Sunday, 31 March 2013

Book Haul | March



My book haul for March is pretty huge considering only one of these was sent for review! A couple were gifts though - so thanks to those who are enabling my habit! ;)
Quite a few of these have already been reviewed this month so please check those out too. Let me know which books joined your bookshelves this month.

1. Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
2. Linger - Maggie Stiefvater
3. Forever - Maggie Stiefvater
4. Unremembered - Jessica Brody
5. Pretty Girl Thirteen - Liz Coley
6. Time Riders - Alex Scarrow
7. The Old And The Young - Margiad Evans
8. Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion
9. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
10. Ember - Jessica Sorensen
11. My Soul To Take - Rachel Vincent
12. Shadow Web - N M Browne
13. The Iron King - Julie Kawaga
14. Twerp - Mark Goldblatt
15. The Glimpse - Claire Merle
16. Abandon - Meg Cabot

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Review // TimeRiders - Alex Scarrow

Published - 4th February 2010

Publisher - Puffin

Format - Kindle

Synopsis - Liam O’Connor should have died at sea in 1912. Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010. Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026. Yet moments before death, someone mysteriously appeared and said, ‘Take my hand ...’ But Liam, Maddy and Sal aren’t rescued. They are recruited by an agency that no one knows exists, with only one purpose—to fix broken history. Because time travel is here, and there are those who would go back in time and change the past. That’s why the TimeRiders exist: to protect us. To stop time travel from destroying the world...

I heard about this from my flatmate after she'd been away with her family and her younger brother was reading it. She told me the premise and I bought it within about 5 minutes. How good is that synopsis? TimeRiders was a fairly quick read, aimed at younger readers it was easy and straightforward too.

I have to be honest, this book was unfairly rated (3 stars) by me because my brain expected it to be something that it wasn't (remember Demon Trappers?) I took the information that the book and characters gave me and built my own story so much that I wasn't as impressed as I should have been. So be warned! Let the book do it's job before you jump in ;)

I did enjoy it though. The book is filled with wonderful, smart, and brave characters, an adventurous storyline, historical facts and plays around with your emotions a little. It's pretty easy to guess how the series will work but I don't think that will stop me. TimeRiders will probably be one of those ongoing series for me, that I pick up every once in a while to enjoy something a little different. I'd say be wary of the book though, it can certainly be enjoyed by adults (i'm 24!) but it's a book aimed at younger readers and it definitely reads that way too.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Top Ten Tuesday | Books I Recommend

Hosted by Broke & The Bookish

This week Broke & The Bookish ask, which 10 books do you recommend to people the most?

1. Morganville Vampires - Rachel Caine.
I just love love love these books! They're so easy to read and even easier to fall in love with. With each new book brings drama, excitement, adventure and the occasional emotional breakdown that doesn't seem like it will ever end.. Fantastic series.

2. Divergent/Insurgent - Veronica Roth.
I have a hard time describing these books and usually end up just flailing around making odd noises. Brilliant beyond words.

3. The Fault in our Stars - John Green.
Whatever you do, don't read this in public. Tears will always ensue. One of the most heartfelt, heartbreaking books I have ever read.

4. Study Series - Maria V Snyder.
I've got a fair few people to read these now and i'm planning on re-reading them myself soon! Magic, unlikely romance, badass women and a whole lot of fantasy. What's not to love?

5. Anything by Rachel Cohn/David Levithan.
These two write so perfectly together! I've read all of their collaborative works now and I just can't get enough. They're so.. human. Real life personified.


6. Slated - Teri Terry.
This was a random book buy that I will never forget. I just loved every minute of it. Corrupt governments, brave young adults and a passion to find the truth. YES! Book 2 is released next month too!

7. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins.
These books are so popular now that they don't even need a description.

8. My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
This has been a long time favourite for many years now. Gripping, disturbing and I love nothing more than a book that asks questions of it's readers as well as it's characters. Picoult is an incredible writer and I don't think i'll ever stop reading her books.

9. The Host - Stephenie Meyer.
The lesser known Meyer novel just doesn't get as much love as it deserves sitting in the shadow of the Twilight saga. I was completely blown away by characterizations and settings and with the movie release in the next few days, everyone should take a look at the book!

10. Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell.
I'm a dystopian fiction lover and what is better than Orwell's masterpiece? A pretty disturbing book that isn't really a 'fun' read but it's a definite MUST read in your life, especially if you're a dystopian fan. Again, another book that really does make you stop and think.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Review // Pretty Girl Thirteen - Liz Coley

Published - 28th February 2013
Publisher - Harper
Format - Paperback
Synopsis - A gripping, suspenseful debut that will haunt you long after you have turned the final page…Angie Chapman is only 13 when she gets lost in the woods in the middle of the night. The next thing she knows she’s returned home, scars around her wrists and ankles, physically exhausted. Her parents collapse into tears when they see her, but Angie doesn’t understand – until they tell her she has been missing, presumed dead, for three years. Angie doesn’t remember anything from her missing years. But there are people who do – people who could tell Angie every terrifying detail, if only they weren’t locked inside her mind. With help, Angie begins to unravel the darkest secrets of her own past. But does she really want to know the truth?

Pretty Girl Thirteen was one of those books that I bought purely based on the synopsis and the beautiful cover that drew my attention to it. I hadn't heard of the book or any reviews etc so it was completely new for me! And wow, what a book.

I'm still having trouble putting my thoughts together about this book even though it's been a couple of weeks now. It was fantastic - I should start with that. I read a lot of YA and a fair amount of classics but psychological fiction is something that is pretty new to me. I find it difficult to say I "enjoyed" a book that was so emotional and disturbing - much in the same way a true story of abuse would make me feel, and I did feel like this was real. About half way in I had to put the book down as it was so...intense.

Angie is a brave young girl who has faced way more than her share of trouble and heartache and I truly felt for the girl, which is probably why i'm having difficulty making this review detached in any kind of way. Dissassociate Identity Disorder is not something that i'm familiar with so I can't comment on how well Coley put the condition across but I can say, as I did before, that I felt like it was real. Honestly, I don't think it's a book that i'm likely to reread but i'm glad that I have read it and already there have been moments in RL conversations where i've made reference to it!

Warning, this book isn't for everyone and contains graphic experiences and mental health problems. It is definitely not a light read but it's different and out of my comfort zone so take my review lightly!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Review // Coraline - Neil Gaiman

Published - 2nd August 2012
Publisher - Bloomsbury
Format - Kindle
Synopsis - There is something strange about Coraline’s new home. It’s not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves. It’s the other house - the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there. And they want her to stay with them. For ever. She knows that if she ventures through that door, she may never come back.

Neil Gaiman's Coraline was incredible. Though more often than not, aimed at children, I think this book definitely appeals to adults and not just those who want to relive their youth ;) Written for his own children, this book is unique, wonderful and full of mysteries - and even a little creepy! Coraline as a character is just brilliant and inquisitive (as all children should be). She is brave and adventurous and even at 24 years old, she taught me a LOT.

There was this wonderful line about bravery, where Coraline states that bravery is being scared, and doing it anyway. PERFECT. She teaches that it's okay to be scared, in fact we should be scared, but we have the ability to push past that and do whatever we want to.

Coraline is imaginative and intense which just blew me away as the book is so short! It literally only took about an hour to read, and most of that time was spent appreciating the wonderful illustrations that accompany the book. Without doubt i'd say this book wouldn't be half as good without the amazing illustrations that just create the whole world brilliantly. I read Coraline on my kindle and even so the pictures were beyond what I could ever imagine.  Whether you're a new Gaiman fan, and old hand or have never even heard of him - I definitely recommend Coraline.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Top Ten Tuesday | Books I HAD To Have


Wow, Tuesday again already! Time is flying by. So this weeks Top Ten is 'Books you HAD to have but never read' and oh do I have a lot of these...! This week i'm cheating a bit though and only doing 5. Super busy!!

1. Uglies - Scott Westerfeld.
It seems like i've mentioned these books at least once a week for the past month! But seriously, when I saw them I just HAD to have them. I had every intention of running home and devouring them right there and then! But I had another book to finish - which led to another - and then another...vicious cycle! But every week I think about these and so every week they're being bumped up the TBR. NEXT WEEK!

