July 2013 on Lipsyy Lost & Found

I’ve been blogging for just over two months now and it’s really fun if not time consuming; definitely worth every second though. Now I’m all settled in I thought it would be good to do a proper monthly round-up. So here is My Monthly Activity in one handy post. Thanks to everyone who has followed me, liked posts and commented. I’m really enjoying getting to know you all!

July 2013

Total Posts: 19

New Followers: 29

Books Read & Reviewed (6):

  • Poison – Sarah Pinborough, 3/5 (Review)
  • The Maleficent Seven – Derek Landy,  A reluctant 4/5 (Review)
  • Take Your Last Breath (Ruby Redfort #2) – Lauren Child, 4/5 (Review)
  • Specials (Uglies #3) – Scott Westerfeld, 4/5 (Review)
  • Tristan & Iseult – J.D Smith, 3/5 (Review)
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch, 3/5 (Review)

Favourites Fridays:
Most Fridays I have been posting about my favourite books or authors

  • #7 Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson (View Post)
  • #6 Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbit (View Post)
  • #5 Silly Verse for Kids – Spike Milligan (View Post)

Most Viewed Posts:

  1. WWW Wednesday 24/07/2013 (View Post)
  2. Best Post Day! (New Arrivals) (View Post)
  3. WWW Wednesday 10/07/2013 (View Post)

Books Purchased: 
1. Tristan & Iseult by J.D Smith (Kindle Edition) I got this when it was free but it is still only £1.98

Available from Amazon

Available from Amazon

2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Paperback). Currently only £3.85 on Amazon

3. Poison by Sarah Pinborough (Hardback)

4. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (Paperback)
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5. Deer in Headlights (Good Gods Series) by Stacci Hart (Kindle Edition) This is still free on Amazon

View On Amazon

View On Amazon

6. Water (The Aksasha Series) by Terra Harmony. (Kindle Edition) Also free on Amazon.

View on Amazon

View on Amazon

Books Swapped: I am a huge fan of bookswap website Read it Swap it and did some great swaps this month. Check out the site here. (UK based) My username is lipsyp1 if you ever want to see what books I have up for swap.

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Swap #1: Tell me no Lies by Malorie Blackman for Being by Kevin Brooks.

Swap#2: On the Road by Jack Kerouac for Extras (Uglies #4) by Scott Westerfeld

Swap #3: Second Nature by Alice Hoffman for A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness

ARCs/Giveaways:
I received Julian Sedgwick’s The Black Dragon (The Mysterium #1) courtesy of Hodder Children’s Books via World Book Day.

*BOOK OF THE MONTH*

Click for my review

Click for my review

*COVER OF THE MONTH*

View my Review

View my Review

*MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH*
Due for Release 20th August – NEEDED for the cover alone.

View on Goodreads

View on Goodreads

What else would you like to see on my monthly round-up? I’m sure I’m missing things. 

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WWW Wednesday.

Sorry guys, my answers are the same as last week as I was away at the weekend and did not even manage to open a book. I’m really enjoying The Secret Keeper though and will hopefully get it finished soon. Busy Busy. Please still leave a comment with your post so I can peruse them through the day! Hope you’ve all been more productive than me this week. 😉

www_wednesdays4

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton – ‘A a spellbinding mix of mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love’. View on Goodreads.

Just Finished:
Poison by Sarah Pinborough – ‘A beautiful, sexy, contemporary retelling of the classic Snow White fairy tale’. I was sooooooooo excited about this and it hurts me to say that I was a bit disappointed. Maybe I expected too much? Sad Panda. Review to follow shortly. View on Goodreads.

Shiny!

Shiny!

Up Next:
Either Throne of Glass or Storm Glass. It’s all about the glass apparently.

Click to View on Goodreads

Click to View on Goodreads

Click to view on Goodreads

Click to view on Goodreads

Favourites Friday #7: Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson

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The first ten lies they tell you in high school. “Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party.

In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.

Speak was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature. Image & Synopsis from Goodreads.

Speak is one of those books that doesn’t blow you away at first. It’s a slow burner but once you have read the final word you are left speechless. It is a dark and frank portrayal of the high-school experience that will speak to many, and move most. It’s harrowing and depressing but also intensely funny.

Anyone who has ever felt like an outcast or a victim can find solace in Speak, and all can learn from it. Pay attention to your kids, World.

