Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My Top Ten Books of 2013

I meant to write this post a couple of weeks ago and even wrangled the 88 books I'd read at that point into a list of just ten to share with you all, but then I got busy. And now I'm faced with a struggle, because a book I've read since then feels like it deserves a place on the list but I don't know and now I'm struggling again and I think I'm getting a nosebleed. So I'm sticking to the original version of the list and hoping that the resulting stress will result in me getting my act together a little faster next year.

There is one thing I have to say before we continue, though. I reread the Harry Potter series this year, for the first time in a couple of years, for probably the twelfth time overall. I've decided to eliminate them from the running, because, frankly, they'd probably occupy the top six slots on this list (Chamber of Secrets wouldn't get a look in) and that would be boring.

So, in reverse order, we have...

10 - Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
I really, really enjoyed this book. In fact, it kind of set the tone for my reading year. I've always not-quite-avoided-but-I-don't-have-a-better-word-for-it YA contemporary novels. I consider myself to be much more of a fantasy fan, and I've never really been able to relate to the high school experience, given that I grew up in the UK and so never had that experience myself. Still, it kind of fascinates me. This book is about three teenage girls teaming up to get revenge on the classmates that have harmed them. It was funny, engaging and more importantly, the voices of the three girls were all distinct from one another. Hugely important. And actually, two of the main characters are not white, which is interesting considering how much I've read about the white-washing of young adult books in the last year. This book was a great read, and the only reason it's not higher up on the list is because it suddenly became a paranormal book towards the end, completely out of the blue, and that threw me. I think if I'd known that, I'd have had a much better experience overall. The second book was very enjoyable, too, and I have my fingers crossed that the final instalment of the trilogy finds its way into my hands in 2014.

9 - Ten by Gretchen McNeil
I was not actually expecting to like this book, which is possibly what elevated it to a spot on the list. Don't get me wrong, it's a really good book, but I'm always wary of thrillers. Ten teens alone and unsupervised on an island for three days and one of them is a killer - while this sounds great, I immediately start guessing who the killer is. Seriously, I read the back cover and was convinced I knew who it was. It's a problem. I simply have to guess, but I get mad if I guess right and I get mad if I turn out to be wrong. Thrillers just can't win with me, but this book managed to. I won't spoil it by telling you who the killer is and how easy or not it is to figure out, but I will say it's a hell of a ride. I mentioned in my review how much it reminded me of the TV show Harper's Island, one of the few other whodunnits I've enjoyed in the last few years. While I didn't connect very well with any of the characters, I did find the story gripping and I found myself staying up very late to try and uncover the culprit, then racing through the last chapters the next day at work because I really did have to go to sleep before I could finish. I'll definitely be checking out more of McNeil's books this year.

8 - Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Ohh, I loved this book. Again, it was a bit of a surprise to me. I'd heard lots of good things about it online and decided to take a chance on it, despite the fact that I've never read Peter Pan. The extent of my knowledge of Neverland comes from the Disney animated version and the scarring live-action Hook. Seriously, to this day I can't think about that film without feeling all strange. But that's not the point. The point is that Tiger Lily is a stunning book, with writing so beautiful that I found myself doing something I rarely do - rereading passages over and over again before I moved on, and flicking back to them from time to time to read them again. I was completely absorbed in this book, in this world populated by characters with familiar names but who I didn't know at all. My only slight issue with it was the lack of time spent with the pirates. Captain Hook fascinated me here and I wanted to see so much more of him and his crew, but sadly they were sidelined in favour of the Lost Boys, who just weren't quite as interesting. But then, I've always had a bit of an obsession with pirates. I had my pirate phase right before my vampire phase, and I don't think I'll ever fall entirely out of love with either one of them. I'm still not going to watch Hook, though.

