Bringer

9) Zombie Fallout by Mark Tufo
Read
Zombie Fallout (20-1-2012)
Zombie Fallout 2 (1-5-2012)
To Read
Zombie Fallout 3 (re-read!)
Zombie Fallout 4
Zombie Fallout 5
Zombie Fallout 6

There's my list - quite an undertaking but I think I can do it!

What series do you need to finish?  Any tips for better 'series management'?

20 August 2013

Top Ten Things That Make Your Life As A Reader/Book Blogger Easier


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

I am all about websites and tools to make things easier - although sometimes I have so many different things on the go I forget which needs updating!

Goodreads - Goodreads is responsible for a lot - helping me find zillions of books to add to my TBR or wishlist, letting me access thousands of awesome reviews, meet readers with similar tastes and make lists, and lists and lists of books.  I'd be seriously lost without it!

Amazon UK - I know, I know, Amazon is the root of all evil and the cause of all terrible things in the book world, but Amazon UK is the only way I can get the vast majority of my books.  I've never been into the Amazon forums, but I love the recommendations pages (I can spend hours on them) and the fact that I can find almost any book I want at a non-eye-gouging price.

Audible - I seem to go on and off audio-books, but I've always found Audible to be incredibly easy to use, and with their membership options I can afford to get a couple of audiobooks whenever I want to - without having to live on bread and water to do so!  I love that you can also sample before you buy and that if you really don't like a book, you can return it (which I've never done for some reason!).

The Book Depository - They may be more expensive than Amazon, but this is the only place I can choose which cover I want (most of the time), and are great for pre-orders due to the free shipping.  Yes, the shipping is slow, but I can't really complain seeing as the postage is free!

Collectorz Software - Coincidentally, this software is Dutch (but available in multiple languages), and I really like it for organising my book collections - there are more options than Goodreads for creating lists, and they have a excel-style filter system that I find really intuitive.

Bloglovin' - I was absolutely devastated that Google Reader was shut down and it took me a while to work out which 'new system' was best for me.  I still have issues with Bloglovin' (and their Andriod app is appalling), but it's working for me now, after several months of grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Twitter - Because it allows me to stalk meet and chat with loads of other bloggers, readers, authors, publicists...the list goes on and on.

Edelweiss - As a website it's kinda overwhelming and sometimes hard to find the right options, but I've come to love it.  And rather than being just about review books, there are also catalogues to drool over and more lists to be made!

A couple of features I've found that are really useful:

On the Review Copies Tab, go to Downloads, and select 'No Review/Feedback'.  There you can see the (scary) list of all the eGalleys you have downloaded and not given feedback for and freak out.

On the Review Copies Tab, go to Requests, and select 'pending' to see what you are still waiting for a reply on, 'approved' to freak you out as much as the no review/feedback section above, and 'declined' to see which publishers don't love you enough (boohoo!).

NetGalley - NetGalley was where I got ALL my eGalleys back in the day - I still remember the excitement of my first NG approval - I was reading a book BEFORE it was released!  I don't use NG as much these days, I got lost with the last big changes that they made, but I'll still pop on there occassionally.

Picasa - Not just limited to books, but I use it to make picture collages for Top Ten and Book Haul posts as I refuse to engage in wars with Blogger to get things formatted and laid out correctly.

What tools help you as a reader/blogger?

19 August 2013

Bout of Books 8.0 - Goals and Updates


Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.

Last time I participated in BoB, I stated that I wouldn't have a set reading list next time around.  It also happens that for a large part of Bout of Books 8.0 I won't be reading as I'll be flitting about in Amsterdam for three days - changes are high that I'll be buying far more books than reading books ;)

So this time I'm just winging it, and will only be updating from Monday until Thursday. My updates will be posted here!

If you are participating, let me know so I can drop by and see what your goals are!

