WWW Wednesday (09-10-2013)

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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:
I’ve been pretty slack this week. I’m still reading Words Once Spoken which I haven’t picked up since I started reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

Recently Finished:
I did however, manage to finish both Zom-B Underground (My Review is here) and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. (Review to follow)

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Up Next:

I’ve been putting it off because of the size…but I am DEFINITELY reading Doctor Sleep Next. DEFINITELY.

Leave a comment with your link (or books if haven’t posted this week) and I’ll have a gander.

Top Ten Tuesday: Series…

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (Click the image to visit them). This week the theme is Top Ten Best/Worst Series endings.

But here lies a problem…I am so TERRIBLE at finishing series. Even worse than I thought I was when thinking about what to put in this post. So I’m going to do the series that I need/want to finish and the ones I want to start.

Top 5 Series I Need to Finish:

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The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare: I wasn’t completely smitten with these and only made it to book 2. But then I re-read the first book, City of Bones before I went to see the film and now I feel like I should read the rest of the series.

The Morganville Vampries by Rachel Caine: I enjoyed the beginning of this series and made it all the way to book 8 so I really should sort my life out and finish a damn series for a change!

The Bourbon Kid Series by Anonymous: These books are pretty hard to find in actual shops and online they’re not cheap so I’ve been hoping to find them in charity shops (that’s where I found the 2nd one) or on ReaditSwapit…my eyes are peeled for books 3 & 4.

The Akasha Series by Terra Harmony: I only read the first book, Water but I’ve been meaning to get round to the other two. Water was infuriating but intriguing!

Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger: Again, I only managed the first book in this series, but I liked it a lot. Will get round to it one day. Maybe.

Top 5 Series I Want to Start

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Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead // The Grisha by Leigh Bardugo // The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen // Luna Chronicles by Marissa Meyer // Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Halloween Movie Marathon- Tomorrow (05/10/2013)!

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I’m sooooooooooo excited about getting into the Halloween spirit by attending this at my favorite cinema tomorrow. The theme, if you couldn’t guess, is old skool Slashers Vs Vampires! Crappy remakes need not apply.

If you’re in London and you’ve never been to The Prince Charles Cinema you are missing out! Click the image to visit their website and take a look at all the AWESOME events they put on.

I’m going to attempt to live tweet throughout this (in the intervals of course – no one likes a mid-movie tweeter) if I don’t get too drunk and/or fall asleep!

So tell me, what’s your favourite scary movie??

[That wasn’t just a cute way of slipping in a Scream quote, I really want to know]

Favourites Friday #13 (Horror October Edition): The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom

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It was expecting them.

Conrad and Joanna Harrison, a young couple from Los Angeles, attempt to save their marriage by leaving the pressures of the city to start anew in a quiet, rural setting. They buy a Victorian mansion that once served as a haven for unwed mothers, called a birthing house. One day when Joanna is away, the previous owner visits Conrad to bequeath a vital piece of the house’s historic heritage, a photo album that he claims “belongs to the house.” Thumbing through the old, sepia-colored photographs of midwives and fearful, unhappily pregnant girls in their starched, nineteenth-century dresses, Conrad is suddenly chilled to the bone: staring back at him with a countenance of hatred and rage is the image of his own wife….

Thus begins a story of possession, sexual obsession, and, ultimately, murder, as a centuries-old crime is reenacted in the present, turning Conrad and Joanna’s American dream into a relentless nightmare.

An extraordinary marriage of supernatural thrills and exquisite psychological suspense, The Birthing House marks the debut of a writer whose first novel is a terrifying tour de force.

OK, so I’ve only just seen what a bad average rating this book has on Goodreads and I haven’t read it since it came out in 2009 but I’ve wanted to read it again ever since. I think the main thing I liked about this book was that it pays homage to the great haunted house/ posession films that I grew up on like The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist and added a better back story.