Favourite Lines:
Opening line: ‘It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomach ache’.

OUR TEACHERS ARE THE BEST… My English teacher has no face. She has stringy hair that droops on her shoulders. The hair is black from her parting to her ears and then neon orange to its frizzy ends. I can’t decide if she has pissed off her hairdresser or is morphing into a monarch butterfly. I call her Hairwoman.

‘Sometimes I think high school is one long hazy activity: if you are tough enough to survive this, they’ll let you become an adult. I hope it’s worth it.’

When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time. You’d be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside—walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a Mack truck to come along and finish the job. It’s the saddest thing I know’

You should probably read the book before you watch this video, just sayin.

A Snow White tale for Adults: Poison by Sarah Pinborough

Sexy Snow White?

Sex and the Snow White

A beautiful, sexy, contemporary retelling of the classic Snow White fairy tale, illustrated by Les Edwards.

Poison is a beautifully illustrated retelling of the Snow White story which takes all the elements of the classic fairy tale that we love (the handsome prince, the jealous queen, the beautiful girl and, of course, the poisoning) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires. It’s fun, contemporary, sexy, and perfect for fans of Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Snow White and the Huntsman and more. Image & Synopsis from Goodreads.

If you’ve read my blog posts over the last week or so you’ll know that I was really excited about Poison. I love fairy tales, I love retelling of fairy tales and this being an ‘adult’ version of Snow White appealed to me. Not to mention how awesome the cover is. Basically, I set myself up for a massive let down didn’t I? Damn, not again.

I didn’t hate Poison, but I didn’t love it either. Which makes me sad because it’s too pretty to get rid of.

We start with Lilith, Snow’s step-mother who we expect to be evil but she’s just kind of sad. As is traditional, she’s jealous of Snow White’s beauty and charm but also of how free and wild she is. Snow White is out partying with the dwarves and getting drunk whilst poor old Lilith is stuck in her castle being a lady. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to feel sorry for her with this new back story but it didn’t really work for me.

Snow White herself is fun. She drinks the Dwarves under the table and basically just does what she likes but I didn’t feel any investment in her or her well being. I was glad the huntsman didn’t kill her but not because I liked her but because I liked him. And the Prince…don’t even get me started on him. What a waste of space he turned out to be.

I did like some elements of Poison though. I liked that no one was quite what they seem, and definitely not what you’d expect them to be, Pinborough did a good job in that sense. And I liked that Snow White was just a normal girl. A normal beer-drinking, curvy girl who has family issues. But on the other hand, that realism took away a lot of magic from the story which is a shame. I guess you can’t have the best of both worlds.

I also liked that Pinborough took elements from different fairy tales and integrated them into this one story. Apart from the Aladdin part…really, what was the point in that??

Overall, I think Poison is a great idea in theory but just didn’t quite work, for me. Pinborough could have really taken ownership of the source material but it was just a bit too thin to really get your teeth into. I think I’ll give the next book, Charm a go just to see if she manages to do this…I still live in hope.

Plus, they really are very very pretty books.

I give Poision 3/5 unicorns…just. It was published by Gollancz, April 2013

WWW Wednesday!

www_wednesdays4

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton – ‘A a spellbinding mix of mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love’. View on Goodreads.

Just Finished:
Poison by Sarah Pinborough – ‘A beautiful, sexy, contemporary retelling of the classic Snow White fairy tale’. I was sooooooooo excited about this and it hurts me to say that I was a bit disappointed. Maybe I expected too much? Sad Panda. Review to follow shortly. View on Goodreads.

Shiny!

Shiny!

Up Next:
Either Throne of Glass or Storm Glass. It’s all about the glass apparently.

Click to View on Goodreads

Click to View on Goodreads

Click to view on Goodreads

Click to view on Goodreads

Spin-off or Spin on? The Maleficent Seven (Skulduggery Pleasant spin-off) by Derek Landy

View on Goodreads

View on Goodreads

A brilliant, hilarious one-off novella in the Skulduggery Pleasant universe, from number-one-bestselling author Derek Landy

This time, the bad guys take the stage.

Tanith Low, now possessed by a remnant, recruits a gang of villains – many of whom will be familiar from previous Skulduggery adventures – in order to track down and steal the four God-Killer level weapons that could hurt Darquesse when she eventually emerges. Also on the trail of the weapons is a secret group of Sanctuary sorcerers, and doing his best to keep up and keep Tanith alive is one Mister Ghastly Bespoke.

