YALC UK 2014 Book Haul

I meant to post this like two weeks ago. Better late than never, right?

Here are the books I picked up at the Young Adult Literature Convention & London Comic Con earlier this month.

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These books were all free. Girl done good. I’ve already read and reviewed Immortal Beloved. The Mission is the second in a series, so I need to find the first one, The Hit first. I love the vivid yellow pages though. I’m also really intrigued by the new Scott Westerfeld book. I was lucky enough to grab the last proof copy they had.

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These two were from Hot Key Books’ genius bookswap. I’ve been meaning to read Ally Condie’s series for ages so I was really pleased to pick up a copy. Embers was a good find too, there was a tag in the book to tweet about finding it, and the author got in touch to say that she will send me the other two books in the trilogy if I like this one. YAY thanks, Amy!

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There was also a free sci-fi book stand at LFCC to spread the work about the 72nd World Science Fiction convention held in London next month. These ones took my fancy!

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After attending the Going Graphic talk, I had to buy this Manga Shakespeare Hamlet, and got it signed by the lovely Emma.

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This was my own copy of my favourite Sedgwick book which I took to get signed. He was so lovely. And I love that he drew me a coffin.

You can read my YALC experience in full here, if you so wish.

Zombies Vs Unicorns…if only it were that simple!

A Short Story Collection Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

zomIt’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths–for good and evil–of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

For me, the question of who is better Zombies or Unicorns is pretty ridiculous. I’m fairly renowned for my obsession love of unicorns so when I found out that Holly Black had compiled this collection of short stories I had to put it on my wishlist, even though I’m not a huge fan of the short story.

There were a lot of things I liked about this book, the set up for one. Holly Black is in charge of Team Unicorn (Yesssss) and Justine Larbalestier, Team Zombie (Boooooo). The stories are alternated between TU and TZ and have a little introduction (sometimes more like a pep rally cheer) by each respective Team Leader followed by a rebuttal from the opposing team. At first I found this a bit too kitsch. It felt like two friends playing up to a crowd. Oh aren’t we funny, how we love to bicker with each other…that kind of thing. But I warmed to them eventually. If you can’t beat them, join them, right!?

And the collection itself? It was definitely a mixed bag for me, as most short story collections are, and it really, really pains me to say that I found myself enjoying the zombie stories more than the unicorn ones. In fact, it really made me want to write a good unicorn story to prove that it’s possible.

That might be a bit harsh, they weren’t all bad. I really enjoyed The Care and Feeding of Your Killer Baby Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund – a spin-off to her Killer Unicorns series which I haven’t read but want to now. In Peterfreund’s stories ‘real unicorns are man eating beasts with razor sharp fangs and a fatal venom in their lethal horns. And they can only be killed by the virgin descendants of Alexander the Great’. Fun!

As for the Team Zombie stories, there were a few stand-outs but Maureen Johnson’s The Children of the Revolution was my favourite. A girl who had followed a boy out to England to pick berries all summer long finds herself needing to get away from him. Homeless and jobless, the perfect solution arises when she is offered the job of nannying the children of a Hollywood superstar. But of course, they are not normal children. Johnson totally nails the satire of the rich and the famous, and the celebrity in question bore more than a passing resemblance to Angelina Jolie. Picturing her amused me no end.

I also really enjoyed Alaya Dawn Johnson’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, a cute boy/boy zombie romance in a similar vein to Warm Bodies, and also Scott Westerfeld’s Inoculata which reminded me little bit of the film Stakeland, but with Zombies. See, there’s something for everyone!

Overall, I’m really glad I own this book, and not just because it looks pretty and sounds badass. I’d definitely like to revisit a few of these stories, and I feel like it’s getting me one step closer to embracing the medium of the short story.

I feel like maybe I should switch to a Zombie rating for this book, but alas, I cannot. Unicorns til I die!

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Disclosure?: Nope, it was a gift!
Title: Zombies Vs Unicorns
Author: Various
Details: Paperback, 418 pages
Published: April 3rd 2012 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
My Rating: 3/5

September 2013 on Lipsyy Lost & Found

Monthly Round-Up
September 2013

Total Posts: 28

New WP Followers: 34

Books Read & Reviewed (7):

  • Frost Hollow Hall – Emma Carroll, 4/5 (Review)
  • Hemlock Grove – Brian McGreevy, 3/5 (Review)
  • City of Bones – Cassandra Clare, 4/5 (Review)
  • Uglies (Uglies #1) – Scott Westerfeld (Guest Post) (Review)
  • The Eye of the Moon – Anonymous, 4/5 (Review)
  • Daughter of Camelot – Glynis Cooney, 4/5 (Review)
  • When Stars Die – Amber Skye Forbes, 3/5 (Review)

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

Most Viewed Posts:

  1. Chastity & Chainmail: Daughter of Camelot by Glynis Cooney (View Post)
  2. WWW Wednesday 11/09/2013 (View Post)
  3. WWW Wednesday 17/09/2013 (View Post)

Books Purchased: 
Sept 2013 010

ARCs:
The Wolves of Midwinter – Anne Rice
Let the Games Begin – Niccolo Ammaniti
Words Once Spoken – Carly Drake
The Dead in their Vaulted Arches – Alan Bradley

*BOOK OF THE MONTH*

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*COVER OF THE MONTH*

*MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH*
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Blog Take Over: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld – A review by Dianne Tanner

Di

Today I have handed over the reins to my friend Di who you should all know by now because I talk about her a lot. Click on the polaroid to visit her stunning photo-blog Icefloe and stalk her as much as I do! Di has taken this opportunity to slag off review a book I recommended to her.