Updates
Aaaaand I completely forgot to update Monday.  So I'll just combine it all today (Tuesday)
Books Completed: Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes (346 pages read)
Books in Progress: The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LaZebnik (24 pages read)
Books read so far: 1
Pages read so far: 370

No update for Wednesday either.  I'm not doing that well this time around ;)

Thursday 22-8-13
Books Completed: 1
Books in Progress: Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes (208 pages)
Pages read so far: 578

I'm off to Amsterdam tomorrow, so I won't get much reading done - but lots of book chat!

18 August 2013

Showcase Sunday #50

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.

You may or may not have noticed, but I didn't have a Showcase Sunday last week because *gasp* I had NO NEW BOOKS.  But never fear, I haven't completely lost it, because I do have a couple this week!


Finding It (Losing It #3) by Cora Carmack (thanks to Harper)
Darlings of Decay by various authors

There will be no Showcase Sunday next week as I will be in Amsterdam having a blast with four of my favourite book bloggers.  If you'll be in Amsterdam next weekend, don't forget our Book Blogger Picnic!

Have a great week!

17 August 2013

Vamps vs Zombies Giveaway Blog Hop


The fabulous My Shelf Confessions are hosting the Vamps and Zombies Blog Hop, which runs from today, August 17 through until August 31.  So if you love vampires, zombires or both, hop along to the other stops!

Of course, my giveaway is for a zombie book.  Any zombie book valued up to EUR 15.00 from The Book Depository that is!  Just enter via the Rafflecopter below - good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

16 August 2013

Review: Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach


Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach

Published: 4 July 2013 by Picador

Pages: 337 (hardcover)

Genre/s: Thriller, Mystery

Source: Own library

Synopsis

When Leila discovers the website Red Pill, she feels she has finally found people who understand her. A sheltered young woman raised by her mother, Leila has often struggled to connect with the girls at school; but on Red Pill, a chat forum for ethical debate, Leila comes into her own, impressing the website's founder, a brilliant and elusive man named Adrian. Leila is thrilled when Adrian asks to meet her, and is flattered when he invites her to be part of "Project Tess." 

Tess is a woman Leila might never have met in real life. She is beautiful, urbane, witty, and damaged. As they email, chat, and Skype, Leila becomes enveloped in the world of Tess, learning every single thing she can about this other woman--because soon, Leila will have to become her. 

My Thoughts

I'm not a huge reader of crime thrillers, but throw in the suggestion of a mental unstable character and I'll change my mind immediately.  I love the intensity of books where the characters are so unpredictable, and in the good ones, it's almost impossible to figure out where things are going next.  And this is the reason I picked up a copy of Kiss Me First - it's main character is very naive and hints at the possibility of instability.

Leila isn't the most likeable character, although I found it quite easy to sympathise with her.  Kiss Me First begins with almost the ending (if that makes any sense), as Leila finds herself in a commune in Spain, with a photograph of a woman in hand, asking the regulars if they had seen her the year before.   Leila's life hasn't been easy - raised only by her mother, she struggles to fit in socially, and after moving out of the family home, she settles in a small flat above an Indian takeaway in a suburb of London, far away from anyone she knows.

It doesn't take long for Leila to retreat further into her own shell, finding work as a software tester, and spending hours playing online games and surfing the internet, she eventually comes across Red Pill.  Red Pill isn't the type of website that I would visit, but I can see how it appealed to Leila's nature and how she found the interactions to be pretty addictive.

There's a huge amount to the plot that the synopsis doesn't reveal, but what I can say is that this book spirals - as Leila becomes more and more involved in Red Pill, she also starts to develop inappropriate behaviours and fixations and it's like watching a car crash - I couldn't look away.

Ending a book like this was always going to be a big ask, and although the intensity is pitch-perfect, everything felt a little bit too neat - especially considering everything that had happened to Leila during the course of the book, and it felt to me a little bit like she was being let off the hook for the things she had done.


As a debut, Kiss Me First is pretty damn impressive - it's tense, the plot is unique and unpredicatable, and the characters, although not likeable, are startlingly real.  It was only the ending that left me a little bit unsatisfied, but it could definitely work for other readers.

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