WWW Wednesday!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

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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:

Click images for Goodreads.
Click images for Goodreads.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

I am in love. I’m in love with this whole book and totally crushing on Celaena. She’s an assassin and kicks-ass but she’s compassionate and smart, and a bit shy. I LOVE HER.

Just Finished:
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
I finally managed to finish this (it wasn’t a reflection on the book, just on how little time I actually spent reading last week). I really enjoyed it and gave it 4/5. Read my review here.

Up Next:
Oooh so many to choose from. I should be getting a copy of Hemlock Grove from Di which I’ve been told I HAVE to read:
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An exhilarating reinvention of the gothic novel, inspired by the iconic characters of our greatest myths and nightmares.
The body of a young girl is found mangled and murdered in the woods of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of the abandoned Godfrey Steel mill. A manhunt ensues—though the authorities aren’t sure if it’s a man they should be looking for.

Some suspect an escapee from the White Tower, a foreboding biotech facility owned by the Godfrey family—their personal fortune and the local economy having moved on from Pittsburgh steel—where, if rumors are true, biological experiments of the most unethical kind take place. Others turn to Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy trailer-trash kid who has told impressionable high school classmates that he’s a werewolf. Or perhaps it’s Roman, the son of the late JR Godfrey, who rules the adolescent social scene with the casual arrogance of a cold-blooded aristocrat, his superior status unquestioned despite his decidedly freakish sister, Shelley, whose monstrous medical conditions belie a sweet intelligence, and his otherworldly control freak of a mother, Olivia.

At once a riveting mystery and a fascinating revelation of the grotesque and the darkness in us all, Hemlock Grove has the architecture and energy to become a classic in its own right—and Brian McGreevy the talent and ambition to enthrall us for years to come.

Also on the list:
17453243 Deer in Headlights – Staci Hart

How do the Greek gods kill time? Because they’re always bored. It’s an unavoidable downside of being alive for thousands of years. So, they play games. Games with human players. Remember Shakespeare? Yeah, that was Apollo. Bonnie and Clyde? Aphrodite vs Ares.

It’s Aphrodite’s turn once again in the rounds of competitions, and she’ll defend her domain: Love. She hasn’t lost a competition on her turf in over three millennia, and she’s not about to start now. Apollo is her first competitor, and he’s on a mission to win. If he wins, he’ll get a token; a favor that Aphrodite must fulfill. And with that favor, he’ll finally get the one woman he’s never been able to have.

Aphrodite and Apollo will choose their human players, and if Aphrodite can’t get them together before the clock runs out, Apollo will get his way. And she couldn’t have that.

12755985 Water – Terra Harmony

Elemental powers in the palm of her hand…and it won’t be enough to save her. When Kaitlyn Alder is involuntarily introduced to a life of magic, she becomes part of an organization hell-bent on saving the Earth. Just as her new-found life holds promises of purpose, romance, and friendship, the organization divides and a rogue member holds Kaitlyn hostage. Now one of the most terrifying men the human race has to offer stands between her and Earth’s survival.

AND I have the books I got on Bookswap last month.

What should I pick?
Leave a comment with the link to your post! 🙂

Di & Lipsy do The Selection!

A couple of days ago I officially declared my LOVE for The Selection by Kiera Cass but I was finding it hard to put my love into words so I enlisted my BFF Dianne of the Tanner to help me. Read my original post here. But if you’re too lazy to go and read that (shame on you), here’s the lowdown on The Selection again.

View on Goodreads
View on Goodreads

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

To my delight Di didn’t hate The Selection. WIN. We talked about the book, the similarities to the Hunger Games (because we are a bit obsessed with the Hunger Games) and the TV show that will or won’t or possibly already happened (!?). And of course, we had to decide: Team Aspen or Team Maxon.

Our rant went something like this:

ME: I’d never heard of The Selection until I saw it on Amazon and WOWed at the cover. I thought it was so pretty and looked magical and I HAD to buy it. When I handed it over to you however, you did what can only be described as a guffaw and said it looked terrible.

What were your actual first impressions from the cover and the premise? DT: Oh lord. My initial reaction when I saw the cover was ‘have you given me a Princess Diaries book to read?’ The cover is hilariously awful but I kind of love it. I felt pretty amazing reading it on the tube.

I really had no idea what to expect from the premise and initially was a bit wtf until about 3 pages in when I realised it was a bit HUNGER GAMES and perked up. Oh they live in America gone wrong in the future, it’s fine this I can get into.