13581049Tally can’t wait to turn sixteen and become pretty. Sixteen is the magic number that brings a transformation from repellent Ugly into a stunningly attractive Pretty, and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks, Tally will be there.

But Tally’s new friend, Shay, isn’t sure she wants to be Pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the Pretty world – and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn Pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

Quite famously, ever since I finished reading the Hunger Games, my life has been empty. Bereft of all meaning. There is a Katniss Everdeen sized HOLE in my soul. So when Lauren [That’s me, Hi!] handed me this book UGLIES with the quote “BEFORE THE HUNGER GAMES, THERE WAS… UGLIES” emblazoned on the cover, I will admit, I was interested. At this point, I’ll read anything with a quote to this effect on the cover.

If you suffer from the Katniss Soul Hole let me save you some time and tell you that this is not the book you are looking to fill it. This book, is gash.[Bit Harsh, Tanner]

Tally Youngblood lives in “Uglytown”. Here she waits until she turns 16, where she will undergo some form of plastic surgery to be transformed into a “Pretty” and move to “New Pretty Town”. It must have taken months to come up with those place names. Currently, she is “Ugly”. Sigh. Then she meets a girl called Shay (also “Ugly”) who thinks the whole thing is a bit stupid and runs away, chaos ensues.

Are we supposed to like these characters? Because there was no point in this book at all that I connected with any of them. I guess maybe its aimed at a slightly lower age bracket then The Hunger Games so the writing is a LOT simpler. A lot of it feels like it was edited quite heavily, I spent a lot of time feeling like there was supposed to be MORE to a sentence, more to beef out the people, relationships, everything you are supposed to get your teeth into. Nothing about this book gripped me. I didn’t even finish it. I stopped reading about 100 pages from the end because I went away for the weekend, and have no inclination to pick it up again.

The main protagonist, Tally, is vapid and shallow. And stupid. She just cannot wait to be pretty. I actually found the concept and “science fiction” bits of this quite interesting. I feel like it could have been so much more. When Tally runs away to the “smoke” where people live like actual people (ew, they like, live in the woods and stuff! Fuck off Tally) I started to perk up, Tally meets the people who moved away from the “pretty” world people live in (I’m even sounding vague here because the whole thing is so vague in the book I can’t even begin to explain it) to the woods, you get more of a feel for what could have been. There is some good stuff there. But the whole tenuous “love” story – I guess I missed the part where Tally fell in love with David, it was sudden, unromantic and baffling. Ridiculous. The whole thing is just ridiculous. Part of me was left wondering if this was because it was written by a man? I love a good nonsense love story (the entire point of YA in my opinion is to be a 30 year old woman on a train to work feeling trying to capture that teenage feeling again) and this book is sorely lacking that.

Did I mention how STUPID Tally is? She gets given a little tracking necklace to wear which she knows her friend will be like “dude wtf is that necklace?” and she doesn’t just take it off before she gets to the Smoke, OR doesn’t just throw it in the river where it will vanish forever. No. She puts it in the fire, where it explodes, and goes of. What an idiot. I was literally screaming at this girl by this point. [Hahaha I KNEW you would be!]

There are hoverboards though, and everyone loves a hoverboard. But did we need 2 chapters about how Tally can’t ride one yet? No. No we do not.

When trying to explain to someone the concept of this book when I was reading it, I ended up ranting about how if I was an actual teenage girl reading this I would probably kill myself. I guess maybe you have to read the rest of the series to get to the part where Tally realises that looking the way she was born doesn’t make her “ugly” but frankly all this book does is demean women and leave you feeling bad about the way you look. Every time Tally speaks all she talks about is how she cannot wait to have plastic surgery to make her look like everyone else (The thought of seeing a person who has aged naturally disgusts her, and she can’t even look at them. That’s not ok).

Am I missing something here? Was this book supposed to be some kind of social commentary on the way women are made to feel by magazines these days? [That’s what I got from it, yes]Tally constantly bemoans her “too small eyes” and “frizzy hair”. Teenage girls don’t need to read this kind of thing. Teenagers don’t need to hear that “biology” tells them that being better looking makes life better.

Does this series get better? [It really does!] Do I have to read 2 more books to get to the point where it turns out that gosh darnit *slaps thigh* Tally was wrong the whole time and has seen the error of her brainwashed thinking?

I refuse. ONE STAR.

Dianne Tanner
http://www.diannetanner.co.uk/

Uglies was published March 29th 2012 by Simon and Shuster

Want More?: My review of Specials (Uglies #3) is here.

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. 

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.