Tuesday, 30 April 2013
Saturday, 27 April 2013
After waiting 6 months on a library reserve that ended up being cancelled (grr), I bought Justin Cronin's The Twelve as an impulse buy this morning. I haven't read many good reviews on this sequel to The Passage, so my expectations aren't very high, but I haven't been deterred as I would still like to know where Cronin takes his story.
Thursday, 25 April 2013
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
With less than three years left until the virus claims her life, Rhine is desperate for answers. Having escaped torment at Vaughn's mansion, she finds respite in the dilapidated home of her husband's uncle, an eccentric inventor who hates Vaughn almost as much as Rhine does.
Rhine determination to be reunited with her twin brother, Rowan, increases as each day brings terrifying revelations to light about his involvement in an underground resistance. She realizes she must find him before he destroys the one thing they have left: hope.
Sever is the last book in The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano. I read the conclusion of Rhine's tale in a day and, like the other two books that proceeded Sever, I was pleasantly surprised with the events that unfolded.
I enjoyed reading Sever and couldn't put it down. Linden and Cecily feature more prominently, helping Rhine to finally find her twin brother, and the introduction of Vaughn's brother Reed and his house of assorted junk was great. DeStefano's tale has a good momentum, and a somewhat satisfying ending, yet this final book is not flawless.
Rhine suddenly becomes unwilling to speak her mind, losing some of her back bone towards the end of the story. She is constantly listing all the reasons why she should tell the truth and then changes her mind, remaining silent and pliable to those who want to use her. Although, at least she had a spine to begin with, unlike the majority of YA heroines I have come across so far. Instead much of the character growth is borne out of Rhine's sister wife, Cecily, who becomes less of the annoying red-headed child and proves that she can be a loving mother, devoted wife and a good friend.
For me, the major problem lies in that an important moment in Sever is completely underwritten. For an author who is normally more than adept at conjuring a detailed atmosphere from their words, DeStefano's description for this certain event was unusually vague. I had to read the passage three times to try and understand what had just occurred. While I don't expect to be spoon fed with exact and intricate detailing when reading, just a small sentence to explain how would have been much appreciated.
I wasn't expecting to fall in love with The Chemical Garden Trilogy, and I didn't. However, instead, I found three books that were extremely easy to read and somewhat interesting. Sometimes that's all I can ask for.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Who was on your list this week?
Friday, 19 April 2013
Having recently transferred to London, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is investigating the murder of a wealthy businessman, Patrick Henshaw. His body was found in a car, brutally mutilated. At first it is thought to have been a crime of passion conducted by either his wife or her lover. It is not until Henshaw's business partner is found dead, murdered in the same horrible way, that Steel realises that there's possibly more to these murders than what it originally seemed.
In the beginning, I was reminded of Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli and Isles series, as Russell was mixing her murder case with details about her detective's home life. However, unlike one of Gerritsen's impeccably paced novels, the narrative of Stop Dead was bogged down by multiple (and sometimes needless) P.O.Vs and the details of Steel's life outside of work. At no point did I feel that rush to find out who was committing these grizzly murders.
In fact, all those red herring's that are so heavily promoted in the blurb were needless; halfway through the book it becomes rather obvious as to who the real culprit is.
Another flaw of Stop Dead is that I felt characterization was completely off. Many of the suspects are typical two dimensional stereotypical characters you'd find in any generic crime novel. Then there's Steel's Sergeant, Sam, who reads like a stroppy teenager who only cares about her stomach and chips. How on earth, in real life, would this girl be able to work in a homicide investigations department?
One redeeming feature, for me, were the scenes where the bodies were discovered, often in odd places. However, while Leigh Russell's latest offering would probably be a good disposable beach read, Stop Dead doesn't inspire me to read any of Russell's other books.
This was an ARC review for Real Readers, Stop Dead is published by No Exit Press on the 30th May.
Thursday, 18 April 2013
She has been arrested for murder, and during questioning tells police that she is a member of a secret organisation devoted to fighting evil. Her division, 'The Department for The Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons' - or 'Bad Monkeys' for short - is an execution squad that rids the world of especially evil people. However, the man Jane has been arrested for killing was not on the official target list.
This strange confession earns Jane a trip to the jail's psychiatric wing, where a doctor interviews her at length about her supposed career as an assassin. Her tale grows increasingly bizarre, with references to hidden messages in crosswords, dollar bills that can see and scary, axe-wielding clowns. The doctor does his best to sort truth from lies, but whenever it seems he's getting to the bottom of things, there's another twist to unravel.
Not until the full, extraordinary story is told will we learn whether Jane is lying, crazy...or playing a different game altogether.
I first saw Bad Monkeys on a display in Norwich Waterstones that also included quirky books such as Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. The version they currently stock has an awesome cover, but as I borrowed my copy from the library I had to settle for one that was a little different.