7 - The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
Hey, guys, I actually met Maureen Johnson this year, and she's just as mad and funny as you would expect from following her on Twitter. (Which you can do here, if you don't already) This book is actually the sequel to her modern-day Jack the Ripper thriller The Name of the Star, which I also read this year, but I preferred this book, even though I think the first instalment actually had a slightly stronger story. Let's just say that the two of them share this spot on the list. I love the character of Rory, and I think Johnson did an excellent job of portraying England, something a lot of American writers have failed at in my personal experience. I also read a couple of other books by her this year and enjoyed them as well, though this remains my favourite of them, and not just because it's the only one without a nauseating cover. Speaking of which, you should also look up her Cover Flip experiment, which featured covers designed for gender-swapped authors - think Nellie Gaiman instead of Neil Gaiman, Jane Franzen instead of Jonathan Franzen. This is another subject I read a lot about this year, along with the lack of diversity in YA books, and I found it fascinating. Still, regardless of the cover, I have to say that the ending of the second book was abominable. Truly, truly evil. So maybe hold off on reading these until the third book is released, because I promise you'll want to immediately get your grubby little hands on it.

6 - Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
This book has the rather dubious honour of being one of the four movie tie-in edition books I own. I do so hate movie tie-in editions, but I came to this book after loving the film and so I didn't actually have that many options. It was basically impossible to lay my hands on the original cover, without going to excessive effort. And I hate effort. As I said, I saw the film before I read the book, and I think I did enjoy the film just a tiny bit more. Maybe because it was fresh and new to me, maybe because it featured the supreme Jennifer Lawrence, who knows? The book is excellent, though. Honestly, if I'd read it first, I'm sure I would prefer it to the film. I know nothing about American football or dancing, I know next to nothing about mental illnesses and grief, and I never considered myself to be particularly interested in any of those subjects. And yet, I loved this book. I even cried over it. There really isn't much else I can say about it beyond that. It was funny and moving and just so damn interesting. I can't wait to read more of Quick's books. Actually, that's not true, I am in fact waiting to read them, because I've got my eye on Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock but it's not available in paperback yet. But you can bet I'll pre-order it just as soon as it is.

5 - Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Ugh. That cover. I hate it. I hate it so, so much. The book contained inside it, however, was brilliant. But that cover really is truly hideous. I genuinely considered not buying it because of that ugly cover, but I'm trying to be a better person about that. It's not going so well. I'm still very judgmental about covers. I'm really glad I gave this one a shot, though. It's another YA contemporary, another foray into the unknown, and I loved it. After spilling a secret that almost gets someone killed, gossip-loving Chelsea decides to keep her mouth shut. Literally. She takes a vow of silence, which makes for an interesting read, particularly as there are few books that I know of where the main character doesn't speak for two hundred plus pages. Of course, she finds ways to communicate with people and learns all sorts of lessons about herself. It all got a bit sappy towards the end, a bit too sappy for me, but I did enjoy it overall. Enough that it earned one of the highest honours I can bestow on a book - a spot on my bookshelf. (Seriously, I need to start getting rid of some books before I can no longer actually get out of the door!)

4 - Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
Last year I read Summers' latest book This Is Not a Test, a book about a girl struggling with the zombie apocalypse that we all know is coming in the not-too-distant future. I liked it well enough and so this year, on a whim, I read her debut, Cracked Up the Be. And I loved it. I know I keep saying that and obviously I love all of these books, otherwise they wouldn't have made it onto this list, but I don't care. I rarely love things enough to express that feeling. Parker is a fascinating character, although she's one that divides opinion hugely. She is not a likeable person, which is actually why I like her as a character. I've never been particularly interested in heroes, I like villains. I like flawed, troubled characters, and Parker is the queen of flawed, troubled characters. She's sharp and snarky and pushes everyone away. She's not a character I'll forget in a hurry, even though I had issues with the ending of the book. This is easily my favourite of Summers' books (I bought the other two before I'd finished this one and then waited impatiently for them to arrive once I had) and she's made it onto my list of authors whose books I will buy automatically. Not even J.K Rowling is on that list.

3 - Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
Speaking of snarky characters who push everyone away, Immortal Beloved and its heroine Nastasya who swoop in at the number three spot on the list. Actually, like with the Maureen Johnson books, this spot is shared by this book and its sequel, Darkness Falls, though not the final book in the trilogy, Eternally Yours, which I found bitterly disappointing. This is a slow, plot-light story that would normally have bored me to tears. A quick pace and strong plot are generally deal-breakers for me. However, Nastasya was engaging enough that I made it all the way through the book and actually loved it. There are flashbacks - a fair few of them - and I still loved it. That's high praise from me, indeed. I will say that this book wasn't what I expected - I read the word "immortals" and heard "vampires" - but I think that was part of its charm. It's nice to be surprised sometimes - as long as that surprise isn't changing genres halfway through for no apparent reason (I'm looking at you, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer). I do wonder if the reason I didn't enjoy the third book as much is because I had such high expectations, having loved the first two so much, but in the same breath I just have to say how much I'd like my own Reyn. I don't know about anyone else, but in my head he looks like Chris Hemsworth.

