Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the folks over at The Broke and The Bookish.  This week I have to list my top ten secondary characters.  I had both a hard and easy time with this one!  While there's plenty of secondary characters I love, most of them come from the same series!  Jim Butcher, why do you create such great characters?!  I've tried to keep my list Dresden light, and failed miserably!
1. Bob - The Dresden Files
Bob's a horny spirit that resides inside a skull. Need I say any more?
2. Ivy - The Parasol Protectorate
A loyal friend to Alexia, who just so happens to have a fantastic taste for unusual hats.
3. Eddie Bear - The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of The Apocalypse
He has to do handstands when he drinks otherwise the booze stays in his legs.
4. Louis - NOS4R2
I can't describe how much I loved Lou, the geeky overweight mechanic who saved and loved Vic McQueen, and how scared I was that he would be killed off at any point during NOS4R2...I'm not saying if he survived or not...
5. Jamie Vegas - Otherworld
Necromancer Jamie isn't everyone's cup of tea, but she's always been my favourite Otherworld character (as well as Sean and Lucas...and everyone else!).  Her supernatural power doesn't lend itself to being an amazing fighter, but she's brave, she loves Jeremy and she's a redhead.  That's enough for me. 
6. Eric from the first few Sookie Books
What happened to you, Eric?  You used to be so cool in your pink lycra!

And I'm just going to round this out with some more Dresden Files characters:
7. Mister
8. Mouse
9. Thomas
10. Murphy

Who are your favourite secondary characters?

Saturday, 24 August 2013

I know I shouldn't...

...but I just can't help getting more books out from the library.  It's not my fault felixstowe library decided to be well stocked today!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Broken Homes

Broken Homes is the fourth book in Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series.  I may not have enjoyed the last two books, Moon Over Soho and Whispers Underground, as much as the first, but I wasn't ready to give up on Peter Gant just yet.

A mutilated body in Crawley.  Another killer on the loose.  The prime suspect is one Robert Weil; an associate of the twisted magician known as the Faceless Man?  Or just a common or garden serial killer?

Before PC Peter Grant can get his head round the case a town planner going under a tube train and a stolen grimoire are adding to his case load.

So far so London.

But then Peter gets word of something very odd happening in Elephant and Castle, on a housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans and inhabited by the truly desperate.

Is there a connection?

And if there is, why oh why did it have to be South of the River?
I was disappointed to find that the first half of Broken Homes was a convoluted mess. Complicated and jumbled, there were so many plot elements, most dropped within a blink of an eye, that I had a hard time keeping track of what was going on.  I was losing interest up until Peter and Leslie moved into an apartment on a housing estate.  Finally the case (or cases?  I lost track) became a lot more interesting and coherent.  This was the turning point for the whole book, and suddenly I couldn't put Broken Homes down.  I think that Aaronovitch has a reverse Steven Moffat writing style, in that he's not very good at setting a story up, but boy can he finish one (Moffat's intro of a two-part Doctor Who episode are mostly better than the conclusion).  I would have been in for a shock if only I hadn't got bored in the beginning and read the last page...With all the possibilities that have been set in motion, I am actually looking forward to the next instalment.

I also have to point out that, as always, Aaronovitch's knowledge of the history of London oozes through his prose; no chapter is left without a historical fact.  I just wish that he would be more forthcoming with the history of his characters.  Admittedly Broken Homes does reveal a few pieces of info here and there, but I'm greedy.  Can I have some more please?

If you've enjoyed the series so far, then you're going to love Broken Homes.  However, if like me, you've not been impressed with the last couple of books, try and stick with this latest Peter Gant adventure until the end, I promise that those last few chapters are worth it.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

How I Spent My Tuesday Night With A Bat

I attended the Neil Gaiman event in Ely last night.  I had booked my tickets in May and had been counting down the days ever since.  This was not only because I would get a chance to hear Neil Gaiman speak about his new book, The Ocean at the End of The Lane, but because the event was taking place inside of the stunning Ely Cathedral.

Topping & Company, the local bookshop who were organising the whole thing, had offered a great deal for this event: £16.99 for two tickets and a copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, plus the opportunity to have it signed.  My best friend, who lives in Ely, couldn't attend, so I took Matt with me instead.  He didn't know who Neil Gaiman was, but was happy to go with me.  Matt had work this morning so we couldn't stay late; he wanted to be home by midnight which is understandable.

I'd got an email from Topping the previous day with details about collecting tickets and such, and they explained that it was going to be a busy evening.  We got into Ely at about 5 and there was already a queue outside of the cathedral.  We popped into the bookstore to collect my tickets, and were told how many people were attending.  I had been expecting a lot of people, just not over 1,000. 

