Monday, 31 December 2012

Top 12 Books of 2012!

2012 has been a pretty good month for me in terms of books, and I have chosen my top 12 that I have read this year! Not in any particular order though!
  • Legend by Marie Lu (Review)
  • Blue Dust: Forbidden by Katy Krump (Review)
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman (Review)
  • A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan (Review)
  • Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (Review)
  • Timbuctoo by Tahir Shah
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R Tolkien (Review)
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Review)
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (Review)
  • Pure by Julianna Baggott (Review)
  • I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (Review)
I hope you had a good year in books as well, and that 2013 is even better!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Book Review- A Thousand Splendid Suns

Title: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Publication Date: May 22nd 2007
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 372

Rating: 4/5

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to the post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them.
 Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love—a stunning accomplishment.-Goodreads
 
The book club I'm a member of at school chose this for our first read, and as it has been on my TBR pile for a while, I was happy to read it.
This is a beautifully written novel, about hope and faith, and how we as humans cope with hardships in our life.
I found this novel very educational, as I knew very little about Afghanistan, or what had gone on there. I feel like this novel has really opened my eyes.
I really liked discovering the women's story, and how they felt during all of it, although it was brutal, it was also uplifting.
The plot was well written, it had plenty of dialogue, which told the story, and helped with your ideas of the characters. I also liked the addition of words in their native language, not English. I thought this added nicely to the setting, and to the idea that it wasn't anything like life here.
I din't like the ending quite so much, I found it quite sad, but I was also a little disappointed with the "Happily Ever After" feel to it.
Overall I enjoyed this novel, and it made me appreciate the freedom we have, and just how ignorant we are to this freedom. 

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Reading Break #1

Hello,
I wanted to do some other posts about things I love, just for something different, so I'm calling it reading break, as these are non book related posts!
Music Reccommendations #1
I love music, so I'm going to do a couple of posts about bands and artists that I love.
The first artist is Ed Sheeran. I love his music, how stripped back and uneditted it sounds, but is still catchy. My 2 favourite songs from him are The A Team and You Need Me, I Don't Need You. The A Team is the first single from his album +, and I had it stuck in my head for months. I love the lyrics too, even if it is about drugs, it's still a beautiful song. You Need Me, I Don't Need You is another song he released as a single, but it has a very different sound from The A Team. I love the kind of rappy feel to this song, and I can proudly say I can rap the whole thing. Again the lyrics are great, but this one has a more upbeat tempo.
The next band I love is Fun. I love the upbeat poppy sound they have, their songs make me smile. My favourite two songs from them are from their first album Aim & Ignite, and they are All The Pretty Girls and I Wanna Be The One. Fun released All The Pretty Girls as a single, and that's when I first discovered them. I think this is a really great catchy song, that always gets stuck in my head. I Wanna Be The One, is a much slower song, that has some really nice lyrics in it, but is still catchy.
The last band I'm going to mention in this post is The Plain White T's. They released their first album in 2005, and their newest in 2010. My 2 favourite songs from them are Hey There Delilah and Rhythm of Love. Hey There Delilah is from their first album, and is a very well known tune, which is very popular. It's a love song, that has a catchy tune. Rhythm of Love, is from their newest album, and is a bit faster paced, but is still a love song. I love this song, it is a feelgood song, that instantly makes you feel better.

Ed Sheeran
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAWcs5H-qgQ    The A Team
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXvzzTICvJs        You Need Me, I Don't Need You
Fun.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIoaiTwLk6I         All the Pretty Girls
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APNJSP-lqmM       I Wanna Be the One
The Plain White T's
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbJtYqBYCV8      Hey There Delilah
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWiwuiT58Yc        Rhythm of Love

Friday, 28 December 2012

Fall Into Reading 2012 Wrap Up!

This year, I took part in the Fall Into Reading challenge, which basically involved challenging yourself to read a set number of books before the end of December. I challenged myself to read 13 books for the set period of time. I am afraid to say I didn't manage, as of the finish date I had read 5 of them, although I finished the sixth just after. I am placing all blame for this failure on school, and the amount of homework I have been receiving.
My favourite book that I read from my list would have to be The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R Tolkien, although The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams comes a close second. I had been uneasy about starting the Lord of the Rings trilogy, because I absolutely love the films, but I really wanted the books to stand up against them. I am glad to say, the book are just as good as I hoped they would be, and I can't wait to continue the trilogy.
I really enjoyed this challenge as it was something new that I discovered, which has helped me to read some books that have been in my TBR pile for a long time.
If you took part in the challenge, I hope you did better than I did, and thanks to Callapidderdays for hosting the challenge!