2 - Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Just missing out on the top spot is Leigh Bardugo's stunning Siege and Storm, a book that I absolutely devoured. I don't have a whole lot to say about this one, for reasons that will become apparent shortly, but there is a reason it missed out on the top spot. An important reason that some people have rolled their eyes out when I've shared it because they just don't get it. There isn't enough of the Darkling here. There just isn't. There's also less kissing.

Disappointing.






1 - Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Yep, it had to be, didn't it? This year I discovered Leigh Bardugo, the Grisha, Alina Starkov, Ravka and, of course, the Darkling. Have you guessed who my favourite character is yet? This book is nothing short of phenomenal, the first high fantasy I've loved since Harry Potter. Any book you can mention positively in the same sentence as Harry Potter is something special indeed. (For the record, I didn't say it was better than Harry Potter, as a couple of friends have claimed, just that I hadn't loved a book this much since Harry Potter). The thing is, though, I don't really want to say anything about it. I knew very little about it and found myself completely immersed in the world that Bardugo has created, and I wonder if that added to the experience. I often think that the less you know about a book, the more you'll enjoy it, so I don't want to give anything away. The only thing I will say is that I loved the Russian influences here - I've been obsessed with the country since watching Anastasia as a child. It felt like this book had been written especially for me, but I've still forced it on as many people as I've been able to. And do you know what? Every single one of them so far has loved it. So it's not just me.



Friday, 20 December 2013

CARNIVAL OF SOULS

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures—if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father—and every other witch there—fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable.While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.
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My opinion of this book is divided, but neatly. There are essentially three main characters - Aya, Kaleb and Mallory. Their chapters and lives intersect and become all tangled up, but I only enjoyed two of the characters. I couldn't stand Mallory or anything that happened when she was around. Really. I dreaded her chapters and forced myself not to skip over them to the next interesting part in case I missed something important.

The Mallory parts aside, I really enjoyed this book. A lot more than I expected to, which I feel is something I say far too often - why do I keep buying books I'm not sure I'll enjoy? I liked Aya straightaway and Kaleb grew on me as the story and his character developed, and there were minor characters that I enjoyed, too. I would have liked to see a lot more of Marchosias, the ruler of the city, but I suspect he'll feature more heavily in the second book when that's released. I hope he will, anyway.

The story revolves around a competition to the death with a great prize. This sounds quite a lot like some other books I've read recently - mainly the Throne of Glass books by S.J. Maas. I think I prefer this one, despite the bits with Mallory. The world-building feels better to me, that was something I had issues with in Throne of Glass and the sequel, Crown of Midnight. I could picture everything so much more clearly here, and I honestly found it a bit more interesting because there was more at stake. Perhaps that's because I didn't know this was intended to have a sequel when I started reading, whereas I accidentally bought the sequel to Throne of Glass first so I knew Caelena was going to survive. Here, I had no idea how it would end, and I love not knowing how things will end. I like to be kept guessing.

So, aside from Mallory, I really liked this book. Maybe if Marr kills her off in the next one in a really horrible, gruesome, torturous way, the next book will be perfect. That's not a weird thing to feel about a character.


Thursday, 19 December 2013

SCARLET

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.
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Okay, this is just going to be a short one. I did not enjoy this book one bit. Seriously, not at all. It's my own fault. I didn't enjoy the first book in the series, Cinder, but then people were saying that this one was better and I somehow convinced myself that the reason I didn't like the first book is that I don't like the story of Cinderella anyway and so this one might be more up my street.

I was wrong. I didn't enjoy this one either. The story didn't particularly interest me and I couldn't get along with the writing style, which is littered with unnecessary words and just felt clumsy and horrible to me. I know people love this series and I don't think they're wrong to do so, it's just not for me. I promise I won't buy the third one. Although that one's about Rapunzel and I did so love the film Tangled...