2. The Deed of Paksenarrion - Elizabeth Moon.
This one is actually a reread. I read them about 10 years ago and loved them but somehow along the way I lost one and for the same price as one physical book, I could buy the entire series as a kindle book. It ended up being bought for me as a 'happy kindle present!' present and that was over a year ago. But hopefully some day soon I can relive these stories.

3. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame.
I feel like i've read this book a million times over. I own two copies of the book, I can hold conversations about this book...and yet i've never actually read it. It's become one of those books now that is too shameful to admit you haven't read it and too intimidating to actually read but this is one my must-read list for 2013 and so soon, it shall be done...

4. Inheritance - Christopher Paolini.
As a huge Eragon fan growing up, when this book came out I bought it, smelled it, caressed it and sighed with satisfaction. And then didn't read it. *Grumble* I have good solid reasons though. It took a LONG time for this book to come out, at which time I didn't feel comfortable diving straight in without refreshing myself on what happened in the first 3. & so here is where the problem began. I remember most of the plot lines in the books and so rereading was challenging when I knew what would happen - but I didn't remember enough to not do it. I have however since finished the first book so only another few years until I get round to it...

5. Game of Thrones - George RR Martin.
Another one that has featured on many lists recently. When Game of Thrones season one first aired, it seemed like every shop I went into had a big shiny display, selling the books at a discounted price. Fantasy & dragons. I could not say no. I should also point out that I bought the books before ever watching a minute of the tv series and yup.. Now i'm a massive fan and still haven't read a single word. Shame.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Review // The Underworld (Fallen Star #2) - Jessica Sorensen

Published - 31st July 2011
Publisher - Createspace
Format - Kindle
Synopsis - The Underworld is the sequel to The Fallen Star (Fallen Star Series, Volume 1)
Gemma thought her mind was gone, but she was wrong. And now she is left trying to figure out the truth to what Stephan is planning to do with her and the star, before it’s too late.
But finding out the truth is hard, especially since Gemma doesn’t know who she can trust. There may be only one person who Gemma can turn to for answers, but that means having to go to the one place no one wants to go—The Underworld.


See my review of the first Fallen Star novel here.

The second book in the Fallen Star series, The Underworld didn't disappoint. Unlike the first book, the action began almost straight away, answering questions from the cliffhanger we were left with. Was Gemma's mind taken? Could Alex really do that? What IS that electric? (Okay, you have to wait a while for that last one...) 

Like any good series, I fell in love with Gemma & co. Sure they have their flaws but their actions are admirable and Sorensen tells their stories so well. There was a little less connection with them this time around because there wasn't much bonding time. We already knew the people, just not what their intentions were. However, The Underworld was shocking and had a lot of 'WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!' moments in it. As the title suggests, Gemma makes a trip to The Underworld and although it was a little underwhelming and seemed to fly right on by rather than have intense moments, it worked for the most part. Some of Gemma's emotions did come right off the page into me.

Emotions are a huge part of this book and on that note, something that worked incredibly well for me was that I had (and still!) no idea who to trust. The books are written by Gemma (she even talks to an assumed reader at times) and Gemma's emotions are unstable and unreliable. After all, she's only just got them! So we're never really sure who to trust and it makes for an unnerving read. The reader - well I do at least - has to rely on their own instincts and not Gemma's. It's actually quite brilliant. 

I'm really enjoying this series at the moment and i'm sure in the upcoming weeks i'll be here reviewing the third installment.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Review // The Scarlet Plague - Jack London

First Published - 1911
Format - Kindle
Synopsis - The year is 2072, and the earth has been depopulated by a plague epidemic that struck in 2013. The victims of the scarlet plague are dead within an hour or less of the first symptoms appearing. The plague is so swift that research laboratories are wiped out even as scientists are racing toward a cure. As panic spreads, order breaks down and looting and carnage reign. Broadcast stations fall silent. Aircraft fall from the sky as their pilots succumb. 60 years later an old man, Professor James Howard Smith, scrambles along overgrown railway tracks. He attempts to pass the flame of knowledge to his reluctant grandsons, who have known only a savage existence in an overgrown world - its graphic detail, vivid word-pictures, and remarkable prophetic accuracy make The Scarlet Plague one of the most memorable post-holocaust dystopian stories ever written. In a world of Swine Flu, germ-warfare and genetic splicing it makes the Scarlet Plague just that much more scary.