Callapidderdays post: http://callapidderdays.com/2012/12/fall-into-reading-2012-wrap-it-up.html

Book Review- Legend

Title: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Publication Date: 29th November 2011
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 295
Series: Legend #1
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Rating: 4/5



What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.- Goodreads
 
This novel was quite a typical dystopian plot, it followed the well trodden path of boy meets girl, they fall in love, something is obstructing their love, they overcome said obstruction and discover secrets about their government.
Saying this, the novel had a fast paced plot, which made it easy to read. It was full of excitement and action scenes. I also quite enjoyed the government and political setting of this novel, as I thought it was interesting, and I thought the part with the plague was very interesting, if underexplored.
This novel also has the typical swapping point of view, which is so common in YA novels now. This does allow you to see from both characters sides, but I find it quite tiring, and I like to know one character better than another, it makes for a better story, in my opinion.
The novel was written in the present tense, which added to the action filled nature of the novel, and also to the pacing of the story.
I liked the main characters, June and Day. June was a real action here, trained to be a fighter, and she was pretty kick ass. She was also independent, she didn't rely on anyone else to save her. Day was also a real action hero, but he also seemed very loyal and protective of his family. The minor characters were some of the best I have read about in a while, Metias and Tess were my favourites, they really added to the story, and added to the main characters too.
I only had a couple of problems with this novel. I felt that the "love" that June and Day had for each other was a bit quick in developing, it seemed like "insta-love" to me. I disliked that the author had written both June and Day as "perfect" characters, with perfect IQs and perfect fitness/athleticism. I found this a tad annoying, as nobody is perfect. The plot was a tad predictable, probably because it is of a popular genre in YA at the moment.
Overall I would reccommend this novel, although it is quite similar to most dystopian novels out at the moment, it was an enjoyable read none the less. 

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hello everyone,
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and that Santa was good to you! I received lots of great gifts, and ate so much yummy food, I didn't think I would be able to move ever again! If you don't celebrate Christmas, happy holidays, and if you do, Merry Christmas!! :)

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Author Interview- Katy Krump

Katy Krump is the author of the recently released sci fi novel Blue Dust: Forbidden, which was published by Ghostly Publishing on the 24th of November.

I asked Katy a couple of questions and she very kindly answered them!

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your novel Blue Dust: Forbidden?
A. It's a sci fi fantasy adventure, mainly for teen and YA girls but also for boys who aren't scared off by a bit of romance. It follows the journey of a Forbidden child, Qea, who comes from a distant galaxy, and is packed with adventure and non stop action. Qea is an interesting character. She comes from a world where warlords rule and her life has been unusual, to say the least. She is sent to Earth to hide from a warlord she has betrayed, and it's here that she meets Adam, the boy that will show her how to be human and help her find her true self. In doing so however, he puts both their lives at risk and they find themselves back in the Qarntaz Octad, the place of Qea's nightmares, where they are in constant danger from the strange beings that live there, the hostile environments, and Qea's enemies who will do anything to capture her. Forbidden is the first in the Blue Dust series. Book two, Destiny, will be out next year followed by a third, Insurrection, later in 2013.

Q. How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
A. I myself am an 'alien' having emigrated from South Africa to the UK and there were times that I truly felt like I'd landed on another planet. I started writing a blog about being an alien and reaslied that it would make a good story. The blog then morphed into the story of Qea, Adam and Blue Dust.
Q. Do any of the characters reflect you in any way?
A. Qea reflects me in the way that she struggles to fit in to a strange environment, the sense of isolation and not belonging. Other than that she's not like me. Of course there are always aspects of the author in her characters, but also bits and pieces of other people I know or have met. Adam is a composition of teenage boys I knew over the years plus aspects of what I think the 'perfect' teenage boy should be.

Q. When is your favourite time and place to write?
A. I love writing late at night with music playing and rainy or misty days make me feel very inspired. I try to write everyday no matter the weather of course, as I have to get the sequel finished for my publisher. I'm happy to write anywhere really, but feel most comfortable at home with my own things around me. Or overlooking the sea...
Q. If you could live in one story which would it be?

A. Hmm, good question. Any of the worlds created by Terry Pratchett, but especially the Discworld. Imagine the fun that could be had there!
You can buy the book here and here!
Thanks for reading :)

 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

WWW Wednesdays #2

What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Timbuctoo by Tahir Shah

What did you recently finish reading?
I just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

What do you think you'll read next?
I think I will read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens next.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Teaser Tuesday #3

Today's teaser is from Timbuctoo by Tahir Shah!

"At the end of the first week of suffering, James Davidson succumbed. He had been whipped so severely he choked blood until he coughed up part of a lung."

Enjoy, and have fun reading this week!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Book Review- Blue Dust: Forbidden

Title: Blue Dust: Forbidden
Author: Katy Krump
Publication Date: 24th November
Publisher: Ghostly Publishing
Pages: 269 (Kindle Edition)
Series: Blue Dust #1
Genre: Sci-fi, YA

Rating: 4/5


All teenage girls keep secrets and Kerry Johnston is no exception. More than anyone else she knows how to lie, for ‘Kerry’ is an alias and her life is a nightmare of secrecy, violence and fear. In reality this overweight, limping teenage girl is Qea, a Forbidden child from the Qarntaz Octad, sent to Earth to hide from the warlord she has betrayed. Born third into her family in an overpopulated world where surplus offspring are Forbidden and killed or delivered as fodder for the malevolent Inquisitors, Qea has spent her life in hiding.