What did you think of America Singer initially…apart from the stupid name of course? Aw bless her, she is trying so hard to be a stereotypical “tough girl” in a “hard world” who looks after other people and has no idea what others see in her – a bit over done at this point! *Katniss*
-Yeah it’s nice to have that ‘hardness’ and it not be about violence though. That’s refreshing. It’s all about her CHARM.
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Did the similarities to The Hunger Games annoy you? I thought it was a bit of a rip off at first but I thought the Casts were actually a pretty good idea in the end… Frankly anything that is vaguely similar to the Hunger Games to fill the gap since there is NO MORE HUNGER GAMES can only be a good thing so I have no idea what you are talking about.
-Haha true dat. I was just anticipating you hating it.

How did you picture Aspen? A bit fit obviously, but what a douche.
-SUCH A DOUCHE! Almost as bad as Peeta!

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The dialogue was pretty laughable on some occasions, OK on most occasions…especially the way Maxon talks. I bet you hate him don’t you? I actually really loved him! I KNEW you expected me to be Team Aspen. I wonder if maybe we didn’t get to spend enough time with him. He sounds like a bit of a douche, but then he gets all muscles and stuff later on so maybe IDK. Wait this question was about Maxon. What?

Oh yeah. He was quite lovely. I feel like he has a nice smile.
-I REALLY DID EXPECT YOU TO BE TEAM ASPEN. I was all ready for a ‘hunger games’ debate about it. I’m a bit disappointed in you really. WE NEVER AGREE, SO WELL DONE KIERA CASS. Also…haha ‘quite lovely’. Indeed.

But would you be his ‘Dear?’ LOL. Most certainly. I feel like there is a WHOLE LOAD of unwritten dark shit going on with the country and stuff and lets be honest he is clearly going to sort that shit out. [Let’s hope so] This book is so predictable I feel like I could write the next 3 – 4 in the series.
-Yeah I really wished that element of the story was explored more. It is a little bit in the next book but still definitely not enough. It could be a really cool dystopian series if that was concentrated on more but I guess with the dystopian element being left in the background we could focus on swooning over Maxon and hating on all the other girls. I am such a girl-hater sometimes.

America is feisty though, I love her. After all, she did kick the Prince in the balls. Discuss: In the thigh IT WAS HIS THIGH. I love how often they use the word “groin” in this book. She is feisty but it felt a little forced. Oh like you have to be the feisty one who is “true to herself” right because that’s what all girls can relate to. Unless you are Bella Swan then you are just LAME.
-(Ignoring that Bella comment!)Are you sure it wasn’t the balls? Surely ‘groin’ is just YA code for BALLS?

May Vs Prim? I liked May. Much better than Prim.God Prim is so annoying.

OK we can’t put it off any longer….ASPEN OR MAXON??? Maxon. Everything about Aspen just wound me up I feel like if he ever actually had sex with America he would be like meh.
-YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS I CAN’T BELEIVE WE ACTUALLY AGREE. And now we will have to compete for his affections.

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Pick one thing you LOVED about The Selection… I liked that although it was clearly aimed at 14 year olds, there were parts that were quite dark with regards to the “dystopian” nature of the world they live in. As I said, I feel like there is a lot more of that to come out in further books. I was like 1 chapter from the end going “but how can this book be about to end they haven’t even done anything.”
-Yeah I remember flicking through the pages that were left and I was like THERE IS HALF THE BOOK MISSING, SURELY. I’m quite worried you will be disappointed by The Elite because there is still not enough Book. THERE WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH.

And one thing you HATED?
I don’t think there was any need to end this book when it did. Right in the middle of everything, its such a short book I feel like they could have expanded a lot. I can’t work out what age group exactly it is aimed at because there is quite a lot of HEAVY PETTING.
-HAHAHA HEAVY PETTING. That is all.

Now please explain to me why I loved it so much?? Because you love trash, Lauren.
-Too right.

Would you like book #2, The Elite? Yes immediately please.
-I might not see you for a few weeks. I will post it to you if you’ll post The Selection back. I NEED IT BACK PRONTO.

What else do we need to talk about?
The One (#3) isn’t out until MAY 2014 – What kind of bullshit is that!?

I refuse to believe it takes that long to write these books.

AND, THE TV SHOW: The powers that be have been trying to turn The Selection into a TV show for a while now. Apparently the first pilot starred Ethan Peck as Maxon and PETER PEVENSIE as Aspen but wasn’t picked up.
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Another pilot is said to be in production with none other than GILES!!!!! WTFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF!
I had heard that this was already a straight to TV movie actually. PETER PEVENSIE IS THE PERFECT PRINCE MAXON! [He was Aspen, Di…oh never mind] Who is Giles playing, THE KING??? KING GILES???

KING GILES IS THE KING OF ALL KINGS!
KING GILES IS THE KING OF ALL KINGS!

OF COURSE HE IS PLAYING THE KING! It will fill the King Giles-sized hole that Merlin took away from me! IT HAS to get made.