I discovered The Scarlet Plague almost a year ago when I was looking for a book that i'd forgotten the name of. It sounded exactly like the sort of thing I wanted, downloaded the ebook and then...forgot about it. I do this a lot with books because i'm forever buying new ones! 
Recently I was organising my Kindle into collections (much easier to keep track of 150+ books!) and found it again. It's a really short novella and so I thought - why not now?

GREAT decision. The Scarlet Plague is absolutely wonderful and fits in perfectly with all of the dystopian visions that are still being written about today. It didn't feel like a book that was written so long ago, it felt pertinent to right here and now - which was both wonderful and terrifying. The scarlet plague that the book refers to, originally has it's outbreak in 2013. YUP.

The plot basically follows an English Professor of the old world and his grandsons as he tells them what happened and tries to instil some kind of education in them, as the people of 2072 are little more than dirty savages. Smith is the last man to remember what life was like before the outbreak and there were some really chilling moments in which he tries to teach his grandchildren what a 'coin' was. It's kind of hard to understand that there is no concept of money - something that our current world revolves around.

The writing was a little..sketchy, but given that there is almost no such thing as language (as we know it) and taking into account of how long ago The Scarlet Plague was first published, it really didn't matter. If anything, it just added to the feel of the story. It was genuinely just a brilliant read and i'm only sad that I didn't read it a year ago when I first had it!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Top Ten Tuesday | Spring TBR

Hosted by The Broke & The Bookish


This week's Top Ten is Spring TBR- either books to be released or ones you've been meaning to read for ages! I'm terrible with remembering book release dates, & like to rely on authors tweeting countdowns as a reminder but here are mine & i'm sure i've left a ton out:

1. Fractured (Slated #2) - Teri Terry (coming soon)
2. Fall of Night (MV #14) - Rachel Caine (coming soon)
3. Dead Ever After (Southern Vampires #13) - Charlaine Harris (coming soon)
4. Percy Jackson & The Titan's Curse - Rick Riordan
5. Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
6. The Reptile Room (SOUE #2) - Lemony Snicket
7. The Little Mermaid - Hans Christian Anderson
8. Splintered - A.G.Howard
9. Slawter (Demonata #3) - Darren Shan
10. Forgiven - Jana Oliver

I plan to get through ALL of these this Spring! Some are pretty fast reads so I don't think i'll have too many problems with that.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Review // Unremembered - Jessica Brody

Published - 28th February 2013
Publisher- Macmillan
Format - Paperback
Synopsis - Sixteen-year-old Sera is the only survivor of an explosion on a plane. She wakes up in hospital to find that she has no memory. The only clue to her identity is a mysterious boy who claims she was part of a top-secret science experiment. The only adult she trusts insists that she shouldn’t believe anything that anybody tells her. In a tense and pacy novel exploding with intrigue and action, Sera must work out who she is and where she came from. Eventually she will learn that the only thing worse than forgetting her past is remembering it.

This was my first time reading anything by Jessica Brody and initially I only picked it up because it sounded reminiscent of Teri Terry's Slated which I simply ADORED. I read a lot of reviews and it seems most people feel like it's 'been done before' and I thought I would end up going along the same lines but honestly, it felt new and fresh. Sure, there were a lot of comparisons to other books but that's the same for any genre now. People are working on older concepts and making them better - isn't that what draws our attention to them in the first place? Because it's the kind of book we like? Anyway - getting off track. Unremembered was a great read.

Violet/Sera (I much prefer Violet so I apologise if I switch names throughout) wakes up surrounded by a plane wreckage and no idea who, or where, she is. Brody doesn't patronise the reader by explaining every little detail which I LOVE and so although a little confusing, the puzzle works itself out. We're introduced to fascinating characters such as Cody & Zen. Each character is distinct and i'm fairly positive that even without names guiding me to the speech, I could tell who was talking in this book anyway as they're all so unique.