Qea (Pronounced Kee-ah) is a girl with an unusual history. She comes from a distant galaxy where warlords rule the law and corruption is rife, so she must become hard to survive, but here on Earth a young man will change her heart and risk her life, changing it forever.-Goodreads
 
I was contacted by the author, and offered a copy of the ebook, in return for an honest review.

This novel is a fast-paced sci-fi novel, from an author who's writing is some of the best YA writing I have read in a while. The whole plot is very imaginitive, from the world to all the strange but fantastical beasts that live on the planet.
Qea and Adam are excellent main characters, who are written in such a way that has you rooting for them the whole way through. I also really like the relationship between them, it seems to actually have some foundations, I like that the author begins the relationship before the action begins. It allows you to see their relationship develop, and see how their relationship takes the strain of the circumstances they find themselves in. I really liked Qea's character, and how she seems quite cold and calculating at the beginning, but as the novel progresses, who she thought she was starts to crumble, and she has to try and rediscover exactly who she is. She becomes almost human, she starts to feel things she isn't used to. Adam also changes through the novel, though in a different way from Qea. Adam grows and develops into more than just Qea's boyfriend, he becomes a leader and a hero, and becomes someone Qea relies on heavily to keep her going.
The writing of this novel was very engaging, keeping me on the edge of my seat, and making me want to read more and more. The descriptions were excellent, giving a very clear picture of the places and characters in the novel.
The plot has lots of questions and puzzles woven through it, some of these questions get answered and some don't. This always annoys me when an author leaves so many questions unanswered, but I presume they will be answered in the folowing books in the series.
Overall I really enjoyed this novel and I would definitely reccommend checking it out, whether you're a fan of sci-fi or not. The storyline is great, and the author has left lots of great questions hanging for the following books, which I will definitely be reading!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Book Review- The Perfect Storm

Title: The Perfect Storm
Author: Sebastian Junger
Publication Date: 1997
Pages: 227
Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Adventure

Rating: 3/5

It was the storm of the century —a tempest created by so rare a combination of factors that meteorologists deemed it "the perfect storm."


When it struck in October, 1991, there was virtually no warning. "She's comin' on, boys, and she's comin' on strong," radioed Captain Billy Tyne of the Andrea Gail from off the coast of Nova Scotia. Soon afterward, the boat and its crew of six disappeared without a trace.


The Perfect Storm is a real-life thriller, a stark and compelling journey into the dark heart of nature that leaves listeners with a breathless sense of what it feels like to be caught, helpless, in the grip of a force beyond understanding or control. -Goodreads

This is a true story, written by a journalist, of a large storm in 1991, and tells the tale of the people, and fishing ships caught up in the storm.
If you consider reading this book, I would first consider this point; do you know anything about fishing and boats? If the answer is yes, then by all means continue and pick up the book. If your answer is not really, as was mine, then I advise caution.
This book is filled with fishing and boating jargon, I couldn't make head nor tail of most of it, and skipped a good few pages trying to reach the story. The beginning of the story is very slow, the author gives the reader a lot of background knowledge about the history of fishing, and how a fishing vessle works. This may be interesting to some, but I found it quite boring, and confusing.
The main focus of the novel is on a ship called The Andrea Gail, which becomes caught in the centre of this storm.
Once you get past the slow beginning, the story does pick up. We follow the fate of a helicopter sent out to rescue fishermen, as well as The Andrea Gail and her crew. The author gives a very detailed description of what it's like to drown, which was interesting to read, but also a little scary.
Overall I thought this novel was ok, but I wouldn't read it again. I would recommend it if you have knowledge of fishing because this will enhance your reading.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

December TBR

This month I want to try and finsh the Fall into Reading Challenge, so I have all those novels to read, and I have a few requested reviews from authors that I want to get through too. I also have the book we're reading for the school book club I'm a part of.
  1. A Game of Thrones- George R.R. Martin
  2. Great Expectations- Charles Dickens
  3. The Woodlanders- Thomas Hardy
  4. Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte
  5. Winter in Madrid- C.J. Samson
  6. The Shipping News- Annie Proulx
  7. Timbuctoo- Tahir Shah
  8. Fugitive- Louise Miles
  9. Oaths of Servitude- C.E Wilson
  10. Blue Dust: Forbidden- Katy Krump
  11. A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khaled Hosseini
I realise this is a large list. so I better get reading!!

November Wrap Up

The first book I read this month was Fateful by  Claudia Gray. This is a YA novel, involving werewolves, set on the Titanic. I gave this novel 3/5 stars. The next novel I read was Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare. We are studying this text in English this year, so I counted it because we had to read it. I gave this 5/5 stars. The 3rd novel I read this month was The Fellowship of The Ring by J.R.R Tolkien. This was my first time reading this novel and I really enjoyed it. I gave it 5/5 too. The next book I read, which I just finished a couple of days ago was The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. This is a novel documenting a once in a lifetime storm, and the people caught up in it. I gave this novel 3/5. The last novel I read this month was The Great Gatsby by Scott F.Fitzgerald. We are studying this novel in English too, and I finished it yesterday. I gave it 5/5.