When the villains around her are lying and scheming and plotting, Tanith needs to stay two steps ahead of her teammates and her enemies. After all, she’s got her own double-crosses to plan – and she’s a villain herself…

Firstly, The Skulduggery Pleasant books are one of my favourite series ever. One because they are hilarious and captivating and two, because I have them all in hardback and they look pretty on my shelves. Secondly, it’s been a while since I read this spin-off (I know, I’m rubbish) and Goodreads tells me I gave it 4/5 but now I cannot for the life of me remember why.

I was really excited to see that Tanith Low was getting her own book, she’s an interesting character, especially now that she’s evil and has this strangely cute relationship with evil Billy-Ray. I must have enjoyed the story to give it 4/5 but thinking back on it now I can’t even tell you what happened, which can’t be a good thing can it?

I know that my favourite character in it died. Sob. And that Tanith was leading an army of misfits to steal the God Killer Weapons so that they can’t be used against Darquesse, if of course, Valkyrie ever turns into her. So as ever Tanith is kind of evil but not really which was just a bit annoying really. I’m finding it hard to remember what the point of the story was…sorry…

Also, I thought this would be a good opportunity for Landy to prove that he can write in a different tone to Skulduggery and Valkyrie, (they are VERY sarcastic)but that didn’t really happen either. I love sarcasm as much as the next person – probably a lot more actually- and that’s one of the main things I loved about the early Skulduggery books. They made me L.O.L. But as the series went on the constant sarcasm seemed to seep into every single character: Overkill. It hasn’t stopped me enjoying them, but I did hope that this would be different.

I’m sure this must have been entertaining enough but with hindsight…I was probably being quite generous because I love the series so much. Basically, I can only really recommend this to lovers of the Skulduggery Pleasant series. He’s a sarcastic skeleton detective…what’s not to like!?

The Maleficent Seven is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, March 2013.

Teen Girls Make Good Spies Too, Buster: Take Your Last Breath by Lauren Child (Ruby Redfort #2)

I’m a bit behind on reviews so I thought I’d try and get them out today instead of a Favourites Friday post. But Happy Friday regardless!

Everyone’s favorite girl detective is back for a second mind-blowing installment, packed with all the off-the-wall humor, action, and friendship of the first book. This time, though, it’s an adventure on the wide-open ocean, and Ruby is all at sea. . . . Can she crack the case of the Twinford pirates while evading the clutches of a vile sea monster as well as the evil Count von Viscount? Well, you wouldn’t want to bet against her.

I should have written this review when the book was fresh in my mind but hey ho, better late than never right? I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first book in this series Look Into my Eyes and Take Your Last Breath was more of the same; it didn’t disappoint.

Ruby is a great character with her sarcky, feisty wit and quick thinking. She makes these book extremely fun to read, you can’t help but cheer her on the whole way through, even if she calls people ‘Buster’ too much, and has a penchant for t-shirts with annoying slogans on them, it all adds to her unique character.

The book starts with Ruby on a deep-sea-diving training course with Spectrum, the Secret Agency that head-hunted her in the first book, which is pretty convenient considering the mission she is later assigned to happens to be about a body found dead at sea (coincidence?). This leads to all manner of crazy oceanic occurrences such as sharks in the harbour, dead turtles, ships being kidnapped by pirates, confused cargo shipping including some missing elephants and the strange whispering of the sea that only kids can hear. Oh not to mention the old legend of the sea monster which may or may not be currently strangling people.

With codes to crack and the many pieces of the puzzle to piece together, Ruby is a busy a girl and the story just flies by. It’s a perfectly entertaining, light summer read.

But, I hear you cry, but you do have to just go with it and take it with a pinch of salt. Don’t expect much realism here. I mean, I know it’s aimed at a MUCH (sob) younger audience than me but Lauren Child doesn’t even try to make the unbelievable believable. Ruby as a teenage secret agent didn’t manage to convince me enough this time round, she just didn’t seem clever, or serious enough and a lot of time she just sat around thinking but not actually doing anything. Surely the ‘real’ secret agents wouldn’t just wait for her to solve it? but they didn’t seem to really care that people were turning up dead.

