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 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Turn-offs

toptentuesday
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! 

Sinners & Shadowmen: When Stars Die by Amber Skye Forbes

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Amelia Gareth’s brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the snowy city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.

Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They’re searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch’s signature. The shadows are after witches.

Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves?

I have been following Amber Skye Forbes’ blog for a short while but I hadn’t read much about the actual plot of her forthcoming debut When Stars Die. What I did know is that Amber’s all into ballet and stuff, the title sounds magical and the cover is pretty so when the opportunity came up to get an advanced copy to review I was thrilled and as soon as I started reading I knew instantly that this book was absolutely nothing like I was expecting.

From the very beginning it’s clear that this isn’t going to be a happy, soppy love story. Amber created a dark, mysterious and ominous atmosphere right from the get-go and I was entranced. Amelia is at Cathedral Reims -such a great name- where she is undergoing trials to prove that she deserves to be, and can handle the life of a nun. Straight away I was glued, the main leaders or teachers (whatever you’d like to call them) Mother Aureilia and Theosodore came across as incredibly sinister and cold, and the trials themselves were a lot nastier and darker than I would have first imagined.

And then, as you’d imagine, the plot thickens!

I loved the idea of the Shadowmen prowling around Cathedral Reims looking for witches and when Colette bursts into flames I had surprised cat face for at least 5 seconds. We soon come to realise that this world is nothing like ours.

People are born witches as a punishment to parents who have sinned, so basically there’s a whole lot of witches! And when witches die they become Shadowmen, and the whole thing is driven by the evil, manipulative God Deus. Now, I’m not religious but I am fascinated by it and I thought the ideas and themes here were really interesting. I can honestly say that I’ve never read anything quite like this, which is something you don’t get to say very often.

That being said, there were a lot of things that hindered my enjoyment as the book went on. When Stars Die is set in the 1800s but it’s written in a modern style. I’m not usually a stickler for things like that but I frequently found words and phrases that I couldn’t help but go ‘surely that wouldn’t have been said in the 1800s?’ It distracted me a little.

I also felt the dialogue let it down slightly as it didn’t seem very natural to me and I wished I liked Amelia more as a protagonist. She didn’t really do anything wrong but I felt I couldn’t warm to her because other than being there to save her brother’s soul I wasn’t convinced by any of the motivations for her actions. I never really got to know her as a person.

I wouldn’t classify this as a paranormal romance, as it was a pretty bad romance but the setting and Amber’s descriptions of the world she has created here were really what made this book for me. That and the genius idea to use first person – present tense really made it stand out. It was a unique read and the Epilogue has certainly intrigued me enough to look forward to the sequel.

Details: E-book, 267 Pages. Released 22nd October 2013 by AEC Stellar Publishing
Unicorn Rating: 3 out of 5 (if I could chop one in half to make it 3.5 I would, but I can’t chop up a unicorn)
Is it a keeper? Yes
If you liked this try: I don’t know why but Gormenghast was the first thing that came to mind. So I’m going with it.

*Cover Reveal* When Stars Die by Amber Skye Forbes

WhenStarsDie

Title: When Stars Die
Author: Amber Skye Forbes
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Release: October 2013 by AEC Stellar Publishing
Book Design: Viola Estrella of Estrella Cover Art

Amelia Gareth’s brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the snowy city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.

Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They’re searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch’s signature. The shadows are after witches.

Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves?

You can find Amber on:

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The Verdict: Soulless – Gail Carriger

Cheap clothing is no excuse for killing a man! Click to view on Goodreads
Cheap clothing is no excuse for killing a man!
Click to view on Goodreads

Synopsis: First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire – and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

As I mentioned before, I don’t really know anything about Steampunk. Other than the fact that it’s everywhere at the moment, I like the clothes but would never be able to pull it off and that there seems to be a whole lot of what I can only describe as gold binocular type goggles and mechanical Blimps, or Glassicles and Dirigibles as I now know them to be (see, learning). That being said, I actually really enjoyed that element of the story. It brought a new dimension to your average ‘Paranormal Romance’ genre.

Soulless is basically a sort of Victorian mystery-cum-paranormal-romance in which Miss Alexia ‘I’m the one with no soul’ Tarabotti accidentally kills a feral, unregistered vampire with her parasol. Oh, how very uncouth! This results in her spending more time with Lord Maccon of BUR – The Bureau of Unnatural Registration – whose job it is to investigate such improper occurrences. Chaos and an unlikely romance ensues. Obviously.

After the initial LOLs from the almost farcical “Victorian” language Carriger uses,(can you image a vampire saying ‘she is trying to make a funny’? No, me neither) there’s actually a lot to like in this book. Lord Maccon for one. Hot, Scottish (‘of all barbaric places’) Werewolf type who I like to picture as Simon from Biffy Clyro:

Simon 'Sexy Jesus' Neil AKA Lord Maccon.
Simon ‘Sexy Jesus’ Neil AKA Lord Maccon.

AND we later come across a character named Biffy! Coincidence? I think not!

The fact that pale girls with some flesh on their bones are the desirable ones is also a confidence booster, good work Victorians. And well , it’s all pretty funny really. I’m still not entirely sure if I was laughing at it, or with it. Probably a bit of both, but either way it brought a smile to my face.

I made some really in-depth review notes for your perusal:

Don't call him your mistress!!!
Don’t call him your mistress!!!
Excellent Vocab!
Excellent Vocab!
Angry-sticking-up-for-his-but-not-his-woman-hot-Werewolf-action!
Angry-sticking-up-for-his-but-not-his-woman-hot-Werewolf-action!

I’ll definitely have a go on the next in the series! I give it 4 Unicorns. (Out of 5 Unicorns, BTW)

Soulless is published by Orbit.