After some dinner and a bit of a wait in  a queue that wrapped round the cathedral wall and back onto the high street, it was finally go time.  When we got into the cathedral all the chairs were set up in the nave, with T.V. screens off to the side.  I assumed (and you should never assume), that these would be used so that the people in the "cheap seats" would still be able to see.  I even heard many people re-arrange themselves so that they would have prime t.v. viewing.  However, and we should all know by now, that you never assume, the T.V.s were not used.  I was sitting in an aisle seat and if I craned my neck far enough, like the other people in front of me, then I could just about see...but that hurts and wasn't fair to the people behind me.  So instead I listened and watched a few things: the bat that flew down just as Neil Gaiman arrived, the hirsute new-born in front of me and occasionally the man with the incredible laugh on the other side of me (seriously, he sounded so HAPPY!  It was as if every joke achieved a direct hit on his funny bone.  I love laughs like that.). 

I was okay with all that because the signing would follow.  Again, me with my assumptions!  We'd been given numbered raffle tickets at the door as we arrived, which then referred to the 'slot' of when we could join the queue to get our books signed.  I thought that this was a great idea, as this meant we could go for a drink/freshen up and go over to Topping's to buy some books (Heart of Darkness for Matt, 20th Century Ghosts for me) rather than waiting in a queue for ages. 

The talk finished at 8.40ish and the Topping crew estimated that the 400's would start queuing at 9.30.  After our breather, Matt and I returned at 9.25.  We waited for an indication that we could join the queue.  15 minutes passed.  Then one of the lovely Topping ladies announces that their timing estimates were wrong.  Completely wrong.  At this time they were still getting through the 100s.  She then added that those in the queue should only ask for their name to be signed...not complete paragraphs. 

Something else you should know: on the leaflet for the event it explained that you could get your copy of The Ocean...signed as well as something else that is dearly loved.  That's great, as normally these events only let books that have been purchased through the organiser to be signed by the author.  Not so great when there's 1000 people to get through, and some people can't count...

We left it another hour.  And then a little longer.  At that point they had only just called the 300s to get in the long queue.  The latest Matt wanted to leave Ely had been and gone.  If we waited any longer we'd still have to wait in a queue for who knows how long.  So, a little sad, but mostly frustrated, we decided to call it a night.  Thankfully, Topping had some pre-signed books available, so I exchanged my blank copy before we left.  It's not the same, but it's something.  I wrongly got mad at Matt because if he'd have just had this week off like he was supposed to then we could have stayed later.  But it's not his fault.  It's not anyone's fault really, just one of those things.  I wonder if the people in the 800's up got their book signed? 

I had a little cry this morning, it's stupid I know, but I just felt deflated.  I had been to a Topping event for Audrey Niffenegger in May and had a fantastic time, and last night was the complete opposite.  This whole post I haven't mentioned how fantastic Neil Gaiman is (I too would like to be a religion creator!) and I hate that.  From what I can make out on twitter, he was signing books long into the night, and that has to be the definition of dedication to your fans.  I do wonder if he's ambidextrous?  Surely that would help in situations like this?

To wrap up, I've decided to wallow for today, but after that all I'm going to remember are the positives; the amazing setting, seeing my best friend briefly, the nice meal, the fantastic questions, all the jokes, the laughter and a stray bat who had perfect timing.

Neil Gaiman, you are a superstar.  I hope your hand wasn't fused into a claw like shape this morning.    

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

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

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week I'm listing the things that make my life as a reader/blogger easier. 

1. The Library
Suffolk Libraries are fantastic.  They have a great range of books and most of the time have new titles in stock not long after they are released.  Also it helps to borrow books for free as I'm poor at the moment.  Although a great thing about the library is that if I don't like a book, I haven't wasted £8 that could have been spent on something better.
2. Online Reservations
How did I live before I could reserve books from the library online?
3. Book Marks a.k.a the bits of paper I get from the library
How else would I keep track of my page when I'd put the book down to get chocolate?
4. Dust Jackets
They don't really help me per se, I just love the feel of a book in a library book jacket.
5. Glasses
I can't see without them.
6. Book Lights
Makes the electricity bill a whole lot cheaper.
7. Bookshelves
Although I need more.  I have books all over the house, mainly on the floor stacked in large piles because there's no room between my collection and that of my sister and the worst offended of book hoarding in our house: my mum!
8. Book Tokens
They have no expiry date, which gives me longer to ponder over what to spend them on.
9. My Kindle
I may not be an avid e-book reader, but I have been able to get some NetGalley titles because I now have an e-reader.  Plus it's been a lot easier taking my Kindle up to Matt's rather than stuffing my backpack with books instead of clothes.
10. GoodReads
I like being able to keep track of the amount of books that I've read.  If they could just perfect their recommendations then I'd use goodreads even more!

The one thing that makes it harder:
So many books, so little time in which to read them all.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Hunger Games: Mockingjay


Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice.  But she's still not safe.  A revolution is unfolding and everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans - everyone except Katniss.