Despite being a bit of a tool, I liked Conrad as the protagonist and when the shit starts to hit the fan I felt sorry for him, knowing that there was no way he was gonna get out that house unscathed. Nadia, the seductive and down-right odd teenager next door, the crying babies at night and the proper weird stick-doll thing which may or may not be a figment of Conrad’s fucked up imagination, all worked for me.

It was a little bit horror-by-numbers, but for a debut novel I thought Ransom did a good job. The Birthing House was a quick, atmospheric read with just enough creep-factor to satisfy my creepiness.

Horror October: Spotlight & Review – Darren Shan

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It’s pretty hard being a Darren Shan fan. His career may have been shorter by some years, but he gives Stephen King a run for his money in the amount of books he churns out. ‘Master of Horror,’ Shan has released over 30 books since 2002 (from 2 – 6 books a year). Woah.

I first noticed Shan in the midst of his break-out vampire series for children, The Saga of Darren Shan. Being a huge fan of the Vampire genre and studying Children’s Literature at the time led me to check it out, and I realised then that Shan had actually gone to same university as me which gave me hope for my own chances of making it as a writer. (Still working on that one!)

Even though The Saga of Darren Shan was clearly aimed at 12 year old boys, I really enjoyed it. He’s not afraid to use violence and gore and most of all they were a new, fun take on the Vampire myth.

But I didn’t completely fall in love until I read Procession of the Dead, Shan first book -and the first in the City Trilogy – aimed at adults.

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Procession of the Dead is a dark and twisted, gritty urban fantasy and one of my favourite books of all time. (Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the other two quite as much – still worth a read though!)

Young, quick-witted, and cocksure, Capac Raimi arrives in the City determined to make his mark in a world of sweet, sinister sin. He finds the City is a place of exotic dangers: a legendary assassin with snakes tattooed on his face who moves like smoke, blind Incan priests whom no one seems to see, a kingpin who plays with puppets, and friends who mysteriously disappear as though they never existed. Then Capac crosses paths with The Cardinal, and his life changes forever.
The Cardinal is the City, and the City is The Cardinal. They are joined at the soul. Nothing moves on the streets, or below them, without The Cardinal’s knowledge. His rule is absolute.
When Capac discovers how deeply The Cardinal has influenced his life, he is faced with hard choices that conflict with his soaring ambition. To find his way, Capac must know himself and what he is capable of. But how can you trust yourself when you can’t remember your past?

Since then, Shan has released one other adult book, Lady of the Shades (which I loved) but has mainly returned to his Kids’ series.

His latest offering is the 12 book series Zom-B, about a Zombie outbreak in Ireland where B Smith is learning to deal with a racist dad as well as a whole lot of zombies. The fifth installment, Zom-B Baby has just been released, only a year after the first book was.

I’ve just finished Zom-B Underground (Zom-B #2). Can’t keep up, yeah.

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Waking up in a military complex, months after zombies attacked school, B has no memory of the last few months. Life in the UK has turned tough since the outbreak, and B is woven into life- and battle- in the new military regime quickly. But as B learns more about the zombies held in the complex and the scientists keeping them captive, unease settles in. Why exactly was B saved? And is there anyone left in the world to trust?

I’m sure I would have loved these books if I’d read them when I was 13, as opposed to 30 (almost- ahhhh!) but they just don’t have enough substance to them to keep me wanting more these days. I liked the end of Zom-B #1 as it had a pretty good twist which is why I picked this one up too, but I don’t think I’ll be carrying on with the series.

There are definitely things to like here such as good action/violence which I’m sure will be a hit with younger audiences, and the turmoil B faces in trying to peel away the racist traits that have seeped into her from her father. But they are just too short. I feel like this whole series of 12 books should actually just be a trilogy or something, instead of these little snippets of stories.

So I think I’ll leave these to the kids and wait patiently for another adult offering from Darren Shan, Master of Horror.

Stalk Darren:
Website
Twitter

WWW Wednesday (02/10/2013)

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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:
Zom-B Underground (Zom-B #2) – Darren Shan
15716836This is the first book I’m reading for Horror October. I’ve been a fan of Darren Shan for a long time but I definitely prefer his adult books to his kid’s ones these days.