WE WILL WATCH THIS SPACE!

About Di
I first met Di on the streets of London YEARS AGO (let’s not think about that!) when we used to stalk the same band up and down the country. She knew my name and it freaked me out. I signed her enormous NZ flag (YUSS, she’s Kiwi) and realised that she was even louder than me. It kind of went from there and long after said band disappeared and we got a bit grown-up (eurrrgh!) we have remained friends. Even though we live on opposite sides of London, we meet up for book-swapping, film-watching and ranting over a few (a lot of) drinks as often as possible. Di is a self-taught photographer and jewellry maker. She blogs about these things plus books and life n’ shiz at Icefloe. Go say hi, she is lovely.

TEAM MAXON!

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it: The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton

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During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined.

The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths people go to fulfill them, and the consequences they can have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers, and schemers told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world. Image and synopsis from Goodreads (Click the Image to go there).

The Secret Keeper is another winner from Kate Morton. She has found a definitive style that suits her perfectly and creates beautiful, engrossing drama and decade-spanning mysteries. So, if it’s not broke don’t fix it right?

Usually I’m not a huge fan of shifting timelines but Morton does it so well. We start in the 1960’s when our protagonist Laurel is a teenager and witnesses her beloved mother stabbing a random man. We’re then propelled foward to the present where poor mum is approaching her 90th birthday and on her deathbed. With Laurel back to take care of her she aims to find out for once and for all what exactly happened that day. The mystery emerges bit by bit in true Morton style – by following Dolly (Laurel’s mum), through War-time London and beyond.

This is a hard book to review without just relaying the story. So much goes on but so little of it seems important without seeing the bigger picture, so it’s hard to pick out certain elements. One of my favourite things though was the description of London during the raids. The characters weren’t fazed by it because they’d become so accustomed to it. It’s funny how you can just get used to something so awful. They almost seemed immune to death and destruction which definitely helped put Dolly’s story in perspective. I also really enjoyed the family dynamics, especially Gerry, he was a lovely, complicated and quirky character.

I can’t say I was gripped the whole way through, but I certainly was for the most part. On numerous occasions I thought I knew exactly where the story was going and what the secret would be and whilst part of it was easy to guess, the final blow definitely wasn’t which made for an excellent read.

If you’ve never read any Kate Morton, I definitely recommend her work. I haven’t read every single one of her books on account that they sound so similar to each other, but the ones I have read have been really pleasant surprises.

Details:Paperback, 602 pgs. Published May 9th 2013 by Pan Books.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Unicorns
Is it a keeper? As much as I enjoyed it, I know I’ll never read it again so no. I have added it to my Book Swap List. (UK only, soz!)
If you liked this try: The House At Riverton

We need to talk about…The Selection

I’ve kind of been putting off posting about Kiera Cass’ The Selction & The Elite ever since I started this blog. I think it’s because I loved them more than should be acceptable for a 29 year old, and I am ashamed about it.

OK so ashamed is going a bit far. Embarrassed maybe? Nope that isn’t any better is it? Basically, they have well and truly propelled Twilight off of my guilty pleasure mountain of glory; they’ve stolen my Trashy Crown and Edward will just have to wait until I’m finished with Prince Maxon. TEAM MAXON. Ahem.

The worst part is that I can’t exactly decide why I loved them so much. The writing is adequate at best; the premise is hardly original being an amalgamation of The Hunger Games, TV show The Bachelor, and just about any YA novel about a prince and a pauper. BUT THEY ARE SO AWESOME I WANT TO READ IT AGAIN RIGHT NOW. (I may or may not have already read The Selection twice this year). I need help.

Therefore, I have enlisted my BFF Dianne to read The Selection so we can discuss it. And when I say enlist, I mean forced.

Me and Di have shared many books over the years and we’re both suckers for trashy teen novels. Most of the time we love (and hate) the same books. BUT, that’s where the similarities end. Everything I love in a book Di hates, and vice versa. Which makes for some great debates (screaming) and rants (whole nights lost).

The infamous Gale vs Peeta debate of 2011 is now banned from our lips, but not our thoughts. Obviously. PEETA IS A DOUCHE. Sorry. So I look forward to finding out what Di thinks of The Selection (She is definitely going to hate it). Watch this space.

If you have absolutely no idea what I’m blathering on about, here’s the lowdown on The Selection.

View on Goodreads
View on Goodreads

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Does Anyone Care About the Man Booker Prize?

I don’t really know what to think of The Man Booker Prize. It seems to be hailed as the most important accolade in contemporary fiction and a stagnant, restricted, waste of time in equal measure. I guess I fall somewhere between the two. I’m always intrigued to see which books have been nominated, but then I’m always confused as to why I’ve never heard of most of the books. This year is no exception.