Wednesday, 18 December 2013

LEVIATHAN

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts.
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I wasn't really sure what to make of this book. It's pretty much my first foray into the elusive steampunk genre (please don't ask me to define it, the extent of my knowledge is Victorian-ish London and clockwork stuff) but I was drawn by the fact that I adore Westerfeld's Uglies series. I've been wanting to try a steampunk novel for a while now, and so this seemed like the logical choice.

It was okay. That sounds mean. I didn't have strong feelings about it, but it wasn't bad either. There were parts that I enjoyed, just not quite enough of them to sustain it. I think part of the problem is that it's the first book in a trilogy, and so there's an awful lot of stuff to set up before the story can really get going. Westerfeld's built an interesting and multi-faceted world here, one that I do want to spend more time in, I just didn't feel a strong connection to the characters and the story in this first instalment.

This may be because of the links between the story and the first world war, since war is something I have precisely zero interest in reading about. I knew what the book was about before I started it and the war stuff isn't a massive shadow over the rest of it, there was enough other stuff going on - like me really needing to know what is inside those damn eggs! - to keep my interest.

I am going to read the second book, and most likely the third, and I think I would recommend it to people with an interest in the steampunk genre or even people who just don't find war stories to be as interminably boring as I do. I can't end this review without mentioning the illustrations, though. They were a surprise to me, although the cover does name an illustrator, and they were beautiful. They were also incredibly helpful in cementing my mental picture of certain things, and they really did lift the book up.



Tuesday, 17 December 2013

SUITE SCARLETT

Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

If living in a famous art deco hotel minutes away from Central Park sounds like your idea of a pretty sweet deal - you should talk to Scarlett Martin. Having a hotel for a home really isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when you've got no guests, no money and no prospects for any fun thanks to your parents putting you to work all summer. Luckily for Scarlett, the Hopewell is about to be shaken to its foundations with the arrival of Mrs Amberson, a glamorous travelling socialite who's planning on putting down some roots for a while - and hiring Scarlett as her assistant. With a new job, new friends, and (maybe) a new boyfriend on the horizon, Scarlett's summer is beginning to look a lot more interesting...

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I think it's safe to say I've been a fan of Maureen Johnson's for a while now. I followed her on Twitter long before I actually read any of her books - though now I recommend the Shades of London trilogy to basically anyone who expresses a modicum of interest in books of any kind - and now I'm finally delving into some of her older books, now that Hot Key Books is reprinting some of them in the UK. Also, I met her this year and she's awesome in person, too.

Suite Scarlett is a fun read, filled with humour and surprisingly real characters. I wasn't expecting that in something I thought was going to be a bit fluffy. The cover doesn't really do it justice. Scarlett's family run a failing hotel in Manhattan, and on her fifteenth birthday she inherits a room of her own to take care of - along with any guests who might be staying there. Scarlett's less than thrilled by this, especially when the outlandish Mrs Amberson arrives and announces she'll be staying for the entire summer, but it soon turns into the most exciting summer of her life.

What I liked most about this book, aside from Scarlett herself, who is brilliant, was the relationships between her and her siblings. She has two older ones, Spencer and Lola, and an awful younger sister, Marlene. They get along and hate each other at times, there are clear loyalties and divides between the four, and they all interact with each other and have their own things going on. So often in books, several siblings could easily be condensed into one, but here they are all distinct and all add something. I particularly liked Marlene, but that's because I always like the characters you're supposed to hate!

I was a little surprised to discover that this book has a sequel, all the way through it felt more like a standalone than a series, but I'm now eager for the second book and hope it finds it's way onto shelves soon (it should - it was released in 2010!)



Monday, 16 December 2013

TEN

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives - three days at an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school’s most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury.

But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted. Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?
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I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to buy this book. I find mysteries, particularly of the murder variety, very difficult to enjoy. I like to guess who the killer is. If I'm right, the book was too obvious and what was the point of reading it? If I'm wrong, the book is stupid and how can it possibly be that guy when it was clearly that other guy all along. I accept that this is a failing on my part, not the part of any writer. And yet, I am still inexplicably drawn to these types of books.