Waking up in a military complex, months after zombies attacked school, B has no memory of the last few months. Life in the UK has turned tough since the outbreak, and B is woven into life- and battle- in the new military regime quickly. But as B learns more about the zombies held in the complex and the scientists keeping them captive, unease settles in. Why exactly was B saved? And is there anyone left in the world to trust?

I’m also reading Words Once Spoken that I requested from NetGalley because I loved the cover. Only just started it.

Recently Finished:
The Polaris Whisper by Kenneth Gregory. I LOVED it. My Review is Here.

Up Next:
Any of the books on my Horror October list here. I’ll probably get stuck into Doctor Sleep or The Coldest Girl in Cold Town.

As ever, if you leave a comment your link or books I will take a look 🙂

Winter is Here: The Polaris Whisper by Kenneth Gregory

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It is a dark time. For decades Hakon the Black, the most feared Norse Lord of the ninth century, has conducted bloody and gruesome raids throughout Europe, and laid his claim upon the seas. But it is also a time of hope.

In the frozen wastelands of the north, Vidar searches for the Vestibule of Light. Alone, freezing and exhausted, he pushes on through the endless winter in the belief that once his quest is complete, he may return to the life he has left behind, and to Niclaus, the son he was forced to abandon. For Niclaus has a greater destiny – one foretold by Cado, the enigmatic Small Walker – and Vidar is but one player in the boy’s life. Cado has enlisted the help of protectors from all corners of the Earth to shield Niclaus: men whose worlds are connected by only the loosest of threads.

But as Niclaus becomes older, and the various worlds begin to converge, will Vidar and Cado have to make sacrifices beyond imagining to protect those they love.

I struggled with this book in the very beginning. I didn’t know it was going have a shifting timeline (one of my book turn-offs on this week’s TTT!) and it took me a lot to focus on it and figure out what it was actually going to be about. But how glad am I that I stuck it out? VERY, that’s how glad.

The Polaris Whisper spans from around 800 to 840 AD, so it’s not a huge shift between time per chapter, but it still took me a while to get used to it. It is also a book with many characters and story strands, but once they all started coming together I had to keep reading to find out how it was going to pan out.

There’s the two monks of Ceanannus Mór in 802 AD who start off as BFFs but a strain is put on their relationship when Tomás meets mysterious ‘Small Walker’ Cado and begins working with him on a secret project. And then around 830 there’s Vidar who gave up his son Niclaus to fulfill a quest to find the Cave of Light not knowing whether he will return. And in 840 AD Niclaus and his friends prepare for ‘The Trial’, an almighty 3 day race over perilous snow and frozen lakes in which the winner will be named as Ugter – the new village leader.

It doesn’t really sound all that exciting does it? But it is! With gory Ice Bear and Wolf attacks, the mounting unease between the small walkers and tall walkers, a cute little romance, viking raids and the imposing Norse Lord Hakon – once I got into The Polaris Whisper I was hooked.

The setting didn’t hurt either. Descriptions of the Fjords and the frozen wastelands were both harsh and beautiful and I found the writing throughout pretty much perfect.

I was particularly interested to know more about Vidar and his quest and couldn’t wait to get back to him every time it wasn’t his chapter. The Vestibule he was looking for was drenched in mystery and magic and I was urging him on to find it each time.

I also loved Cado, the Small Walker. He was definitely the glue in this story, eventually tying all of the characters together. He was also the main source of intrigue and excitement as we learn more about him and the secret magical powers he yields.

In the end, this book was a lot different to what I was expecting. I expected more of the Norse mythology in there for sure, but the direction it actually went in was welcome too.

And, I can’t talk about it because this is a spoiler-free zone but THE ENDING. There is a proper twist/revelation at the end which is amazing. I’m not sure how I didn’t see it coming, but I didn’t…I literally had my mouth open for quite some time, actually it still is a little bit. Not attractive. Please tell me there’s more???

I think this will be a favourite Winter Read of mine for some time. Wolves, Racing Sleighs, Reindeer…what’s not to like!?