Despite those things, I’m really glad this series exists. There are a lot of YA novels out there the moment featuring kick-ass girls with real personalities but not so much for the 8-12 age group which I think this falls into, and definitely not when it comes to spy novels. Comparisons to the Stormbreaker series are endless and it’s pretty cool that Ruby Redfort is out there doing it for the girls. Even if Alex Rider would totally kick her arse.

I gave Ruby#2 4/5 unicorns. My copy is published by Harper Collins Children’s Books.

A Scary Vision of the Future: Specials by Scott Westerfeld

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“Special Circumstances”: The words have sent chills down Tally’s spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious ugly. Back then Specials were a sinister rumor — frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their whole lives without meeting a Special. But Tally’s never been ordinary.

And now she’s been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember. Most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more.

Still, it’s easy to tune that out — until Tally’s offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she’s programmed to complete. Either way, Tally’s world will never be the same.Image and Synopsis from Goodreads.

Woah Long Synopsis. Some minor spoilers further down, nothing too ruin-making though.

So I read Specials probably about a year after reading the first two books Uglies and Pretties and I couldn’t really remember where it left off. But true to form Westerfeld went straight into this book all guns blazing.

I loved that the book started right in the action with Tally and Shay back together again and now both Specials, the cruellest and most modified of them all, up to their usual tricks as if they were Crims again. As it all started coming back to me I remembered where Pretties left off, how terrifying the Specials were and how much Tally had not wanted to look at them, never mind be one.

I found Specials quite creepy (and riveting) in that way, as we go along with Tally on this journey knowing that her mind and body has been altered once again without her permission. She knows something is not quite right but she can’t grasp what. She’s superhuman and can do almost anything; can kill with her bare hands; she feels great and she thinks she looks great but the whole time we know that if she could just snap out of it she would see what they have done to her.

All three of the books in this series so far have been imaginative, fun reads that have obviously kept me coming back for more, but I definitely have some gripes. Tally for one. I found her pretty annoying in the first two books, always changing her mind, always doing the wrong thing-apologising-doing it again, and in Specials she’s even worse. To be fair, that’s the way she’s supposed to be as Specials, especially this new ‘breed’ called Cutters that Tally and Shay are part of are supposed to see themselves as superior to everyone else. Even the normal pretties, who have already been modified to be perfect beauties look hideous and weak to them.

Shay doesn’t get away without a slagging off either. I mean, one minute her and Tally are BFFs and then she’s telling her how self-centred she is. I mean, she is, but don’t pick and choose when to like her in that case. Maybe their relationship was supposed to demonstrate a true friendship. As in you don’t always have to agree or like each other as long as you’re there for each other. Well even so, if that’s friendship I think I’m doing it wrong.

On the up side, the whole world that Westerfeld has created in these books is totally ballsy. It’s a huge comment on how we, as humans are destroying the world, the shallowness of society and also the cost of beauty and I absolutely salute him for that. Using this sort of sci-fi – bizarro world to get that message across is pretty damn awesome. I don’t think parents would be all that pleased for their kids to read this though, with all the cutting themselves to feel clarity, starving themselves, the general lack of morals…and that’s a thought, where the hell are all the parents? The only ones we hear about are David’s, who is a rebel through and through and has never had the Pretty Surgery. Hmm.

I was rooting for David btw, I mean Zane was OK too and I liked that he loved Tally enough to take the pill at the end of Pretties but David just seemed cooler. His parents had started their own colony and were single-handedly saving the world after all.

Despite a few plot issues towards the end such as Dr Cable and the whole of Special Circumstances being bought down so easily (why had no one tried to stop them before if they were really such small fish in a big pond like they turned out to be?) and there not being enough Andrew Simpson Smith (he was hilarious – loved him), I thought Specials was a good ending to the series. Tally stayed true to form in making herself the important one right to the very end, but at least she left us with an important message: Freedom has a way of destroying things.

I don’t know why Westerfeld felt the need to write another book after this one, but I suppose I’ll have to check out Extras too, pull my arm why don’t you.

One last thing, if you liked this series you should totally watch Antiviral. Some similar themes, MUCH more creepiness AND Caleb Landry Jones is such an anti-babe. Anti-babe…I like that!

I gave Specials 4 unicorns out of 5. It is published by Simon and Schuster.