As I said earlier, I felt this would be similar to Slated but I was wrong. Sure there's memory loss and secrets etc but it is so different. Brody mixes up a few different genres within Unremembered that surprisingly all work really well together! I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of romance in the book - although we're told and I guess even see the love between Sera and Zen, it's not screaming at you. More of this please! Nobody wants over-done romance shoved in their face and Brody did this well. 

The book was fast paced and I read the whole thing in around 4 hours. I did have a few minor problems with the book though. Cody should not be 13. I have the same problem with the age of Percy Jackson. I just don't think it's believable that a child of 13 would (or even should) be able to just hop on a bus, travel so many miles away from home, with a stack of cash and know exactly what he's doing with no worries or fears. Maybe it's an American thing? I don't know, but this definitely wouldn't happen in my reality. The last thing really I don't even know how to comment on. On one hand, I understand that having the story come solely from Sera means that the reader is kept away from information that furthers the plot line and keeps a sense of intrigue etc but I felt like something was missing. There are a lot of important characters in Unremembered and I loved a good deal of them ..but they fell a little short. We only got glimpses of other people and thoughts because Sera either didn't want to think about it or didn't care. Personally I felt at times that the reader was left hanging because Sera couldn't handle thinking about it. I guess all of these little things will be resolved in the next few books and that's why it's like this but I definitely would have liked to understand what Zen and Cody were thinking more.

Overall I loved Unremembered and i'm really excited for the next book! It was a great plotline, exciting and interesting new ideas in a genre that I love and Brody's writing was excellent. The paperback in the UK comes with a gorgeous free bookmark too so not only do you get a fabulous book but freebies!

Friday, 8 March 2013

BOOK TOUR | Sacrifice - Coral Russell

Coral Russell's 7th publication, Sacrifice is released on 1st March! To celebrate the upcoming release of her book, Coral Russell is taking Sacrifice on tour and Loaded Shelves is thrilled to be supporting her.




Available from: http://www.amazon.com/Sacrifice-ebook/dp/B00B79AMTW



Coral Russell runs the blog http://alchemyscrawl.com where she reviews Indie books/authors. "By the end of 2013, I will have read close to 300 Indie titles. I can vouch that the quality and diversity of Indie authors is worth investing in." On the blog you can find links to her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Google+ and email.

The Indie Exchange is a group of authors, readers, and book bloggers who post reviews, articles, and giveaways. Listen in Fridays to our radio show at http://blogtalkradio.com/alchemyofscrawl

Ms. Russell won the 2003 McCaleb Peace Initiative which produced the non-fiction articles Peace on the Peninsula. All profit from the sale of that eBook goes to rebuilding Joplin, MO.



Titles available: Amador Lockdown, Playing with Fire (Devil of a Ghost Tour and Key to a Haunting), Peace on the Peninsula, The DIY Guide to Social Media Marketing and eBook Publishing, and Twelve Worlds (profit goes to Reading is Fundamental).




Synopsis of Sacrifice


When Mexican drug cartels fight for control along the border, Juarez becomes the murder capital of the world. In El Paso, Texas it's drug business as usual: a grifter sets out to buy her freedom, a car salesman runs drugs to make his fortune, a gang leader battles to rise among the ranks of the cartel, and a detective and his wife are ripped apart by a family secret. Everyone's fate lies in the hands of an old woman. Will she let the past die with her or take revenge the only way she knows how?

Sacrifice is a fast-paced, gritty story that'll keep you guessing, gasping, and gripping your eBook.

Coral is also offering a giveaway so please do enter!




  

DISCLAIMER -

Loaded Shelves is NOT responsible for distributing the prizes. All prizes will be distributed by Coral Russell at alchemyofscrawl@yahoo.com a Rafflecopter giveaway
Drug smuggling is serious business and the fact that they single out people who have never done drugs before is scary. My mother first told me about this and I didn't believe her. The fact that any one can make a key of your car without needing identification is scary as well. So, go where you go in Juarez but don't stray!
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