Disclosure: I received a copy from the author/publisher for an HONEST review via NetGalley. Many thanks!
Details: Paperback, 457 pages, published September 25th 2013 by Blackstaff Press Ltd
Unicorn Rating: 4/5
Is it a keeper? YES! I will be buying a physical copy ASAP!
If you like this try: Game of Thrones!?

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Turn-offs

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (Click the image to visit them). This week the theme is Top Ten book turn-offs.

It takes a lot for a book to annoy me enough to put it down but here are the things that sometimes make me want to throw in the towel! These are in no particular order…I hate them all equally!

  1. Unnecessarily Long Chapters: I get distracted easily and when chapters run on and on I find my mind wandering. I like chapters to be short and snappy so I can dip in and out of a book and not be lost.
  2. Too Much Description: You know when the author just has to describe EVERYTHING in minute detail making the book really hard-going and putting too many images in your mind? I prefer to visualise things my own way – otherwise I’d just put a film on!
  3. Jumping Timelines: When done well this can be great (Kate Morton for eg) but I feel like sometimes it’s done to mask a dull plot, or just for the sake of it and it makes me angry.back_to_the_future 2
  4. Poor Editing/Proofreading: The odd mistake makes no difference to my enjoyment of a book but there have been a few occasions where the text is sooooooo laden with mistakes that it makes the book hard to read.
  5.  Unlikable Characters/ Characters with no Redeemable Features: Sometimes having a horrible/evil character as a protagonist can work but on the most part unlikable characters are a big turn off. I particularly can’t stand narcissistic/ shallow characters and have to really push myself to keep reading to see if they change throughout the book – they usually do, but it’s never a good start for me!  Also related is when you just can’t relate to a main character on any level.
  6. Tenuous Links: You know when there is a plot hole and the author tries to cover it up with a very tenuous link or a coincidence or something? I can’t think of an example right now but it happens quite a bit in YA Fantasy. Ugh.
  7. Models on Covers: This is impossible to get away from, especially if you read a lot of YA and Paranormal Romance but ahh I don’t like it. I don’t mind when the covers aren’t centered on the models face but when they are it makes me angry because they never look like the characters described. And again, I like to visualise characters myself – this is why I also hate most film adaptations! BOOK RUINERS.
  8. Overwiriting/Trying too Hard: I hate it when authors try to sound clever or unique by using stupidly long, or odd words instead of simple ones. Yes, it’s good to be different but a twig is a twig! Hemlock Grove springs to mind here. ‘Her heart was a flicked mold of gelatin’ – Whaaaaat? That one will haunt me forever.
  9. Obsessive Romances/Stupid Teenage Girls: You all know the ones. Those so-called romances where the girls are unhealthily obsessed with a boy, or where the girls are all ‘but it can’t be because he likes me’ when it’s so obvious that he does. Rage! Just Stop!untitled
  10. All Tell and no Show AND Preaching: I wanted both of these on this list and I could probably choose another ten to be honest. The  former speaks for itself and the latter, well I hate when the author is trying to prove a point or take the moral high ground on an important topic that just comes across as preaching. No Thanks.

That was better than therapy, thanks, Hosts! 

September Finds

This is a monthly post where I share some of the books that I’ve found through fellow bloggers that I just HAD to add to my wishlist immediately. I’m hoping I’ll look back on these posts and remember to buy/request the books.

Here are my Finds from September and where I spotted them.

Click on the images to go to the original posts

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Found on: The Talking Bookworm
Why: I’m intrigued by the cover and I really want to start reading more series.

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Found on: Penny Dreadful Books
Why: I love the idea of a story based around the Pandora’s Box myth and the folktale of Bluebeard which I had to look up after reading Andrea’s great post.

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Found on: Bookshelf Fantasies
Why: I LOVED McKinley’s Sunshine and I wasn’t aware she’d returned to that world until I saw this TTT post.

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Found on: Bitches n’ Prose
Why: Err…Christmas. Obvs.

Thanks Guys!