And I'm glad because I loved this one. Obviously I'm not going to spoil the ending for you, but I was satisfied with the identity of the killer. I wasn't totally happy with how the ending played out, for reasons I won't discuss because of spoilers, but on the whole I enjoyed the book and was satisfied with the ending. I suspect part of the reason I didn't enjoy the ending is because I was racing through it in the last five minutes of my lunch break, determined to finish it before going back to work. I think this was a mistake. I should have left it at the revelation of the killer and then saved the rest for later on, but I couldn't resist. I just had to know.

It's gripping, it's exciting, it's tense. One night after reading it, I freaked myself out so badly that I found it very difficult to sleep. That's not something I can say of any book I've read since I was about ten. I don't even know how McNeil managed to ratchet up the tension the way she did because I wasn't paying close attention to the writing - I forgot the writing and just absorbed the story. It was utterly engrossing. I'd seen many positive reviews for the book in the months before I bought it, and I'm delighted to say it was a rare book that actually lived up to the hype.

Part of the reason I loved it so much, I think, was that it reminded me of the TV show Harper's Island, which was about a wedding taking place on a small island. The friends and family of the couple gathered to celebrate their marriage, and then started to drop like flies. It's an awesome series, one which you should definitely try and see, right after you read this book. Or before. I don't mind which order you do it in, as long as you get both, because they're so worth it.



Sunday, 15 December 2013

TIGER LILY

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

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If you need to take another second to stare at that cover photo to figure out what it's actually showing, I understand completely. Hint, I thought it was a nose surrounded by feathers for weeks. I just couldn't see it. I thought it was a stunning cover (this picture doesn't do it justice, especially since it doesn't show how shiny and gold the lettering of the title is) but I couldn't make sense of it.

I really, really liked this book. A whole lot. I'll be honest, I'm not actually all that familiar with the story of Peter Pan, I've seen the Disney movie, which I did not especially like, and Hook, a film that scarred me for many years of my childhood and which I still can't bear to watch. That's it. That is the extent of my knowledge of Peter Pan. I don't know if people who are fans of the source material would have a different experience to this book that I did, but I really did enjoy it and would highly recommend it.

The writing is both subtle and beautiful. I didn't notice it at first, but then I caught myself re-reading passages over and over again, which is not something I do very often. Anderson just has such a way with words, there are chunks which are absolutely stunning, but they don't stand out as incongruous from other parts of the narrative, which I often find a problem with pretty prose. 

Tiger Lily is not a character I've ever given much thought to before, but now I feel like I know her. She's so interesting and vividly drawn here, it makes you wonder how Peter could ever have chosen Wendy over her in the original story. Perhaps that's because Wendy's character is shadowed here by Tiger Lily's opinion of her, but I was just so engrossed in the story and concerned about the characters.

Of course, no book is perfect. The ending felt a bit rushed to me. I reached a point where I suddenly thought hang on, isn't Wendy going to turn up at some point? It all happens very quickly from that point, and I felt that she should have been brought into the story a bit earlier to keep the pace a bit better. My only other complaint about it - and I really do only have one - is that there wasn't enough of the pirates. Captain Hook fascinated me here, as did Smee, and I wish we could have seen so much more of both of them. 

That's it, though. I have literally only two complaints about the book, and they're not exactly huge issues. This was an excellent read, and one that I would highly recommend to fans of Peter Pan and those not well acquainted with the original alike.



Saturday, 14 December 2013

DEAD JEALOUS

Dead Jealous by Sharon Jones

People think of Mother Nature as a gentle lady. They forget that she's also Death...Sixteen-year-old Poppy Sinclair believes in quantum particles, not tarot cards, in Dawkins, not druids. Last summer, in a boating accident in the Lake District, Poppy had a brush with death. But the girl she finds face down in Scariswater hasn't been so lucky. As she fights to discover the truth behind what she believes is murder, Poppy is forced to concede that people and things are not always what they seem and, slipping ever deeper into a web of lies, jealousy and heart-stopping danger, she comes to realise - too late - that the one thing that can save her has been right there, all the time.
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I have really got to find out more about books before I buy them. Seriously, impulse buying is not my friend at all. As you can probably guess from that, I didn't enjoy this book. Not one bit. I don't really know why, there isn't an over-riding reason I can point to and say that's what I hated about it, but there were several things that irritated me about it. I guess all added up together, they turned into one big reason.