And yet she must play the most vital part in the final battle.  Katniss must become their Mockingjay - the symbol of rebellion - no matter what the personal cost.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I didn't like the final book in Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy.  Mockingjay was supposed to be the big showdown; an epic fight between the rebels and the Capitol.   Instead, I unfortunately found Mockingjay to be dull, slow and a chore to finish. 

It wasn't all bad; there were parts of the plot and concepts that perked my interest; such as the revelation that the victors were never free from the control of President Snow and the whims of the Capitol.  However, these few interesting tid-bits could not distract me from the clunky pacing of Mockingjay overall.  For many, many pages there's a lot of talking.  Then all of a sudden brief flashes of action happen that are over and done with all too soon.  Plus not to mention major characters are dispatched within the blink of an eye.  The structure does a disservice to not only Collins' fantastic range of characters, but to the overall plot.   

Although, the worst part of Mockingjay for me has to be the resolution of the love triangle between Katniss, Gale and Peeta.  Katniss is supposed to be kick-ass, not your average, YA heroine, and yet in the end she doesn't even pick who she wants to be with. Personally, I don't think she should have ended up with either Gale or Peeta.  It was obvious from how Collins portrayed Gale that he was never meant to end up with Katniss, their moral compasses were not in sync at all.  I may have been open to Katniss ending up with Peeta until I read the quote below:

"It takes a long time before I get to the bottom of why I'm so upset.  When I do, it's almost too mortifying to admit.  All those months of taking it for granted that Peeta thought I was wonderful are over." (p.271)

I might have been reading it the wrong way, but there were many instances other than the above were Collins makes it sound that the only reason Katniss likes Peeta is because he loves her.  And that's never a reason why you should marry a person and have kids with them.  You have to love them, for your own reasons.  Not just because the other boy might have had a part in killing your sister, meaning you could never look at him in the same way again.  The whole epilogue felt contrived, these guys were only 17!  I know some people do, but what's the likelihood of finding your life partner at that age? I get that no-one else could ever understand what these two had been through, but what's stopping them from ending up with someone else?  Or, God forbid, that they end up alone?

Perhaps I should re-read the series in a couple years time, and then maybe I can overlook the parts that I don't like and appreciate all of the good parts of this series.  Either that or hope that this can be a rare case where the movie is better than the book!  

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are still alive.  Katniss should be relieved, but now there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol - a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

As the nation watches Katniss and Peeta, the stakes are higher than ever.  One false move and the consequences will be unimaginable.

Suzanne Collins' sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, avoids the second book slump; even if the dreaded love triangle becomes more prominent.  I had defended Katniss and her un-decidedness in my review of The Hunger Games, but I think the situation starts to become more YA typical in this book, unfortunately.  There's more important things to worry about other than boys, you know!

Most of Catching Fire details what happens directly after the last games, and the consequences that Katniss faces for making sure that both herself and Peeta survived.  This means there's a lot of exposition and hardly any action.  Don't get me wrong, it is interesting exposition; learning about previous victorious tributes, a possible secret district etc.  However, when I finally reached the Quarter Quell, I appreciated the action in the arena, more so than the last book, and thought that the "clock" was rather inventive.  Although it's rather obvious that the tributes weren't meant to stay in the arena long, as I was running out of pages to read!

This wasn't a bad read, and the ending is pretty interesting, setting plenty of plot points up for Mockingjay, the final instalment in the trilogy.     

I love Library

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Never Coming Back

Having left London after a near-fatal stabbing, private investigator David Raker is recuperating at his dad’s old cottage, located in a costal town in Devon, when he is asked by a former girlfriend to investigate the disappearance of her sister Carrie, Carrie’s husband Paul and their two daughters.  The whole family vanished without a trace, leaving their house as if they were about to return at any moment.  With the police being no help, having given up their own investigation after the case kept leading to a dead ends, and busy with a body that has washed up on beach, it’s up to Raker to find out just what happened to this family.    

Never Coming Back, the fourth David Raker novel from Tim Weaver, has a slow start, and I did feel at  disadvantage for not having read the previous three novels featuring this character.  This feeling soon lessened once Raker begins to unfurl the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Ling's. This is when  Never Coming Back became a real page turner, and I was devouring pages to discover where the story would head next.  There were plenty of moments of uncertainty, Weaver making you think that you know what's about to happen and then completely taking the plot in another direction.  I thought that the pacing was brilliant, and a good balance between explanation and action.  Also the two completely different settings of Las Vegas and Devon made for an interesting dichotomy and varied reading.  While there are some clich├ęs (and I am never a fan of seeing the book title in the body of the novel itself) I thought that Never Coming Back was a solid crime story, something that would be a great holiday read, and I am excited to read more of Tim Weaver's work. 