WWW Wednesday.

www_wednesdays4

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

It’s well and truly Hump Day! Here’s what I’ve been up to this week. Don’t forget to leave a comment with your post or books. It will make my day go faster. 😉

Currently Reading: Poison by Sarah Pinborough
Literally just started this this morning so not much to report. But sexy Snow White, what’s not to like?

Recently Finished:
I spent a lot of time living the dream at the weekend – reading under a tree. I finished two great books…

A new retelling of Tristan and Iseult by J.D Smith. I wanted to give it 4/5 but had to settle on 3/5. You can read my review Here.

Click to view on Goodreads

Click to view on Goodreads

And Specials by Scott Westerfeld. The 3rd book in his Uglies series. I’d totally forgotten how crazy these books were. It was a fast-paced, ferocious read. Review to follow.

Click to view on Goodreads

Click to view on Goodreads

Up Next:

Probably another one of the books that arrived last week so either Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper or Throne of Glass. I still have Storm Glass to start too.

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The Verdict: Tristan and Iseult by J.D Smith

I have adored the tale of Tristan and Iseult since I stumbled it across it when looking into Arthurian legends. I bloody love Arthurian legends btw. Soon after becoming aware of the story I found an old Puffin version by Rosemary Sutcliff that I’ve loved ever since. Her retelling has always been the only one for me…but recently I discovered this…

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In a land of fog and desperate tribes, Tristan fights to protect western Briton from Saxon invaders. In the wake of battle, he returns to Kernow bearing grave news, and the order of power shifts. As Tristan defends the west, his uncle, King Mark, faces enemies to the east beyond the sea: the Irish Bloodshields. Mark is determined to unite the tribes of Briton and Ireland and forge an alliance that would see an end to war and the beginnings of peace. Iseult, the daughter of Irish kings and a woman of the blood, resigns herself to her inevitable fate: marriage to Lord Morholt. A bloody duel changes her course, and she finds herself stranded on the coast of Kernow bringing with her the possibility of peace. But when she loses her heart to one man and marries another, her future and that of Briton flutters grey. Three people and a hope that will never fade, this is a story of promise; the legend of love. Image and Synopsis from Goodreads.

Due to the aforementioned circumstances I’m sure you can understand why I went into this a bit sceptical. At first I found that the simple, almost brisk sentences came out a bit wooden but after a few paragraphs the style really started to flow and I started to enjoy it, a lot.

It captures the time and essence of the story I know and love really well.

The book is written from both Tristan and Iseult’s point of views – each having alternative chapters – which I thought would annoy me but it actually turned out to be really great. This way Iseult is able to show us in the very beginning how revolting Morholt, her husband-to-be really is, which kind of helps us realise later why she agrees to marry King Mark when she is clearly in love with Tristan- his Nephew and chosen heir to the throne. Going from something so bad to something ‘safe’ can’t be too bad after all can it?

I did wish that the two characters had more distinct voices though, as they both sounded the same in my head and I had to constantly remind myself whose chapter it was. However, Smith builds up the lust and romance between Tristan and Iseult beautifully. I was absolutely hooked and invested in the story which is probably why I got so angry that Tristan encouraged her to marry Mark in the first place…I mean, the King loves him, all he had to do was say! I’m not sure I was totally convinced that he did it due to his guilt of the King’s son Rufus’ death. But hey ho.

Alas, King Mark and Iseult are married and clearly everyone, apart from the King is miserable. The King in fact just seems to swan off a lot on King-like business leaving Tristan and Iseult alone with a million will they-won’t they moments which was INFURIATING to say the least. Not in a bad way. In a I have to keep reading way.

And then. THEN, we skip to 20 years ahead…are you shitting me J.D Smith?

Anyway (deep breaths), without giving too much away, this is a pretty different retelling than the Suttcliff version and I do think it lacked a certain proportion of passion and excitement due to some choices Smith made with the material but I don’t mean that to sound so bad.

It is a quick, enjoyable read that has captured the essence of the medieval, Celtic folklore that the story originated from, whilst also creating more contemporary feel to it.

I’m tempted to give this 4 out 5 because I was hooked all the way through, but the last third of the story let it down for me so I have settled on 3/5 unicorns. If I could bring myself to chop one in half, I would.

Tristan and Iseult by J.D Smith is published by @TriskeleBooks