I had no idea this book was set in the UK. Now, I live in the UK and often bemoan the fact that more contemporary books aren't set here, but the last several that I've read, I really haven't liked. I don't know why that is. At first I thought maybe it was because I was reading American authors writing about the UK and doing a poor job of it, but then I remembered Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star, a book I love and which is probably the best example of an American writing about Britain that I've come across. Also, Sharon Jones is a Brit, so that can't be it. Maybe it's because British writers are conscious of writing for a global audience and explain things that don't need explaining, emphasise things that are commonplace, and that just annoys me. I don't know. All I can say for sure is that if I'd known this book was set in the UK, I probably wouldn't have read it. And before anyone makes snarky comments about the blurb mentioning the Lake District, I took that from Goodreads and my copy of the book had a different passage as the blurb.

I didn't like any of the characters. Not a one. This can kind of ruin a book for me. It wasn't that they were particularly dislikeable - I adore Parker from Courtney Summers' Cracked Up to Be, and she's considered one of the most dislikeable characters in modern YA - they were just kind of boring and annoying. I didn't care what happened to them or what they thought about things. Mostly I just wanted them to shut up and solve the murder so they could all go home.

And that's the other thing I didn't care a jot about - the murder. The plot, basically. I cannot muster any enthusiasm for this book, I can't think of a single good thing to say about it (although that could be down to me being slow about reviewing it, since the bad things are the ones that tend to stay fresh in my mind and it's been about a month since I read this book). I honestly don't know how I ploughed through to the end.



Friday, 13 December 2013

ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese's fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.
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I have no words for this book. Literally none. It is one of the weirdest things I have ever experienced, and I have seen the film Killer Joe. (Well worth a watch, by the way, just be prepared for how utterly insane it is). I spent most of the book not sure whether I liked it or not, but about two-thirds of the way through I decided that I didn't. Up until that point, I thought there was still hope for it. 

The first warning sign for me was the poetry. Annaliese writes poetry. I can't stand poetry. 

There just seemed to be something lacking here. It wasn't as creepy as I wanted it to be, it wasn't as mysterious as I wanted it to be, the characters weren't as interesting as I wanted them to be. I think part of the problem was that I had such high hopes for this book after reading the synopsis and many glowing reviews of it. It just couldn't live up to my expectations. Honestly, I was a little bored.

I'm sure I had other thoughts about it, but it's been a while since I read it and I don't like to take notes when I read because that feels like work and I enjoy reading a hell of a lot less. This book hasn't put me off reading others by Quinn, but I'm not sure I could recommend this book to anyone either.



Thursday, 12 December 2013

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

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I'm just going to come right out and say it. This is not the sort of book I would normally pick up. I mean, look at that cover. You just know that this is going to be a cute, contemporary romance. None of these words appeal to me. (I actually love the cover, by the way, it just isn't something I would normally read). It was actually intended as research, I've been struggling to create realistic and interesting romantic relationships in my own writing, so I figured I'd read a couple of books centred solely on the romance to see if I could pick up some tips. I wasn't expecting to enjoy the experience one bit.

I really enjoyed this book. It's fluffy and cute, sure, but it's also really funny. I love Caymen. Xander I thought was a little bland, but that's probably because he just doesn't appeal to me personally. I guess that's an important factor when reading romances, your personal tastes are going to have an effect on things. 

It's a light, quick read, but it's very enjoyable and I'll be definitely picking up some of West's other books in the future (I'm actually waiting for Pivot Point to come out in paperback, which seems to be taking forever to happen!)



Monday, 9 December 2013

I'm Not Dead

I'm not. Yay. Just checking in because it occurred to me how long it had been since I actually posted anything. I've not given up on blogging or reviewing or anything like that, but we are officially into the Christmas season and I work in retail. Yup. I've been working a lot of really late shifts, which messes me up and means I can't really concentrate on anything else or get stuff done. And when I've not been working at my actual job, I've been working on my current manuscript. So, yeah. Blogging took a backseat. I'm going to try and catch up on reviews before Christmas. Or at least before the new year.

Jeez, 2014 already. Scary.