The longlist, comprising of 13 books was announced last week. 5 of the books haven’t even been published yet. How does that work? I don’t understand how a book can be in the running for what is essentially Book of the Year but not even be published yet. But, I guess it’s all down to the judges so sales or feedback from the general public is moot anyway.

This year, I haven’t heard of a single one of these books and the only authors I’m familiar with are Jim Crace and Colm Toibin. But, I am happy there are some indie books in there, and the list does seem to be pretty eclectic in themes and styles.

The longlist 2013: See The Website for more details.

~ Five Star Billionaire, Tash Aw (Fourth Estate)

~ We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo (Chatto & Windus)

~ The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton (Granta)

~ Harvest, Jim Crace (Picador)

~ The Marrying of Chani Kaufman, Eve Harris (Sandstone Press)

~ The Kills, Richard House (Picador)

~ The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri (Bloomsbury)

~ Unexploded, Alison MacLeod (Hamish Hamilton)

~ Transatlantic, Colum McCann (Bloomsbury)

~ Almost English, Charlotte Mendelson (Mantle)

~ A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki (Canongate)

~ The Spinning Heart, Donal Ryan (Doubleday)

~ The Testament of Mary, Colm Tóibín (Viking)

Here are the ones I like the sound of:

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
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Ten-year-old Darling has a choice: it’s down, or out…

We Need New Names tells the story of Darling and her friends Stina, Chipo, Godknows, Sbho and Bastard. They all used to have proper houses, with real rooms and furniture, but now they all live in a shanty called Paradise. They spend their days stealing guavas, playing games and wondering how to get the baby out of young Chipo’s stomach. They dream of escaping to other paradises – America, Dubai, Europe. But if they do escape, will these new lands bring everything they wish for?

Unexploded by Alison MacLeod
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May 1940, Brighton. On Park Crescent, Geoffrey and Evelyn Beaumont and their eight-year-old son, Philip, anxiously await news of the expected enemy landing on their beaches.

It is a year of tension and change. Geoffrey becomes Superintendent of the enemy alien camp at the far reaches of town, while Philip is gripped by the rumour that Hitler will make Brighton’s Royal Pavilion his English HQ. As the rumours continue to fly and the days tick on, Evelyn struggles to fall in with the war effort and the constraints of her role in life, and her thoughts become tinged with a mounting, indefinable desperation.

Then she meets Otto Gottlieb, a ‘degenerate’ German-Jewish painter and prisoner in her husband’s internment camp. As Europe crumbles, Evelyn’s and Otto’s mutual distrust slowly begins to change into something else, which will shatter the structures on which her life, her family and her community rest.Love collides with fear, the power of art with the forces of war, and the lives of Evelyn, Otto and Geoffrey are changed irrevocably.

Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson.
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The air stinks of tuberose, caraway and garlic: the universal scent of central European hospitality. But Marina is not hospitable. After only an hour her skin is tender with cheek pinchings; she has been matchmade, prodded and instructed beyond endurance, and the night is young. Soon they will come to find her, to admire the shape of her fingernails, the thickness of her lashes, their eyes peeling back her clothes, weighing her like fruit. This is not new. She has been brought up to accept the questions and kisses as if nothing could please her more, however much lava is boiling inside. The problem is that Marina has changed. She can bear their scrutiny no longer because her life is a disaster, and it is her fault. She betrayed them and escaped them, and now she wants to come back.

In a tiny flat in West London, sixteen-year-old Marina lives with her emotionally-delicate mother, Laura, and three ancient Hungarian relatives. Imprisoned by her family’s crushing expectations and their fierce unEnglish pride, by their strange traditions and stranger foods, she knows she must escape. But the place she runs to makes her feel even more of an outsider.

At Combe Abbey, a traditional English public school for which her family have sacrificed everything, Marina realises she has made a terrible mistake. She is the awkward half-foreign girl who doesn’t know how to fit in, flirt or even be. And as a semi-Hungarian Londoner, who is she? In the meantime, her mother, Laura – an alien in this strange universe -, has her own painful secrets to deal with, especially the return of the last man she’d expect back in her life. She isn’t noticing that, at Combe Abbey, things are starting to go terribly wrong.

Have you read any of the books on the list/ are you rooting for any in particular?

Spread the Word! Free eBook Weekend!

I look forward to reading this! And you can too, for free!

Legends of Windemere

In honor of the release of Legends of Windemere: Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, I’m putting my first book up for a free weekend.  So, from August 2nd until August 4th, Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero will be free.

I would greatly appreciate people spreading the word about this free weekend.  Fingers crossed that this helps with sales for the second book.

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