Never Coming Back is out on the 29th of August.  Thank you Real Readers for my advance copy.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Top Ten Favorite Books Set in Britain

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  This week the topic is my top books with a setting of my choice.  I've struggled with this one, as I like reading about different places and such.  I had decided on going for a general city theme, and then I decided -like last night decided - that I'd be all patriotic and go for a British theme! 
1. Rivers of London
2. The City's Son
3. Etiquette and Espionage
 4. Pride and Prejudice
 Any excuse to show off this glorious cover!

5. Jane Eyre

6. Atonement

7. Apocalypse Cow

8. The Graveyard Book

9. Her Fearful Symmetry
Okay, so compared to The Time Traveler's Wife, Her Fearful Symmetry isn't that good.  However, I will give Audrey Niffenegger props for her descriptions of Highgate Cemetery.

10. A Monster Calls

Bonus books because there are too many good books set in Britain:
The Eyre Affair and Hollow Earth
What setting did you guys choose this week?  What are your favourite books set in Britain?  Let me know!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Brother Kemal

Set in Frankfurt, the fifth Kemal Kayankaya novel, Brother Kemal, sees the private investigator hired for two separate cases.  First Kayankaya is employed by Valerie de Chavannes, a woman who comes from money, to find her missing 16-year-old daughter.  The second job is to provide protection to author Malik Rashid whilst at a local book fair from potential fanatics who disapprove of the content of his latest novel.  Although Kayankaya initially believes both cases to be uncomplicated, he is soon proved wrong with his presumptions potentially causing disastrous consequences.

I hadn't read any of the previous books in the Kemal Kayankaya series from Jakob Arjouni, and this posed no problem when reading Brother Kemal.  The only instance where I felt unprepared was at the point where I realised that Kayankaya is not one to abide by the rules of the law, which occurs early on in the novel.  Perhaps if I had read some of the previous novels I would have already expected this, but at the time Kayankaya's actions did come as a bit of a shock.
Instantly I was struck by the detail laden prose and analytical narrative style, with Ajourni leaving no room for assumptions (even if his characters make plenty of  them throughout the course of the book).  Although in no way does this impact on the pacing of the plot, which is continually engaging,  punctured with moments of violence that come quickly, almost out of the blue, but never read as obscene or gratuitous, and the touches of humour sprinkled throughout the novel.  These wry moments further emphasise just how self-confident Kemal is and adding to the overall structure of a complex and fascinating character.

After enjoying reading Brother Kemal, I find it a shame that this is the last novel from Jakob Arjourni, as he sadly died earlier this year.  However, I am going to seek out Jakob Arjouni's back catalogue, as I was really impressed by this last novel.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

I Love The Library

This picture explains why you don't leave me alone in a library for half an hour.  I think I have a problem...

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Top Ten Books I Wish Could Have Had Sequels

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  I almost didn't participate this week because most of the books I read already have sequels.  Most genre books/YA fiction seem to be part of a trilogy or a never-ending series these days, and it's somewhat refreshing to find standalone books, where authors can contain their story in one volume avoiding any second book slump situations.  However, after thinking some more about the topic, I realised that even though I didn't want direct sequels to some of the books listed below, I wouldn't mind returning to the world in which they are set.   
1. The Toyminator
2. The Time Travellers Wife
3. Apocalypse Cow
4. NOS4R2
5. Zoo City
6. Bad Monkeys
7. Ready Player One
8. The River of No Return
9. Angel Maker
10. The Troupe
Which books would you like sequels to?  Are you a fan of sequels or a sceptic?

Monday, 5 August 2013

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You

Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it's really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real "pavement artist"-but can she manoeuvre a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?

Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she's on her most dangerous mission-falling in love

I thought Ally Carter's first Gallagher Girls novel was fun, even though it's not my normal type of book.  While I'm interested in spy-schools (although the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is still no match for Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, even if the protocol for uninvited visitors was rather hilarious!) I wasn't too keen on the exclamation marks after every other sentence, nor the plot surrounding Josh.  Which technically was the whole plot.  Never mind, as for what I needed at the time, I'd Tell You...did the trick.  I didn't have to engage brain and stress out even more; I could just read, enjoy the Buffy references that are always appreciated, and then move on. 

Now that I've finally read one, I'm not surprised that this series made it onto so many other bloggers of Top Ten Tuesday light and fluffy posts, as those two words perfectly sum up I'd Tell You...I've got the next two books in the series waiting to be read, and I'm hoping that they provide the same sort of fun escapism.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

It's My Birthday!

So I'm 26 today...not been up to much as Matt couldn't get the day off work, and birthdays have somewhat lost that exciting quality they had when I was younger.  Enough with being grumpy, let's focus on the positive!  Thought I'd share some of the books that were bought for me!  Can't wait to start all of them, which one do you think I should read first?