Cover snobbery over with, I really enjoyed reading Bad Monkeys. And by that, I mean I loved reading this book! Matt Ruff's tale of good and evil is completely insane and only gets barmier as the story progresses. Fast paced and frantic, Ruff has you by the scruff of the neck from the beginning, dragging you along with Jane's tales of how she came to be involved with a mysterious organisation that uses toy guns to exterminate evil people.
Ruff is clear from the beginning that Jane is an unreliable narrator, someone who is potential holding back important details, which is my favourite type of storyteller. She's kind of a more drug addled Miriam Black. The white room chapters, where Jane is being interrogated and which serve as interludes between Jane's recollections, are reminders that not all is as it seems. Or is it?
My only criticism is that the ending does spiral out of control. In fact it reminded me of a scene from a Doctor Who episode entitled Lets Kill Hitler, in which the Doctor and River keep out witting each other in Hitler's office. Where Ruff's introductory chapters of Jane as a deviant school girl had purpose and a sense that these type of events could actually happen, the last few chapters are a touch extreme and test the limits of believability.
Nonetheless I would recommend Bad Monkeys to anyone and everyone. I'm definitely going to buy myself a copy sometime soon. It is just a shame that it is a standalone novel, as for once I wouldn't mind returning to Ruff's deranged world and finding out more about the Bad Monkeys and the Scary Clowns.
P.S Here's the cover for the version the stock in Waterstones Norwich (from goodreads):
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't as obsessed with Marie Lu's first dystopian novel Legend as other bloggers seemed to be. While I thought there was plenty of good stuff in there, I was totally anti a June and Day romance. Why couldn't they just admire each others abilities and similarities and then build up to the smoocholas in either the second or third book in the trilogy?
However, the coupling that I hated in the first book become a strength in Prodigy. Lu provided of a sense of who these characters are, and consistently showed me why I should be rooting for a Day/June relationship. Prodigy has so much to love (including the fact that Lu isn't afraid to kill off her characters, as I like it when peril actually means peril) and I couldn't put the book down; a complete contrast to my experience of when I was reading Legend.
With Prodigy, Lu successfully expanded her damaged world, that has been ravaged by the effects of global warming, beyond the Republic. I don't want to be too spoilery, but the contrast between the Republic and the Colonies is rather interesting. I hope that the dichotomy between the two is explored further in the next book.
My one criticism is that I guessed some of the plot twists early on. This explains why, when Day and June finally figured that there were shenanigans taking place, I was all Dennis Duffy from 30 Rock, actually shouting, "FINALLY DUMMIES!"
So how does the Legend series progress? And how does Lu even begin to wrap up her trilogy in a satisfying way? We'll have to wait until next year when Champion is released. Is it wrong that I am hoping for a they all die at the end scenario?
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Saturday, 13 April 2013
Friday, 12 April 2013
I am always on the look out for different types of YA fiction. Having seen Elizabeth Wein's WWII set Code Name Verity being reviewed positively on quite a few other blogs, I decided to get a copy out from the library.
Code Name Verity is interesting without being too teachy, even if now, after reading, I can't remember all the details about the various planes used in WWII. However, it's hard to talk about this book in depth without giving away major plot developments. So, as usual, I will try to be as vague as possible.
All of the twists and turns that are expected from a novel about war time espionage are there, feeding my love of an unreliable narrator. The epistolary style can take some getting used to, especially when it doesn't seem like some of the narrative should be included in the girl's accounts. The latter half of the novel changes to a first person narrative with a few letters added in, providing a secondary look on what has already been divulged.
Yet, more than this, Code Name Verity is about the strength of friendship. There's no big romance to be found here, only the 'Allied Invasion of Two'. The relationship between the two leads is portrayed excellently. I was continually shown why these two girls were best friends and I believed in them. I also liked that Wein gave her 'villain' Hauptsturmfuhrer a family, emphasising that normal people did horrible things in the war because they had to.
The ending is heart-breaking, but then Wein's tale could not have ended in any other way. Also, if you normally skip the author's acknowledgements at the end, then make an exception for those as the end of Code Name Verity. I found them to be extremely informative, and answered a few of my questions. For example, why are some of the locations in her tale non-existent/misnamed?
I thought this was a great book. No romance, kick-ass heroines and a cover that ties into the novel: what more could I ask for? Admittedly I did get a little unenthused about reading somewhere in the middle, but if you're fed up of YA dystopia's and fancy something a bit different, then why not give Code Name Verity a try?
Thursday, 11 April 2013
It's been too long for me to recall my thoughts from reading and form a proper review. However, I'd still like to share the awesome cover that I first spotted at the British Library's gift shop. I mean, who doesn't like a book that comes with it's own set of 3D glasses?